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TV Squad previews The CW's new shows

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 13th 2007 12:01PM

We review the upcoming CW shows in this postThe CW is in a tough spot this season. After losing a good portion of their heavy hitters due to cancellation (Reba, 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls), the network is basically starting from scratch. Only two of their scheduled nights, Thursday and Friday, remain intact. The rest of the schedule features at least one new show a night. And, being that we are TV Squad, we have a number of pilots to review for these new shows.

Some of the pilots reviewed on the DVD screeners we were sent are still in the 'work in progress' stage; yet, they still give a sense of the show's subject matter. In this post Brett, Paul, Keith and I will be previewing Aliens in America, Gossip Girl, Life is Wild and Reaper.

Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford of Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl
(Wednesday at 9:00 PM ET)

Premise of the screener: We journey inside the world of the ultra-privileged teens on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Their internal newswire has been lit up as Serena Van Der Woodsen (Blake Lively) is back in town, returning from the sudden, and mysterious, enrollment in boarding school. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy to see her. Tensions develop between Serena and her closest friend, Blair (Leighton Meester). It's clear from the beginning that Serena has some history with Blair's boyfriend, Nate (Chace Crawford), although just what that history is remains a secret. We also meet the awkward good-guy Dan (Penn Badgley) and his sister Jenny (Taylor Momsen). They don't exactly fit in with their peers, coming from more of a middle-class background. As will happen though, events conspire and the nervous Dan finds himself out on a date with Serena. Through all of the goings on, the anonymous Gossip Girl (voiced by Kristen Bell) keeps everyone up to date.

Brett says: There is very little that is new here. They have modernized the teen drama somewhat, as cell phones, text messages, and blogging are all omni-present. But if we could get in our time machine and go hand off a bucket of Sidekicks to the 90210 gang, we would have a very similar show. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The teen drama genre has matured to the point that some themes are to be expected. If you like this style of show, this one will be worth a look. The cast is good, and the first episode sets up a number of storylines that all have potential. If, on the other hand, you are not a fan of a soapy teen drama, this one probably isn't going to change your mind.

Dan Byrd, Adhir Kalyan

Aliens in America
(Monday at 8:30 PM ET)

Premise of the screener: 16- year-old Justin Tolchuk (Dan Byrd) is trying to make it through his junior year of high school in Medora, Wisconsin without feeling like a pariah. Although he his assisted in this endeavor by his well-meaning mother Franny (Amy Pietz), aspiring-entrepreneur dad Gary (Patrick Breen), and his suddenly 'very' popular sister Claire (Lindsey Shaw), things turn out the way they have in previous years: badly. Even Franny's idea of signing up for the school's international exchange student program doesn't turn out right. Rather than housing the athletic, Nordic teen she sees on the program's pamphlet, her and her family welcome Raja Musharaff (Adhir Kalyan), a 16-year-old Pakistani Muslim. Despite the cultural differences, Raja and the Justin begin to bond. Just in time, too, as Raja needs to navigate through life as an American high school student.,

Rich says: This one has some potential. While it wasn't laugh-out-loud funny I did find the show as a whole amusing. What I did like about it is they didn't portray Raja as some stereotypical, clueless foreigner like Balki from Perfect Strangers. He has a sense of what goes on in the world, yet he still has some innocence about him. I also liked the soundtrack to Aliens in America. It wasn't sooo hip like some of the other shows on the CW are (see Paul's review of Life is Wild below). It was kind of quirky (like the show is) featuring songs from all decades in the pop music era. What I didn't like about it was Justin's voiceovers. Way too much of that in a television world full of people's inner thoughts. They tone that down, and promote this show some, and the CW could have a decent hit on its hands.

Life Is Wild

Life is Wild
(Sunday at 8:00 PM ET)

Premise of the screener: Katie Clarke (Leah Pipes) and her entire family are dragged out of New York City by her veterinarian father, Danny (Brett Cullen), to spend a year living in a South African game reserve. Needless to say Kate and the other members of her family (brother Chase (K'sun Ray), step-mother Jo (Judith Hoag), step-brother Jesse (Andrew St. John) and step-sister Mia (Mary Matilyn Mouser)) are unsure of this far-away move. Danny's has an another more than one reason for making this move. Not only does he want to make a difference in the lives of the people and animals of South Africa, but he also wants to keep his troubled family together. Hm, wouldn't family counseling help more than a several thousand-mile move to another country?

