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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The Scream Awards go down the rabbit hole (updated)

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There was a time in this world when young people were frequently slightly ashamed of being bigger than average fans of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and especially comic books. I, personally, wasn’t embarrassed …and I paid a price. Those days may be over. In any case, the capacity crowd that showed up for Spike TV’s Scream awards, largely in costume and largely dramatically over- or under-dressed for a nighttime outdoor show after a very warm day, seemed more like club kids and less like the kind of uber geeks who become entertainment bloggers and film critics and stuff like that.

The Scream Awards are, in their fun/silly way, a big deal. Big enough to attract a good number of stars and even a few superstars like Tobey Maguire, Jessica Alba, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp and his living legend “Pirates of the Caribbean” muse, Rolling Stone Keith Richard.

I, however, am not such a big deal and was reminded of that fact when, prior to the show I found myself with the less fashionable members of the not-quite paparazzi on the “red carpet” (actually a checkered walkway) with my little digital camera and even smaller digital recorder device, wondering whether I’d really get a chance to ask a question of one of the super-famed folks, knowing that the only question I could think of at the time would be something in the nature of “What’s it like be the most notorious rock and roll star in the world, having your blood changed, and snorting your late father’s ashes?” That probably would have been inappropriate, especially if I asked it of Jessica Alba.

What actually seems to happen at events like this is that, if you’re a small-timer especially, most of the big stars either go through another entrance or walk right by you at warp speed. Meanwhile, folks who are a bit more anxious to meet the press find their way to you with the help of PR types. As an example, for about half a second, I was almost able to talk with actor Karl Urban, who did such a great job homaging DeForest Kelly while putting his own hilarious stamp on “Bones” McCoy in “Star Trek.” However, within a nanosecond he remembered he was in a big hurry and politely scurried off.

After a few odd reality show people I didn’t recognize, and the pretty young actress who assays the part of “Female Addict” in “Saw VI,” our first actual notable was statuesque model turned actress Tricia Helfer. Helfer is, make no mistake, a true superstar to TV sci-fi fans and is best known as Number Six, aka “the hot blonde cylon” on “Battlestar Galactica.” The actress appeared with her significant other, the owner of a British accent and a Giaus Baltar-style beard, but I’m sure that’s a total coincidence. I had a not terribly consequential discussion with her — lost because I apparently forgot to press the “on” button on my digital recorder. One would expect no less an effect from Number Six. UPDATE: Yeesh! As pointed out by my PH compatriot John Paulsen, the actress was actually Kate Vernon, who played the lady-MacBeth-like Ellen Tigh. It is true, all statueseque blonde women in shiny dresses look alike to me! My apologies to all concerned or unconcerned.

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Battlestar Galactica: What the frak happened in the series finale?

I thought about posting last night, but I’ve gotten into a rhythm this season with letting the episode marinate in my brain overnight and then posting on Saturday morning. I know a lot of people TiVo shows nowadays (myself included) and end up watching the episode later that night, the next day or the next week, so there isn’t a huge rush to get something up.

Was it a great finale? Absolutely. Was I blown away? Not entirely.

Let’s start at the beginning (which is always a good place to start) — more flashbacks of life on Caprica. Bill is thinking about retiring and entering the private sector, Roslin has a blind date with a former student, Lee gets to know Kara. Great, let’s move on.

Back in the future, Baltar’s vision tells him that he will “take mankind’s remnants and guide them to their end.” Last week, after watching him struggle with the decision in the hanger, I wondered whether or not Gaius would in fact volunteer to go along with the rescue mission. The truth is that it should have been obvious that he would. Creator Ronald D. Moore wasn’t about to take one of the main players out of the game in crunch time.

After an emotional scene between Roslin and Doc Coddle, Laura had a great line:

“Don’t spoil your image. Just light a cigarette and go and grumble.”

Then the planning began for the assault on the colony — that’s when the episode really got going. The final four move Sam to the CIC (more on this later) and Galactica prepares to jump.

