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June 15 2006

(SPOILER) The Futon Critic review new seasons pilots. They will review the pilot of every new show for 2006-2007 Season. Gina Torres' "Standoff", Leonard Roberts' "Heroes" and Carlos Jacott's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" have all been reviewed.

I'll update this threrd with direct links to upcoming reviews as they come in.

Standoff, even with Gina in there, doesn't really sound very interesting. The one new series that i actually plan on watching is Traveller (a large part of that may be Aaron Stanford), but after reading parts of the review-things, i am considering Heroes as well.
Dhoffryn, I was just checking the link out, after complaining on another thread about the lack of promise for the new fall season. Traveller caught my eye and I have to say it at least sounds like it has potential. Honestly, I might not even bother with anything new. If I'm going to pay for entertainment, I'll likely stock up on several DVD sets from the past few years. The only current show I'm interested in now is BSG and I'm waiting until the entire Season 2 is released on DVD.
Heroes sounds great. Will also be catching Standoff, as it is one of The Inside's best writers babies. Plus, Gina.
I am REALLY REALLY REALLY excited for Heroes now. as in I'm jumping up and down in my seat excited. As in Firefly-is-being-made-into-a-movie-oh-my-god!!! excited.
Last year was crazy. Before the fall season started I had 13(?!) new shows that I planned to check out.

Reunion: The premise sounded excellent, but before the first episode ended I already knew I wouldn't catch it next week. To be frank it was pretty boring and somewhat stupid.
Head Cases: I really only tuned because Rachael Leigh Cook was supposed to star and when I was convinced that she wasn't in it anymore I stopped watching. Never even got though the pilot.
Sex, Lies, & Secrets: By the time I tracked the first episode down it was already canceled. Sort of generic, and it would probably have become even more so as time went by but interesting as long it lasted.
Surface: I just didn't clash with this. It just felt to amateurish in its construct. Two episodes in and I was out.
How I Met Your Mother: I'm not really a sitcom guy. Sure, for a sitcom it was great, I loved the episodes I saw but in the end sitcoms just don't manage to keep me interested.
Ghost Whisperer: Started out sort of promising but it turned into a poor man's Tru Calling almost immidietly. Regurgitating the same plot line over and over again only works for so long.
Supernatural: Great pilot. Really freaking great pilot. And then all the momentum for it just faded away. The greatness of the pilot kept me coming back for longer than it actually deserved but just like Ghost Whisperer it kept reusing the same plot structure over and over again.
Kitchen Confidential: Well, they canceled it before I could decide whether I liked it or not. Being I 30 minute comedy I probably would have left it behind anyway eventually. But it was really good for a while there.
The Night Stalker: Another canceled show. Kinda generic but still kinda interesting and it kept me coming back until its cancelation.
Bones: Essentially a good procedural, and David and Emily had excellent chemistry, but ultimately it was a procedural and I don't really care about those.
Threshold: Interesting at first but was getting sort of sameish over and over again. Could have turned out either way if it had been kept around, but was canceled instead.
Invasion: I loved this show. I really did. Then came the episode "A Fish Story" or something like that. And that broke the number one deadly sin of TV shows which is "don't ever be stupid". And I don't mean a little stupid, I mean rampaging "I'm not gonna call for help when I'm mortally wounded" stupid. I had trouble getting back into the show after that. Might still watch it since it's still very interesting structalized but maybe I wont. Haven't decided yet.
Prison Break: Great show, but after the failed escape attempt I had problems motivating myself to continue watching. It seems like they'll be able to do that forever and I don't wanna take part in that if that's the case. Still haven't finished watching it yet.

So, I went in with 13 shows and got out with 0. Ain't that sad. Sure, there's still Lost, Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica and The 4400 and I've now realised the greatness of Everwood which I'm trying to catch up with (despite its cancelation) so it's not like there's nothing to watch, but none of the new arrivals stayed alive throughout the season unharmed, even though atleast Prison Break make a return appearence eventually. And I find this kinda sad.

This new season so far I've only found 3 shows that sounds interesting enough to give a chance: Heroes, The Nine and Traveler. And I maybe will give Friday Night Lights a chance if my head gets a serious tilt or something. Wonder how many shows that will survive this time around.

Oh dear, that was one long post (filled with spelling mistakes I'm sure) that no one cares the slightest about. I blame the fact that I'm really tired.
Ok, add me to the list of those excited about Heroes. I'll be happy to at least check it out. I used to be SUCH an NBC fan. Problem is, I found the Whedon 'versees and nothing on NBC ever satisfied me again. It has some redeeming shows, but not any that interest me enough to actually plan to be home when they are on. I was really let down by Revelations. It was kind of like the Da Vinci Code. Okayish but lacking.

