TV Review: Prime Time Network New Fall Shows, 2010

televisionThere are a plethora of new shows which debuted during prime time on network television in September, over 20 of them in fact. Unfortunately, I stopped watching the networks this summer because I don’t care for repeats or reality shows, so I missed the promos that advertised the beginning of the CW new season, which started on September 9. But I did manage to catch the premieres of several series airing on September 20 or later. I skipped any that were on at the same time as my favorite returning shows, which left me with a grand total of eight new programs on various networks in various genres that interested me. What follows is a mini-review of each.

“The Event”, NBC, 9PM Eastern on Mondays. This show had a great deal of pre-season promotional hype that was so vague that I didn’t even know what genre to expect: a political thriller, family drama, science fiction? Turns out there was a good reason for the vagueness, because it’s actually all three, and to give away plot details would spoil the excitement. Here are the basics: Jason Ritter (son of John Ritter) plays a young man who goes on a Caribbean cruise with his girlfriend with the intention of proposing to her. But his girlfriend vanishes from the ship while he is on a day trip, and the cruise staff has no record of her even being a passenger. Scott Patterson (who was Luke on “Gilmore Girls”) plays the father of the girl who vanished. He is an airline pilot whose life takes a very surprising turn. Blair Underwood plays the President of the United States who made an unpopular decision regarding illegal detainees. He is on his way to a press conference when “the event” for which the show is named takes place, putting him and his family in danger. Turns out these circumstances are all related. 

I was intrigued enough by the pilot episode to see if the following week brought any revelations or just more questions. I was pleased to see some of the puzzle pieces starting to come into place. Turns out the detainees have something to do with the attempt on the President’s life, or at least the successful thwarting of the attempt. Here is where the science fiction aspect comes in. The true nature of the detainees and the shocking conclusion of the second episode hooked me; I have set up my DVR to record the series.
My only gripe with “The Event” is that it jumps around too much in time and story line, making it a challenge for someone with cognitive dysfunction to keep up. If you have this sort of problem, I recommend you record it so that you can re-watch portions if necessary to keep track of what happened when. This may become easier as more episodes air and the viewer becomes more invested in the characters.

Check out The Event Sneak Peek for Free

“Raising Hope”, FOX, 9PM Eastern on Tuesdays. This comes from the creator of “My Name Is Earl”. Like “Earl”, this is a half-hour comedy featuring outrageous characters and situations. In it, a young man who still lives at home has a one-night stand with a young woman who is later revealed to be a criminal who is caught and jailed. A baby results from their encounter, and the young man is left to raise the child in the midst of his extremely dysfunctional family. Martha Plimpton portrays his mom, and her own child rearing skills are so deplorable it’s amazing any of her kids survived. Cloris Leachman portrays the senile grandmother who forgets to wear a shirt and chain smokes like a freight train. This show should come with the warning label “don’t try this at home”. I found the pilot episode extremely funny, but the second week was considerably less amusing. It is definitely not a model of parental or political correctness. I am going to watch one more week before I decide whether to commit to the season.

Check out: Raising Hope 1st episode Dream Hoarders [HD]

“Running Wilde”, FOX, 9:30PM Eastern on Tuesdays. This is another half-hour comedy. It stars Will Arnett and Keri Russell in the story of a rich man and a poor woman whose family used to work for that of the rich man when both were kids. They’re all grown up now, and Arnett’s character is so self-absorbed that he devises a lavish gathering so that he may present himself with a humanitarian award. Russell’s character has dedicated herself to a life of activism in the Amazonian rain forest with her eco-terrorist boyfriend and her daughter, who has the unfortunate name of Puddle. Rich man reunites with poor woman, sparks fly, and Puddle engineers a way to stay stateside. Maybe some viewers will find this scenario amusing, but I thought the lack of chemistry between the two leads to be annoying. It was my least favorite of all the new shows I watched.

Running Wilde Episode 1: Oil & Water [HD]

“Undercovers”, NBC, 9PM Eastern on Wednesdays. An hour-long spy drama from the man who brought us “Lost”, “Fringe” and “Alias”. But this bears no resemblance to the previous shows. This is the semi-lighthearted story of a husband and wife who retired from the CIA when they married and have opened a catering business. Five years into their marriage, they are coaxed back into their old roles, this time working as a team. There is romance, intrigue and action, and I enjoyed it more than I had expected. I had never heard of the lead actors, but they make an attractive and very convincing couple. Throw in an overeager, over-prepared assistant and an aggravating old flame who is assigned to work with them, and you have the makings of a promising series.

