It's coming. The table is set, the players are on the field, the sails are raised, and the pretty maids are all in a row. Of course, I speak of the 2008-09 television schedule. In just a few short weeks viewers will be able to dine on a number of favorite and new dishes that are being served by the networks as well as the increasing number of cable channels who are delving into original programming.
While other fall seasons have come and gone with nary a whimper, this season may be different. Due to the prolonged Writers Strike many shows ended their seasons quite early. Programs like Life, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, and Heroes haven't aired original episodes since the end of 2007. Heck, there hasn't been a new episode of The Shield since June of last year! So, the beginning of the 2008-09 season will be a second chance for some of these shows, particularly the ones that premiered last season, to show their worth to fans and the networks.
The series follows the lives of a Toronto-based Strategic Response Unit (SRU), unique cops who go beyond the call of ordinary cops to rescue hostages, bust gangs, defuse bombs, handle state-of-the-art weaponry and, of course, risk their lives to save others.
I participated in a conference call this week with Colantoni, Dillon, Johnson, and executive producers Bill Mustos and Anne Marie La Traverse. Some highlights of the call:
Are you anxiously awaiting news of who was in that SUV that exploded? Still fraught with worry over how Gibbs is going to get his team back together? Or maybe you are just excited that Survivor is finally going to be beamed into your living room in glorious HD. Well, you can start making plans for your fall scheduling now. The eye network has released the schedule of premieres for their new and returning shows.
I'm a little concerned about two things on the schedule. First, The New Adventures Of Old Christine and Project Gary lead into Criminal Minds on Wednesday nights. That's an odd pairing, and I don't think bodes well for either of the comedies. And second, The Unit gets shuffled off to Sunday at 10? NCIS and The Unit have done remarkably well paired up on Tuesdays. Good for The Mentalist, not so much for The Unit. The whole thing kicks off with Survivor on September 18th. The rest of the schedule is after the jump.
ER has a new group of interns ready for their final season. Chief among them for me is Shiri Appleby. I still have fond enough memories of Roswell that I'm interested to see her cast for that reason alone. She'll be joined by Julian Morris. The two will play siblings Daria and Andrew Wade, a pair that have decidedly different work ethics. Also eager to learn at County General will be Emily Rose (Brothers & Sisters, Jericho) as the ambitious, controlling, Tracy Martin. Rounding out the quartet of interns is Viktor Rasuk (Stop-Loss) as the nervous Ryan Sanchez.
In other casting news, Paul Campbell (Battlestar Galactica) is set to be the new head research tech at Knight Industries on Knight Rider. A casting move that should give the show some much needed help. On The Sarah Connor Chronicles Leven Rambin (All My Children) will take on the role of Becky, a potential love interest for John. And over at Numb3rs, Sophina Brown (Shark) will try to fill the spot left when Diane Farr's Megan Reeves left the team at the end of last season. Her role as a junior agent is said to be recurring, with the possibility of becoming a regular.
(S04E18) "I connected you to a dangerous terrorist in three links." - Charlie
I've got to say - four seasons into Numb3rs and I can't believe we got a story like this now. Brother vs. brother. As Alan said, it had to happen sooner or later. It's just such an obvious plot that I figured it would have been sooner. Better late than never I guess. That being said, I suppose we could have done without it. Blame the WGA strike, but this episode felt like a lot of stuff just randomly thrown together to make it sort of season finale-ish. Anti-climactic at best.
Gallery: Numb3rs: When Worlds Collide
Returning: The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Rules of Engagement, The Unit, Cold Case, Numb3rs, Criminal Minds, The Ghost Whisperer, CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS, 60 Minutes, Without A Trace, Survivor, The Amazing Race
Out: Shark, Moonlight, Cane, Kid Nation, Power of 10, Secret Talents of the Stars, Viva Laughlin, Welcome to the Captain
New: The Worst Week, Project Gary, The Ex List, Eleventh Hour, The Mentalist
Mid-season: Harper's Island, Rules of Engagement
Schedule and detailed descriptions of the new shows coming soon, after the jump.
(S04E17) "I think if these were Travis Tritt fans, I might have better luck." - Colby
Sometimes I just don't know what they're thinking when they come up with stories for this show. Call me crazy, but the notion of a small rap label feud just doesn't strike me as something that the FBI is going to handle. And I do mean small. Besides the fact that the only real purpose that the case served was to play up the humorous stereotypes and clichés it created (like the scene with Larry and Charlie in the recording studio), I don't think it felt realistic. The music industry is far larger than the microcosm depicted in this episode and writers just hand-picked elements for this small, almost indie, rap label. I mean, c'mon - "2x4?" Really?
