Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Fall Lineup Frenzy: Midseason Edition Part II (CBS, UPN, and FOX)

More thoughts on the midseason shows. Info from The Futon Critic.


EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT MEN stars Jenna Elfman ("Dharma & Greg") in a comedy about Bex Atwell (Elfman), an attractive secretary with simple goals: find true love, have an exciting career and a normal relationship with her father. But in a world where men behave like, well…men, she realizes that she may be overly ambitious. Now, Bex is determined to figure out what men are all about while wondering why women even bother to try to understand them in the first place. Brady Smith ("Just Pray"), Hugh Bonneville ("Doctor Zhivago"), Rhea Seehorn ("Romy and Michele: In the Beginning"), Lauren Tom ("Friends") and Dabney Coleman ("Nine to Five") also star. Fred Barron ("According to Bex," "Caroline in the City") is the executive producer for Touchstone Television in association with Paramount Network Television. Multiple Emmy Award winner James Burrows directed the pilot.

THE UNIT stars Dennis Haysbert ("24"), Scott Foley ("Felicity"), Robert Patrick ("The X-Files") and Golden Globe Award winner Regina Taylor ("I'll Fly Away") in an action drama that follows a covert team of special forces operatives as they risk their lives on undercover missions around the globe, while their families maintain the homefront, protecting their husbands' secrets. Max Martini ("Saving Private Ryan"), Michael Irby ("Piñero"), Demore Barnes ("The Associates"), Abby Brammell ("Revenge of The Middle-Aged Woman") and Amy Acker ("Catch Me If You Can") also star. Pulitzer Prize-winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated writer David Mamet ("Glengarry Glen Ross") and Emmy Award-nominated writer Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") are executive producers for Twentieth Century Fox Television.

My Thoughts: CBS is one-for-two for these midseason shows. Everything I Know About Men doesn't exactly sound like the best show. It might be good to see Jenna Elfman on TV again but she probably deserves a show better than this. The Unit continues CBS' undying fascination with crime-type shows. However, the idea that the show will be more than just adventure (with a focus on the families trying to keep things under wraps) is intriguing. Also, David Mamet is involved. Who would have thought that David Mamet would be doing a TV show...for CBS no less?


SOUTH BEACH (Day/Time TBD) revolves around Matt and Vince, best friends filled with aspirations of a better future, as they abandon their world as they know it and head to the alluring paradise of sandy beaches, beautiful people and hot spots in glamorous South Beach. Matt's preoccupation with his old, fashion-model girlfriend has him diving head first into her thrilling new life, even though she has moved on, and Vince, willing to do anything to get ahead, uncovers the dangerous and possibly seedy underbelly of SOUTH BEACH. The series stars Marcus Coloma ("Point Pleasant") as Matt, Chris Johnson ("xXx: State of the Union") as Vincent, Lee Thompson Young ("Friday Night Lights") as Ian, and Vanessa L. Williams ("Johnson Family Vacation") as Elizabeth. SOUTH BEACH is produced by Nuyorican Productions and Flame Television in association with Paramount Network Television. Tony Krantz ("The Bad Girl's Guide"), Jennifer Lopez ("Monster-in-Law"), Simon Fields ("Shall We Dance?") and Philip Levens ("Smallville") are executive producers.

My Thoughts: Yawn. Even with what looks like a pretty good cast, this show looks like a flop. It's deriative and uninteresting...just like Jennifer Lopez's music.


THE LOOP (Wednesday, 9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT): As we reach our early 20s and face the daunting challenges of real life, there are those who choose to embark on a career path and those who'd rather goof off with pals. And then, every so often, there's someone who sets out to do both. Set in Chicago, THE LOOP is the story of SAM (Bret Harrison, "Grounded for Life"), the youngest executive at the corporate headquarters of a major airline, and the first of his friends to get a real job. He must find a way to straddle his serious career and the serious social demands of his roommates. One roommate, SULLY (Eric Christian Olsen, "Dumb and Dumberer," "Tru Calling"), is Sam's older and rowdier brother, whose casual attempts to hold down a series of odd jobs are eclipsed by his attempts to land women. The other roommate, PIPER, is a medical student, Sam's college pal and – unbeknownst to her – his longtime crush. As Sam strives to meet the relentless demands of his boss, RUSS (Philip Baker Hall, "Seinfeld," "Bruce Almighty"), dodge the nonstop advances of his colleague, MERYL (Mimi Rogers, "Austin Powers," "Hope and Faith"), and turn his best-friendship with Piper into romance, he is, by turns, ambitious, exhausted and inspired. Moreover, he is a hero for everyone who has ever tried to work hard and play hard at the same time.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
WRITERS: Will Gluck, Pam Brady
DIRECTOR: Betty Thomas
CAST: Bret Harrison as Sam, Eric Christian Olsen as Sully, Philip Baker Hall as Russ, Joy Osmanski as Darcy, Mimi Rogers as Meryl

FREE BIRDS (Midseason): A partially improvised comedy project from writer/director Rob Roy Thomas ("Significant Others") and Fox 21, FREE BIRDS is about former Big Man on?Campus NATE SAWBOROUGH (Josh Dean). College in California is over, all he did was party, and a dejected Nate finds himself in a situation he never imagined: returning to his small?Midwestern hometown to move back in with his parents. But his mom and dad's marriage is in trouble and his room has been turned into a gym. The good news is that Nate is able to reconnect with local beauty and bank teller AMBER CREEKHOUSE (Erin Cahill, "American Dreams"); the bad news is she's newly engaged. He also meets up with former High School Big Man On Campus MARK DOVE (Dave Sheridan), and it's time to hit the wild parties ... or as wild as they get in a small Midwestern town. Will Nate decide to move back to California, or will he suppress his small-town phobia and make a play for Amber before she ties the knot? PRODUCTION COMPANY: Fox 21
DIRECTOR: Rob Roy Thomas
CAST: Josh Dean as Nate, Erin Cahill as Amber, Dave Sheridan as Dove

My Thoughts: Neither of these comedies are going to break any new ground (although it's nice to see a show set in Chicago) but they sound a little promising. The Loop could be fun, what with Mimi Rogers and Philip Baker Hall in the cast. The idea that Free Birds is partially improvised sounds intriguing. I hope the show won't turn out to be like bad improv.

Overall Thoughts: There are some gems here and there among the midseason crop. The WB's sounds the best as a whole while UPN can cancel South Beach now. The one saving grace for all these shows (and the new fall ones) is that they haven't aired yet. Even though a lot of shows sound bad now, they could actually turn out good. I remember being intrigued by Lost but wondered if the show would be any good because the premise was so silly. Now, it's one of the best shows on TV, regardless of it being in its first season. We won't know how good or bad these shows really are until we watch them. I can't wait.

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