NBC: What’s New for Fall 2010

MONDAY

The Event (Mon., Sept. 20 @ 9:00 PM, NBC)

* The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “Two and a Half Men” and “Mike & Molly” (CBS), “Lone Star” (Fox), “Gossip Girl” (The CW)

Starring: Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, Laura Innes, Scott Patterson, Ian Anthony Dale, Zeljko Ivanek

Producers: Steve Stark (“Medium”), Evan Katz (“24”), Nick Wauters (“The 4400,” “Eureka”), Jeffrey Reiner (“Friday Night Lights,” “Trauma”)

Network’s Description: an emotional, high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker, an Everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée, Leila, and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history. Sean’s quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including: newly elected U.S. President Martinez; Sophia, who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Sean’s shadowy father-in-law. Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind.

The Buzz: NBC ain’t playing around with this one: the big question of the summer for TV fans has been, “What is ‘The Event’?” Most of those who’ve seen the pilot seem to at least be hooked enough to come back for Episode 2, though I’m sure no one is counting on finding out what ‘The Event’ is anytime soon. On a related note, there’s some very reasonable concern from folks about whether they’re going to be let down by a promising sci-fi pilot that starts strong but then either peters out early in the season or never gets properly resolved before it’s canceled. (“FlashForward,” anyone?)

Pilot Highlight: There are several moments which will have you raising your eyebrows both at what you’re seeing and what it means, particularly the final scene, but the most effective sequence begins when Sean – who’s on a cruise with Leila – returns from a solo outing to find things aren’t quite the same as he left them.

Bottom Line: The rapid-fire back and forth between past and present combined with people getting the sensation that NBC’s trying for the next “Lost” is going to make it a tough sell for some, but, damn, the first episode sure intrigued the hell out of me.

Chase (Mon., Sept. 20 @ 10:00 PM, NBC)

* The competition: “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS), “Castle” (ABC)

Starring: Kelli Giddish, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco, Rose Rollins, Jesse Metcalfe

Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI”), Jonathan Littman and Jennifer Johnson (“Cold Case”), KristieAnne Reed (“The Forgotten,” “Miami Medical”)

Network’s Description: a fast-paced drama that drops viewers smack into the middle of a game of cat-and-mouse as a team of U.S. marshals hunts down America’s most dangerous fugitives. U.S. Marshal Annie Frost is a cowboy boot-wearing deputy whose sharp mind and unique Texas upbringing help her track down the violent criminals on the run. The members of Frost’s elite team are Jimmy Godfrey, an East Texas kid who never grew up and is a true American cowboy; Marco Martinez, a good intelligence guy who loves to talk; and Daisy Ogbaa, a weapons/tactical specialist and a woman of few words. Rounding out the cast is Luke Watson, the fresh-faced newcomer, whose Washington, D.C., upbringing did little to prepare him for the Lone Star State.

The Buzz: It ain’t great. For one thing, Bruckerheimer was nowhere to be seen at the panel for the series (he was apparently on the set of the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, but he somehow managed to make it in for ABC’s panel for “The Whole Truth” a couple of days later), and then the panel itself was notably shorter than the ones for some of the other new entries on the NBC schedule. Maybe we shouldn’t make too much of either of these things, though. It’s more likely that it’s just a case where the show was too pedestrian to inspire much in the way of unique promotion.

Pilot Highlight: Nothing, really, and I can’t help but recall that I had this same problem with one of NBC’s pilots last year, too. (Would you please rise from the grave and take a final bow, “Mercy”?) Sometimes, a show arrives, follows its formula, and departs without leaving much of an impression. “Chase” is one of those shows.

Bottom Line: Don’t let the Bruckheimer name suck you in this time. “Chase” is the most by-the-book, formulaic cops-and-robbers drama I’ve seen in awhile, with no “hook” to make it stand out from the pack. If “Hawaii Five-0” doesn’t blow it out of the water, then I’ll have to echo Alex O’Loughlin’s sentiments and concede that I’m completely bewildered and have no idea how television works at all.

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True Blood 3.1 – With All Due Respect…

Hey, everybody, “True Blood” is back! And, man, when that show comes back, it doesn’t waste any time, does it? I can’t think of the last season premiere that was quite so action-packed. Whether it’s a response to the complaints over the way Season 2 limped to a conclusion after Maryann was finally taken down in the first half of the season finale or simply a conscious effort by the producers to make sure that the viewers are given plenty to keep ’em coming back, I don’t know…and, frankly, I don’t care. At the very least, I have to say that, although the amount of activity was somewhat dizzying at first (possibly because the advance screener I received wasn’t preceded by a “Previously on ‘True Blood'” segment to get me back up to speed), so much happened that I definitely found myself in a position of thinking, “Okay, I reckon it was worth coming back for Season 3.”

