Monday, May 23, 2005

Fall Lineup Frenzy: FOX

FOX, the final network of the Fall Lineup Frenzy. They have a reputation of unceremoniously dumping great but quirky shows (Futurama, Family Guy, Firefly, Wonderfalls, and countless other good shows that have made their way to DVD) and even resurrecting them after great DVD sales (Family Guy). Let's see what they have in store for the fall (I won't be covering the January lineup. I'll cover new shows that premiere in January in my Midseason post). Info is from The Futon Critic at this link specifically.


9:00-10:00 PM PRISON BREAK

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (Monday, 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT): Based on renowned chef Anthony Bourdain's best-selling autobiography, KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL explores the deliciously crazy world of upscale restaurants. Chef JACK BOURDAIN (Bradley Cooper, "Alias," "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks") found enormous success at a young age, but his culinary genius also led to a lifestyle of boozing, womanizing and drugs. After hitting rock bottom and deciding to sober up, the only job he could get was slopping soggy pasta for the masses at a tacky opera-themed restaurant. Out of the blue, Jack is offered an opportunity to get back in the game as head chef at a top New York restaurant. There's just one problem: the owner gives Jack a mere 48 hours to fully staff his kitchen and prepare to dazzle over 300 customers – including the food critic for the New York Times (who also happens to be a jilted ex). Jack hastily assembles a renegade crew of colleagues from his past, including chefs STEVEN DAEDALUS (Owain Yeoman, "Troy"), SETH KLEIN (Nicholas Brendon, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and TEDDY WONG (John Cho, "Harold & Kumar"). Also along for the ride are TANYA (Jaime King, "White Chicks," "Pearl Harbor") the hostess, a rookie pastry chef named JIM (John F. Daley, "Freaks and Geeks"), and the owner's daughter, the gorgeous MIMI (Bonnie Somerville, "NYPD Blue"), who can't wait for Jack to fail. In KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, executive producers Darren Star ("Sex and the City") and David Hemingson ("Just Shoot Me," AMERICAN DAD) expose the secrets of the restaurant business through the delectable story of a talented chef who's determined to climb back to the top of the food game.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, New Line Productions, Inc., Darren Star Productions, Inc.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Darren Star, Jim Rosenthal, David Knoller
DIRECTOR: Darren Star
CAST: Bradley Cooper as Jack, Bonnie Somerville as Mimi, Owain Yeoman as Steven, Nicholas Brendon as Seth, John Cho as Teddy, Jaime King as Tanya, John F. Daley as Jim

PRISON BREAK (Monday, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT): MICHAEL SCOFIELD (Wentworth Miller, "The Human Stain") is a desperate man in a desperate situation. His brother, LINCOLN BURROWS (Dominic Purcell, "John Doe," "Blade: Trinity"), is on death row and scheduled to die in a few months for a murder Michael is convinced Lincoln did not commit. With no other options and time winding down, Michael holds up a bank to get himself incarcerated alongside his brother in Fox River State Penitentiary. Once he's inside, we learn that Michael – a structural engineer with the blueprints for the prison – has hatched an elaborate plan to break Lincoln out and prove his innocence. Senior correctional officer BELLICK (Wade Williams, "Collateral") offers some prison wisdom as Michael arrives. Then, with the help of his cellmate, SUCRE (Amaury Nolasco, "Mr. 3000"), Michael begins to align himself with a disparate group of prisoners, including former mob boss JOHN ABRUZZI (Peter Stormare, "Fargo," "Minority Report") and CHARLES WESTMORELAND (Muse Watson, "I Know What You Did Last Summer"), a man some believe to be the infamous skyjacker D.B. Cooper. On the outside Michael has only one ally, his defense attorney and longtime friend, VERONICA DONOVAN (Robin Tunney, "The Craft," "End of Days") – who is Lincoln's former girlfriend. Meanwhile, Lincoln's 15-year-old son, LJ (Marshall Allman), is now adrift without his Uncle Michael's positive influence. Rounding out the cast are Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Celestine Prophesy") as prison doctor SARA TANCREDI, whom Michael ends up visiting more often than he should, and Stacy Keach ("Titus," "Mike Hammer") as the powerful WARDEN POPE, who forges a close, almost father-son relationship with the new convict. This intriguing new series promises to reveal additional pieces of the puzzle each week as Michael carries out his daring plan to mastermind the ultimate PRISON BREAK – and solve the far-reaching national-scale conspiracy that landed him there in the first place.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Adelstein-Parouse Productions, Original Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Paul Scheuring, Dawn Parouse, Marty Adelstein, Neal Moritz, Brett Ratner
WRITER: Paul Scheuring
DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner
CAST: Wentworth Miller as Michael, Dominic Purcell as Lincoln, Robin Tunney as Veronica, Sarah Wayne Callies as Dr. Tancredi, Peter Stormare as Abruzzi, Amaury Nolasco as Sucre, Wade Williams as Bellick, Marshall Allman as LJ
GUEST CAST: Stacy Keach as Warden Pope, Muse Watson as Westmoreland

