Ladies and gentletubers, start your TiVos! It's that time of year when you must decide which new fall shows will—or won't—make your Season Pass list. (And if you don't have a DVR, all the more reason to be selective!) Today, we're kicking off Totally Tube 2007's Reviews, starting with ABC. We'll be featuring different networks throughout the week, so check back daily.
And be sure to weigh in on what you will watch in our Watch/Pass Poll below!
DON'T MISS IT: Pushing Daisies
Premieres: Wed., Oct. 3 @ 8
Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz
You’ve probably heard by now from nearly every media outlet out there that Pushing Daisies is the best new show this fall. And let me tell you, I find that seriously disturbing. ‘Cause here’s the thing: This whimsical, endearing dramedy most certainly is fall’s best new series, and if it falls prey to the dreaded curse of the "overhype" (when viewers become sick of hearing about a series before it even airs) I just might die—and have no pie maker to bring me back. So, it is with careful hesitation (but the desire to tell the truth) that I tell you Pushing Daisies, from Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls mastermind Bryan Fuller (who also helped make Heroes rock last season), is truly magical television and unlike anything you have ever seen. It’s about a handsome pie maker, Ned (Lee Pace), who can bring the dead back to life with one touch—however, if he touches the undead a second time, they die for good. The hitch? The love of his life, Chuck (Anna Friel), just so happens to be a girl of the formerly dead persuasion—which sets up one of the most achingly romantic dynamics imaginable. Costar Kristen Chenoweth calls this show "fantasmagorical," and when you see it, you’ll know precisely what she means. Pushing Daisies is bizarre and strange and wonderful and vivid and has all the makings of a great new TV love affair.
Bottom Line: Aaarrrgh. Okay, twist my arm, I’ll say it: Pushing Daisies is without a doubt the best new series of the season.
DON'T MISS IT: Samantha Who?
Premieres Mon., Oct. 15 @ 9:30
Starring: Christina Applegate, Jean Smart, Jennifer Esposito, Barry Watson
A funny thing happened on the way to writing a review about that silly-looking show with Christina Applegate that I was dead-set on disliking: I watched the first episode and loved the bejeeesus out of it. Welcome to the best new comedy of the season, about a girl named Samantha (Applegate) who wakes from a coma with amnesia, only to find out she was a thoroughly wretched human being, surrounded by complete wack jobs. Her mother (Jean Smart) is disappointed Sam has awakened, because she’d been busy filming a "my daughter’s in a coma and all I have to live for is new couture drapery" video to get on Extreme Home Makeover. Sam’s best friend (Jennifer Esposito) is a raging alcoholic who couldn’t be happier that Sam forgot she herself is a recovering alcoholic, and Sam’s boyfriend (the adorable Barry Watson) tries to convince Sam that all she loves to do is cook for him, pleasure him and watch football. It’s all so very wrong—and a laugh-out-loud train wreck of ridiculous circumstances that somehow manages to feel entirely real, thanks to the insanely talented cast. Applegate is such a funny, adorable and stylish leading lady, she’s destined to fully revamp her career—and start a Samantha hairstyle trend just like the Rachel back in the day.
Bottom Line: Who loves Samantha? We do! We do!
WATCH IT: Private Practice
Premieres: Wed., Sept. 26 @ 9
Starring: Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, Chris Lowell, Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs
For any of you who may have thought the pilot episode of Private Practice was a bit, well, dull when it aired as a special two-hour episode of Grey's in May, ABC and show runner Shonda Rhimes appear to have gotten the message, loud and clear. "I'm gonna wear jeans and walk on the beach and dance naked and be wild and free!" is one of the first things Addison says in the Practice's first official episode, as she's quitting Seattle Grace. And by golly if we don't see her in the very next scene doing just that—dancing naked (complete with ridiculous Kid 'N Play and Sprinkler dance moves) around her new beach house. It's kind of adorable, kind of dorky and seems to put Practice into a whole new free-spirited, fun-lovin' frame of mind, which I personally love. The downside? Once the episode progresses, it does get a wee bit, well, I'll say it, boring. But the relaxed vibe, the chemistry between Tim Daly and Kate Walsh, as well as the adorable Paul Adelstein (formerly Agent Kellerman on Prison Break and now a standout as a decidedly anti-Kellerman ladies' man) gives Private Practice real potential. Not to mention, Kate Walsh is a bona fide star. (And for the record, she looks far too good dancing around naked. We should all be so blessed with the lack of jiggle!)
Bottom Line: Not as good as Grey's—but could be
2007 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
WATCH IT: Carpoolers
Premieres: Tues., Oct. 2 @ 8:30
Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Fred Goss, Tim Peper and Jerry Minor
Four men. Sitting a car. Riding to work. Ummm…Sounds unfunny, right? Well, thankfully, this sharp comedy from Kids in the Hall alum Bruce McCulloch floats enough witty one-liners and talented performances to make it work. Jerry O’Connell is a standout in the cast as a divorced ladies’ man who says everything women hope men aren't really thinking; Fred Goss is the happily married dude with a Napoleon Dynamite-esque son (who steals the show); Tim Peper is the wide-eyed newlywed; and Jerry Minor is straight-up whipped by his bail and chain. Carpoolers doesn’t burst out of the gate with full belly-busting laughs; it’s a slow starter, but it grows on you. You might need to watch this offbeat comedy twice to truly appreciate it, but it’s worth it.
