As CBS releases its fall schedule, angry “Jericho” fans begin Googling for those sites they’ve heard about where you can learn how to build your very own atomic bomb

Okay, fine, we’d like to think that no-one out there is so completely obsessed with “Jericho” that they’d actually rationalize that it’d be reasonable payback to actually drop an A-bomb on CBS for cancelling the show…but, hey, I dropped a few F-bombs in CBS’s general direction, if that counts for anything. Of course, I also offered them at least a thousand thank-yous for their decision to renew “How I Met Your Mother,” so, as you can see, I’m having a little turmoil over my feelings toward the network.

So CBS has revealed what the 2007 – 2008 season has in store for its viewers, and rather than wallow in sorrow, let’s just see if they’ve got anything that help us through the process of mourning “Jericho.”


Again, despite our annoyances with them, let us at least sing the praises of CBS for keeping the consistently hysterical “How I Met Your Mother” on the air; “The Class,” however, did not make it beyond its freshman year (you knew I’d make that joke, didn’t you?), so it’s now been paired with “The Big Bang Theory.”

THE BIG BANG THEORY is a comedy from the Emmy Award nominated Co-Creator and Executive Producer of “Two and a Half Men” Chuck Lorre, about brainy best friends Leonard (Johnny Galecki, “Roseanne”) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons “Judging Amy”), who can tell you anything you want to know about quantum physics, but when it comes to dealing with everyday life here on earth they’re lost in the cosmos. Neither fully understands that scientific principles don’t always apply in matters of the heart — until they meet their sexy new neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco, “8 Simple Rules…”), a friendly screenwriter/waitress from the midwest who also happens to be newly single. She quickly makes an impression on the other members of Leonard and Sheldon’s geek squad — Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”), who portrays himself as the Casanova of Cal Tech, and fellow whiz kid Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar, “NCIS”), who is rendered speechless around anyone unprepared to converse about the Theory of Relativity or other scientific jargon. The chemistry between this gaggle of geniuses and a delightful damsel is about to undergo a stimulating series of inter-personal experiments. Multiple Emmy Award winner James Burrows (“Will & Grace”) directed the pilot. Lorre and Bill Prady (“Gilmore Girls,” “Dharma & Greg”) are executive producers for Warner Bros. Television.

Okay, there’s potential here, since everyone knows that geeks = funny…but, then, I’m a geek, and we always prefer to laugh at ourselves. (It’s so much less painful than when others laugh at us.) Otherwise, Monday night remains essentially unchanged; it’s “Two and a Half Men,” “Rules of Engagement,” and “CSI: Miami.” Hey, look, another excuse to link to seven minutes of David Caruso’s best (read, “most groan-inducing”) one-liners!


“NCIS” and “The Unit” return for a two-hour block of the best series that you always forget to watch until they’re out on DVD…well, I do, anyway…but the evening ends with a new drama: “Cane.”

CANE” stars Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Jimmy Smits (“The West Wing”) in an epic drama about the external rivalries and internal power struggles of a large Cuban-American family running an immensely successful rum and sugar business in South Florida. When the family patriarch, Pancho (Hector Elizondo, “Chicago Hope”), is offered a lucrative but questionable deal by his bitter adversary, the Samuels, to purchase thousands of acres of sugar fields, he’s faced with a tough choice: Should he cash out of the sugar business and focus solely on rum, which would please his impulsive natural son, Frank (Nestor Carbonell, “Lost”), or protect the family legacy that he built from the ground up by not selling, and side with his adopted son, Alex (Smits), who mistrusts the Samuels and still sees value in sugar. Alex and Frank’s approach to business is as different as their approach to life. While Frank might lose focus chasing women, Alex is deeply in love with his beautiful wife, Isabel (Paola Turbay, “Bailando por un Sueño”), who is also Pancho’s daughter. Married when she was just 17 years old, Isabel balances Alex by choosing not to involve herself in the business, focusing instead on their three children, who are determined to forge their own paths outside the family. For the Duques, will family allegiance come first or will their secrets and acrimonious conflicts over love, lust and control of the family fortune be their downfall? Eddie Matos (“General Hospital”), Rita Moreno (“West Side Story”), Michael Trevino (“The Riches”), Lina Esco (“CSI: NY”), Sam Carman (“Bones”), Alona Tal (“Veronica Mars”) and Polly Walker (“Rome”) also star. Cynthia Cidre (“The Mambo Kings”), Jonathan Prince (“American Dreams”), Jimmy Iovine (“8 Mile”) and Polly Anthony (“Lifehouse: Live in Portland!”) are the executive producers for ABC Studios in association with CBS Paramount Network Television.