My Thoughts: Arrested Development didn't get cancelled!!! But it's actually leading off programming...on a Monday. I don't think AD will do well on this night but I'm just happy to see it back. Kitchen Confidential sounds like it could be funny but it might not exactly be the best fit with Arrested Development. I hope Prison Break is good for one reason and one reason will be filmed in the Chicago area. The pilot was shot at a closed correctional center in Joliet, IL, the same city that my dad works in. In fact, my dad told me that one of the people he works with was an extra for the Prison Break pilot. I think companies too often ignore Chicago (and Illinois itself) as a location for filming. There's no shortage of shows (or movies) set in Chicago (Jenny McCarthy's new show is set in Chicago as is a FOX midseason comedy called, get this, The Loop) but they are always filmed elsewhere. I won't watch Prison Break just because it's filmed in Illinois but I will watch it if it's actually good.


8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-10:00 PM HOUSE

BONES (Tuesday, 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT): From executive producers Barry Josephson ("Hide and Seek," "Like Mike") and Hart Hanson ("Joan of Arcadia," "Judging Amy") comes the darkly amusing drama BONES, inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs. Forensic anthropologist DR. TEMPERANCE BRENNAN (Emily Deschanel, "Boogeyman"), who works at the Jeffersonian Institution and writes novels as a sideline, has an uncanny ability to read clues left behind in a victim's bones. Consequently, law enforcement calls her in to assist with murder investigations when the remains are so badly decomposed, burned or destroyed that the standard identification methods are useless. Brennan's equally brilliant colleagues at the Jeffersonian's Medico-Legal Lab include earthy and bawdy ANGELA MONTENEGRO (Michaela Conlin, "The D.A."), who's created a unique way to render an original crime scene in a three-dimensional computer image; Brennan's assistant, ZACK ADDY (Eric Millegan), a young prodigy whose genius IQ actually gets in the way of his finishing the several doctorates he has begun; "the bug guy," DR. JACK HODGINS (TJ Thyne, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"), who's an expert on insects, spores and minerals, but conspiracy is his hobby; and Brennan's boss, imposing lab director DR. DANIEL GOODMAN (Jonathan Adams, "American Dreams"). Brennan often finds herself teamed with Special Agent SEELEY BOOTH (David Boreanaz, "Angel"), a former Army sniper who mistrusts science and scientists when it comes to solving crimes. Brennan and Booth clash both professionally and personally, but so far the chemistry between them has only played out in a fictionalized account in Brennan's latest mystery novel.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Barry Josephson, Hart Hanson
WRITER: Hart Hanson
DIRECTOR: Greg Yaitanes
CAST: Emily Deschanel as Brennan, David Boreanaz as Booth, Eric Millegan as Zack, TJ Thyne as Dr. Hodgins, Michaela Conlin as Angela, Jonathan Adams as Dr. Goodman

My Thoughts: These two shows should work pretty well together, although Bones sounds like a combination of Tru Calling and CSI (with a touch of Medium). Bones (not to be confused with the awful Snoop Dogg horror film) could be the next House. House is a show that I would probably watch if it were on at a different time. I watched one episode from this season and enjoyed it immensely. However, since it conflicted with Scrubs, a show I really like, I never caught it. With Scrubs not coming back until midseason, I might actually start getting into House.


8:00-8:30 PM THAT '70s SHOW
8:30-9:00 PM STACKED
9:00-10:00 PM HEAD CASES

HEAD CASES (Wednesday, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT): Bill Chais ("The Practice," "Family Law") created this comedic drama starring Chris O'Donnell ("Scent of a Woman") as attorney JASON PAYNE, whose superstar career at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm backfired when his wife, LAURIE (Krista Allen, "Unscripted"), kicked him out of the house and, to make a bad day even worse, he had a nervous breakdown. After three months at a "wellness center," Jason found himself with no job, no place to live and no support system. Enter SHULTZ (Adam Goldberg, "A Beautiful Mind," "Saving Private Ryan"), an unkempt, unpredictable sufferer of explosive disorder, assigned to be outpatient "buddies" with Jason by their mutual therapist, DR. ROBINSON (Rockmond Dunbar, "Soul Food"). A low-rent lawyer who usually represents deviants and petty criminals, Shultz eagerly latches onto a very reluctant Jason, inserting himself in all aspects of Jason's personal and professional life. The intrusion is the last thing Jason needs, preoccupied as he is with trying to re-establish a relationship with his 8-year-old son, RYAN (Jake Cherry, "Miracle Run"), reach some kind of accord with Laurie, and lend emotional support to KATE (Rachel Leigh Cook, "She's All That"), a troubled young woman he met at the wellness center. For Jason and Shultz, what begins as a bumpy alliance gradually turns amicable as each helps steer the other toward against-all-odds legal victories. Ultimately, they hang up their shingle together and set out to take on underdog clients while attempting to keep each other "sane."

