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Published on September 1st, 2009 | by Amanda Fennelly

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Tellybets 2 – which new US TV shows will be hit or miss?

Ok so I promised two months ago that this would be a weekly event but work, holidays and moving apartments got in the way (yeah, yeah, excuses excuses) but we’re back, at last, and this week we’re taking a look at the new dramas and comedies from CBS which are due to hit American TV screens in the next 6 to 12 months.  Once again, we have to point out that not all of these will make it to our shores, but the whole point of this post is to identify the ones most deserving of being picked up by RTE, TV3 or any of the UK channels.

So let’s get cracking!

CBS is mostly known for its global smash hit franchise CSI which of course has spawned the likes of CSI Miami, CSI New York,  and then there’s NCIS, another acronym titled show that’s not quite in the same league when it comes to the popularity stakes as the CSI series but does very well nevertheless. Plus other crime driven shoes like Cold Case and Without A Trace are from the CBS stable.  CBS also leads the way when it comes to reality shows (they are the channel that screens Big Brother in the States) but we won’t be looking at their reality show offerings as very few American versions make it over here, we’re more likely to develop UK/Irish versions of these concepts if anything. They’ve also got some of America’s most well-loved and criticially acclaimed comedies such as Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, New Adventures of Old Christine, and Rules of Engagement.

So with one comedy, an NCIS spin-off, two medical dramas, a cop show and a new vehicle for former ER star Julianna Marguiles, CBS have put together an unassuming but potentially strong debut list for Autumn 2009. 

ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE

This is CBS’s only new comedy this season but considering their returning comedy shows are so strong, they may not have seen the need to develop anything significant in this genre this year. Accidentally on Purpose stars Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg), as film critic Billie, who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand with a younger man. While coping with this unexpected development, she’s also coping with a bad break-up – and her ex just happens to be her boss John (Grant Show). But she has her best friend Olivia (Ashley Jensen) for moral support, which she is going to need when her and the baby’s dad Zack (Jon Foster) decide to live together as friends for the sake of the baby.

Plus points: Ashley “Ugly Betty” Jensen is back on our screens and she’s one of the few good things about this mediocre-looking show.

Minus Points: The promos and trailers just don’t seem very funny, the whole situation is very contrived and while you might be tempted to have a look, there’s nothing that would suggest you’d make a return visit. While Jenna Elfman can be a good comedy actress, the script here seems too weak for her talents and she and Jon Foster looked totally mismatched for any sexual tension to build over the season.

Verdict: Miss, I’d be surprised if this lasts longer than one season; if it does, don’t expect it to go beyond two


 


NCIS LOS ANGELES

If you’re a fan of the NCIS series, well, you’ll be licking your lips with glee at the news that there’s a spin-off and, dare I say it, it seems even sexier and cooler than it’s predecessor. NCIS Los Angeles is based, as you can probably tell, in LA and centres around an undercover surveillance team at the Office of Special Projects, a division of NCIS that deals with dangerous and elusive criminals that pose a threat to national security. With an impressive ensemble cast headed by Chris O’Donnell (yep Robin could finally have found his true calling) and LL Cool J, Mark Harmen’s Gibbs could have a natural successor for his NCIS crown.

Plus points: I’ve always had a soft spot for Chris O’Donnell so it’s good to see him in something like this; it’s a tried and tested formula that’s already got a willing and ready-made audience but unlike with the CSI spin-offs that are pretty much the same show, different city, NCIS Los Angeles does seem to have put in enough little differences to give this show a fresh feel at the same time; the technology in this show looks fantastic so if you’re a fan of computers and gadgets, you’ll enjoy the centre command of NCIS Los Angeles.

Minus points: If you are not a fan of NCIS then you’re probably not going to enjoy its spin-off all that much, but that’s about the only negative thing I can think of on the basis of the promos and trailers we’ve seen so far. It remains to be seen if the writers have created strong enough characters and storylines to maintain the momentum derived from the original series, but something tells me that’s not going to be a problem.

Verdict: Coming straight after NCIS in the CBS schedule, there’s no way this can be anything but a hit.


 

 

THREE RIVERS

Three Rivers is a new medical drama. Ok medical dramas are ten a penny so what sets this apart from Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, House? Well Three Rivers is also set in a hospital but it just happens to be the top transplant hospital in the country, so every case really is a case of life and death.

Plus points: You’ll be guaranteed intense drama and emotions as to save somebody, another person has to die and the audience will get to see both sides of the story

Minus Points: It’s missing a big name in its cast to carry the show; and it could be too narrow a concept to be sustainable. Other medical dramas have organ donor storylines but not every week, could it get a bit boring and repetitive for viewers?