Okay, I’m not saying that I’m necessarily intrigued, but at the very least, I think George Lopez may be jumping the gun with his comments that “TV just became really, really white again.” (Then again, if my show had been cancelled in favor of a new show based on the Geico caveman, I’d probably be in saying-things-I’m-going-to-regret-later mode, too.


Things start new before finishing with a two-fer of the familiar. “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY” remain in the 9 and 10 PM slots, respectively, but at 8 PM, we get the latest reality show that may or may not sweep the nation: “Kid Nation.”

KID NATION” is a reality-based series in which 40 kids will have 40 days to build a new world — in a ghost town that died in the 19th Century. These kids, ages 8-15, will spend more than a month without their parents or modern comforts in Bonanza City, N.M., attempting to do what their forefathers could not — build a town that works. They will cook their own meals, clean their own outhouses, haul their own water and even run their own businesses — including the old town saloon (root beer only). They’ll also create a real government — four kid leaders who will guide the group through their adventure, pass laws and set bedtimes. Through it all, they’ll cope with regular childhood emotions and situations: homesickness, peer pressure and the urge to break every rule they’ve ever known. At the end of each episode, all 40 kids will gather at an old fashioned Town Hall meeting where they will debate the issues facing Bonanza City. They’ll show wisdom beyond their years and the unflinching candor that only kids can exhibit. There are no eliminations on KID NATION — you only go home if you want to. And in every Town Hall meeting, kids may raise their hands and leave. Will they stick it out? In the end, will these kids prove to adults everywhere (and their own parents!) that they have the vision to build a better world than the pioneers who came before them? And just as importantly, will they come together as a cohesive unit, or will they abandon all responsibility and succumb to the childhood temptations that lead to round-the-clock chaos? KID NATION is produced by Emmy Award winner Tom Forman (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) for Tom Forman Prods. and Good TV, Inc.

Okay, I’m sorry, but I’m gonna need to someone over at CBS to swear on a stack of bibles that this idea came into existence prior to the success of “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” Because I’ve never seen anyone actually struck by lightning before, and it might be pretty cool.


You are now entering the Change-Free Zone: “Survivor,” “CSI,” and “Without A Trace,” all three series remain in place. Why mess with success, right, CBS?


Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts continue to shine in “Ghost Whisperer,” and “Numb3rs” apparently continues to rack up enough ratings to add another season to its tally. In-between, we have a new series that will have all the clever wags asking, “Will ‘Moonlight‘ Shine?”

MOONLIGHT,” from prolific movie producer Joel Silver (“The Matrix,” Trilogy), is about Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin, upcoming “White Out”), a captivating “undead” private investigator who uses his acute vampire senses to help the living… instead of feeding on them. In an agonizing twist of fate, Mick was “bitten” 60 years ago by his new bride, the seductive and beguiling Coraline (Amber Valletta, “Hitch”). Immortal and eternally as young, handsome and charismatic as he was then, Mick is sickened by Coraline and other vampires who view humans only as a source of nourishment. With only a handful of undead confidantes for company, including deceitful ally Josef (Rade Serbedzija, “24”), Mick fills his infinite days protecting the living, and trying not to think about how his life would have been if he hadn’t followed his heart. However, after six decades of resisting, he wonders if it’s time to pursue the love of a mortal. He has his eyes on Beth Turner, a beautiful, ambitious reporter who has been covering the ongoing plague of unusual murders. But would Beth even consider giving up a normal life to be with him, and can Mick risk the pain of seeing himself as a monster in her eyes? As Mick lives between two realities, fighting his adversaries among the undead and falling in love with Beth, he knows he needs to figure out a reason to keep “living.” MOONLIGHT is directed by executive producer Rod Holcomb (“ER”). Joel Silver, Ron Koslow (“Birds of Prey”), Trevor Munson and Gerard Bocaccio are also executive producers for Warner Bros. Television.

