[UPFRONTS] Murtzcellanious: CTV's Fall Line-Up 2007 – Murtz Jaffer Reviews CTV's New Shows

I just flew back from the CTV Upfront and boy are my arms tired. Old joke. Still amuses me though.

So here it is. What you have been waiting for. The first look at the new crop of television dramas and comedies that will entertain us all. There were shows that I loved and shows that I liked. There are certainly a few that I think will be major hits. There are shows that will make a Big Bang and that involve some Big Shots. There are others that I think will Push Daisies. There are shows about Dirty Sexy Money, and ones that involve girls and Gossip. Some won’t disappear Without A Trace and we will see a change for Two And A Half Men. While we will still have a few Moons to wait, finally there is no more Private Practice. The curtain has been lifted. Murtz Jaffer breaks down the new CTV line-up for you. Right here. Right now.

NEW SHOWS
Big Bang Theory

Big Bang Theory is hilarious. I think the majority of you who have followed my television tastes, know that I am generally not a big comedy fan. But when you take two nerds and have them living beside a really hot blonde girl, I guess my tastes change (perhaps I identify with the situation or something). I have high hopes for this show. The pilot was very funny and the dialogue was brilliant. It starts off with the two lead characters, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) making donations at a sperm bank. They soon have a change of heart and demand that they get their deposits back. The show only gets funnier as they return home to find a stunning new neighbor, Penny, moving in. It’s definitely worth a laugh or two when the pair invite her over to eat and she ends up asking if she can use their shower. We find out that Sheldon measures his social superiority with the number of ‘friends’ he has on Myspace and that the pair like to party by playing Klingon Boggle until 1:00 a.m. The comedy only gets better when Leonard and Sheldon’s actual friends show up. The show is smart and funny and I loved it. It is a significant improvement over the comedies that I saw last year and I think that with the network securing the rights to creator Chuck Lorre’s other show (Two And A Half Men and pairing it alongside established hits like Corner Gas and Robson Arms, the Big Bang Theory is that this show is destined for success.
Big Shots

While I thought that the opening introductions of the lead characters Duncan Collinsworth (Dylan McDermott), Brody Johns (Christopher Titus), James Walker (Michael Vartan) and Karl Mixworthy (Karl Mixworthy) was a little slow, I thought that the pilot episode of this series did its job and left you wanting more. While some have compared it as the male version of Sex In The City meets Desperate Housewives, I believe that it is still fresh in its appeal, because it is ultimately still about the way that men think and this is something that I think warrants some examination. While I hated Michael Vartan in Alias, I thought that he was phenomenal in this role which almost seems written for him. I feel the same way about Dylan McDermott. While I liked him on The Practice, he certainly seems better suited for this role. In the premiere, the main storyline points are quickly established. Duncan Collinsworth was formerly arrested for a one-night stand with a transvestite. As his career moves forward, he still has to deal with the past transvestite-transgression. Karl Mixworthy is having an affair, and his mistress wants to share in the same activities that he engages in with his wife (including going to see the same couples therapist). Brody Johns has a controlling ex-wife who remains totally hidden in the first episode. Right after James Walker’s boss dies, he finds out that his wife was having an affair with him. The show is quality and quirky TV. Considering that is what CTV President of Programming Susanne Boyce said was there goal, Big Shots definitely meets it.
Dirty Sexy Money

There is no question that Dirty Sexy Money is the best new show this season. I loved every second of it. How can you not love a show with that title. I think the best part for me is the cast. Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) plays Nick George, an attorney whose entire life has been spent living in the shadow of the Darling family. The Darling’s are one of New York’s wealthiest families and they have just as many problems as they do dollar bills. The heads of the family are Tripp Darling (Donald Sutherland) and Letitia Darling (Jill Clayburgh). There’s the son who wants to run for Senate but is sleeping with a transvestite (Patrick Darling played by William Baldwin). There’s the out-of-control drama queen daughter (Juliet Darling played by Samaire Armstrong). There’s the out-of-control drug abusing son (Jeremy Darling played by Seth Gabriel). We also cannot forgot the son who is a priest and who fathered a child out of wedlock (Rev. Brian Darling played by Glenn Fitzgerald). Nick George’s father worked as the Darling family’s personal lawyer until he died suddenly, and the Darling’s have now offered the altruistic George $10 million per year to take the one job that he swore he would never take. When he cannot refuse the offer, amazing drama ensues. This is a must-see and my pick for the 2007 television season. Also, stay tuned for my upcoming interview with Samaire Armstrong!
Gossip Girl

