TV shows falling flat on their faces

Overdone plotlines abound in this season’s new programs

Drawn Together exposes the more risqué side of cartoon characters.
Drawn Together exposes the more risqué side of cartoon characters.
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Photo courtesy of baywindows.com

Television Preview: Fall Premieres

Every few years, a groundbreaking series appears that changes the landscape of television. There was I Love Lucy, Dallas, The Simpsons and the first Survivor. These shows undeniably altered what would pour out of the “idiot box” for years to come.

These innovative shows, however, come with a hitch: they are invariably followed by mindless copies with nonsensical premises and ridiculous casts. Consider the follow-ups to the latest reality trend like Lost, which originally premiered back in 2001 on the same night as the ever-popular Amazing Race before being repackaged in 2004. Or The Benefactor and The Cut, which were both monumental failures modeled after the Donald Trump-vehicle The Apprentice.

With this trend and the fall season upon us, I’d like to highlight a few “new” programs to watch. I also have a sneaking suspicion that most of these particular shows won’t see a second season.

Three Wishes

NBC isn’t hiding the fact that this is a complete rip-off of ABC’s highly successful Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The premise: gospel singer and Grammy winner Amy Grant hops about America making the “hopes and dreams of deserving people” come true. I give it four weeks on the air. Fridays, 9 p.m.

Inconceivable

NBC tries its hand in the genre of medical comedic drama with Inconceivable. An ensemble drama focusing on the employees at the fictional Family Options Fertility Clinic and featuring Angie Harmon of Law & Order fame, Inconceivable is in the vein of House (Fox) or Grey’s Anatomy (ABC). This one will probably make it through the season, but has a lot to live up to in the genre. Its Friday night time slot will likely help its ratings. Fridays, 10 p.m.

The War at Home

Remember last year’s ill-fated Quintuplets? Quintuplets centred on the premise of two parents struggling to raise their set of teenage quintuplets who shared nothing in common besides DNA. The show turned out to be a disaster, and my heart goes out to those who tuned in.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this concept. Fox is taking a whack at it with The War at Home, a family comedy about raising three—you guessed it—teenagers with little in common. And the funniest thing of all? The director, Andy Cadiff, also directed—you guessed it—Quintuplets! Predictably, War features the stereotypical hot girl, the nerdy boy, and the annoying little brother. Pretty soon Fox will be able to title a show 8 Simple Rules for a Bad Family Comedy. Sundays, 8:30 p.m.

Night Stalker (ABC) and Ghost Whisperer (CBS)

Both are modeled after NBC’s Medium, in which a psychic is called upon to investigate crimes. Homicide victims predict their own deaths in Night Stalker, while Jennifer Love Hewitt both sees and hears dead people—and tries to give them peace—in Ghost Whisperer.

Despite the hackneyed plotline and general lack of creativity, these shows do contribute something valuable to television: material ripe for parody. The following two shows from the American comedy network Comedy Central are highly recommended, especially if you’ve ever seen a reality show. No word yet if Canadian channel The Comedy Network intends to add these to their line-up.

Drawn Together

This “first animated reality series” puts eight cartoon characters in a Big Brother-style house for some reason. Among the cast are Captain Hero (think Superman) and Toot Bronski (Betty Boop). Since new episodes aren’t being aired until late October, check out late-night reruns. For specific show times, see www.comedycentral.com

The Assistant

Andy Dick’s version of Trump’s Apprentice is downright funny. Andy forces the assistants to sleep on military cots in his garage, wake up at 5 a.m., and routinely “clips” them (“You’re fired” without a copyright breach) for knowing the least about his filmography.

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Dustin Delgarde has graciously allowed Team A&E to exploit his television prowess in this issue. Look for more from Dustin soon.

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