Holy frik! We've only just started to embrace the return of our shows after a shortened strike season. Now, they are almost over. In the next few weeks all of our network favorites will say good-bye for the summer to be replaced with reality shows, reality game shows, reality soap operas, and Regis on primetime (again).
Needless to say, I'm a bit depressed. As I am sure you are as well. But, we will do our duty and press on. Thusly, we here at the sprawling lakefront offices of TV Squad (you choose the lakefront) have compiled list of when your favorite, and not so favorite, shows will be saying good-bye for their summer vacation. As usual, taking the fickleness of the networks, these times and days can change at a moment's notices. We will try to update you of those changes as quickly as our little fingers can type it out.
So, with a leaden heart, here are your season and series finales.
(S04E16) "It's not Heat?" - Colby, amazed that the Pacino/De Niro classic isn't Don's favorite movie
I think it's a given that sooner or later, every cop show is going to have an episode about religious cults. They're just so easy to make into a bad guy, especially with all the crazy stuff you always hear on the evening news. That's part of the problem though; that it is too easy to turn into an hour episode and things can get stale fast. You've seen one, you've seen 'em all. Fortunately, the folks behind Numb3rs must have realized this because this episode was way more than, how did Colby put it? A bunch of religious "nut jobs."
Gallery: Numb3rs: Atomic No. 33
(S04E15) "I don't like a guy who thinks a purple heart gives him a free pass." - Colby
Well there's something you don't see too often on Numb3rs - resurrecting an old case from a previous episode. Usually, this show is pretty self-contained. Each week it's a wrap. Despite the fact that the last time we saw Clay Porter was when he escaped, his story still felt finished. But the writers took one small detail about his past and turned it into a pretty solid episode.
(S04E14) "Good morning! This is Charles Eppes. I'm in pursuit of a burgundy-ish, sort of merlot colored...um, well, what kind of car would you say that is?" - Charlie
I've got to honest, and I never thought I'd say it, but I've really enjoyed the return of Numb3rs. I can't decide if it's just because we haven't had new episodes in so long or it's because these new episodes are actually better, but I'm loving it. I even gave up reviewing Numb3rs last season because it got so stale and I reached a point where I had nothing new to say each week.
Something has changed though. It's not because the plots are unique and different, that's for sure. This entire episode pretty much mirrored last week's ep of CSI. A gang boss up for trial was sending coded messages to take out key witnesses and enemies and in each show, the ADA in charge of the cases became the next target. On CSI, the boss was using his urine to tint pages of library books with messages. Here, we had a guy using chess lessons to send out his wishes. Other than that, same plot.
(S04E13) "...and dry erase boards. Lots of dry erase boards." - Charlie
Return of the nerds! It's been almost 3 months since we last saw an episode of Numb3rs, and I've been looking forward to it to be honest. Not because it's the best show on TV, but with all the crap that rolled out during the WGA Strike... well, you get the idea.
The episode began with a really well done montage that juxtaposed Don and his FBI team against Charlie, Amita, and Larry handling a lecture at CalSci. CBS must be really worried about maintaining old viewers and picking up new ones because the entire sequence could have easily served as the opening to the pilot episode for this show. It laid everything out - who was in charge, their jobs, attitudes. After the first commercial break, it was back to business though.
Hear that sound -- a nearly inaudible rumbling coming over the horizon? Everyday it is getting louder and louder. Soon, the stampede that is the return of scripted series back from the depths of the WGA strike will overrun our televisions and computer screens, bringing overwhelming joy to our lives.
Okay, that statement may be a little flowery, but the sentiment is still there. After a very long dry period a good many of our favorite comedies and dramas are returning to the television landscape. We've had a taste of it these last few weeks with the return of shows like The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Dirt, The Riches and Smallville. That was just a preview of what is to come. Over the next few weeks we will see the return of The Office, Scrubs, Ugly Betty, all of the CSIs, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost, among others.
There are not a lot of surprises in this bunch, although it's great news that The Big Bang Theory, CBS's rookie Monday-night sitcom from Chuck Lorre's stable, made the cut. Still in limbo, however, are three other Monday-night comedies from the network: How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, and The New Adventures of Old Christine. The story speculates that Mother will get the greenlight for a fourth season soon, but Rules and Christine seem to be in competition for the 9:30-10:00 half-hour slot.
It looks like some of the shows -- most notably, three of the network's big four Monday comedies -- are going to have close to a full complement of episodes for the season (for instance, there will be nine more episodes of the only show on this list I care about, How I Met Your Mother). It looks like fans of The Unit, Cane, and maybe Shark will be out of luck until fall. And Swingtown, the risque drama about swinging couples, will resume production, meaning that we'll finally see this series the network announced way back at last year's upfronts.
It was nice of CBS to do this. Let's hope the rest of the networks follow suit.
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