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 Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 2

CBS’s big day of TCA panels kicked off with an Executive Session from the one and only Nina Tassler, the network’s President of Entertainment, who brought us the following tidbits and newsbriefs:

“The Big Bang Theory”: The show is moving to Thursdays. “Certainly, it was difficult, but not in the sense that you don’t have complete faith and belief in the show,” said Tassler. “The time felt right. The show is certainly enjoying an extraordinary amount of support and love, and this was a great opportunity for us to really move it into a strategic place and open the night.”

“Survivor”: The new season of the popular reality series will find the castaways divided into Young vs. Old. The members of the La Flor Tribe will all be aged 30 or younger, while those in the Espada Tribe will all be 40 or older.

“Undercover Boss”: Four of the companies which will appear in the show’s second season have been revealed: NASCAR, DirecTV, Chiquita Brands, Inc., and Great Wolf Resorts.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”: Justin Bieber will be playing a character in the season premiere, playing a character that is “quite different from his wholesome real-life persona.”

“CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” timeslot changes: “Going into this season, we had very strong development, we really wanted to get a number of those new dramas on the air, and both ‘Miami’ and ‘New York’ are still strong players for us, so we said, ‘Look, we can use them to improve the time periods they’re going into, as well as support new shows that they’re launching side by side with.’”

“Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”: Janeane Garofalo has been added to the cast.

New gay characters: GLAAD will no doubt be pleased to hear that, according to Tassler, there are three on the horizon for the new season. “You’re going to meet Alicia’s brother in ‘The Good Wife,’ a gay character. We’re also going to be adding a new character to ‘Rules of Engagement.’ Jeff and Audrey’s surrogate will be a member of Jeff’s softball team, and she’s a lesbian. We’re also going to be recurring a character in ‘$#*! My Dad Says,’ the character Tim Bagley played.” I’m particularly happy to hear about that last one, mostly because the scenes between Bagley and William Shatner are arguably the funniest in the pilot.

After Tassler’s remarks and Q&A were completed, she evacuated the stage in order for the day’s show panels to begin, starting with…

“The Big Bang Theory”

At first glance, the fact that “The Big Bang Theory” is the only pre-existing CBS show to get its own panel on the network’s TCA day would lead one to deduce that it’s because it’s so popular. In reality, though, it’s much more likely that the series got the spotlight because they want to make sure it’s still a major player when it returns on Sept. 28th and shifts on the CBS schedule from Mondays to Thursdays. Ah, but who cares why they’re here? It’s just good to see the gang again. Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar were all in attendance, along with creators / executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and, as usual, they gave us some great, fun stuff.

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Entourage 7.3 – Dramedy

When Scott Caan’s douchebag talent manager was introduced at the tail end of last season, I assumed he would serve as a fun little nemesis for Eric as he tried to rise through the ranks at the new company. I didn’t imagine that he would have any chance of stealing Vince away from Eric as a client, however, and yet that’s exactly what appears to be happening. Granted, Vince shouldn’t feel compelled into keeping Eric as his manager just because they’re friends, but to get rid of him just because he doesn’t want to jump out of airplanes and party with a houseful of half-naked chicks is a bit juvenile. Then again, no one ever accused Vince of being mature, and his most recent behavior is proof of that.

The more time he spends with Scotty Lavin, the douchier he becomes – from impulse buying a Harley-Davidson, to bidding on (and winning) a dinosaur skull at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars just so the female curator will sleep with him. I mean, is that really necessary anymore? I thought he was a big star. Whatever the excuse, Vince clearly doesn’t feel like he’s being treated like he should, and you could just tell that he was a little annoyed when he learned that his chance to work with producer Randall Wallace on an upcoming project may have been squandered because Ari wouldn’t return his calls. It couldn’t possibly be because a movie based on a fictional Stan Lee superhero called Airwalker sounds downright terrible. Oh wait, never mind, that’s exactly why. Fortunately, Eric finally decided that enough was enough and went over to Vince’s house to confront Scotty. Their little pushing contest probably didn’t help his cause, but at least he managed to (accidentally) destroy that stupid dinosaur skull in the process. What a fucking waste of money.