Okay, sorry, CBS, but it has to be said: this show has been done at least twice already. First, we had “Forever Knight,” and then, the concept was done much better via “Angel.” If the word on the street is true about how you’re looking to escape from your staid image, let us clue you in: the solution is more likely to be found in new, creative ideas rather than in the recycling of old ones.


Following the same trend as the other networks, CBS is sticking with as little new and original programming on Saturdays as possible, opening the night with two hours of recycled episodes of “CSI” and “Cold Case” – cleverly packaged as “Crimetime Saturday” to suggest that it might be something new (even though it isn’t) – but at least they’re followed by new episodes of “48 Hours: Mystery.”


As ever, Sunday starts with “60 Minutes,” which is good, because it’s hard to imagine a Sunday night without the show. After that, it’s…a musical? Apparently so…or, at least, that’s one of the words they’re using to describe “Viva Laughlin.”

Executive produced by Tony and Emmy Award winner Hugh Jackman (“The Boy from Oz,” “X-Men”), VIVA LAUGHLIN is a mystery drama with music about eternal optimist and freewheeling businessman Ripley Holden, whose sole ambition is to run a casino in Laughlin, Nev. Occasionally using upbeat contemporary songs to accentuate the drama and humor and advance the story, the series is based on the hit BBC show “Viva Blackpool.” Ripley (Lloyd Owen, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”) is the ultimate gambler with an infectious personality who is on the brink of making a killing… just as soon as he opens his casino that’s nowhere near completion. When his financing suddenly falls through, the fearless and tenacious Ripley approaches his enemy — dashing, sarcastic, wealthy casino owner Nicky Fontana (Hugh Jackman) for help. Though the odds are stacked against him, Ripley doesn’t miss a beat, even when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after the body of his ex-business partner is found at his club. At home, Ripley uses his dry wit to adjust to the demands of his family: his gorgeous wife, Natalie (Madchen Amick, “ER”), wants more attention; his teenage daughter, Cheyenne (Ellen Woglom, “The O.C.”), wants his approval; and his son, Jack (Carter Jenkins, “Surface”), wants to help him at work. All of this adversity would defeat a lesser man, but for the outgoing and passionate Ripley there’s no such thing as bad news, only deals to be struck and wagers to be won in the intoxicating neon glow of Laughlin, where the cards are on the table, romance is in the air and lively music is on the stage. Eric Winter (“Wildfire”) and D.B. Woodside (“24”) also star. Directed by Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”). Golden Globe Award nominee Hugh Jackman, John Palermo (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), Bob Lowry (“Huff”), Paul Telegdy and Peter Bowker (“Viva Blackpool”) are executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions, Seed Productions, CBS Paramount Network Television in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Look, I know Hugh Jackman is a song and dance man from way back – the dude played Peter Allen in “The Boy from Oz” and won a Tony – but does even The Man Who Would Be Wolverine have the popularity to make a weekly musical into a prime-time hit? Surely those of us who lived through “Cop Rock” are appropriately skeptical. As to the rest of the night, 9 PM brings “Cold Case,” while 10 PM finds CBS betting that James Woods fans will follow “Shark” to a new location. We’ll just see about that.

Additionally, CBS has two other shows ready to be rolled out at a moment’s notice: “Power of 10,” a game show hosted by Drew Carey which “challenges contestants to guess the behaviors, opinions and lifestyle choices of the American public for the chance to win $10 million,” and “Swingtown,” a drama which “peeks into the shag-carpeted suburban homes of the 1970s to find couples reveling in the sexual and social revolution that introduced open marriages, women’s liberation and challenged many conventional wisdoms.” (Count on the latter being referred to as “That ’70s Sex Show.” Well, at least by me, anyway.)

I dunno. Okay, “Swingtown” does sound edgy, and although its chances of success seem to hover around nil, you can’t say that “Viva Laughlin” doesn’t sound unique and creative…but, overall, I get the feeling that I’m still gonna miss “Jericho” come the fall.


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