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Bill Chais, Jeff Rake, Barry Josephson
WRITER: Bill Chais
DIRECTOR: Andy Fleming
CAST: Chris O'Donnell as Jason, Adam Goldberg as Shultz, Krista Allen as Laurie, Jake Cherry as Ryan, Rachel Leigh Cook as Kate, Rockmond Dunbar as Dr. Robinson

My Thoughts: That '70s Show just won't die. It just won't be the same without Topher Grace. Yes, Ashton Kutcher is important too, but the show really revolved around Topher's character. I wonder what they'll do. Will they try to make the show revolve around Donna? Fez? Hyde? Or some random new character? The only thing I know for certain is that this upcoming season really should be its last. Meanwhile, I have never watched an episode of Stacked. I don't know if the show's decent or not so I can't say anything until I watch it once. The commercials made it seem like it could've been okay. Head Cases sounds a little like Ally McBeal...for men. Given how hard it is to balance drama and comedy (trust me, it's not as easy as Desperate Housewives makes it look), tone will be the key. This show will probably get a little publicity because a mental health advocacy group of some kind will boycott/picket/protest it.


8:00-9:00 PM THE O.C.
9:00-10:00 PM REUNION

REUNION (Thursday, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT): Part character drama and part mystery, REUNION marks a groundbreaking concept in series television as it chronicles the lives of a group of six friends over the course of 20 years – all in just one season. From the hopes and dreams of 18-year-olds to the realities that irrevocably mark those lives two decades later, REUNION's stories are of love and loss, marriage and death, triumph and scandal. WILL (Will Estes, "U-571," "American Dreams") longs to leave his small town behind. Aided by an athletic scholarship, he will be the first in his family to go to college. CRAIG (Sean Faris, "Life As We Know It"), handsome and privileged, looks forward to the Ivy League with his girlfriend, SAMANTHA (Alexa Davalos, "The Chronicles of Riddick"), whose ambition is surpassed only by her looks and intelligence. The beautiful and sensual JENNA (Amanda Righetti, THE O.C.) dreams of becoming an actress; behind his cynicism, AARON (Dave Annable, "Little Black Book") dreams that his relationship with Jenna will go beyond friendship. CARLA (Chyler Leigh, "Not Another Teen Movie"), innocent and quirky, must choose between loyalty to her father and staying near her best friends. REUNION opens in 2005 at the funeral of one of the friends, whose death is being investigated by DETECTIVE MARJORINO (Mathew St. Patrick, "Six Feet Under"). Before the identity of the deceased is revealed, we're transported back to 1986, as the group is celebrating their high school graduation. The pilot episode follows all six through the summer of 1986, and we witness the formative events that alter their dreams and desires forever. Episode two finds the group a full year later, in 1987; episode three tells the story of a seminal event in 1988, and so on – culminating in the season finale at the friends' 20th high school reunion. REUNION also will build toward answering two important questions raised in episode one: Which of the friends is dead? And how did that death occur?

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Television, Class IV Productions
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jon Harmon Feldman, Steve Pearlman, Andrew Plotkin
WRITER: Jon Harmon Feldman
CAST: Will Estes as Will, Sean Faris as Craig, Dave Annable as Aaron, Alexa Davalos as Samantha, Amanda Righetti as Jenna, Chyler Leigh as Carla, Mathew St. Patrick as Detective Marjorino

My Thoughts: I have to admit that during the most recent season of the The OC, it kind of stopped being appointment TV for me. I missed a couple of episodes and then I missed a few more. I have all these episodes on tape and I could be wrong but overall, the second season wasn't as good as the first season. The sophomore slump, I guess. Here's hoping that the producers refocus a bit for the show's third season. Apparently, FOX has decided to go to the opposite extreme of 24 with Reunion. This is a show that will condense a year's worth of time into each one hour show. It's an intriguing idea and one that might not last more than one season. Then again, who thought 24 would be able to keep it up?