entourage_7-3

Meanwhile, Ari is still trying to make amends with his wife after she discovered him dancing around his office with Lizzie, and he’s not exactly making any headway. Ari definitely has a bit of dilemma when it comes to the sexy up-and-comer, because while he would love to make his wife happy by firing Lizzie, he knows that she’s too important to let go. So when Lizzie comes to Ari demanding that she be put in charge of the TV department while Andrew’s in rehab, he takes the neutral route by telling her that she’s not ready, hoping she’ll stick around and fight for the position instead of acting like a selfish brat. Instead, Lizzie quits, and Babs is pissed, fearing that they’ve made a huge mistake. And from the look on his face upon hearing the news, Ari doesn’t seem too pleased either – probably because Lizzie has the potential to steal several big clients from the agency if she walks.

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Entourage 6.7 – No More Drama

This year of “Entourage” has been pretty great so far, but one of the show’s biggest weaknesses has always been its tendency to hit the cruise control and coast through the middle of the season. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around, as tonight’s episode managed to include not just one, but two major storylines, as well as a fun side adventure starring Vince and Turtle. The latter was obviously the most lighthearted of the bunch, but even though the break-in at Vince’s house was handled quite humorously (stolen underwear, really?), there’s a good chance it could become a little darker during the final stretch of the season. After all, celebrity stalkers shouldn’t be taken lightly, and though the guys have clearly ruled out firearms as a form of protection (“Turtle, you will end up like Plaxico and shoot yourself.”), they might want to take Ari’s advice and hire some security on the double.

Speaking of which, where was Ari tonight? With the exception of a short scene with Vince and Turtle, Ari’s only other involvement in the episode was sending Eric a bunch of pizzas as a gift for starting his new job. Ari may still think of him as a pizza boy, but Eric really hit the ground running on his first day, and I think that he’s going to prove to be a bigger asset than he gets credit for. With the exception of Harvey and maybe Billy Walsh, just about everybody Eric has worked with in the past likes him (or at least respects his work ethic), and that includes Bob Saget, who Murray is desperately trying to sign. At the moment, Saget is being pursued by a fellow co-worker named Scotty Lavin (Scott Caan), but when he fails to close the deal, Eric tries to close it for him after he name drops the former “Full House” star in a meeting.

As it turns out, the only way Saget will sign with the company is if he can have sex in Murray’s office. When Eric informs Scott of the strange request, however, he thinks that he’s being played, so Eric takes it to Murray himself and, just like that, bags himself a new client. Murray certainly seemed impressed with Eric’s initiative, and even jokingly suggests he sign Christian Bale by letting him “execute a cinematographer if he wants.” I highly doubt Eric is quite at that level just yet, but once Scotty learns that he’s been beaten to the punch, it’s not going to bode well for Eric. Of course, this impending rivalry is exactly what the show needs, and I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for Kevin Connelly, Scott Caan, or even Kate Mara, who’s been cast in the incredibly thankless role of Eric’s assistant. Surely they plan on giving her more to do in the future.

That’s all we had time for this week, however, as the rest of the episode was dedicated to Drama trying to make up for his violent outage. With his job in limbo (Lloyd calls to inform him that all his scenes have been cancelled for the day), Drama races to the studio lot only to discover that he’s been banned to even enter. He tries to apologize to his boss by phone, but he only eggs Drama on even more, resulting in yet another threat – this one strictly verbal. So, with no other choice, Drama bribes the security guard at the gate with sweets and literally begs for his job back.

As it turns out, Drama’s job was never really in danger to begin with (Ed Burns granted him a “stay of execution”), but Dan the studio exec decides he’s going to torture him anyways, and I can’t even begin to imagine what that means for poor Drama. There’s a pretty wide variety of things that could happen to him, but since this is “Entourage,” I’m placing my money on his character having some kind of sexual (read: gay) reawakening. If the writers really wanted to turn the story on its head, however, they’d have Drama dreading the new subplot, only to receive a surprise Emmy nomination for his performance. Hey, it’s “Entourage,” it could happen.

  

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