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Juanita Berge | Philly Creative Guide Event Reporter

Philly Ad Club :: Annual Fall TV Preview
by Juanita Berge, 1 Oct 2007

The Philadelphia Advertising Club is a non-profit organization that represents Greater Philadelphia Ad Agencies, Interactive Agencies, Media Buying Agencies, Broadcast and Print Media, and more.

Visit www.phillyadclub.com for more information.


Billed as the "ultimate TV guide," PAC's annual event features reels and personalities from all the regional stations. Twelve stations were in attendance, if you include all the different incarnations of Comcast who were there. There was CN8 – Comcast, Comcast Spotlight, Comcast SportsNetwork and Comcast Spectacor. In fact, Comcast booked the most tables of any regional broadcaster when all was said and done. Six in all. WPHL 17 was a distant second with three tables.

Outside of the shows, the presentations themselves were of little of interest. It was the standard local celeb intro, followed by a slickly produced, ear-pounding video, glorifying the creative ingenuity of that network. The one exception to this rule had to be Fox 29's Johnny GoodTimes and a howlingly funny send-up of the entire proceedings. It was one of the few original moments of the afternoon.

So, how did the new season look in this slick presentation? There were several shows (***) that piqued this reporter's interest.

On the CW:

Life Is Wild, (Sunday 8pm) A far reaching premise – a family show featuring a variety of odd-man-out stories interspersed with animal welfare stories, all the while reflecting the true spirit of what is present-day South Africa, without being preachy. Good luck.

Aliens In America, *** (Monday 8:30pm) A nerdy teen and his Pakistani exchange student housemate weather the trials and tribulations of coming-of-age in the American Midwest. This show has the makings of a cultural confrontation written all over it. It'll be interesting to see if the producers can walk that fine line between stereotype and authenticity, 7th Heaven saccharin and true coming-of-age pathos.

Reaper, *** (Tuesday 9pm) A black comedy whose premise involves Sam – an unambitious slacker who's destined to operate as the devil's bounty hunter since his parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born. Internet chatter says it's a "sharp blend of wit, weird and wink; the CW's first really cool show." It can play either way; hip and clever or smarmy and tasteless. It has a talented cast and an even more talented production team – the former writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law & Order: SVU. That should make for some interesting sub-plots. Give it a look see.

Gossip Girl, (Wednesday 9pm) This quote from Entertainment Weekly sums it up best, "Set on New York's tony Upper East Side, Girl is a soapy melodrama... that focuses on teens who have never heard of terms like 'credit limit.'" Enough said?

On CBS:

Viva Laughlin, (Sunday 8pm) One of this season's biggest gambles. An ongoing casino-based whodunit with actors who periodically break into song. The producers say its classic hits soundtrack with accompanying actors is "to move the story forward" in a way that's different from the rest. I'll say. In this season's only musical drama Hugh Jackman stars in the premiere but will only be a periodic on-screen character.

The Big Bang Theory, (Monday 8:30pm) A hot new female tenant moves in next to two super-geeky, super-geniuses. Can the producers stay away from the broad, obvious jokes? If so that's the only thing that will give this worn-out, trite idea a chance.

Cane, (Tuesday 10pm) Dallas to a salsa beat. A night time soap opera par excellence. Featuring Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo and Rita Moreno - so we know they can act. How will the story line do though? I say a slow build with more and more sub-plots and surprise revelations is the way to go. Cane premiered to an avalanche of storylines. After viewing the first episode's vast array of plot twists I was left confused.

Kid Nation, (Wednesday 8pm) A group of children aged 8 to 15 are dropped in a New Mexico ghost town and told to build a society. The newest twist on reality shows, this show is facing all sorts of bad press – the children's living conditions, violation of child labor laws, contract irregularities. Its earnest young stars can be either refreshing or sickening. A bit too earnest for my taste, but take a look.

Moonlight, (Friday 9pm) A private detective who is, in reality, a vampire. Not much information on this as the show has been entirely recast and rewritten since first getting picked up.

On NBC:

Chuck, *** (Monday 8pm) A 20-something computer nerd finds his life swinging out of control when America's top secrets get downloaded to him. Think The Spy Who Loved Me with a Scrubs sensibility. A cute, charming, odd show. Charming enough to make the cut? Could be.