Undercovers: The Pilot

“Hawaii Five-O”, CBS, 10PM Eastern on Mondays. I was on the fence about whether to watch this “reboot” of the old series, as I don’t generally go for cop shows. But it features one of my favorite places, Hawaii. It has the added bonus of Daniel Dae Kim from “Lost”. And when I found out that they replaced a male character from the original with Grace Park of “Battlestar Galactica”, I decided to take a peek. Everything about the new series is modern day except for the familiar theme music (and the phrase “Book ’em Danno”), and that’s not a bad thing. I like the island vibe and the fact that they don’t just feature the more glamorous spots in Oahu. There’s humor and an interesting crime-solving dynamic between the two main characters. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park play cousins, the former an experienced but disgraced cop and the latter fresh from the police academy. There are gadgets, unusual tactics, hand to hand combat and fast vehicles. I don’t know if I will watch the entire season, but I like it enough after seeing the first two episodes to continue at least for awhile.
“No Ordinary Family”, ABC, 8PM Eastern on Tuesdays. This started a week later than the others, so I have only seen the pilot episode. In it, a family of four on vacation crash into the Amazon, but aside from the trauma of near-death, they return home thinking they are unchanged. When they go back to their old routines, each is shocked to discover they have developed a superpower that fills whatever they were lacking in their lives. The dad, who is a police sketch artist wishing he was something more, finds out during a shooting at the station that he can catch bullets and other incredible feats of strength. The mom, who can never seem to get enough done in a single day, now has the ability to move at such high speed that she can almost be two places at once. The daughter, a teen who has trouble judging the true motivations of her friends and boyfriend, discovers that she can read minds. And the son, a teen struggling through school, is suddenly a genius. Will these new talents help or harm the family dynamic? It’s too soon to tell from the pilot. But to be honest, I am burned out on the super-hero genre, and the characters didn’t intrigue me enough to want to keep watching them each week in an hour-long drama.

Click to Watch No Ordinary Family: No Ordinary Marriage [HD]

“The Whole Truth”, ABC, 10PM Eastern on Wednesdays. Rob Morrow from “Northern Exposure” and “Numbers” portrays an aggressive defense lawyer. Maura Tierney plays an equally aggressive prosecuting attorney who is Morrow’s former classmate. They butt heads in court on complex cases where the facts are revealed slowly through their opposing viewpoints. If you have ever toyed with the idea of a law career, you could learn a lot from watching how these cases are built, what works in court and what can tear a case apart. The guilt or innocence of the accused is not easily discerned, and only after the verdict is it revealed what really happened. I’m not sure this show will survive given the glut of legal dramas, but you could do a whole lot worse than “The Whole Truth”.
“$#*! My Dad Says”, CBS, 8:30PM Eastern on Thursdays. As if you couldn’t tell from the title, this half-hour comedy is not for the easily offended. It is actually based on a wildly popular Twitter feed. William Shatner plays the title role, an Archie Bunker for the new millennium. His life is turned upside down when his recently unemployed son comes to live with him. Shatner is blunt, outrageous and hilarious, but his character does care about his son in his extremely awkward way, and this is what made the show work for me. Also, I think everyone has a cantankerous relative that reminds them of this dad. I will continue to watch the program and laugh loudly at it.

Buy the Book that this TV show was based on! Sh*t My Dad Says

It remains to be seen how many of these shows will get to run a full season. Two that I missed, “My Generation” and “Lone Star”, have already been cancelled after just two airings. “The Event” seems to have the best shot in my opinion. If you want to pick up any of the above from the beginning, most if not all should be available for viewing or downloading online. Happy viewing!
Submitted by: Karen Brauer,, © 2010
Karen has been writing for for many years. Her movie and book reviews are always descriptive and honest. She has a keen eye for pointing out what might be useful to a viewer/reader that might have certain disabilities, or sensitivities. She loves reviewing movie dvd’s and television shows.
  • Amy

