Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The New Fall Television Season - Part Four

It's Wednesday of premiere week, and frankly I'm only now starting to realize just how bad my timing was in starting this little series of articles. Oh, well. I guess I'll just press forward anyway, at least assured that I wrote a complete report.

I'm gonna continue today with the FOX broadcasting company, only reporting on their upcoming slate the day after the season premiere of Glee scores a staggering rating of 5.5 in the paramount demographic of Adults 18-49. And that's not the only spectacular performance for a show FOX has had thus far this season. New Monday night drama Lone Star debuted to a spectacularly bad 1.3 in the demo, and less than five million viewers overall.

And already, I have one series that would be a waste of time to cover. On the other hand, Glee is a contemporary example of a truly polarizing show. There are plenty of fans who've taken a shine to it as the initial season swung into high gear, and proving its staying power when it only gets better numbers following a lengthy hiatus (this includes the original airing of the pilot, at the end of the season before it debuted). Not surprisingly, a lot of these fans are women, among them my older sister.

On the other hand, I would like to call back to Community, and one joke in particular that gives Joel McHale's Jeff Winger a lot of relateability to the guys. At the end of one episode, when Jeff undergoes a break-up, Chevy Chase as Pierce is there to comfort him over other issues. He calls back to the girl always choosing the shows they were going to watch, and then Jeff says two lines that guys everywhere can instantly identify with: "I hate Glee. I don't understand the appeal at all."

However, I wouldn't say I identify that much with those lines. On the contrary, the appeal of Glee seems pretty apparent to me. I will give credit where credit is due and admit that at least the cast consists of good singers, which appears to have been the most paramount prerequisite for the show. They all perform to their best effort and the tracks I've heard by them are pretty good, even if they are all covers of popular songs.

Otherwise, I don't really consider myself a fan. The acting is decent, with the exception of Jane Lynch as key antagonist and cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Her work is purely fantastic, and she simply owns that role. Furthermore, I tune in when there's a guest star that I like, such as Neil Patrick Harris or Kristin Chenoweth to ensure great performances by highly established Broadway veterans. But otherwise, it simply doesn't pique my interest that much.

As far as that hugely popular series goes, I would like to think I lie on middle ground and at least acknowledge whatever good points it has. I understand the appeal, but would also like to understand why one would hate it. Yes, it's sometimes hokey and silly, but I'm certain there were worse shows. If musical numbers makes= it appeal to women, than I must say it should be allowed to, and it's been successful thus far. (Said success is further bolstered by the counter-programming - it airs against the popular and more guy-driven NCIS on CBS.) I'm not a fan, but I certainly don't hate it either.

Otherwise, the FOX network is stacked with popular show after popular show. Well before Ryan Murphy's Nip/Tuck even launched on the FX cable network, FOX was riding high with American Idol, the original musical-driven hit. This is a show that's been around for so long, that it's only now preparing for a potential closure with judges considering leaving as though they were actors. Paula Abdul ditched her post last year without really looking back, replaced for all of one year by Ellen DeGeneres. Simon Cowell, whose sense of snark played a crucial role in developing the show's place in popular culture has finished his final season as judge and is moving on to newer shows, such as The X Factor. Only this week was it announced that Jennifer Lopez and Steve Tyler have been installed as new judges.

But that show won't be launching until midseason. Even still, it plays a major role in FOX's dominance as a broadcast network. CBS may have more viewers overall, but shows like Idol, Glee, House, and the Sunday night animation block make it a leader in the afore-mentioned key 18-49 demographic.

In the fall though, there aren't a whole lot of new shows launching. In addition to Lone Star, we've only got the debuts of last night's sitcoms Raising Hope and Running Wilde as the slate of new shows on the fall agenda. I would say that both those sitcoms have potential.

Wilde comes from Mitchell Hurwitz, whose Arrested Development still leaves an impression well past its glimpse of a three-season run. This new show sports a lead of Will Arnett, and he seems to be working really hard against a somewhat easy premise. The series revolves around the relationship between a rich jerk and the humanitarian he knew as a kid (Kerri Russell). I have yet to watch the pilot in it's entirety, but I will admit that I love Arrested Development, I like Arnett and I thought Hurwitz didn't get the full benefit of the doubt from Sit Down, Shut Up, and animated sitcom that improved in the episodes beyond its initial prime time run.

And yes, I know the title's an incredibly lame pun, but that's not reason enough to give this the cold shoulder.

On the other hand, I've seen more of Raising Hope, coming from My Name is Earl creator Greg Garcia. That series follows a low-class family and the grandson that one of their sons had with a convict. It follows up on this setup by having the family try their best to raise the baby. What I've seen of the comedy there clicks well enough, even if I don't really see myself calling it the best new comedy of the fall. I'm actually inclined to give it a more through look at on Hulu, just for a more solid opinion.

Other than those two and the bombed premiere of Lone Star, the rest of FOX's lineup includes shows returning either from the prior season, or in the case of Friday night drama The Good Guys from the Summer. Most of the other returning shows tend to be interesting. And perhaps the ones I would like to discuss the most are on Sundays. The NFL overrun segues right into the Animation Domination block that night, covering a medium (yes, medium, not genre) that I only have undying admiration and devotion to. The only downside it that the shows themselves aren't that great, and I will discuss them in their own entry.

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