CBS: What’s New for Fall 2010

MONDAY

Mike & Molly (Mon., Sept. 20 @ 9:30 PM, CBS)

* The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “The Event” (NBC), “Lonestar” (Fox), “Gossip Girl” (The CW)

Starring: Billy Gardell, Melissa McCarthy, Reno Wilson, Katy Mixon, Nyambi Nyambi, Swoosie Kurtz

Producers: Chuck Lorre and Mark Roberts (“Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory”)

Network’s Description: a comedy about a working class Chicago couple who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Officer Mike Biggs is a good-hearted cop who sincerely wants to lose weight. Mike’s partner, Officer Carl McMillan, is a thin, fast-talking wise-guy who, despite his teasing, encourages Mike on his road to slimness and romance. While speaking at an O.A. meeting, Mike meets Molly Flynn, an instantly likeable fourth-grade teacher with a good sense of humor about her curves. For Molly, focusing on smart choices isn’t easy while living with her sexy older sister, Victoria, and their mother, Joyce, both of whom flaunt their effortless figures while indulging their healthy appetites right in front of her. Mike also faces temptation at the diner he and Carl frequent, where they’ve become friends with a Senegalese waiter, Samuel, to whom dieting is a foreign concept. Mike and Molly found each other in the most unexpected of places. Now, they’re about to find out where their quest for companionship will take them.

The Buzz: Even the people who hate the show’s abundance of fat jokes…I’m one of them, and I’m pretty sure I’d still be one of them even if I wasn’t overweight…aren’t arguing with the odds of a Chuck Lorre show becoming a success, especially not on the night of the week that’s spawned his biggest hits.

Pilot Highlight: when Mike speaks to Molly’s class and reveals the origins of his career in law enforcement…or, really, anytime Mike and Molly are together. They’re a ridiculously cute couple.

Bottom Line: If the writers don’t put the show on a low-fat-jokes diet immediately – there are, no weight pun intended, a ton of them – in favor of embracing the great chemistry between Gardell and McCarthy, viewers’ romance with the show will be short-lived, but Lorre’s track record is such that we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll get “Mike & Molly” into shape sooner than later.

Hawaii Five-0 (Mon., Sept. 20 @ 10:00 PM, CBS)

* The competition: “Castle” (ABC), “Chase” (NBC)

Starring: Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Karyn Manning

Producers: Peter Lenkov (“24,” “CSI: NY”), Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (“Alias,” “Fringe”)

Network’s Description: a contemporary take on the classic series about a new elite federalized task force whose mission is to wipe out the crime that washes up on the Islands’ sun-drenched beaches. Detective Steve McGarrett, a decorated Naval officer-turned-cop, returns to Oahu to investigate his father’s murder and stays after Hawaii’s Governor persuades him to head up the new team: his rules, her backing, no red tape and full blanket authority to hunt down the biggest “game” in town. Joining McGarrett is Detective Danny “Danno” Williams, a newly relocated ex-New Jersey cop – a working man in paradise who prefers skyscrapers to the coastline – but who’s committed to keeping the Islands safe for his 8-year-old daughter; and Chin Ho Kelly, an ex-Honolulu Police Detective, and former protégé of McGarrett’s father, wrongly accused of corruption and relegated to a federal security patrol. Chin’s cousin, Kono, is a beautiful and fearless native, fresh out of the academy and eager to establish herself among the department’s elite. McGarrett, repairing his relationship with his estranged sister Mary Ann, vows to bring closure to their father’s case, while the state’s brash new FIVE-0 unit, who may spar and jest among themselves, is determined to eliminate the seedy elements from the 50th state.

The Buzz: If it’s not the strongest of the season, it’s pretty close. CBS is waging a seriously impressive tightrope-walk of an ad campaign, playing up as many of the familiar elements as possible – you’d better believe the theme song remains the same – while also underlining that this is a modernized reboot rather than a continuation of the old show. And how about that cast, huh? Well, I suppose you’ve got to have pretty people to fit in with the gorgeous landscape…

Pilot Highlight: The opening sequence sets up the series – and McGarrett’s tortured past – in seriously kick-ass fashion, confirming that this is not your (grand)parent’s “Hawaii Five-0,” but the more sentimental viewers will giggle with glee when McGarrett finally gets to deliver his signature line, “Book him, Danno.”

Bottom Line: The combination of a familiar title, a solid ensemble, the beautiful backdrop, and O’Laughlin crossing his fingers and putting his faith in the power of the “third time’s the charm” rule should make this into a hit.

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TCA Tour: Lost

Let us begin our coverage of ABC’s “Lost” panel by giving all due props to Jonathan Storm, TV critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who kicked things off with the following statement: “Hello, I’d like to ask each one of you to tell exactly what happens in the final season.”

