2010 Fall TV Preview: 10 New Shows That Look Promising (and 10 That Don’t)

September brings the return of children to their schools, the retreat of the stuffy humidity and the long-awaited television premieres. To those that know me, it’s no secret that I watch a lot of television. For the most part, I find the mindless aspect of television comforting. If I’m getting stressed out, I can always turn on the TV and escape for thirty minutes to an hour.

While I will watch almost anything on television, the new series that I am most looking forward to will be airing on specialty channels such as HBO and AMC. One hour dramas are the hardest type of network TV shows for me to get into, and this year (as with every year) there are a plethora of legal and medical dramas set to air. If these shows are your thing, then you may be sorely disappointed by the television picks listed here.

This is by no means a comprehensive fall preview. We have painstakingly sifted through all of the network fall line-ups, read synopses and watched trailers in order to put together a list of the shows that have potential and shows that may make you regret wasting your time. Check out the full list after the jump.

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Weird Web Wednesday: Hitting the High Notes

Jim Gillette Vocal Power
Gobstopper Starring Christopher Lloyd
Uncle Buck Gone Horror
Matrix Mistakes Geek
PC VS Mac Transformers
Flirting With Magic
Police Chase China
Running of the Bulls Gone Very Wrong
LEGO Silence of the Lambs: The Musical
Stephen Colbert Twatted
AJ Amazing Sports Bird
Kill Bill in 1 minute and 1 take
Portia De Rossi apologizes for marrying Ellen
Extreme Sheep Art
Drunk History Ft. Danny McBride
Worst Comedian EVER
German Guy run over by multiple cars
Ghostbusters Beat Box
Victoria Jackson Thinks Obama is a Communist
Iron Man VS Bruce Lee

Weird Web Wednesdays: Better Late Than Never

Woman Calls 911 Due to Lack of McNuggets
George Clooney…NICE
Snuggie Parody
Oren Lavie Music Video
Old Man Pole Dancing
COPS for Kids
Arnold and Jackie Want to Terminate Piracy
Turtle Loves Shoe
Stan Bush Military Tribute
Girl Robot
Cross Eyed Pilot – I guess those who can’t really do teach
Before and After in the 80s…Is the 6th lady Natalie from Facts of Life?
Are 4 Stings better than 1?
Mr T gives up gold chains for golf shirts
Lonely Island Ft. T-Pain “I’m on a Boat”
Exercise and Poodles A thing of my nightmares
Forrest Gump in One Minute
Kenny Powers Demo Reel

Weird Web Wednesdays: Bizkit the Sleepwalking Dog

Sleepwalking Dog
Columbian Kids Go to School in the Coolest Way Ever
Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy
Rick Jenkins Knows Him Some Handwriting
You Are So Beautiful
GameStop Training Video
Jamie Foxx Blame it on the Alcohol
I Miss Moranis
The Office Musical
Jimmy Kimmel Slip
Monty Python Spoof
Rushmore Style Music Vid
That Jean-Luc Picard
Mickey vs Breakdancer
Vanilla Ice Says Sorry
Role Models Blooper Reel
A Different Kind of Krispy ‘Kreme’
Worst Soccer Injury
MGMT Cover using iPhone and iPod Applications
Doggie Hero

Dead Like Me: The Complete First Season (DVD)

Dead Like Me: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Created by: Bryan Fuller
Starring: Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Cynthia Stevenson, Mandy Patinkin

I first heard about the Showtime tv show Dead Like Me last year from a person who more mentioned the show in passing than actually recommended it. But, since this year I had TMN and they were re-running the first season I thought I would check it out. It turned out, I liked the show.

Dead Like me is supposed to take place in the Pacific Northwest America, but is shot in B.C. George Lass (Ellen Muth) is a young lady who isn’t quite sure what she wants out of life. She is a college drop out whose mother does not want her daughter lazing about the house so she forces her to get a job. George ends up finding employment with a temp. agency, The Happy Time Workers. On her first day of employment, when she steps outside for some lunch, she gets pummeled by the toilet seat from the falling Mir Space Station. George is left stunned and standing beside what is left of herself. Enter Rube (Mandy Patinkin of Chicago Hope fame), the middle management supervisor who explains to George that she has died but she has been given a chance to live again as a Grim Reaper.