Paul says: It's hard to tell what the audience is for this show. It has a very hip soundtrack and attractive but troubled teens but it also has adorable animals and cute kids, not to mention the strong but frustrated parents. The pilot is laden with an annoying voice over that is mainly there to explain the premise of the show, hopefully that will be gone when the show actually premieres. The best part of the show has to be the gorgeous scenery and animals of South Africa and I really got a laugh when Katie's cell phone rang and played theme to Sex in the City. Overall the fine cast and the beautiful setting will probably appeal to those who miss 7th Heaven.


the cw's reaper

Reaper
(Tuesday - 9:00 PM ET)

Premise of the screener: Sam and his buddy, Bert ("Sock"), work at a pretty dead-end job in a Walmart/Home Depot-like store. On Sam's 21st birthday, strange things begin to happen; strangest being Satan himself appearing in the back seat of his car. Satan informs Sam that, due to a deal Sam's parents made before he was born, he is now Satan's bitch. Satan puts Sam to the task of rounding up any escapees from hell using special abilities and "weapons." If Sam doesn't comply, Satan will have no choice but to take his mother's soul.

Keith says: This is either my first or second favorite of the new fall programming (the other being ABC's Pushing Daisies). Kevin Smith produced and directed the pilot, which is unfortunately the only episode we got to see. It's unfortunate because this is great TV and felt very much like a movie in its pacing, with signature Kevin Smithisms smeared all over the place, and I'm afraid the rest of the episodes just won't stand up to it. Ray Wise as Satan is a definite highlight, while Tyler Labine as Sock tries a little too hard to be like Jack Black. As a piece of programming that's going to sit in the old Veronica Mars spot, I highly approve.

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Emma

Gossip Girls looks quite goo...deffinatly be tuning into that.
Also Aliens...if not just for scott patterson...but the show its self looks funny

August 13 2007 at 5:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeannie

Gilmore Girls need to make it back for Season 8 on the CW. If not, maybe a TV movie to wrap up the unfinished Storylines.

Please sign the petition at:

http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/great8mandate/

Thanks!

July 01 2007 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kassy

I've seen all of the pilots also.

gossip girl- I've read all the books- so i already knew i was gonna either like or hate the show. After watching the pilot i gotta say i can't wait for episode 2. If you've read the books you would know that it's soppused to be a "sex in the city" for the younger set. While those who have read the books will find some of the casting out of place. Over all, anyone who has read the books will love the show and those who watched the OC will also love the show.

aleins in america- it was funny. My friend and I were laughing pretty hard at one point. I think it'll be an interesting take on the "Fish out of Water" gig. We both said we would watch this show if we were home on Monday Nights.

Life is Wild - I wasn't so sure about this show. I mean it's got the hott teens, emotional teenage girl, cute younger kids, animals, and parents trying to keep their family together. I just seemed like some parts of the show didn't fit in well together. The story line was cute and it has potenial to be a good show.

Reaper- I only watched half of this show. While i love Kevin Smith and I could see his comedy everywhere in the show i kinda annoyed by the main charcter. I loved the side kick though.

Over all, i would still say my season fave for the CW is still gonna be Gossip Girl. And i will still be watching VM in reruns. :)

June 29 2007 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A Viewer

"Gossip Girl"...Not my thing. No thanks.
"Aliens in America"...Looks pretty funny based on the previews on the CW's website. I disagree with the "two fish-out-of-water shows...what are they thinking?" comment. I for one will enjoy watching "Chris" and "Aliens" back to back.
"Life is Wild"...Unlike some people, I didn't like the British show "Wild at Heart," and so I don't think I'll like the American version. But perhaps I'll give it a shot.
"Reaper"...The previews look really funny. I'll definitely watch this.

The rest of their new programming is just reality, right?

June 14 2007 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I suspect that the audience The CW is trying to snag with "Life Is Wild" are the same people who made "7th Heaven" the WB's biggest hit for all those years that people (like us) were complaining about it being on their line-up.

June 14 2007 at 4:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kurifurisan

@4 Scott,

you're thinking of Brimstone, which I thought was a great show. Here's to hoping Reaper is too.

June 13 2007 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike m

If Life is Wild is nearly as good as the brit counterpart, I'm sure it will be decent.

June 13 2007 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

Reaper looks pretty cool, I'll be watching that one. And I'm sorry, but I gotta plug CW's Supernatural. It's totally awesome, and is in a sort of cage match with Heroes for my favorite show on the air right now.

June 13 2007 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

It's hard to even get up the energy to write anything because there is such a "world" of information you guys haven't written about these shows in what them must attempt to make it on The CW sked. You are critiquing in a vacuum, and television just cannot be analyzed like that - I wish it were that simple - what works in a show what doesn't, what you like, what you don't like. It's overwhelming....Aliens in America following "Chris" - two "fish out of water" shows back-to-back, just for example..what are they thinking, let alone the time period competition of Monday, 9PM....and I won't even get into whether the show is really "clever" enough with its premise...You can say that The CW has to be valued in its own "universe" but it just isn't that simple any longer.
I'm exhausted just thinking about the Marketing campaign they need to be launching just to stay afloat...
Dawn Ostroff's comments were true, but amazingly difficult when she introed the sked this year - "last year was about introducing The CW. This year is about establishing our brand."

June 13 2007 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I may just check out Reaper. Everyone who has seen the pilot seems to love it (along with Pushing Daisies).

June 13 2007 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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