Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall previews

Earlier this week, I discovered four brand-new NBC shows in our On Demand menu. Pilot episodes of new shows, available to watch more than a week before they would be shown on television! Naturally, I had to check them out. And as a public service, I will now tell you which one(s) seemed most worthy of your time.

First up, we watched Chuck. Now, I was all prepared to like this show, just from the commercials. I thought it looked cute, smart, and funny. And I'm happy to say I was right. The character of Chuck (Zachary Levi), a bumbling member of the "Nerd Herd" and lonely guy still stuck on the girl he lost in college, is well developed and interesting. He unwittingly becomes the keeper of government secrets and enters a life he never would have dreamed of. Along the way, he learns a little something about himself.

Sounds cheesy, right? I'm telling you, the humor and action on this show is a great balance. I enjoyed every minute of it. My only criticism is that is was obviously written by a GenXer, which Chuck is not. So when he talks about writing programs on a TRS80 in college, and college was only five years ago, geeks like me have to say, "Wait a minute, that's not right." Though when I heard the line, I laughed, because I can relate. Hey, who just yelled, "Nerd!"? I heard that.

Okay, moving on, we have The Bionic Woman. I was all set to love this show. After all, I loved the original, watched it every week, never missed it, wanted to be Jaime Sommers. The new Jaime is played by Michelle Ryan, whom I absolutely loved in the BBC series "Jekyll," so there was another vote in its favor. But I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I know they have to set up the story, but I found it highly predictable. Except for the part about the evil Bionic woman. That was just weird. This Sara Corvus character really freaks me out. The actress has a way of looking at people that's just, well, freaky. And she has a bionic chest? Excuse me? She actually said that.

Having said that, I truly enjoyed Michelle Ryan's performance, which is flawless. And by flawless, I mean that you forget she's English. Not a trace of her accent was heard. I like that. It's the main reason I watch House. Well, maybe not really. Anyway, I think she does a wonderful job of playing a Jaime who's both vulnerable and strong. If anything makes this show fun to watch it will be her. So I'm not ready to say forget it just yet, but they need to start pulling out some surprises if they want to keep viewers.

Next we watched Life, a show about Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a cop who was unjustly imprisoned for 12 years and has just been exonerated. He's been given a large cash settlement (some guess $50 million), but chooses to go back to work as a cop. Only now, he has a unique insight into both the ways that criminals think, and the way that cops think about criminals. And apparently, he read a lot of books about Zen, because he makes all these really deep observations that make you go, "Wow." I didn't think I would like this show, but I really enjoyed it from start to finish. Lewis is likeable as the wronged Crews, who no longer really fits into society ("What's an IM?") or into life among the other cops. Despite his time behind bars, Crews has a wonderful ability to connect with people, and gets answers other people can't. Playing his partner is Sarah Shahi, who does a wonderful job of being tough but vulnerable at the same time. I loved the shower scene (you'll have to watch it to see what I mean!). And I loved how they solved the case at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes, especially as Charlie tries to figure out who framed him twelve years ago.

And finally, the show I was most skeptical about, Journeyman. From the ads, it looked like a rip-off of Quantum Leap, one of my all-time favorite shows. Guy travels in time, but can't control it, doesn't always know why he's there, but ends up putting things right that once went wrong. And I was right about the similarities. Yet I was strongly drawn into the story, right from the start. Kevin McKidd stars as Dan Vasser, a reporter who lost his fiancee in a plane crash eight years ago. He's now married to Katie (who used to date his brother!) and they have a son and a sometimes rocky relationship. It doesn't help when he starts disappearing for days at a time. At first he thinks it's a dream. But then he begins making connections between what he "dreams" and real life. And he makes a startling discovery in the past that promises to make the series very interesting indeed. Just like Sam Beckett and his computer Ziggy, Dan's got a handheld computer (his phone) to give him info. But often, right when he's about to find a clue, he loses service (because he's just flashed into the past). And when he's in the present, he has to deal with friends and family who think he's on drugs. I loved the intervention ("Trust me, you have not been where I've been.").

So the show I was most prepared to dislike I actually really enjoyed. Dan is intelligent and passionate, and I loved the ending. I turned to Hubby and said, "I'm intrigued." I think this show has amazing possibilities, and I can't wait to see what they do with it.
If you have Comcast On Demand, you can check out these pilot episodes, right now! If not, they will all be premiering this coming week. Happy viewing!


  1. OH yeah! I was wondering about some of the same shows. I liked the previews of Bionic Woman (I think mom may still have my Jaime Summers doll somewhere). I had a feeling it would be a little cheesy.

    I am glad you hear you liked Chuck - I think I am gonna like it too!

    I love/hate premier weeks.....can't wait for house though..oh and CSI is a MUST!

  2. I dont watch TV at all anymore. Its no real decision of mine. Its just that I havent had time all summer.

    I only get to childrens movies at the theatre. I can tell I am culturally behind the times! LOL