Monday, September 17, 2007

Chuck You

Chuck, Journeyman Monday, Sept. 24 (NBC) Series Debuts: This is not another hack piece about how the new fall season is all “geeked” out. Damn, TV critics are a creative lot. The titular Chuck of NBC’s new Heroes lead-in works at Buy More (think Best Buy) in the tech-troubleshooting Nerd Herd (think Geek Squad), so of course he’s a girlfriend-free underachiever—until he accidentally downloads the entirety of America’s secret intelligence into his brain via an e-mail (just go with it) and bam! Instant Alias, with clip-on ties instead of wigs. Chuck takes the average-dude-in-over-his-head comedy of Andy Barker P.I. (remember that?) to a new level—the first episode’s chase scenes could be the most hysterically intricate ever shot for television—and nails the balance of smart comedy and sweet charm, not to mention killer action. As for NBC’s new time-travelin’ sci-fi drama Journeyman … at least it’s better than Day Break (I know you don’t remember that).

The Big Bang Theory Monday, Sept. 24 (CBS) Series Debut: Hyper-intelligent geeks struggle to meet hot girls; middling comedy ensues. On the upside, The Big Bang Theory actually makes Rules of Engagement seem funny an hour later—score, CBS!

Cane Tuesday, Sept. 25 (CBS) Series Debut: Jimmy Smits presides over a Cuban-American family’s sugar and rum empire in Florida; middling soap-opera drama and intrigue ensue. CBS has promoted Cane with Mojito-flavored lick-strips in magazines, so at least one original idea has come from all of this.

Reaper Tuesday, Sept. 25 (The CW) Series Debut: Another nerdy guy toiling away in a big-box store is thrust into extraordinary circumstances—similarities to Chuck don’t quite end there; instead of being forced to moonlight for the government, Reaper’s Sam has new gig with Satan. Tomato, tomato. But, whereas Chuck star Zachary Levi carries his show with confident ease, Reaper’s Bret Harrison (late of Fox’s The Loop) is upstaged at every turn by slacker bud Sock (Invasion’s Tyler Labine) and the Devil (Twin Peaks’ Ray Wise), who bought Sam’s soul before he was even born—enough about Britney being a bad parent—and now employs him to hunt down escaped Hell-ions. Reaper has a funny, crackerjack Kevin Smith-directed pilot ep, but is it too smart for the viewers of lead-in Beauty & the Geek? Oh, hell yes.

Private Practice, Dirty Sexy Money Wednesday, Sept. 26 (ABC) Series Debuts: Ever seen Kate Walsh on a talk show? Hi-larious. She’s also probably more capable of carrying a show than anyone back on Grey’s Anatomy, from whence Private Practice spun-off last spring in a lame tentative “pilot” episode. Fortunately, the final Addison-does-Cali product is far better, and this is coming from a guy who hates Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, really, really hates Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, and ABC didn’t send me Dirty Sexy Money, so fuck it.

The Bionic Woman, Life Wednesday, Sept. 26 (NBC) Series Debuts: The good news: The Bionic Woman lives up to nearly all of its Battlestar Galactica-pedigreed buzz. The bad news: That buzz is limited to the relatively small audience of Galactica (sorry, not everybody reads your blog), and Michelle Ryan’s performance in the title role is so stiff you may wonder if she’s not entirely circuitry and silicone. The best news: Matters not, because The Bionic Woman is dark, taut, action-packed and riveting every second that Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff appears onscreen as the first bionic woman who’s gone rogue and quite insane. She’s out to kill her 2.0, and The Only TV Column That Matters™ is rooting for her—I wanna see that series. I don’t, however, want to see another cop show. Life is another cop show. Ergo …

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