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The New Shows/Schedule For Fall 2008


Chief of Surgery
Aug 30, 2000
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The Writer's Strike has made this year a little light for new fall shows. If any of the new ones fail, the networks will have midseason replacements ready to go.

Project Gary (Wednesday, 8:30) is a new sitcom starring Jay Mohr (goodbye, Ghost Whisperer!) and Paula Marshall (Nip/Tuck) about a recently divorced dad trying to balance the demands of his kids and his ex, while getting out into the dating world. Ed Yeager (Still Standing) and Ric Swartzlander (8 Simple Rules) are the executive producers -- I know, yeech! -- but there's supposedly very good buzz about this show, and CBS apparently wanted to keep Mohr on the net. By the description, it sounds like this might pair well with Christine on Wednesdays -- two divorce, single parent comedies. "We really wanted to focus on comedy, and we had the goods to it this year," said CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler. "We've been looking to expand, to build out to another night. We have two of highest-testing new comedies we've had in years."

The Worst Week (Monday, 9:30) is an American version of a British comedy (The Worst Week of My Life) about a young engaged couple getting acquainted with their in-laws. Kyle Bornheimer and Erin Hayes (Kitchen Confidential) star as the couple. Kurtwood Smith (That '70s Show) also stars. (By the way, didn't ABC do a similar show in 2006 -- remember Big Day? It starred Wendie Malick and Marla Sokoloff among others). Matt Tarses (Scrubs) wrote the script. NBC Universal owns this sitcom; the net had first shot at this show and passed.

The Ex List (Friday, 9:00) (formerly known as Mythological Ex) is a romantic drama about a woman who gets a tarot card reading at a party and learns that she needs to marry very soon and she's already met the man who is her destiny. She has to go back through her ex-es to find him. Elizabeth Reaser (an Emmy nominee for Grey's Anatomy) stars. Diane Ruggiero (Veronica Mars) wrote the pilot, and it's said to have a sweet, romantic comedy flair. It sounds interesting, especially if Ruggiero does her Mars magic here. Pairing this with Ghost is an attempt to draw the ladies to the TV. "Women drive network television," Tassler said. "Women watch our procedurals and comedies and we wanted to build on that. We've added more female faces to the network."

Eleventh Hour (Thursday, 10:00) is a latest from Jerry Bruckheimer's production company -- Cold Case, CSI -- so you know that this will be given every chance to succeed. CBS loves Jerry. The show stars Rufus Sewell as a scientific investigator working for the government to probe unsolved anomalies. Based on a British series that starred Patrick Stewart, it already has sci-fi fans curious. Sounds like an X-Files wannabe to me. The showrunners are Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff, formerly of Sleeper Cell.

The Mentalist (Tuesday, 9:00) marks the return of Simon Baker (The Guardian, Smith) to CBS. He plays a man who has superior innate (ESP?) powers of deduction to assist the California Bureau of Investigation. Bruno Heller (Rome) is the writer. Robin Tunney (Prison Break) co-stars.

Rules of Engagement - yes, it's coming back. Watch for it to replace any sitcom that falters.

Harper's Island is a murder mystery involving a group of friends who meet on an island near Seattle for a wedding when things go very wrong, like murder. Jericho producer Jon Turteltaub is in charge and the pilot was penned by Ari Schlossberg. It hasn't been shot yet nor has it been cast. Tassler described it as a cross between 10 Little Indians and Scream. (What no Gilligan's Island and Lost?)

Other Notes
The Amazing Race will have two editions for the 2008-09 season (yes!). Similarly, Survivor will air the 17th edition -- Gabon-Earth's Last Eden -- in the fall, and the 18th in the spring. Both will be in HD for the first time.

Moonlight is definitely gone. It will not get another go on The CW. According to CBS, it was a tough decision to let it go, but they felt they needed to make space for other projects.