The reapers are not the stereotypical dark cloak, scythe carrying bunch but rather appear as humans and even have to take on day jobs to support themselves while they reap the souls of the near deceased. Also helping along the way are three other Grim Reapers, Mason, Roxy and Betty. Mason (Callum Blue) is a Brit with a bit of a drug problem. Roxy is played by Jasmine Guy, known to most people as “Whitley” from A Different World. She is the ball buster of the group and has to work as a meter maid during the day to make ends meet. Betty is played by Rebecca Gayheart but is replaced in episode four by Laura Harris whose most notable past preformance has been the voice of “Bright Eyes” in the My Little Pony cartoon. Harris’ character, “Daisy Adair” is an actress who died in the fourties and isn’t shy about admitting to the other reapers who she gave head to in order to get a role. George’s miserable mother, Joy Lass (pun intended I’m sure), is played by Cynthia Stephenson (Happiness; Air Bud). The cast is great and play off each other well.

The concept of the show is that these reapers are amongst many all over the world. They meet every day in a waffle house in order to receive yellow post-its from Rube with an E.T.D. (estimated time of death), name of a person and location written on it. They then have to be at the scene of the death in order to reap the soul. It sounds like a downer of a show since it’s about death and the main character is a young girl who died before she really got to live her life, but I assure you it is quite funny. If you enjoy sardonic, dry humour, you’ll love the dead pan delivery of the reapers.

There are fourteen episodes on this four disc boxed set and the pilot episode has an audio commentary track. Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Jasmine Guy, Callum Blue and Cynthia Stephenson are the cast members who contribute to the commentary track. Sometimes large group commentaries are good and sometimes they can be annoying because you can’t keep up with who is saying what. In this case, the commentary track turns into a love fest of compliments on performances. Cynthia Stephenson is the most complimentary member who keeps calling everything about the show “beautiful” and commending the performances of everyone constantly. You can tell that the cast really get along and love the show they are working on but it makes for a bit of a dull commentary. Even though it is only on the first episode, the cast members do still discuss the show as a whole. They don’t really get into too much detail about production or funny stories, however if it weren’t for this commentary track, the special features would only include deleted scenes and two short featurettes.

I think that the first season of Dead Like Me is good, so it can only get better. It is quite often in the third season that the characters are really developed and the actors are comfortable in their roles. If Dead Like Me is this entertaining in the awkward first season, I am really curious how the show will progress. Having said that, the dvd boxed set did not have a lot a lot of extras. This may be because it is only a first season release but I think that if the next season doesn’t have many special features, I would be satisfied just watching the episodes when they air on TMN and not buying the next boxed set. The show is entertaining but it is not cult status and I think a single viewing is all I would ever give it. — Alicia

Jem And The Holograms: Season 1 and 2 (DVD)

Jem and the Holograms: Season 1 and 2 (DVD)

Jem and the Holograms was originally a toy line created by Hasbro. Oncewriter/executive story editor Christy Marx came onboard Jem and her friends weretransformed from mere dolls to the cartoon many came to love. Jem and the Hologramsis best described as a wish fulfillment soap-opera with some action/adventure twists.The show was intended for girls but it was originally aired in fifteen minute segmentsbetween boys’ cartoons on Saturday mornings. The assumption was that the boys werecontrolling the remotes on Saturday morning and that if they wanted to keep theirattention on this girly cartoon they would have to include some action scenes. Itmight also have had something to do with the fact that Christy Marx had written forFantastic Four and G.I. Joe before she began writing for JEM.

As the story begins, Jerrica Benton has just lost her father and inherited half of Starlight MusicCorporation, the Starlight House and some extra surprises. Jerrica’s sister Kimber,along with their friends Aja and Shana help run Starlight House, a foster home for younggirls. When she is in need of money for the Starlight House, she approaches Eric Raymond,new CEO of Starlight Music and the inheritor of the other half of the company. Jerricafinds out that there is no money left to fund Starlight House because Eric has beenembezzling money to promote his new singing trio, The Misfits. The Misfits, who aremade up of three punked out trouble makers, Pizazz, Stormer and Roxy, will stop atnothing to be famous. Jerrica returns home to find a box on her vanity addressed to her.The box contains earrings which bring magical powers to Jerrica and allow her totransform into Jem by the power of Cynergy, a hologram producing machine. With her newfound power, Jerrica and her friends form a band called Jem and the Holograms and takeon the Misfits in a race for popularity, a mansion, a movie deal and more. Of course, nosoap opera would be complete without the necessary love triangle thrown into the mix.In this case, Jerrica keeps her identity as Jem a secret from long time boyfriend Rioand he ends up being torn between his love for Jerrica and his new interest in Jem,never knowing they are one in the same.

