Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2003-06-19 Entry: "Fall TV"

The networks have announced their schedules for the coming 2003-2004 tv season. And as I'm in the Wilderness for it, I'm in a position to comment on their boneheadedness well ahead of time. Still coming off my success in predicting the death of Haunted, I thought I'd take a quick glance at the new shows I'll probably take a look at, and which I think have no chance in hell of making it to the end of the year.

Having looked through the announced schedule, I've found only four new shows that even vaguely draw my interest. I'll be frank - sci-fi and fantasy shows that remain on the air are few and far between, so they always get a look in. Most comedies don't get watched (I may buy Friends/Scrubs/Will and Grace on DVD when they appear, but I rarely find myself watching them when they initially air). In the drama category, I tend to skip the family relationships shows, and I'm at my quota of cop shows (I'll catch the CSIs when I can, but that's about it).

So out of the new shows, what caught my eye? The main four were "Fearless," "Tarzan and Jane," "Jake 2.0," and "Tru Calling." Two others got a "well, they're worth a look" comment - "Cold Case" and "Joan of Arcadia." So lets take the premise and the timeslot and see how I think they'll fair...

"Fearless" - starring Rachel Leigh Cook, so it may suck me in - I'm not above shallow eye candy when it's got an even half reasonable premise behind it. I presume this is based on the book series, which I've never read any of, but from what I gather we've got an FBI agent who feels no fear. Okay, seems reasonable. Where is it in the schedules? Tuesdays at 9. Okay, follows the Gilmore Girls (which I don't watch, but appears to get a reasonable number of viewers), and is competing with 24, Frasier, and The Guardian. The only one of these that's a threat is 24, and running into its third year, I'm sure FOX will manage to screw up 24 so it's completely unwatchable. My biggest worry with Fearless is that it has nowhere to go as a show. Yes, she feels no fear, but so what? How does that make it different to any other FBI show? Eric Balfour deserves to be in something that lasts a while (after last year's disappearance of Veritas), but I'm not sure about this one.

"Tarzan and Jane" - dear goddess, NO! Sundays at 9, following Charmed, and competing with Alias and one of the Law And Orders. It's got pretty young people in a fantasy show on the WB. It's got a great time slot, and assuming Charmed actually manages to get away from silly fairytale joke episodes it should make for a watchable two hour block. I'm just hoping it manages to follow Smallville and improve on the premise, rather than follow Birds of Prey into oblivion.

"Jake 2.0" - computer geek infested with nanites become superhero for the government. Wednesdays at 9, following Enterprise and up against Angel and The West Wing. This one's doomed! It's got a fun concept (I keep thinking of "The Greatest American Hero" when I think of this for some reason), but it's got the worst timeslot in existance. Enterprise, lets be completely fair, is rubbish, so we're getting almost nil lead in audience. Angel may not be the greatest show on earth (but was vastly better than Buffy last season, and may continue to improve if it doesn't become the Spike show) but it's competing for the same audience share. The West Wing is still perfectly watchable and will almost certainly get better viewing figures than either this or Angel. So unless it gets a new timeslot (or Paramount fire Berman and put someone in charge of Enterprise who knows what they're doing), this one'll be in the graveyard post haste.

"Tru Calling" - girl gets psychic vision of bad thing going to happen, and then gets to relive the day to fix it. Well, it's got Eliza Dushku, and unlike most of the show-leads for these, she can actually act. It sounds a bit Early Edition-ish, but people with psychic vision shows don't tend to do all that well. So how's the time slot? Thursdays at 8, against the last (really, we mean it this time) series of Friends, Survivor, and a new show about terrorism, Threat Matrix. However much I hope this does well, I'm guessing it's doomed. Eliza's got her work cut out here - weak concept, poor timeslot, but hopefully a spill-over audience from the death of Buffy, which'll prop it up for a while.

"Cold Case" - it's a procedural cop show about solving cases after a really long time has passed. I'm at my quota of cop shows, "Without A Trace" didn't manage to win me over, so I doubt this will; and it clashes with Charmed. So I won't be watching this one.

"Joan Of Arcadia" - family drama, girl gets messages from god. Okay, this is just going to be painful. Cue much moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. It's on Fridays at 8, so it's got no real competition, but will it (like John Doe) make me stay in that extra hour and watch it? Probably not, but I'll give it a couple of weeks to be sure.

So, six shows, one of which I can almost guarantee will stay on (Tarzan), and three more of which I'll watch until they disappear (13 episodes or so seems to be the norm). It looks like this season's going to be as bleak as the last one! Me, cynical? A little. I'm just getting sick of them killing what should be good concepts. Hopefully, the phenomenal success of Firefly on DVD will persuade them to release a few more of these short lived shows!

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