This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

NBC: Trying to Build around The Office

One used to be able to keep his TV tuned exclusively to NBC and have a pretty good time. Sure, you had to sit through a Hope & Gloria once in a while, but there was always a Seinfeld around the corner to make things better. These days, however, if your TV is tuned to NBC on any night besides Thursday, you're either a nincompoop, a Law and Order freak, or Dateline's having another one of those shows where they bust pedophiles.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'd take L&O over CSI any day, as well as Dateline over 20/20* or 60 fricking Minutes. But that's just me. I just like Stone Phillips and pedophile-busting. The question is, as it always is this time of year, does NBC have any new shows that will facilitate its return to glory? Last year brought us the great Jason Lee and Earl, a show which got better as it went on. But how long can Earl Hickey go around crossing things off his list without it getting monotonous? And how many times can Earl say "Hey, crab man," and it still be funny? I'm way too worried about this.

Shows I can't believe are still on the air:

Crossing Jordan -- does this show have an audience? It's on at 7pm on Friday, so maybe it's on its last legs.

Las Vegas -- Yeah, it's got James Caan, Nikki Cox, and Vanessa Marcil. I still don't know anyone who watches it, nor have I heard anyone ever talk about it. It's also on Fridays, so maybe Friday is the graveyard...but where does that leave Law and Order?

The Biggest Loser -- This is a joke show, right? It can't still be on the air, can it? Why isn't anybody answering these questions? I demand satisfaction!

New Shows

30 Rock
-- SNL's Tiny Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Rachel Dratch star with noted SNL guest host Alec Baldwin (and ever since I saw Team America, I involuntarily pronounce that in my head "eewec booween.") in a show about the behind-the-scenes world of an SNL-type show. I smell lots of hollywood in-jokes and perhaps a gross career miscalculation on the part of its stars (besides Mr. Morgan, who kinda needs this). If you watch the Yahoo!!!! preview, you'll notice the great Judah Friedlander makes an appearance in the pilot. They must kill him off in the first episode, though -- he's not on the cast list. That's another miscalculation. However, what do I always say is the only criteria for a comedy? That's right, it's gotta be funny. This show looks like it could be funny, especially with Tracy Morgan as an insane sketch-comedy star. As long as they refrain from a lot of jokes about how unfair hollywood is, they might be ok.

If a preview has this many qualifyers, does it really mean anything? Maybe.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- Not only is this another "behind the scenes of a TV show" show, it also has a multiple of 30 in the title. It's not that NBC is out of ideas, they just prefer to use the ones they have at least twice. Anyway, speaking of miscalculations, Amanda Peet stars as a network president, Matthew Perry stars as a Chandler Bing-esque person (I'm not really sure what he does), DL Hughley stars as the insane star of the show (sound familiar?), and the whole thing would be doomed were it not written by Aaron Sorkin. Seriously, its the same show as 30 Rock, only it's an hour long and on at 9:00 Central so it'll probably try to be "edgy." I wonder: Is this same-show thing some sort of joke NBC's playing on America? At least ER and Chicago Hope were on different networks.

90: A Show about a TV Show -- just kidding.

Heroes -- "Ordinary people discover they have extraordinary powers." This sounds like every other movie coming out of hollywood right now, so this show better have something to distinguish itself from all this superhero garbage that we've got floating around out there. It looks like they're going for realism, as in "what would really happen if real people discovered real powers." Of course, in real life these people would become criminals, but we can pretend power doesn't corrupt on TV shows I guess. Weiss from Alias stars as a policeman who can read minds, which would be a handy skill to have. There's also an invulnerable cheerleader (every guy's dream, right? Wait...I don't know what that means) and a dude who can fly. It'll probably be a fancy-looking train-wreck, but I'll probably try to check it out anyway despite the high probability of pointless evolution-speak.

Friday Night Lights -- NBC doesn't just rip off movie concepts, it also adapts actual movies for TV. After viewing the trailer, I'm ready to pronounce the show DOA because it features exactly zero real-sounding or -acting teenagers. This seems like just a show about football, and a boring one at that. I'm kinda sorry I even mentioned it. Gosh, it looks horrible.

Kidnapped -- This is every other kidnapping story, only this time with a former star of China Beach in a lead role. Don't believe me? A billionaire's son has been kidnapped, and the kidnappers tell him not to call the police. The billionaire therefore calls a former FBI guy to investigate. He clashes with the real FBI, who for some reason took some time out from wiretapping us to solve this rich guy's kidnapping. I'm not sure, but I think there might be some twists long the way. If we expect twists, are they really twists anymore? Also, calls from the kidnappers will be cause for high drama, and they'll try to trace the call, with mixed results. I'll never watch this.

Twenty Good Years -- Old people (John Lithgow and the great Jeffrey Tambor) star in a standard laughy sitcom about the realization that we've all wasted our lives. It's sort of a rip-off of Earl, only this time with old people living life to the fullest instead of criminal hicks. I didn't laugh once at the preview. Is that a bad sign? Tambor's great, but not without good writing. Lithgow sounds a little too much like his Third Rock from the Sun character, too. And nobody likes old people anymore. The Golden Girls, only with guys? I think not. If Arrested was still around, this show wouldn't exist. Think about that.

*Speaking of, I saw Hugh Downs (and Joan Lunden) on an infomercial for some "wealth-building" crap last night. If you're one of those two, how can you let your image be sullied by appearing in crank like this? The desk they're sitting on even looks like a cheap infomercial desk. They're not even trying! Are they flat broke? This is Hugh Downs, man. This would be like Mike Wallace shilling for the JuiceMan. What the heck happened here?


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