The CW
90210 (Tuesday, 8 p.m.) From the press release: "An edgy, contemporary spin-off of the iconic drama Beverly Hills, 90210, the new 90210 looks at life through the eyes of Annie Mills (Shenae Grimes, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and her brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Wire), whose first day at West Beverly Hills High School leaves no doubt they're not in Kansas anymore." Just when you thought nobody in Hollywood had any original ideas anymore, you were proven correct. The first episode guest starts Jennie Garth as Kelly Taylor from the original series, which is a bit like having Michael Knight guest star in the pilot of a new Knight Rider series. Oh wait, they did that too.

Surviving the Filthy Rich (Tuesday, 9 p.m.) From the press release: "Twenty-three-year-old Megan Smith (JoAnna Garcia, Reba) has a Yale education, a relentlessly positive attitude and a plan to conquer the world of journalism, despite the fact that she is currently slaving away at a tabloid rag. Megan's plan is thrown off course when, in one whirlwind day, she gets fired, meets cosmetics mogul Laurel Limoges (casting TBD) and becomes the live-in tutor for Laurel's twin teen granddaughters in the heady Palm Beach world of wealth and power." A couple of the Gossip Girl folks are behind this series and I suspect it to be somewhat similar in tone.

Stylista (Wednesday, 9 p.m.) From the press release: "If The Devil Wears Prada were a reality show, it would be Stylista. Eleven aspiring fashion enthusiasts vie for a much-coveted editorial job with Elle magazine. They work as assistants to Elle's Fashion News Director, Anne Slowey, a demanding but well-respected fashion icon. The competitors will carry out an assistant task and a fashion editorial assignment in each episode. Each week, in consultation with Elle's Creative Director, Joe Zee, Anne fires one person, until the last assistant standing gets "promoted" to the coveted real-life job opportunity. The grand prize includes a paid editorial position at Elle magazine, a paid lease on a great apartment in Manhattan, and a clothing allowance at H&M, all for one year, valued at $100,000." In other words, it's The Apprentice meets Sex and the City. I don't like reality television to begin with and I have many writer friends who bust their ass to get into the industry without making it. As a result I feel that this particular program deserves a special corner in Reality Television Hell.

Additional notes:
The CW has subcontracted out their Sunday night block to independent producers, much like many networks do for Saturday mornings. It's an interesting experiment. Imagine if another producer found a hit for Sunday night then moved it to another network.

The Fall season will be launching with four two-hour premieres before the shows settle into their regular timeslots. On Monday, August 25th, Prison Break premieres with a two-hour episode, followed by two hours of new series Fringe on Tuesday, August 26th, two hours of Bones on Wednesday, August 27th and a two hour season premiere of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? on Thursday, August 28th. Once again, FOX is getting a head-start on the new season with a late August start.

New This Fall (All Times Eastern)

Fringe (Tuesday, 9:00) is the next brain squeeze from executive producer J.J. Abrams (Lost), Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. It features Mark Valley (Boston Legal) and newcomer Anna Torv as FBI Special Agents who get called in to investigate the grisly deaths of every passenger on board an international flight just arrived at Boston's Logan Airport. The press indicates it's a mix of thrill, terror, sci-fi and drama which sounds a lot like Abrams' little show over on ABC. It also features the return of Dawson Creek's Joshua Jackson, for the kids you know, as the son of this generation's Einstein played by John Nobel (The Lord of the Rings). The mystery behind what happened to flight 627 is but a small piece in a much larger truth that will be revealed over time. Coupling this with House, their strongest non-Idol performer is a smart move for FOX.

Do Not Disturb (previously called The Inn) (Wednesday, 9:30) features the return of Jerry O'Connell (Crossing Jordan, Carpoolers) as the stylish and egocentric general manager of an up-scale New York City hotel. The show looks to be another workplace comedy as its principal cast is the various staff members at the hotel, including Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) in HR, Molly Stanton (Twins) behind the front desk, Brando Eaton (Zoey 101) as the bellman, Jolene Purdy (Donnie Darko) in reservations and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The Class) as the head of housekeeping. Robert Wagner is set to guest as The Inn's owner, and maybe they can go Love Boat with this one by having celebrity guests at The Inn. Sounds like sweeps gold to me! Maybe Britney Spears will be available.