Bottom line: A fun ride
WATCH IT: Women's Murder Club
Premieres: Fri., Oct. 12 @ 9
Starring: Angie Harmon, Paula Newsome, Aubrey Dollar, Tyrees Allen, Laura Harris, Rob Benedict
Based on the James Patterson novels, Women's Murder Club is the story of a police detective, a prosecutor, a coroner and a reporter who secretly entrust one another with the details of murder cases, putting to work the notion that four gorgeous, beautifully styled heads are decidedly better than one noggin with male-pattern baldness. The pilot is exquisitely shot and full of character grace notes that will catch your eye—even when set against the backdrop of the club's investigation: a grisly murder and the absorbing setup for a major serial-killer storyline. Angie Harmon expertly leads the cast in the role of Lindsay Boxer, a lady cop who is half screwball comedienne, half hard-bitten noir detective. (Think Jenny McCarthy meets Robert Mitchum.) The other club members (plus a club wannabe and a wry partner) all spring fully formed onto the small screen. After seeing the pilot, you'll definitely want to look into their stories...
Bottom Line: Killer show
DVR IT: Dirty Sexy Money
Premieres: Wed., Sept. 26 @ 10
Starring: Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, Natalie Zea, Glenn Fitzgerald, Samaire Armstrong, Seth Gabel, Zoe McLellan, Jill Clayburgh
Folks, meet the Darling family of New York—and their vast, ill-gotten fortune. The Darlings are debauched, outrageous and a little deranged...Some call them a cross between the Kennedys and J.D. Salinger's Glass family. Now, folks, over here, meet Nick George (Peter Krause), the son and heir of "Dutch"—the Darling family lackey/lawyer for the past 30 years. Daddy Dutch just died, you see, and reluctant Nick is coaxed into replacing him as the family's defender and protector, a position he accepts in part because it gives him a chance to discover the truth about his father's mysterious and very untimely death. In the coming months, if you turn into ABC's newest prime-time soap, you'll watch these two parties fight it out for moral and legal control of the Darlings' ginormous moneybags. Although the initial pilot I saw in May was far better than the rejiggered pilot that will air (and that’s a shame), Dirty is still sly and well acted and promises to be an addictive dramedy with a unique point of view.
Bottom Line: High-class drama
DVR IT: Big Shots
Premieres: Thurs., Sept. 27 @ 10
Starring: Michael Vartan, Dylan McDermott, Christopher Titus and Joshua Malina
This hourlong dramedy is best described as a postmarital version of Sex and the City for men...except no man would ever be caught dead watching it. Revolving around the lives and friendships of four accomplished CEOs, the concept could be good, if the scenarios in which each guy finds himself weren't so silly. For example, early in the pilot, Dylan McDermott's character confides a tale involving a gas-station restroom, a prostitute...and her surprise penis. It works as a quick-hit story, but when it snowballs into a major plot point that overtakes the pilot, it just becomes annoying. Thank God McDermott and Michael Vartan are so nice to look at, and talented to boot, because that's really Big Shot's best selling point right now. The good news? Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas recently signed on to coproduce this series, and if anyone can turn this overly campy pilot into a smart, viable series, it's him.
Bottom Line: Small on charm
Bob D'Amico/American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
SKIP IT: Cavemen
Premieres: Tues., Oct. 2 @ 8
Starring: Bill English, Nick Kroll, Sam Huntington, Kaitlin Doubleday, Stephanie Lemelin, Julie White
ABC is currently revamping the show, having recast a main character and altering a couple roles, but it’s going to take a whole lot more than that to stop you from acting like a caveman (grunting and pulling hair) while watching this show. Based on those "so easy a caveman could do it" Geico commercials, this comedy follows three modern-day dudes—cavemen, of course—through their trials and tribulations as they try to fit into a Homo sapien-dominated society. Each of the guys deals with the world's prejudice in a different way, and the funniest exchanges occur between Joel—who desperately wants to assimilate, especially since his fiancée is human—and Nick. Sarcastic and somewhat militant, Nick scolds Joel for trying to be something he's not. The pilot's entire plot hinges on the gag that cavemen are just like minorities: victims of negative stereotyping. In a couple spots it works, like when the boys debate whether or not it's okay for them to use the derogatory term cro-magger when referring to each other. But unfortunately, the one-note joke doesn't stay funny for long. If the revamped version is anything like the original pilot, this comedy just might be the worst half-hour of television in years.
Bottom Line: Barbaric
—Additional reporting by Korbi Ghosh and Jennifer Godwin