    I agree on your review of “The Event” & “Undercovers.” I have watched “No Ordinary Family,” & the jury’s still out. I had no interest in the other offerings; today’s sitcoms are pure filth, spewing out sexual innuendos & crude body part & “fart” jokes that belong in frat houses. Mainstreaming that type of behavior is offensive to me. I know I’m a prude by most people’s standards; for one thing, I’m so sick of seeing people bed-hopping without any consequences; pregnancy is viewed as easily escaped by abortion; no one gets genital herpes or any other STDs, & jealousy is the only hassle they have. We don’t need so much encouragement of that type of activity. Give it a break. Something has to be funny, something that’s not related to body parts & functions or someone abusing a child.
    I have watched a lot of NBC offerings that were, IMO, unfairly stopped. “Kings,” a few seasons ago, was a political drama, but they unfolded events a little too slowly & didn’t put in enough background to hook people. Then there was “Persons Unknown,” which was more like a mini-series; it was good; it developed better than “Kings” (although still slowly), & I believe it should continue, but apparently they have no plans to keep up with this one.
    If you have basic cable, USA had some great summer offerings. They continued “Royal Pains,” a dramedy about a doctor who, having ensured a hospital board member is stable after surgery, leaves his care in the hands of the PACU staff. While he saves a child’s life, the board member crashes & dies. The doctor is fired, mostly because he doesn’t grovel & apologize for not dumping a poor kid & letting him die in favor of an older & ill man whose crash was not anticipated based on his condition – plus, IRL, there would’ve been other doctors who could’ve managed anything a good nurse couldn’t handle. The character is so thorough medically that it’s unlikely any needed orders would’ve been omitted, but they have to get the guy fired & then to the Hamptons, the setting for the show. Anyway, his CPA brother has made plans to crash a party in the Hamptons, & drags his despondent doctor brother with him. The doctor starts to loosen up, & the inevitable medical emergency occurs. Turns out the rich have “concierge doctors” who are very well paid to tend to their every whim. The current one disbelieves that the young woman in obvious distress has any problem other than substance abuse, & calls the boyfriend a liar. The party-crashing doctor asks questions of guests who’ve seen the girl, & asks the gardener (who helped bring her in), & discovers the girl is going into anaphylactic shock from an allergy to the insecticide. He fixes the problem, prompting the host to fire him because had the girl’s autopsy shown she died unnecessarily, aside from a loss of life, there is a risk of scandal, lawsuits, & violation of privacy. He hires the young doctor, letting him live with his brother on the premises, telling him he can stay even if the host opts to hire a different concierge doctor. The story turns around his work to help a local hospital administrator open a free clinic despite opposition from a powerful surgeon & despite the wealthy’s complaints that the doctor might be delayed. He solves, a la “House,” baffling medical problems but without the nasty behavior & tons of “zebra” ailments. (Physicians who supervise med students & new MDs often complain their charges look for exotic diseases when most of the time, they have something common that can be fixed inexpensively, hence they’re looking for zebras instead of horses). “Royal Pains” is on hiatus, possibly until next summer.
    Another USA offering resuming probably in the winter is “White Collar,” which is a knockoff of “Catch Me If You Can,” featuring a young art thief/artist/expert finally caught by the FBI, then pulled from prison, wearing an anklet & helping the FBI solve similar crimes. He has an interesting buddy, landlady, & array of friends, & an FBI agent who hates him.
    USA has a comedy, “Psych,” featuring a slacker & his childhood friend. The friend is buttoned down & responsible. The slacker’s dad is a retired cop who taught him how to be uber-observant; his memory training allows him to figure out who committed crimes, but after multiple calls to the local PD, they figure he’s in on the crimes or he wouldn’t be able to solve them. He fakes being a psychic. It’s been around since the last season of “Monk,” the story of an obsessive-compulsive detective whose wife was killed in a car bomb explosion. “Monk” reruns are widely available on basic cable networks. There’s also “In Plain Sight,” a drama about witness protection featuring a female agent who can’t seem to sustain a relationship with a guy, likely because she’s enamored of her partner & doesn’t realize it. Between her dysfunctional family & her witsec clients, she’s kept pretty busy. It’s not for everyone. “Chase” is another witsec/US Marshall offering on NBC, but I haven’t been able to sustain the interest in it that I have for “In Plain Sight.”
    I’ve been a “Stargate” fanatic since I put my baby in with a sitter when my husband had a day off & took him to the movies to see the movie that has inspired 3 TV series on Syfy: “Stargate SG-1” took up from where the movie left off. Several seasons later, “Stargate Atlantis” spun off from, & often intertwined with, “SG1,” but it was canceled, & 3 made-for-TV movies followed. “Atlantis” is supposed to have movies, too, but so far I haven’t seen a hint. “Stargate Universe” is the current offering, in its 2nd season, & spins off from a situation where scientists & a few military are taken by secret US space ships capable of “warp” or FTL (faster than light) speed take them to a planet suitable for an experiment to connect to more distant stargates (rings that form a wormhole through which one can go to other planets). The planet’s core goes nuclear, & the only option those working on the project have is to take the address they’ve been trying to figure out, go with the premise the teenage gaming slacker/math genius has figured out, & dial the stargate in hopes it will go to a place from which they can be rescued. They end up on a decrepit spaceship that’s pre-programmed to take them Heaven-knows-where. It’s more a survival show than the others, which were mostly focused on exploration, fighting bad guys, & making alliances. I will always miss the first series, “SG1,” but the chemistry died when Richard Dean Anderson’s character was promoted & stopped going on missions. His character’s warped sense of humor was a key part of the series, & his replacement doesn’t quite have the same chemistry.
    I like a lot of Syfy’s offerings, but their movies are C movies, not even making B level, except for the “Stargate SG-1” movies. While I didn’t like either the old or the new versions of “Battlestar Galactica,” I have to admit to some curiosity about the “prequel” series “Caprica” – just not enough to watch it!
    Hope these additions might be some help. Sorry about the prudishness; I guess my age is showing!

  • I am watching “The Event” because my husband is a sci-fi addict, but I have found it to be very interesting. The story line does jump around a lot…like Lost which often left me Lost…loved that show too. This show definately leaves the viewer hooked, wanting to know more. That doesn’t mean it will stay. I hope it does. With the loss of Lost and 24, it seems to be a combination of the two shows as far as the intrigue and drama that happens. I have found it facinating to watch.

    Of the other shows, Hawaii 5-0 was the one I was most looking forward to, not only because Daniel Dae Kim was going to be on it but because of Alex O’Loughlin who play Steve McGarrett. I am a HUGE fan of Alex, think he’s extremely talented as well as nice eye-candy. His facial expressions and personality are really coming out on this show and his interpretation of the character are stellar. More fun than the original McGarrett with humor and intellect mixed in. I really hope this show stays. Remakes often don’t last, but this one so far has not disappointed and I think is better than the original.