It’s time to set your TiVos…

There are a number of new (and returning) shows making their season debuts this month. Here is a list of the scripted shows that premiere in the next two weeks (through 1/19):

SCRUBS (ABC)
1/6/09 at 9:00 PM & 9:30 PM
8th season premiere

NIP/TUCK (FX)
1/6/09 at 10:00 PM
5th season winter premiere

10 ITEMS OR LESS (TBS)
1/6/09 at 11:00 PM
3rd season premiere

DAMAGES (FX)
1/7/09 at 10:00 PM
2nd season premiere


Read the rest after the jump...

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2008: The Year in TV – Jason Thompson

You love TV, I love TV, we all love TV! Actually, I am going to start calling it “tee-wee” like my main man Chuck Barris used to on “The Gong Show.” And while I found some groovy stuff for you all to enjoy on the idiot box, the ones I couldn’t take anymore are certainly worth a triple, simultaneous gonging from Arte Johnson, J.P. Morgan, and Jamie Farr. So sit back and tune in to my top three selections for ’08.

TOP 3 SHOWS

1. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” FX

I may be late to this particular party, but as the saying goes, better late than never. This season found the gang at Paddy’s Pub tackling the serious, groundbreaking issues that they never shied away from in the past. Cannibalism, killing one’s father, and rewriting the history of the Liberty Bell itself were just a few of the topics explored this year. Charlie Day may be the funniest comedic actor on TV currently, and Danny DeVito excels as greasy schemer Frank Reynolds to the point where he may even outshine his stint as Louie DePalma on “Taxi.” This is undoubtedly the funniest show on TV these days, and certainly belongs next to other cult faves like “Arrested Development” and “Flight of the Conchords.”

2. “Burn Notice,” USA
This show climbs its way up a notch from third place on my list from last year. Jeffrey Donovan returned as Michael Westen, former spy who has been burned by an unknown operative. This season found Michael getting even closer to the truth while continuing to help out his old buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell) on his never-ending side missions to right the wrongs brought upon other innocent people. The lovely Gabrielle Anwar also returned as Michael’s former love interest/ass-kicker Fiona, and Sharon Gless also reprised her role as Michael’s mother, perhaps one of the best characters she’s ever played. For seriously exciting action scenes filled with plenty of examples of how you, too, can create your own spy gadgets out of everyday things, plus just the right amount of comedy thrown on top, “Burn Notice” is tops. And the best part of all is that the third season will actually debut this winter, so fans won’t have to wait for its usual summer slot.

3. “Chuck,” NBC
This show got an honorable mention from me last year, but this time out it proudly sits in the number three position. The second season of this hit series proved the first was no fluke. “Chuck” has top notch writers working behind it, making every week’s episode some classic NBC Must See fare. Like “Burn Notice,” “Chuck” mixes tasty action with laughs, and Zachary Levi as the title character is an even more likable schlub than Jim on “The Office.” But it wouldn’t be “Chuck” without Adam Baldwin and Yvonne Strahovsky as special agents John Casey and Sarah Walker. Baldwin’s tough guy act is as laugh out loud funny as Levi’s performance as an average Joe mixed up in crazy caper routines, while Strahovsky proves time and again that she’s not just a gorgeous face but a rock solid actress as well. May Chuck have the Intersect embedded in his brain for a few more seasons to come.

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Greetings to the New Show: “The Mentalist”

I believe I put this out there in another post, but I think it bears repeating: “The Mentalist” is the new series that my mother-in-law is the most excited about. I can appreciate where she’s coming from. I’m pretty excited about it, too. Mind you, my reasons are different than hers – I love the concept, she thinks the show’s star, Simon Baker, is hot (and has apparently felt this way since he starred in “The Guardian”) – but, still, it means that I can count on her getting excited when I get an advance screener of any future episodes of the series.

In “The Mentalist,” Baker plays the title character. His name is Patrick Jane, and he’s an independent consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) who has a remarkable track record for solving serious crimes by using his razor sharp skills of observation…not that that’s a direct quote from the CBS press release or anything. Jane is a guy who knows how profound his abilities are, and it shows in his every word and deed when he’s on a case.

We get an example of his trademark confidence (or possibly hubris) in the first minutes of the first episode as we watch him walk into the home of a murder victim, brew a pot of tea, and make himself a sandwich. It isn’t until the kettle whistles that the victim’s mother even knows he’s there, but he quickly offers her a cuppa and, after demonstrating his powers of observation, says with a sly smile, “I used to make a good living pretending to be a psychic. I tell you this because I want you to understand that there’s no point in hiding things from me.” After a brief conversation with the missus, he then greets the child’s father by identifying himself as being with the police, adding with no further preface, “Did you murder your daughter?”

I won’t tell you how the rest of the scene plays out, but it’s a testament to Baker’s charisma that his last line – “Honestly, it’s not as bad as it looks” – earns a laugh.

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