Verdict: Mmmm – I’m saying a miss, I’m normally a massive fan of medical dramas but there was nothing really about this show’s promo or trailers that really grabbed me and suggested it could be up there with Grey’s or House. However, news is that the entire pilot is being re-shot and some characters being re-cast so that would suggest what we’ve seen may not be what ends up on the small screen next month.


 


THE GOOD WIFE

Ahh now we’re talking. The wonderful Juliana Marguiles (Nurse Hathaway of ER fame) plays Alicia, a wife and mother who must assume full responsibility for her family and return to her legal career after years of being a stay-at-home mom, following her husband Peter’s (Chris Noth, Sex and the City’s Mr Big) very public sex and political corruption scandal which puts him in jail.

Plus Points: The cast in this is just superb – from the lead actress Marguiles to the supporting stars such as SATC’s Noth, Mary Beth Peil (Dawson’s Creek) who plays Peter’s mother, Alicia’s fellow associate Cary (Gilmore Girls’ Matt Czuchry), and her new mentor Diane Lockhard (played by the fabulous Christine Baransk)i, this has star quality written all over it; the concept is interesting and original when it comes to network TV and you’ll be sure a strong female character like Alicia will find an army of fans among female audiences.

Minus Points: There’s no obvious one, going by the show’s early promos and trailers, only time will tell how it’ll fare.

Verdict: Definite hit – RTE have already bought the series and will be showing it this Autumn



THE BRIDGE

This show won’t be hitting screens until the new year. It’s a new cop drama that concentrates on one particular cop, Frank Leo (Aaron Douglas) who is elected the police union’s new leader.  The show gets its name from the bridge that separates the rich side of town from the poor side, in the area that Frank and his fellow officers patrol. And in his new role with the Union, Frank starts to make some enemies, within and outside his precinct.

Plus points: With good writers this has the potential to be an intelligent, engaging police series that looks at the murkier side of the law, it’s hard-hitting and is a welcome relief from the simplicity of the CSI shows

Minus points: Frank Leo has got to be a likeable character and have the audience behind him if this show is to work and going by the trailers and promos, it’s a major concern that he won’t have that appeal.

Verdict: I’d like to think this would be a hit because I do enjoy a good cop show and this seems to be a multi-layered version but gut instinct on watching the promo tells me it won’t be that successful – miss!



MIAMI TRAUMA

The second of our two new CBS medical dramas and I have somewhat more confidence in this one. Set in one of America’s premiere trauma facilities, where only patients with life-threatening injuries are treated, this is like ER on speed. The show concentrates on one team of doctors who excel in the “golden hour”, the 60 minutes after being critically injured when the patient’s life hangs in the balance. So it’s non-stop drama, action, and intensity as these doctors battle injuries and themeselves to save a life.

Plus points: Unlike the other medical drama, this does have a big star. Jeremy Northam plays Dr Matthew Proctor, new to the trauma team after a tour of duty in the MASH unit during the Gulf War and going by the trailer, he makes an instant impact in the show. These characters also seem far more interesting and show the potential for better storylines.

Minus points: As before, is there room for another medical drama right now? Well it if it’s well written and acted, I don’t see why not but it’s not up to me.

Verdict: While I can see this doing quite well as far as American ratings go, I don’t really see it taking off in the same way as Grey’s Anatomy or House so we’ll call it a relative hit.


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About the Author

I work for RTE 2fm as a researcher/contributor. You can hear me on The Colm & Jim-Jim Breakfast Show presenting sport two days a week (usually Mondays and Fridays) plus I also do movie reviews on Friday morning's show. I also look after the RTE 2fm Movies webpage and it's there you can check out my interviews with major movie stars/directors/writers. I'm from Kilkenny (the true home of hurling), support Spurs and am somewhat obsessed with American tv shows.



4 Responses to Tellybets 2 – which new US TV shows will be hit or miss?

  1. Niall says:

    I’m an on-off NCIS fan so I’ll probably check out the spin-off. I’ll watch The Bridge and the 2 medical ones just to see if they’re any good but I’ll be avoiding Jenna Elfman.

    Really looking forward to the new seasons of How I met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory.

  2. hugo fitzpatrick says:

    They all look pretty good.

    Although three rivers looks like it needs that rewrite.

    There’s still a lot of great show’s going so who knows what next year has in stall.

    I’m looking forward to The Big Bang Theory, How i Met your mother, Greek, Stargate Universe, Smallville, Grey’s Anatomy, Dexter and a lot of other’s i can’t think of right now.

    Oh at the new Ronald D. More Mini series that may be picked up for a longer run.

    But The Good Wife, The bridge, and Miami Trauma are added to that list!

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