Like so many others, I'm bored by the "story of the week" or the recycled plots. Can we say House? So many redeeming qualities but how many times can they beat the clock solving the mysterious illness? If Heroes can suck me in, I'll be just so so so happy.

Can we trade schedules Djungleurban? :)
The best case of "the show that never got a chance" I think, besides Harsh Realm (fox), was The Others, that was on NBC. It was this amazing show about a college student who finds that she can communicate with the dead, and she seeks the help of people who can explain to her what is happening -- the group happens to include our favorite worm/bug man (you remember, one of the three assasins sent to kill buffy).
I'm watching the HEROES pilot tonight. Pretty psyched, hope it's good.
Last year I was excited about Bones. I still am. Nothing in this line-up seems interesting - at least so far.
I don't understand the criticism to Studio 60 being "too inside"? Like he pointed out in the other examples, you don't need to be a doctor to understand House or a lawyer to get what's happening in Law & Order.
Wow, Traveller sounds incredible! Hopefully its midseason status won't result in its demise. It sounds awesome. I'm also very excited about Heroes. If there's only one good new show next season, that's good enough for me. I already have all the show I can handle.
I don't understand the criticism to Studio 60 being "too inside"? Like he pointed out in the other examples, you don't need to be a doctor to understand House or a lawyer to get what's happening in Law & Order.
escapist_dream | June 15, 05:33 CET


I'll assume that this label was attached for two reasons: one, that "backstage" movies or series, since they are set in the world of the people making them (kind of like filming into a mirror...sorta...), always get hit with the "too inside" label as kind of a knee-jerk reaction (they said the same thing about "Sports Night," etc.), and, two, there seems to be an assumption that Joe Average (as opposed to "Average Joe," of which I'd rather not speak) has undoubtedly interacted with doctors and possibly with lawyers (God help you if you have!), but that it's far rarer for a person to have familiarity with the day-to-day work of an actor or writer. Which I find an ever more silly assumption, given the exposure that audiences get to the world of Hollywood production through magazines, "Entertainment Tonight"-type shows, EPKs that become "Making of" bits on HBO or DVD extras, etc.

I absolutely believe that America is wise to what goes on behind the scenes, so there is no "too inside" here. Hell, my aunt is in her 80s, and she chatted with me about the possibility that Kellie Pickler on "American Idol" was absolutely faking the "dumb blonde" thing, or at least milking it to death. But, hey, what're ya gonna do? Snakes on a plane. /reference to other post ;)
Heroes sounds interesting but if they start with the flashbacks ala Lost, I'm out of there.
Heroes does, in fact, have multiple flashbacks to childhood traumas which caused their super powers. No, wait, I'm confusing that with every super hero movie.
Heroes sounds like a cross between The 4400 and Joe Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars comic book series. I'll be checking it out for sure.

But "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is at the top of my must see list, I haven't been this interested in a show since Doctor Who came back to the telly.
Yes, I am tending to side with Simon here. The entertainment industry, from what I've seen of it (which is roughly nothing) is ripe for the humour.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-06-15 11:45 ]
Yeah, 'Heroes' sounds good. It's cool to hear that they largely enjoy their powers, even if it sounds like they may soon have the weight of the world on their shoulders, since I think the whole 'super-powers as curse' thing has been done. Let's have a bit more Spidey style whooping and a bit less Smallville style moping.

I also quite like the sound of 'Standoff' despite the average review (and the daft name change). It's a different take on a cop show and for that reason alone would be worth me checking out but then there's Gina. Plus, Ron 'Office Space' Livingstone (i'm gonna suggest right now that if and when the show ends it's cos he quits with "I, uh, don't really like my job. I don't think i'm gonna go anymore" ;).

And i'm going to give 'Studio 60' a chance since even if the subject doesn't interest me too much it's a great cast and creator.

Also, much as I love 'House' and much as i've defended its formulaic plots, even i'm starting to wish they'd play with the format just a little more often (or maybe just a little less subtly). That said, if I have to watch 23 formulaic 'cure of the week' episodes - with all the fantastic writing and acting that entails, oh, the hardship ;) - for one episode like 'Three Stories' or 'No Reason' (the excellent season 2 finale) then i'll make that bargain gladly.
Thank you, Saje, for defending "House" as it deserves. Although I think the formula has been played with quite a bit this second season - particularly with the two-part episode "Euphoria". Magnificent television.