In the mid 1980s, holograms were a new and cool technology, pop music was all the rageand MTV was a new channel on which music videos were aired. Jem and the Holograms was anoriginal cartoon which used fantasy and magic and coupled it with adventure and music.Within each episode of JEM were usually three music videos, one Misfits and two Jem andthe Holograms. The Jem and the Hologram songs were usually inspriational songs aboutlove, sharing and respecting others and yourself. The Misfits’ songs were about creatingmischief and winning and squashing people who get in your way. The videos thataccompanied the songs were used to illustrate to the young and impressionable girlswatching the show that Jem and her friends were fun and outrageous and the Misfits weretroublemakers. However, I always thought the Misfits had better songs.

Season 1 and 2 of Jem and the Holograms is incorporated into a four-disc collection of26 full length episodes and some nice special features. Christy Marx does commentarytracks for episodes 1, 13, 23 and 26 as well as a fifteen minute long interview on discfour. Samantha Newark, speaking voice of Jem (Britta Phillips was the singing voice ofJem), also does an interview on disc four, but it is much shorter and is mostlyself-promotional tripe about her singing career. Also included in special features arepublic service announcements where Jem and the Holograms teach kids not to talk tostrangers, how to ride your bike on the street and how to avoid a downed electrical wire.There is a “play songs” feature as well in which you can just watch the music video whichran about one minute in length each.

The final special feature on the JEM DVD is excerpts from the JEM production bible. Itis difficult to read this small white print but it does go into a lot of detail and backstory for Jem and the other characters. It’s too bad that they didn’t have time toincorporate a lot of these details about the characters into the show.In the commentary tracks and in the bonus interview with Christy Marx, she reveals a lotof answers to questions that every JEM fan has ever asked. Have you ever wondered abouta connection between the Misfits in the cartoon and the real band? Marx admits that shehas been asked many times about the connection and she was unware of a band named theMisfits and she is sure Hasbro was not aware of them when they created the toy line.Also, Marx describes the struggle against the toy company’s demands and her own creativeneeds. She didn’t want JEM to be considered a 30-minute commercial.

It was really fun to be reacquainted with one of my favorite childhood cartoons. Eventhough watching the cartoon as an adult I am able to see the flaws and the cheesy aspects,there is still more enjoyment to watching Jem and the Holograms than mere nostalgia.The season 1 and 2 boxed set is truly outrageous! — Alicia

The Hours

The Hours
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Written by: Michael Cunningham (novel), David Hare (screenplay)
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, John C. Reilly

“…always the years between us, always the years, always the love, always…the hours…”

Based on Michael Cunningham’s highly acclaimed book, The Hours follows the lives of three women from three different time periods. The different story lines are masterfully woven together while all three women are realizing that they have been living their life for someone else.

The story unfolds as a writer, a housewife and a modern woman each live a typical day in their life. One decision made by each woman turns their world in an about face. Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), on the brink of insanity, is writing “Mrs. Dalloway” in the 1920s in a suburb of London. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is a post WWII housewife in Los Angeles who is reading “Mrs. Dalloway”. Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is unknowingly living the book, “Mrs. Dalloway”, in contemporary New York while she deals with the last days of her former lover Richard (Ed Harris), who is dying of AIDS.

Virginia Woolf struggles with her own mental health as she writes her book. In Los Angeles, Laura Brown tries to find a reason to get through the monotony of another day in her life, even though she seems to have a great deal to live for with a caring husband (John C. Reilly), a young son and a baby soon on the way. Fast forward around fifty years and Clarissa Vaughan, with a daughter (Claire Danes) in college and a former lover dying of AIDS is spending her time planning a party.

Directed by Stephen Daldry, The Hours is a heavy movie which deals with the struggles of life, death and love. The movie is a beautiful commentary on how every day must be cherished and how every decision you make affects someone else. Flowing and poetic, The Hours exposes the lives of three completely different women in different times and places who are connected by their realization that they are living their life for all the wrong reasons. — Alicia