9:00-10:00 THE GATE (working title)

THE GATE (working title) (Friday,, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT): Created by Josh Berman ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"), THE GATE (working title) tells the chilling stories of bizarre crimes committed by San Francisco's most aberrant criminals. The series centers on Detective GRAHAM HALE (Johnny Messner, THE O.C.) of the San Francisco Police Department's Deviant Crime Unit. Intense and private, Hale is haunted by personal demons, and he chose this assignment after going AWOL for a year following his partner's death in the line of duty. Hale's new partner is rookie Detective AVA LYFORD (Marguerite Moreau, "Life As We Know It," THE O.C.), whose no-nonsense demeanor and by-the-book tenacity hide both her insecurities and her secrets. Unbeknownst to Hale, she has a hidden agenda – and it might lead to his downfall. In the course of investigating his cases, Hale works closely with his boss, the likable Lieutenant MATT CAVANAUGH (Chi McBride, "Boston Public," "The Terminal"), and with DR. FRANCINE KLEPP, a forensic pathologist in the Coroner's lab and the former roommate of Hale's late partner, Meg. Exploring the idea that "behind every monster there's a mystery," the stories of THE GATE remind us that the "monsters" are everyday people, hidden in plain sight – and that, in each of us, a monster may lurk just beneath the surface.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Regency Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner
WRITER: Josh Berman
DIRECTOR: Rob Lieberman
CAST: Johnny Messner as Det. Graham Hale, Marguerite Moreau as Det. Ava Lyford, Chi McBride as Lt. Matt Cavanaugh

My Thoughts: The Bernie Mac Show didn't get cancelled!!! Anyway, poor Bernie is languishing away on Fridays although it must do well enough because Boston Public only lasted one season after getting moved to Fridays. I think pairing Malcolm In The Middle with Bernie Mac is a good idea, although I wish it wasn't, again, on Friday night. I'm going to miss MITM on Sundays, though. The Gate sounds like a CBS crime drama with a FOX attitude. FOX has desperately been trying to find a drama to put on Friday nights that will stick post-The X-Files but to no avail. I don't see The Gate bucking that trend. It will join shows like Jonny Zero, Boston Public, The Lone Gunmen, Millennium, Firefly, and The Jury in the Friday night drama black hole soon enough.


8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS

My Thoughts: Saturday nights belong to FOX...well, before 11:00 p.m. Eastern anyway.


7:00-7:30 PM Animated Encores
8:30-9:00 PM THE WAR AT HOME
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

THE WAR AT HOME (Sunday, 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT): When DAVE (Michael Rapaport, "Hitch," "Small Time Crooks," "Boston Public") and VICKY (Anita Barone, "Daddio," "The Jeff Foxworthy Show") were growing up, their parents had it easy. Back then, there were no "time-outs," no one had any "boundaries" and "parenting" wasn't even a word. Parents also had no idea what their kids were really up to; ignorance truly was bliss. Now Dave and Vicky have teenagers of their own, and anything their kids might even think about doing, Dave and Vicky have already done … at least twice. But knowledge isn't power – it's a giant pain! Every day is a battle to keep the kids in line. Fifteen-year-old LARRY (Kyle Sullivan, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE) isn't exactly a frequent diner at the cool kids' table in the cafeteria, while 16-year-old HILLARY (Kaylee Defer, QUINTUPLETS, "Listen Up") knows it all and is just emerging onto the dating scene. Meanwhile, at 13, MIKE (Dean Collins, "Jack & Bobby") is all hormones and video games. Dave and Vicky figure if they can send these three off to college without a police record or kids of their own, they've done their job. This witty, irreverent show from Rob Lotterstein ("Will & Grace," "Ellen," "Dream On") goes inside the heads of a modern family through the use of a confessional space where the characters reveal everything they could never actually say to one another – as they do their best to win THE WAR AT HOME.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: ACME Productions, Warner Bros. Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Michael Hanel, Mindy Schultheis
DIRECTOR: Andy Cadiff
CAST: Michael Rapaport as Dave, Anita Barone as Vicky, Dean Collins as Mike, Kaylee Defer as Hillary, Kyle Sullivan as Larry

My Thoughts: Ah, my favorite night on FOX. It's still pretty much intact although the fact that King Of The Hill is probably going to go the way of Futurama (many unaired episodes, no new ones order, production on hiatus, potential cancellation) next season. Even though The Simpsons is not as good as it used to be (hell, it hasn't been for over five years), it still can deliver some solid laughs at times. The War At Home strives to be the next Malcolm In The Middle but I think it will probably be nothing more than a retread of the wacky family sitcom. I hope I'm proven wrong. I am glad that Family Guy is back and I might warm up to American Dad in the future (even if it's not nearly different enough from Family Guy...or as funny) but I'm sad that these shows are up against Desperate Housewives. This means that unless I record them every week, I will not be watching them at all.

Overall Thoughts: I'm glad that FOX decided not to cancel some of my favorite shows. They are on the way up with American Idol giving them great ratings and a crop of pretty good shows. Some of the new stuff seems promising while other stuff is destined to end up on DVD in a complete series set. I hope that FOX's decision to move Arrested Development doesn't result in that show becoming nothing more than a collection of must-have DVDs.

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