It's easily my favourite non-cable series on television - because "The West Wing" is finished and "Studio 60" hasn't started yet ;-)
Complaining that House is formulaic is like complaining the sun sets everyday. It is, what it is. A procedural. That just happens to have hilarious dialogue, and good acting. It's the premise of the show. It uses solving mystery illnesses to tell stories. Not plausible, sure, but since when was fiction compelled to be. Otherwise it would be just another soap opera. You may as well wish CSI didn't have all that pesky crime solving with forensics.

[ edited by bivith on 2006-06-15 15:12 ]
I'm just gonna chime in and say that Simon said what I was going to say ;) That's all, you may procede. Also what Saje said re: Heroes and Standoff.
I agree bivith. Come on, who'll join me, "What do we want ? Fewer sunsets ! When do we want it ? Now !" ;).

In fact, it's because the 'outside the box' episodes are so good that i'd really like to see more of them.

One of the things I really like about 'House' is the writers' awareness of their own formula and willingness to poke fun at it. I can't remember the episode title but in Season 2 there was an ep. where House proposes a solution early on and Cameron says something like "Yeah, that fits the facts, that must be it". House goes into a mini-rant about how they have the 'wrong shoes' for that to be the correct diagnosis since they're not wearing their after work bowling shoes. Of course, what he's really saying is, "No, it's only the middle of act 2, so clearly this isn't the answer. We know it, you the viewers know it and we know you know" (or rather the writers are saying it through him).

Or the kind of playfulness about who's actually going to be the victim at the start of each episode which seems to openly admit to the audience "Yeah, we follow a set pattern but hey, let's not take it too seriously, let's have a laugh together over it".

(and then you also get the gems which step outside the format e.g. 'No Reason' where suspense is built not only over the diagnosis but over the validity of the main character's entire world view. Just brilliant.)
Swanland (Because I don't know how to do that crazy quote thing, so I'll just bold your name instead), you're probably right - but if anything I find the fact that I know less about what goes on backstage in "Hollywood" all the more interesting. I'm studying to become one of those evil, greedy lawyers you speak of and I sometimes wish real lawyering was like that! In any case, America would be the place I'd assume that'd anticipate a show about the sordid goings on of a high-rating television show. Who wouldn't? It makes for a very good premise, and with Sorkin at the helm it's hard to think it'll go wrong (not that I want to jinx it or anything!).

House, like most formulaic shows I've found, is that they're good solid viewing but never seem to top a favourite list of mine. Maybe it's because they lack that originality that I crave (and that Buffy did so well to sate for a while). It's still a lot better than most stuff on tee vee these days and is a good boredom cure. :)

[ edited by escapist_dream on 2006-06-16 01:56 ]
Count me in for Studio 60 and Standoff. There's too many good people involved not to be excited about them -- Aaron Sorkin, Amanda Peet, and don't forget Sarah Paulson (she's still in it, right?), and Gina Torres, ffs! (Have I mentioned I'm a big Gina fanboy? ;-))

I'm curious about Heroes, but I pretty much want to see the first eps to see how they handle it. It could be great, or a big disappointment, but I guess that's true of everything in life! ;-)
Some interesting stuff. I've always thought that Rising Stars would make a great series. Maybe someday I'll actually finish reading it. ;)
Tycho - JMS could've said the same thing re: finishing writing it for a while there ;)
Rising Stars is in development hell as a big screen film at the moment, has been for a few years now (partly what held up the completion of the last few issues--JMS and publisher Top Cow Comics had some stuff to work out). I thought it had a great start and some decent bits here and there in its second and (very ambitious but not quite payed off) third acts. Ultimately, I think it was just a bit shakey as JMS' first major comic book (he'd done two or three Babylon 5 comics before that and maybe some others I'm forgetting) and the constant artist changes (in a series that only took 24 issues to tell!) sure didn't help the storytelling. He corrected his mistakes with Midnight Nation, one of the best collaborations between writer and artist (Gary Frank is a god) I've seen. That deserves to be made into an HBO limited TV series. Then again, if he made one of Rising Stars, he could fix the mistakes in the comic book (and they weren't just structural and cosmetic either--RS had tons of plot detail inconsistencies) and maybe come out with a beaut of a show.

Probably won't be picking up any new shows this year, 'cept on DVD. Play the wait-and-see game with this new batch while catching up on stuff I've either missed entirely or am in the midst of (I'd really like to have done with Oz for instance, which it feels like I've been watching for a decade. The sixth and final season's DVDs are finally on the way).
House is such a game. It's not only about what is wrong with a patient, it's about thinking outside the box to find the correct answer -- it's about NOT making knee-jerk reactions and assuming it's a by-the-book medical case. That's what I love -- it doesn't play the "weird medical case" angle, looking at the rarest and most obscure of diseases -- it goes with "here are the symptoms. yes, they're kind of odd and out of place. let's find out why." it's a puzzle. I love House.

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