Nice try, Mr. Storm.

Fortunately, Storm had a back-up question ready to ask of the panel – which consisted of Emilie de Ravin (Claire), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Evangeline Lilly (Kate), executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Michael Emerson (Ben), and Jorge Garcia (Hurley) – once the laughter stopped: how are you feeling as this comes to an end?

“As we were walking out onto the stage and this montage was playing, I was whispering to my cast members, ‘I am going to cry like a baby when this show ends,'” said Lilly. “It’s become so nostalgic for us to look back over six years and have grown up together and grown up in front of all of you together. It’s been so intense that for it to come to an end is going to be life-changing.”

Garcia instantly agreed. “Certain places that we shoot, it’s, like, ‘Wow, I haven’t been here since season three,'” he said. “Right now, it’s very appreciative and precious.”

“There’s a lot of camaraderie on set now,” acknowledged Holloway. “It feels…a lot of magic, like the first season. It was an incredibly magical year, and the whole experience, of course, has been incredible, but this last year, everyone’s really getting that sense of camaraderie and nostalgia, and it’s just been fabulous.”

“You know, personally, I’m just feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude,” said Lindelof, “and the idea that we’re getting to end something while anybody still cares and while we still kind of love each other, as opposed to everybody saying, ‘It’s about time.’ This is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-career experience, for a show that’s still performing, for the network to allow us to end it, is a tremendous gift. As Evangeline was saying, as I was walking onto the stage, I was sort of experiencing a sense of, ‘I can’t believe they’re going to actually let us get away with this.'”

When asked how long the conclusion of “Lost” had been determined, Cuse acknowledged that there really wasn’t a definitive answer to that question. “We came up with the final image of the show a long time ago back when we were first plotting out the mythology in the first season, then we started adding elements to that as we went along…and, really, between the first and the second season is when we cooked the mythology,” he said. “We kind of knew what the end point was, but as you move towards the end point, you add elements. Obviously, the end is not yet written, and there are certain sort of mythological, architectural elements that are intact for that ending, but a lot of character stuff will get worked out as we go along. I mean, that’s part of the discovery process of writing. For instance, Michael Emerson wasn’t on the show at that point. It’s a fun process because we sort of have a concept of where we’re going to end the show, but there is still the process of actually executing it and there still is the process of discovery, particularly on a character level, that will come into play as we finish the show.”

“So if you guys have any ideas,” said Lindelof, “we’re open-minded.”

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Lost 5.5 – This Island Is Death

In the mid-’90s, my then-girlfriend watched “Melrose Place” religiously. I wasn’t opposed to the show itself – any show with Heather Locklear is worth at least a look with the sound off, right? – but every time Marcia Cross came onscreen, I would repeat my mantra: “Would someone please KILL HER?” They would even tease us with promos saying, “One of these character will die,” then show all the leads and one blatant Red Shirt character. It made me crazy that these people would knock on Death’s door and ask him to punch them in the face, but they survived everything, like a bunch of bed-hopping cockroaches. For years, I would think that TV shows didn’t have the balls to kill their characters. It would be too risky, too polarizing.

Man, karma’s a bitch. This week alone, Daphne bites it on “Heroes,” and now Charlotte succumbs to Time Jumping Syndrome. TV finally gave me everything I ever wanted. It wasn’t what I wanted. Come on, they couldn’t have killed the cheerleader and Juliet instead?

Ben Linus might be the most conniving bag of douche on God’s green earth, but you have to admire how unflappable he is. He never loses his cool or panics even when someone has a gun to his head, and that happens a lot. This time it was Sun that was looking for a little payback, though one thing about her arc bugs me: she gets the gun through covert means, and is flipping through a file with shots of Jack and Ben before meeting them at the pier. At first, it looked as though she was on assignment, and Ben was the target. Is she a contract killer, or did she merely pull a few of Daddy’s strings to acquire some heat?

“You go ahead, Sawyer. I’m going to watch the love of my life regress to her childhood self and die, but not before scaring the living shit out of me.”

The bits between Rousseau and Jin were interesting, though much like everything else about “Lost,” they ask more questions than they answer. Her entire group goes to save their leader after the smoke monster drags him below (though not before he loses an arm, yikes). Then Jin jumps forward a little bit, and the rest of her group is now “infected,” though with what we’re not sure. She even thinks Jin is infected too, and since the father of Rousseau’s baby just tried to shoot her, I can’t say I blame her for being a little paranoid. Still, I hope they shed more light on what happened to them in the “temple.” I’d also love to know how Ben came to be Alexandra’s “father.”


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