New Next January (All Times Eastern)

Dollhouse (Monday, 8:00) will serve as the lead-in to the highly anticipated new season of 24. This Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity) project has been one of the most buzzed about shows of the new fall season, so it's a bit disappointing to see it shifted to January. And yet, at the same time January is when things really happen at FOX so it might be better for the show this way. Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling) reunites with Whedon for this sci-fi thriller in which Dushku plays an "Active," a member of an illegal underground organization that provides memory wiped individuals for any number of needs, from romantic entanglements to criminal activities. After each deed, the Actives are returned to the "Dollhouse" where their memories are wiped clean readying them for their next assignment. Dushku's memories begin to return, though, providing the fulcrum for this series as she discovers who she was and who she truly is. The show also features Dichen Lachman (Neighbours) and Enver Gjokaj (The Unit) as fellow Actives, Fran Kranz (Welcome to the Captain) as the Dollhouse's programmer, Olivia Williams (X-Men: The Last Stand) who gives the Actives their assignments and Battlestar Galactica's Tahmoh Penikett as the FBI Agent who's on the trail of this elusive organization.

Secret Millionaire (Thursday, 9:00) joins Hell's Kitchen for a new night of reality television. In Millionaire, various wealthy individuals immerse themselves for a time in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in America. Shot as a documentary, the series follows these "secret millionaires" as they work side-by-side in these communities, trying to get by on minimum wage or worse. The "reality twist" on this one is that at the end of their time living with those less fortunate, the secret millionaire will meet with those people they've met, reveal their true identity and award at least $100,00 of their own money to the most deserving individual they've encountered in their time. A mix of 30 Days and uplifting reality shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, this has the potential to be both insightful and informative.

Sit Down, Shut Up (working title) (Sunday, 8:30) will fall into the schedule in Spring 2009 when King of the Hill wraps up its run. This animated series is brought to you by writer Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men), which means it's going to be both awesome and incredibly contrived and lame? Set in a fishing town high school, the show focuses on eight faculty members and features the voice talents of Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Maria Bramford (Stuart Little 2), Henry Winkler (Arrested Development, Happy Days), Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live), Nick Kroll (Cavemen), Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants). With character names like Miracle Groh, Sue Sezno, Stuart Prozackian, Willard Deutschebog and Helen Klench, they're clearly going for more over the top humor than King of the Hill does. The show also promises a unique combination of animation against live-action backdrops to create a one-of-a-kind look.

The Cleveland Show (working title) (Sunday, 9:30) is the reported Family Guy spin-off featuring the popular sidekick character of Cleveland Brown. Apparently, before we knew his as one of Peter Griffin's drinking buddies, Cleveland was a high school student in love. He vowed to his sweetheart that he would aways love her and would be there for her if the man she married ever did her wrong. Apparently, the guy skipped town and so she took him up on his offer, inviting him to join her and her two children in Stoolbend, VA. So Cleveland and his son move creating the nucleus of this new show. Expect the cast to be expanded with more wacky characters including a Victorina-era British family, another family of rednecks and a family of bears at the end of the block. Bears!? "Kids! KIDS!!

