The CW: What’s New for Fall 2009

Melrose Place (Tues., Sept. 8 @ 9:00 PM, The CW)

The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS), “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)

Starring: Laura Leighton, Shaun Sipos, Thomas Calabro, Katie Cassidy, Colin Egglesfield, Stephanie Jacobsen, Michael Rady, Jessica Lucas, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz
Producers: Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer (“Smallville”)
Network’s Description: In an elegant Spanish-style apartment building in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, a diverse group of 20-somethings have formed a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews is the landlady, still beautiful at 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck. Sydney started an affair with David despite her turbulent history with his estranged father, Dr. Michael Mancini. Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people. Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms, once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career. Sydney also played a pivotal role in the career of Auggie Kirkpatrick. After they met at an AA meeting, she became Auggie’s sponsor and encouraged his dream to become a chef. Now a successful sous chef at the trendy restaurant Coal, Auggie has been avoiding Sydney since she began drinking again. The other tenants include Lauren Yung, a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller, an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend Riley Richmond, a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, 18-year-old Violet Foster, has just arrived in LA with her own secret connection to Sydney. When a bloody body is found floating in the courtyard pool, David is the leading suspect. However, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way.
The Buzz: There hasn’t been nearly as much excitement about this reboot as there was for “90210.” After watching the pilot, there appears to be good reason for that.
Pilot Highlight: The temptation is to say either the discovery of the body or the discovery of who David’s father is, but by the time the show premieres, it’s a fair bet that both pieces of information won’t be nearly as much of a surprise for you as they were for me. As such, let’s go with the closing moment, when we’re handed a shot which implies that we’re looking at the murderer.
Bottom Line: The characters and scenarios feel clichéd, and as it stands right now, the connections to the original series seem tenuous at best. You can appreciate The CW’s desire to have lightning strike twice, but this just couldn’t feel more rushed…or unnecessary.

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A Chat with “Harper’s Island” Victims #13 and #14

It would be fair to say that not everyone enjoyed this past Saturday’s episode of “Harper’s Island,” based on Mr. Paulsen’s recent post, but even if you’re in the same camp that he is, I think it’s a safe bet that, if you’ve been watching the series for this long, you’ll still be returning for the final episode next Saturday (July 11th). While I agree that the subjects of this week’s interview probably should’ve made at least a cursory attempt to escape death rather than lunging headlong into their demise (which is, ultimately, what both of them did, even if one did it in a different manner than the other), it can at least be said that neither of the actors had any problems with their exits.

Yeah, you’re right: I guess that isn’t much consolation for a disgruntled viewer.

Oh, well.

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A Chat with “Harper’s Island” Victim #6

First off, my apologies for the delay in getting this week’s interview onto the site, though in my defense, today is the earliest it possibly could have gotten up. Saturday night’s victim was out of town on Monday, which is now my new day to do the Victim of the Week interviews, so our conversation had to be bumped to Wednesday instead.

On a related note, please be aware that there will be no interview next week. Why? Because there’s no episode of “Harper’s Island” this Saturday. And why isn’t there one? Because CBS is opting instead to show a rerun of “The Mentalist.” As for why they’re doing such a thing, your guess is as good as mine. I can’t imagine I’m the only person mystified by the maneuver. I mean, presumably, it’s a way to gauge if the “Harper’s Island” fans who’ve followed the show to Saturdays and aren’t watching it on DVR or TiVo will come back if they skip a week, but, damn, come on, CBS, you’ve already annoyed us by shifting it to the weekend. Can’t you at least just run the remaining episodes uninterrupted? Surely we deserve that much.

And just one last thing before we get to our interview: when the show does return, the Victim of the Week interview won’t happen on the following Monday, because that’s Memorial Day Weekend. It will instead take place on Tuesday…and since I’ll be out of town on Tuesday, it remains to be seen if I’ll even be able to do it.

Damn. “Harper’s Island” fans just can’t catch a break…

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5 Shows Which May Make Bullz-Eye’s NEXT TV Power Rankings

If you’ve checked out Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings for April 2009, then you’ve already seen the site’s picks for the top 20 shows currently airing, several honorable-mention entries, and what series they’re most excited to see return. Given the way new programs are popping up constantly throughout the year, however, it was always inevitable that the voting for the Power Rankings would close just as a few promising series were making their debuts but before their consistency could be properly gauged. Here, then, are five shows which, at least as it stands right now, look like they have the potential to be ranked next time around.

1. “Party Down,” Starz. It’s a longstanding Hollywood tradition for producers to build themselves a gaggle of go-to actors who they can always count on to make an appearance in one of their projects, and although it’s Joss Whedon who has one of the most recognizable posses on television, it’s clear that Rob Thomas is building a pretty solid one, too. In “Party Down,” which focuses on a Hollywood catering company helmed by aspiring actors and actresses, you can’t go more than a few minutes without seeing someone who once appeared on “Veronica Mars.” Ryan Hansen is the only “Party Down” regular who held the same status on “Mars” as well, having played Dick Casablancas, but Adam Scott (“Stepbrothers”), Ken Marino (“The State”), and Jane Lynch, who most recently proved hilarious in “Role Models,” all made visits to “Veronica” at some point or other. Enrico Colentoni had an unforgettable nude scene in the first episode of “Party Down,” and it looks like Kristen Bell will be turning up in the season finale.

Paul Rudd is one of the other co-producers of “Party Down,” and it’s clear he had a hand in bringing some of his favorite talent onto the show as well. Martin Starr, late of “Freaks and Geeks,” is here, and after scoping out IMDb, it looks like Ken Jeong will be turning up in a future episode. With all this talent, you won’t be surprised to learn that this is arguably the funniest new show of the spring season…if seasons even still exist, that is…and is already shaping up to be the place for cool comedians and actors to guest-star. “Crash” may have been a bust as Starz’s first original series, but count on “Party Down” to do for the network what “Mad Men” did for AMC.

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