Like just about every battle scene in the entire series, this one rocked. Galactica jumps in and immediately starts to get pummeled by the colony’s weapons. After the terrific rescue mission on New Caprica, the show had a lot to live up to, and once the birds were away and Bill ordered his crew to ram the colony, Moore and Co. had cleared the bar. It was very cool to see Lee leading a group of Centurions into the colony. Even when they’re on “our” side, they still scare the ever-loving crap out of me.

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Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak

The name of this episode was “Daybreak,” so it’s not surprising that the fleet turned a corner of sorts this week. Specifically, Bill finished mourning for the Galactica and made a major decision — that he would lead a rescue mission for Hera. This started when he saw that picture of Hera and Athena was left on the Galactica bulletin board, and I think he took it as a sign that he had to do something. We didn’t see Sam provide the location of the colony, but that’s the assumption.

I’m not clear on why we spent much of the episode back in Caprica City before the attack. The first scene was with Bill talking to someone about something that he did not want to do. After just meeting Gaius, Caprica Six met his elderly dad. She set him up in a nursing home, so maybe that’s how she earned Gaius’s trust, eventually leading to his betrayal of his fellow humans. We saw Kara and Lee’s first meeting, though she was his brother’s girlfriend at the time. And then there was Roslin — after losing her entire family in a car accident, she had a bit of a mental breakdown.

One of the last flashbacks was of a drunk Lee having an encounter with a pigeon.

What’s the point?

I have no idea.

Back in the present, Kara continues to work on the meaning of her song, even trying to turn it into some mathematical formula, but she’s not having much luck. Gaius pleads with Lee to give his “people” representation in the government and Lee asks him if he’s ever made a single selfless act in his life. Later on, when Bill asks for volunteers, it looks for a moment that Gaius is conflicted and may join them, but when we cut to the final shot of the hanger, I didn’t see where he was. My guess is that he’s ultimately going to stick with the fleet.

That’s about it. Not a whole hell of a lot happened this week, save for Bill’s decision to go after Hera. Based on the reconnaissance, it’s going to be tough to get close to the colony…

Next week should be interesting.

  

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Battlestar Galactica: Islanded in a Stream of Stars

What did we learn this week?

Well, a while back, when Cavil mentioned that the humans hadn’t found the “colony” yet, he wasn’t referring to Earth. The Cylons do have a colony and that’s where Boomer took Hera. It appears that the final two (or is it three, as TV.com indicates?) episodes are going to involve some sort of a rescue attempt. It’s all about Hera. (And Kara.)

Speaking of Kara, Baltar tested the DNA from the dog tags and apparently discovered that she did in fact crash and burn on Earth. After the funeral, Baltar used this information about Kara to advance his own agenda. He announced that Starbuck is walking proof that there is an afterlife. (Of course, if that was the case, why don’t we see more “dead” people walking around?) Anyway, we learned once again that Baltar is a giant ass. For whatever reason, Kara took him into her confidence and he betrayed her. But really, what did she expect he’d do? (On a side note, Baltar did in fact try to make a move on Caprica Six, but he was shot down. I wonder if that’s the end of that storyline or if it will continue through the end of the series. I’m betting on the latter considering how the two are always together in the opera house dream.)

What else did we learn? It took a lot of liquor and a weird Jackson Pollock moment with the white paint, but Bill is finally able to give up on Galactica. He’s cynical about the fleet’s destiny and whatnot, but what else is there to do? If the more spiritual folks say that they need to go after Hera, why not do it? Isn’t that better than aimlessly drifting around space until you run out of resources?

Hera can project! I don’t know what this really means, but she and Boomer bonded over it. By the time they got to the colony, Boomer had grown attached to Hera and those crocodile tears at the end proved that she had a tough time handing the girl over to Cavil. By the way, did you hear Cavil say to Hera that she would soon have a lot of little playmates? How does he plan do accomplish that? Cavil also confirmed that Boomer sneaking Ellen off to the fleet was indeed just a ploy to kidnap Hera. It will be interesting to see if Boomer steps in and saves Hera from whatever Cavil has planned for her.

With Galactica being stripped for parts, the military personnel are going to move over to the Cylon basestar. The humans are justifiably skeptical of this, but do they really have a choice?

  

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