Life on Mars (Thursday, 10 p.m.). Based on the BBC series created by Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah, this drama series revolves around Sam Tyler, a modern-day police detective who, after a car crash, mysteriously finds himself transported back to 1973 and still working as a detective. It stars Jason O'Mara as Sam Tyler, Rachelle LeFevre as Annie Cartwright, Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt, Stephanie Jacobsen as Maya, Lenny Clarke as George Randall, Patrick Wenk-Wolff as Colin Raimes and Richard Benjamin as Milton Kornboll. Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Jane Featherstone, Stephen Garrett and David E. Kelley are the executive producers. The pilot episode of Life on Mars was executive-produced by David E. Kelley, Tommy Schlamme, Bob Breech, Jane Featherstone and Stephen Garrett, and was produced by David E. Kelley Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

Opportunity Knocks (Tuesday, 8 p.m.). This new show literally shows up on America's doorstep and tests how well they know their family. The mobile team will arrive at "Anywhere, America" in a semi-truck full of flat screen TVs, new furniture, and big cash prizes the family can win right there, in front of all their friends and neighbors. Host J.D. Roth poses questions to family members based directly on their lives, each other, and articles found in and around their home. If they're able to prove they know their family inside and out, they'll win the prizes of their dreams. This series is executive produced by Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke, J.D. Roth and Todd A. Nelson.

The Goode Family (mid-season). A new animated series from Mike Judge (creator of King of the Hill), this comedy focuses on a family obsessed with doing the "right" thing, whether it's environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately, their efforts often have unintended comic consequences. Voice talent includes Mike Judge as Gerald, Nancy Carell as Helen, Dave Herman as Ubuntu and Abby Elliot as Bliss. Executive producers are Mike Judge, David Krinsky, John Altschuler, Michael Rotenberg and Tom Lassally.

Untitled Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks Project (mid season). A beauty pageant "unlike any you've ever seen," from executive producers Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks.

Scrubs (mid season). Yes, I know it's not "new," but it's new to ABC. This quirky series focuses on the strange experiences of Dr. John "J.D." Dorian, a medical resident, as he continues on his healing career in a surreal hospital, crammed full of unpredictable staffers and patients -- where humor and tragedy can collide at any time (as is often the case in real life). Scrubs has received a slew of awards and nominations, including 10 Emmy nominations. In 2005, the series won the Emmy for Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing, and in 2004, it was honored with a prestigious Humanitas Prize. Beginning that same year, the series received three consecutive Producers Guild Award nominations from 2004-2006. Scrubs stars Zach Braff as Dr. John "J.D." Dorian, Donald Faison as Chris Turk, Sarah Chalke as Elliot Reid, Judy Reyes as Carla Espinosa, John C. McGinley as Dr. Perry Cox, Ken Jenkins as Dr. Bob Kelso and Neil Flynn as The Janitor. It's executive produced by creator Bill Lawrence.

My Own Worst Enemy, with Christian Slater as a spy and co-starring Saffron Burrows and Mike O'Malley (Monday at 10); Momma's Boys, a Ryan Seacrest-produced reality show where moms try to find mates for their sons (ugh); the island adventure series Crusoe (Friday at 8); the Molly Shannon sitcom Kath & Kim (Tuesday at 9:30); Celebrity Circus; and the remake of Knight Rider (Wednesday at 8). The new drama The Philanthropist (with David Eick as showrunner) will air in the My Own Worst Enemy's time slot in the winter. Two other dramas will also debut in the winter: Kings (with Ian McShane) and Merlin, as will the reality show America's Toughest Jobs.

Also: There will be a spinoff of The Office, which will air after the Super Bowl (along with an episode of The Office). Friday Night Lights has been renewed for 13 episodes. The episodes will first air on DirecTV in the fall, and then air on NBC in the winter.

Courtsey TV Squad and The Futon Critic

Shows that interest me are:

The Office Spinoff - hopefully its just another workplace documentary, and not a character leaving. Though they may have set up Andy to leave with what happened in the season finale. Amanda

Life on Mars - still haven't seen the British version yet but the preview for this looked good. ABC won't make this as gritty as it could be but I'll TiVo it for sure.

Sit Down, Shut Up - the animation looks poor, but the cast and writers behind it could do a show with stick people and I'd watch.

Fringe - sounds better than Dollhouse, got the right people behind it.
Fox is looking strong.
I'm looking forward to watch Fringe. That series sounds very interesting and it is from JJ.

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