The new fall TV season is already underway with the returns of Parenthood, Gossip Girl, 90210 and America’s Next Top Model. But what we really should be talking about are the new shows vying for our attention and hoping to break out in the ratings. In a series of posts, I will be reviewing the new shows of the fall season as I see them and today, I have three biggies for you: NBC’s The Event and Chase and CW’s Nikita. Read on for more…
The Event (NBC Mon. 9pm): in a sprawling action thriller that’s like a mix of Lost meets 24, the high-profile drama The Event gets strong marks for its execution and its aspirations. The “event” of the title brings together several different characters including a military prisoner (Laura Innes), a secretive government agent (Ian Anthony Dale), a young couple (Jason Ritter and Sarah Roemer) and the President himself (Blair Underwood) among others. There are many jumps in time that are a little too reminiscent of Lost, but nonetheless, they help create a sense of urgency for what will unfold at the end of the episode. Let’s just say there’s violence, conspiracies, mystery and drama. I don’t really want to get more specific with what transpires but I will tell you this, the show is quite entertaining and I’m cautiously optimistic about where it’s heading. Underwood, Dale and especially Innes are the standouts in the cast that elevate their characters and the somewhat generic dialogue. I also look forward to more of Emmy winner Zjelko Ivanek (Damages) as a seemingly shady government advisor. I just hope the producers give us answers quickly in subsequent episodes and don’t rely on repetitive flashback scenes. The type of audience who likes this show is smart, so respect us please. Grade: B+
Chase (NBC Mon. 10pm): talk about generic… Serving up what seems like another blah CBS procedural, the peacock network gives you Chase which is basically The Fugitive the series except with a butt kicking female lead (the somewhat engaging Kelli Giddish). She heads a team of FBI agents out to find the most wanted criminal of the week. Among her team members are Cole Hauser, Jesse Metcalfe, Rose Rollins and the charming Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) who is the only series regular to leave a positive mark. I’m actually interested in his character and hope they focus more on him in future episodes… if I even tune back in. The show is fast past and action packed but lacks originality and you know it’s a bad omen when I’m more interested in the criminal than the leads. (Big ups to Travis Fimmell for his fine work as the killer in the pilot). When all is said and done, you know they will catch their prey, but the question is will you care. Grade: C
Nikita (CW, Thurs. 9pm): Who knew the CW would have such an awesome kick ass show that is also one of the best of the new season? In its latest incarnation (following a French film, and American remake starring Bridget Fonda and a USA series starring Peta Wilson), Nikita is back and badder than ever in the form of the alluring Maggie Q (Mission Impossible 3). She plays a convict who is given a new life by the government to be an assassin at their bidding. Unfortunately for them, she escapes and sets out to expose the shady organization that used her and caused the death of her former lover. Running the gov’t division is Xander Berkely (24) with some help from techie Aaron Stanford (X Men), Shane West (ER) who clearly has some history with Nikita and Melinda Clarke (The O.C.) who helps with refining the candidates they “rehabilitate” from prison. Their latest candidate is played by Lyndsey Fonseca showing a great deal of growth in her acting since her days as Dana Delaney’s daughter on Desperate Housewives. Throughout the fast paced, surprising and entertaining hour, Nikita strikes back at her former “employers” and does so with finesse, strength and humor. I’m thrilled at the prospects for this show after watching this incredibly strong pilot. Grade: A
And one other show debuted this week… Bravo’s Top Chef Desserts. It has all the elements of its fantastic Emmy winning parent show but with more sugar, calories, and some great contestants. There’s lots of fun, drama and people to root for and against. And I want to eat pretty much everything they make. It’ll make a delicious addition to your Wednesday night TV menu.