If this show was titled Gossip Boy or Gossip God of Reality Television, or Gossip King of Good Looks, it would almost certainly be named after me. Just because it isn’t, it doesn’t mean that a show that revolves around the idea of an all-knowing girl gossiping about everyone else at her school isn’t appealing. And the best part is that her reports are public information and can be accessed from her blog and she also sends them out via text messaging! Haha. And it gets even better because the narrator is voiced by Kristen Bell (formerly of Veronica Mars, whose voice is absolutely perfect for the role. Based on the best-selling series of novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, the show takes place in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is primarily about a group of “affulent prep-school students” with unlimited money and parents who seemingly don’t care what they do with it. Hmm. O.C. much? If it sounds a little like that other teen drama that we loved, it’s probably because Gossip Girl is also produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (the brains behind Ryan Atwood and the rest of the Newport gang). I don’t even think that is a bad thing. I always wondered why more teen dramas didn’t take place on the East Coast. I mean think about it. There was Saved By The Bell. Beverly Hills 90210. Party Of Five. All in California. I think that New York definitely is an edgy and untapped teen drama backdrop. While I thought the pilot gave too much away too quickly with the show’s core love triangle between Serena Van Der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester) and Nate Archibald (played by being established very quickly, this also clearly was meant to keep the viewer interested right off the bat and the strategy can’t be faulted. The evil Blair is dating the dreamy Nate. When her former best friend Serena moves back to town, Blair ups the sexual ante to keep Nate from straying back to his former love interest. The triangle becomes even more of a square when Dan Humphrey (played by Penn Badgley) is introduced. The moral compass of the show, Humphrey admits that he has had feelings for Serena for a long time but they ran in opposite social circles. And it gets even juicier. Dan’s dad (a washed-up rock star played by Matthew Settle) had a fling with Serena’s mom (played by Kelly Rutherford)! I guess it just wouldn’t be a Schwartz and Savage show without some parental storyline somewhere. And how old do I feel when I pined after Kelly Rutherford when she was on Melrose Place and now she is playing a mom?! Yikes. The cast is incredibly good-looking and I like the show. It’s cool. It’s fresh. It’s edgy. And it involves text messaging. Awesome.
Moonlight

Moonlight involves a vampire private investigator who uses his vampire abilities to help people in trouble. To me, the concept didn’t work and while I like quirky TV as much as the next guy, this one was a little too quirky for my liking. In the pilot, Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) basically tells the story of how he became a vampire while and simultaneously helped people over many decades after initially struggling with the fact that he was no longer human but immortal. The part where the show lost me was when St. John helped a little girl in the past and currently is a crime reporter who is now St. John’s mortal love interest. While it is unclear as to whether she actually was the same little girl that he saved, even the suggestion was a little too out there for me. I did like O’Loughlin’s acting though.
Private Practice

There is no question this is the most-anticipated show of the Fall season and given that creator Shonda Rhimes has always been tight-lipped with the Grey’s Anatomy scripts, I wasn’t surprised that the pilot for the show wasn’t made available. Fortunately, we all saw that special Grey’s episode that focused on Dr. Addison Montgomey-Shepherd’s trip to California. While I didn’t particularly dig the show, it certainly did well in the ratings according to CTV and clearly this isn’t a show that you can judge after only one episode. I mean when Grey’s first burst onto the scene, nobody could have predicted its unbelievable rise to the top. I definitely liked the way that CTV President of Programming Susanne Boyce referred to Private Practice as differing from Grey’s Anatomy since it was more about the sex than the surgery and I agree. I don’t think the show will have a hard time establishing itself and I have always liked Tim Daly and Paul Adelstein. Taye Diggs is often referred to as the kiss of death, but attaching himself to the hottest writer in TV right now could certainly break the curse. Everybody will be watching this and I like where CTV has placed it on the schedule (Wednesdays at 8 PM). Kate Walsh is also super hot. I had to have that on the record.
Pushing Daisies

This was the show that I just didn’t get. I know that USA Today called this show “the most creative, inventive and enchanting pilot since Lost“, but I totally disagree with the assessment. I struggled to get through it. While the concept of a mild-mannered man having the ability to touch dead things and bring them back to life is a good idea for a book, I just didn’t think it translated well to TV. Sure there are twists like a second-touch by Ned (played by Lee Pace) resulting in death and that he can only bring dead people back to life for a minute (before either saving them, resulting in another death to make up the difference or letting them die again) but to me it seemed a little ridiculous. Then again, I never was a big Tim Burton fan (how can you do a remake of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and NOT do the tunnel scene sequence?) and perhaps my dislike of fantasy translated into my dislike for Bryan Fuller and Barry Sonnenfeld’s pilot in this case. The fact remains that I didn’t like the concept of a piemaker bringing the dead back to life to find out who killed them and then working with a private investigator (played by Chi McBride) to profit on the reward money by catching the killer. Don’t get me wrong. There were aspects of the show that I did like. I thought that Ned bringing his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (played by Anna Friel) back to life but never being able to touch her or kiss her again was cute. I also liked the secret that he is hiding from her and the fact that he uses his abilities to ripen dead fruit for his pie business, but in addition to Moonlight, it was one of the few shows that didn’t click with me. That being said, I am going to watch the second episode before I say that this show is ready to push daisies.
NEW TO CTV
Without a Trace

Without A Trace is one of my favorites on TV and I still think it is very underrated. I think that CTV’s acquisition of the Canadian rights for the show was Monday’s most shocking development. I am not sure why Global let it go, but I am a big fan of it and I think it is a program that will only continue to pick up viewers. The storylines are always fresh. And it is serialized, but only to a limited degree. This means that you can miss an episode and not worry about missing a big chunk of the storyline. I think hat it is right up there with Lost in terms of how well it is written.
Two and a Half Men

Two And A Half Men is a show that I am not familiar with. It was another CTV pick-up and I have heard that it is pretty good, but I am going to refrain from commenting since I haven’t seen an episode.

MURTZ’S PICKS

I think that Big Bang Theory and Dirty Sexy Money are shows that have to be watched. I am hoping that viewers will give Gossip Girl a chance, because I do think that it is a revolutionary show in terms of how it uses technological advances like text messaging. I hope that it is able to get more of a mainstream following because it’s easy to see that it will have a cult appeal. Private Practice is going to do well, just because. I was impressed with the shows this season. I just don’t want to wait! Oh well. There’s always Pirate Master.

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