Okay, please, somebody explain to me this most bizarre (dare I say, messed up) scheduling move of the fall: Two of this season's most promising new series—The Ex List and Crusoe—somehow ended up in the dirty slums of Friday night. Ew!
Click in for the lowdown on a few new residents of Friday TV, because it's definitely worth crossing over to the wrong side of the tracks (and canceling you plans, if need be). Above all else, you should take a chance on CBS' The Ex List, which is one of my absolute favorite new series. It so deserves your love and attention...
Premiere: Oct. 17, 8 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Everyone Hates Chris, The Game, Ghost Whisperer, Wife Swap
Cast: Sam Neill, Philip Winchester, Anna Walton, Sean Bean
Status: No one's seen it
Ah, the great age of exploration. It was fun in history books, but it looks fabulous onscreen, as proven by Master and Commander and a little movie triology called Pirates of the Caribbean. NBC is the latest to revisit the period with Crusoe, which crosses those seafaring set pieces with the ever-compelling situation of castaways who find themselves imprisoned on mysterious islands. (Hey, it worked for Gilligan's Island and Lost!)
Crusoe is one of the season's most little-known new series—it wasn't featured at press tour, and promotion so far has been all but nil—but it will borrow from Lost's familiar flashback structure, which allows for island adventures without resulting in total character isolation. Shot on location in South Africa, Crusoe is very likely to be this season's most gorgeous epic.
Vegas Odds on Survival: 15 to 1 (From nationally syndicated oddsmaker Benjamin Eckstein)
My Verdict: It should be good. Stand by for more when the screeners come out.
THE EX LIST (CBS)
Premiere: Oct. 3, 9 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Deal or No Deal, Don't Forget the Lyrics, Sanctuary, Supernanny
Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Rachel Boston, Alexandra Breckenridge, Amir Talai
Status: I've seen the first episode
The Ex List is awesome. And for the record, I do not need to look any farther among potential suitors—I am 100 percent smitten with this show.
Based on an Israeli sitcom, The Ex List is written by Veronica Mars star producer Diane Ruggiero and led by breakout babe Elizabeth Reaser, whose joint talents result in a smart, sexy, watchable and completely funny romantic-comedy series. (Hear Ruggiero speak in person and you will swear she's a dead ringer for our long lost Veronica—and that witty, cool likeability carries over to Reaser's character on this show. The series is also shooting on the old Veronica Mars set in San Diego.)
Primarily the story of a woman who is told by her psychic that she has to revisit all her ex-boyfriends to find the one she is meant to marry, it also spotlights her sister and best friends' adventures in young adulthood, resulting in more or less a mashup of Sex and the City and Friends.
Diane describes Reaser's character Bella as, "Someone that women would feel is accessible and cool and a girls' girl...[someone] that I would want to hang out with." Mission accomplished! Bella's a blast, and you should definitely consider making her your standing Friday-night date.
Vegas Odds on Survival: 40 to 1
My Verdict: If you're a girl and you can only watch one new show this season, make it The Ex List. If you're a guy, DVR it, fall in love with Reaser and watch just the same.
SANCTUARY (Sci Fi)
Premieres Oct. 3, 9 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Deal or No Deal, Don't Forget the Lyrics, The Ex List, Supernanny
Cast: Amanda Tapping, Christopher Heyerdahl
Status: No one's seen the series; the webisodes premiered last year
Sci Fi's next cult-hit series may be Sanctuary, and just in time to fill the gap left by Battlestar Galactica. The Sanctuary of the title is run by a long-lived doctor by the name of Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), and it serves as a refuge for supernatural beings hunted by the Van Helsing types of the world. (Such persecution, man! So not cool!)
Set in a totally digital (and pretty awesome) environment, Sanctuary looks to be both unique and entertaining.
My Verdict: I'm intrigued. DVR it.
THE STARTER WIFE (USA)
Premiere: Oct. 10, 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Life, Numb3rs
Cast: Debra Messing, Judy Davis, Chris Diamantopoulos
Status: No one's seen the series, but you can catch the original six-episode miniseries over on Hulu
Debra Messing returns to series television with the further adventures of Hollywood wife Molly Kagan, a role she originated last summer in USA's hit miniseries The Starter Wife. As the continuing series begins, Molly has started to build a writing career for herself, while struggling to balance her social life with her family obligations as a newly divorced mom, following her departure from the rarefied world of her husband's show-biz cronies.
Peter Jacobsen's on House now, so his role as Molly's ex has been recast—David Alan Basche is the new (but still smarmy) Kenny Kagan, and Joe Mantegna will only be in three episodes, but both Judy Davis and Chris Diamantopoulous are back as Molly's supportive best friends.
Vegas Odds on Survival: 30 to 1
My Verdict: DVR it