Monday, September 04, 2006

The Peacock Preview

NBC is next on the list in my Fall TV previews. Not because it is the second-best network or anything, but because it is the home of one of the most talked-about shows in this upcoming year . . . Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It's the new show helmed by Aaron Sorkin with Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry. Luckily, it's on Monday Night so I can get to discussing it soon. But not quite yet. (You can read my first installment of this year's Fall TV Preview at this link. Just skip down past the boring bits and read about ABC.)


At 8'o'clock, you've got bald guys, mutants, and old friends in new places. You've probably heard of Deal or No Deal, the Howie Mandel/suitcase model gameshow that is part Press Your Luck, part Let's Make a Deal, and a dash of Barker's Beauties. But, I've already spent too many words on a prime time game show. It won't make it past mid-January. Stephen King taught us a long time ago (Running Man) that prime time game shows get old fast--unless the models are hiding grenades in the suitcases.

One of the more intriguing shows this year is Heroes. But superhero TV shows are usually cheesy and dumb and tend to be a bit too moralizing. This one sounds like it might have a lot of X-Men influence to it, but I'm not a big X-Men fan. So, as shocked as you might be to hear to admit it, I don't think I'm going to be too interested in this show.

What's REALLY interesting on this night for NBC is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It's got everything you would want in a ten-o'clock drama. It's written, produced, directed, edited, filmed, marketed, and sold by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). It's got Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Matthew Perry (Friends) as friends/rivals/coworkers on a sketch comedy late night show. If you remember how Sports Night tried to show how ESPN put together SportsCenter, this is how NBC puts together "Saturday Night Live." But it's NOT SNL, see because they refer to SNL on this fictional sketch show. But, since it's on NBC, it allows the show within the show to make fun of how crappy NBC (and TV in general) usually is. Sounds pretty meta, right? I am definitely intrigued--especially since NBC has ANOTHER show premiering this season with a similar premise. Stupid? We'll see.


This night has two different Law & Order shows from 9 to 11, so let's focus on the new show--Friday Night Lights. Well, let's not focus TOO hard, since I haven't read the book about how important High School football is to small town Texas. See, I grew up in small town Georgia and am well aware of how important high school football can be. I saw Varsity Blues and well, I don't think I'll be watching Friday Night Lights. I'm sure it's good and all, but well . . .


NBC has lots of new stuff on this night, but I don't have extremely high hopes for it. Why? Well, this has turned into the biggest, most competitive night of the week in recent years and I just don't think NBC's offerings have what it takes. For instance, the 8 o'clock sitcom 30 Rock might be promising, but it's already at a disadvantage. The show is Tina Fey's (Saturday Night Live) comedy about a writer for a TV show and the mayhem that occurs behind the scenes. Studio 60 is already doing that show better on Monday night on this same network. Tina Fey might have the real experience to make it funny, but I don't see it happening. It'll be just another office space comedy show . . . with Alex Baldwin. (Yikes!)

But, if you make it to 8:30, you'll be rewarded with the return of John Lithgow to NBC!! Yeah! I'm sure that Twenty Good Years is going to be totally great! And I'm sure that all those Arrested Development fans won't be crying while they watch Jeffrey Tambor duck as Lithgow chews though all the scenery in sight! (Even their demeanor in the photo is upsetting.)

Jeffrey looks like he is trying to get away before Lithgow's smirk knocks his glasses off of his head.

The rest of NBC's Wednesday night is The Biggest Loser at 9 (which might be foreshadowing of what happens during the 8 o'clock hour) and then another new mystery drama at 10 called Kidnapped. I know absolutely nothing about this show except that the tag line is "The ransom is just the beginning." From that I can surmise that this show is a LOST clone in which we delve deeply into the lives of our main characters where nothing is as it seems. I'm not interested, but you can pick up a complementary copy of Identity on your way out.


This is NBC's strongest night . . . at least for the first hour. My Name is Earl and The Office are solid hits, well written, funny, and I've never watched more than an hour of the two shows combined. Why? I can't really tell you. I've WANTED to watch, but I've never made it happen. Maybe this year?

The rest of Thursday is ultimately forgettable. At 9 o'clock, Deal or No Deal rears it's ugly bald head again. Twice in one week? Really? Do you want that fork in your back this quickly? Okay . . . I just hope you've got some mid-season replacements waiting in the wings.

And at 10 o'clock, you've got ER! Yeah, seriously! I thought it was canceled or went off the air about seven years ago too, but it's still going. They rotate in a new cast about every year, so it always seems like a new show. But it's not and it quit being relevant about a decade ago. Let it die already.


You'd think that Friday Night Lights would go best on this night, but since the people most likely to watch this show will be watching actual high school football on this night, you've got other things to ignore. It's Crossing Jordan from 8 to 9, Las Vega from 9 to 10, and Law & Order from 10 to 11. Do you want to watch? Nah, me either. As I said when I previewed ABC's Friday Night, it's Battlestar Galactica or nothing on this night.


If you like professional football, then NBC Sunday night is for you--as that's all you'll get during the prime time hours. If you loathe televised entertainment in all of its forms then Saturday night is for you . . . since you can skip everything the Peacock offers and feel superior. But all you'll be missing is Dateline NBC and two hours of "Drama Encore" in which I assume the network warms up something it already showed that week and let's you see it again for the first time. Basically, just read a good book or go talk a walk, okay?

So, there you have it. On NBC, I'd save time for Monday at 10 pm (Studio 60 . . .) and then why not watch My Name is Earl and The Office on Thursday. Or just wait for the four midseason replacement shows that NBC is ready and waiting to drop on you when 30 Rock, Deal or No Deal, and Twenty Good Years are out of the picture.

And . . . oh, yeah . . . WHERE IS SCRUBS!!!!!!!!!!!

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