Journeyman, (Monday 10pm) A family man is continually snatched back in time. Once there he must deduce what his mission back in time is. Oh, did I mention that every time he travels back he sees his former fiancé? His former fiancé who is currently deceased? Who knows how this will fare. Who thought Heroes would work?

Life, *** (Wednesday 10pm) The best bet for an in-depth character study. Couched in a compelling mystery – a wrongfully imprisoned cop goes deep to discover who set him up – Life is a thoughtful look at what drives an individual, and how. Worth a look.

Bionic Woman, (Wednesday 9pm) It promises to be nothing like its 1976 predecessor. Just like the original, new technology saves Jaime's life and gives her amazing superpowers. Unlike the original, she is stalked by a rogue bionic woman who complicates Jaime's underground do-gooding. It could be a winner.

On ABC:

Samantha Who, (Monday 9:30pm) Christina Applegate's bitchy title character develops amnesia then sets about mending her evil ways. Reminds me of My Name Is Earl. A good supporting cast though, and that may help this newbie that got almost no promo from ABC.

Cavemen, *** (Tuesday 8pm) The Geico cavemen get their own TV show. To be fair, the evolution of this show is not without some valid precedent. Geico launched a website for the cavemen long before there was any broadcast talk because they were such successful and popular spokesmen for the company. On their site you could take your caveman through his day – dress him, send him off to work or party, even make music selections for his stereo. The site was a sleeper hit some say, so it seems a natural progression that they be given their own sitcom. Cro-Magnon meets Homo sapiens. This show should have a chance.

Carpoolers, (Tuesday 8:30pm) Four guys carpool to work. With virtually no promo from the network it's obvious big things are not expected. Who knows?

Pushing Daisies, *** (Wednesday 8pm) My vote for the most original show of the season and you'll either love it or hate it. A young everyman can revive the dead with a touch, which he does to solve crimes, then return them to the dead with another touch. The conflict comes when our hero revives his childhood love. Billed as a drama, not a comedy, you may find its fairy tale aesthetic either charming or ludicrous. The premise appeals to my sense of the absurd, so I say it's worth a look.

Dirty Sexy Money, (Wednesday 10pm) Has the goods, just like Cane. Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh and Billy Baldwin star, so we know they can act. Will the story hold up though? Right out of the gate ABC's sudser was easier to follow than Cane. That's a plus right there. Take a look.

Big Shots, *** (Thursday 10pm) In a friendship much like the one featured in Sex In The City, four men give us an insider's look at what men really talk about when women aren't around. If that were really true it would never make it on air, but worth a look to see what they do with a pretty compelling idea.

Women's Murder Club, *** (Friday 9pm) A quartet of women professionals help one another catch killers. A policewoman, an attorney, a coroner and a reporter. Far-fetched you say? It's based on James Patterson's best selling book series. + It stars Angie Harmon. ++ You'd have to be completely devoid of all creativity to make a bad first season. Worth a look.

On Fox:

K-Ville, *** (Monday 9pm) I'm tempted to say, "Not another police drama!" Except that this one takes place in New Orleans and deals with the reality of what New Orleans is currently facing: abandoned neighborhoods and businesses, and increased crime and drug trade. It's a desolate region that's teetering on the brink of despair. Since shooting takes place entirely on location, funneling some $17 million into the local economy, I give it a thumbs up. It has the potential to do as well as the current crop of cop shows, and its success will provide a huge spur to the local economy there.

Back To You, *** (Wednesday 8pm) Gets my vote for new comedy with the most going for it. Actors – Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton; writers – Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan; and director – James Burrows. In fact, when this project was announced, a bidding war broke out between ABC, CBS and Fox. Witty and urbane, the comedy is hip, despite its leads being middle-aged.

Kitchen Nightmares, (Wednesday 9pm) Abrasive Hell's Kitchen chef Gordon Ramsay is back to whip C-list restaurants into shape. Snarky and abrupt, strictly for admirers of Ramsay. I say pass.

The Next Great American Band, (Friday 8pm) Another American Idol. In fact, it's from AI creator Simon Fuller.

Nashville, (Friday 9pm) Billed as a docudrama, it will feature the almost famous and newcomers to the country music scene. From the creators of Laguna Beach.

I'm sure you'll each check out the new fall offerings, and you'll have your own hits and misses. Check out these selections (***) above if you get the chance - they might be worth a look.

Print Article  Brought to you by: Juanita Berge | Philly Creative Guide Event Reporter

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