I mean, seriously, here’s what happened in the first two minutes (!) of the episode:

• Sookie runs out of the restaurant, frantic that Bill’s been kidnapped, leading the French woman to decry the world’s vampire population.
• Sam’s on the road, heading for Magnolia, Arkansas, looking for some folks named Melinda and Joe Lee Mickens…who are, as it happens, his folks.
• Jason’s having an anxiety attack over shooting Eggs.
• Tara is beside herself with grief, but Lafayette’s trying to console her.
• Hoyt makes Jessica’s heart momentarily melt with the flowers she’s left for him, but although she’s touched, she’s can’t just leave her trucker lying on the porch.
• Bill’s kidnappers are a bunch of rednecks who tell him that he can call them the Fuck You Crew.

Talk about making quick work of playing catch-up, huh?

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Heroes 3.25 – Lives Come Together, They Fade Apart

Here are now, at the finale of another season of “Heroes.” Entertain us…or, at the very least, leave us happy ’til the beginning of the next season, right? With the return of Bryan Fuller to the fold, the show has been working its way slowly but surely out of the creative doledrums in which it had found itself, but does anyone even care anymore?

It’s a fair question, particularly when you look back at how few people are commenting on this blog nowadays. Once upon a time, we actually used to get a discussion going about the episode of the week, but if you look back over the course of the past several weeks, we’ve been averaging no more than 2 or 3 comments per ep, with one week receiving absolutely no comments! I figured Fuller’s return would kickstart the blog, but has it really reached a point where even the return of one of the show’s seminal writers (if, indeed, a show only in its third season can be said to have such a thing) can’t stir much in the way of conversation? I’m not even taking it personally anymore. I’m really just surprised.

Frankly, I feel like the show’s been relatively strong in recent weeks. Are there really so few people who feel the same way?

Last week ended with Zeljko looking darned surprised about Sylar surviving a knife blade to the back of the skull, but given the amount of shapeshifting Sylar had been doing, I wasn’t terribly shocked. Since he’s now able to move his size and shape around in a rather dramatic fashion, I figured his Achilles’ heel might not be where we last left it. I was, however, wondering whether we’d see Sylar slaughter Zeljko immediately or if he’d toy with him for awhile first. Nice touch, taking on his form to discredit him, ruin his reputation, and get him thrown into prison with…HRG?

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Heroes 3.24 – “That hurt.”

Two full-fledged “comic book” episodes in a row? Has “Heroes” ever managed to pull that off…? If so, it’s been ages. Tonight’s installment may well have been the most successful portrayal of Sylar as a complex villain in the show’s history, revisiting the character’s established mythology in the midst of his new shapeshifting abilities and the curse they bring with them. Plus, c’mon, Clint Howard? Are you kidding me…? The show’s coolness factor just jumped exponentially.

Obviously, Sylar’s storyline has consistently been one of the strongest parts of the “Fugitives” saga, but this took it to new heights. I never would’ve guessed that the path to his mimicry of Nathan would take him on a psychological journey of such magnitude. When he questioned his identity as Agent Taub in the initial moments of the episode, it became clear that he was having some issues dealing with his transformation into other people. You don’t get much more disconcerting, however, than that sequence where he was flip-flopping back and forth from himself to his mother – once again played by Ellen Greene – in order to rationalize her death and his ongoing existence. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt the echoes of Norman Bates’ relationship with his mother in their discussions, was I?) Given that we’ve seen Sylar’s semi-soft spot with the youth of America in the past, I guess it shouldn’t have been too surprising that he was willing to give li’l Micah a pass. I don’t know how well the kid’s poignant speech will work in the long run, but, hey, it worked long enough to prolong his life for a bit, so that’ll do for now. Zeljko’s constant grumblings through the episode were highly entertaining, and you knew full well that he was eventually going to view Sylar as a loose cannon who couldn’t be controlled and needed to be taken out permanently (which he clearly must’ve known all along, anyway), but the one-two punch of the thrusting of the knife in the back of Sylar’s skull being followed up with Sylar’s brilliant episode-closing line was totally awesome.

Zachary Quinto’s performance this week was tremendous. Sometimes he takes his villainous rantings too far over the top for you to be able to take him seriously, but not this time. This was definitely a well-considered look at a complex character.

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Heroes 3.22 – Here I Stand and Face the Strange

Tonight’s “Heroes” was one of intertwined stories bound with ridiculous coincidences and total mindfucks…which is to say that there was tension to be had, but there were also a couple of moments where the Plot Police should have been called in to charge the writers with including events which were just waaaaaaayyyyyyy too convenient.

Between Zeljko and Sylar, it was clear from early on that HRG’s mind was going to seriously played with tonight, but as I observed last week, HRG’s been around the block way too many times with Sylar to just accept his death as a given without checking into it a bit…and, of course, it didn’t take long before he’d confirmed that, indeed, the body that looked like Sylar actually wasn’t Sylar. What he didn’t realize at that point, however, was that he’d already had an encounter with the now-shapeshifting villain. When Sandra first turned up, my first thought was that it was Sylar pretending to be her…until it turned into the tale of two Zeljkos.

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