The Daily Dump

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Friday, May 20

Previewing Fox's Fall Line-up

Seeing how I spend approximately 3 hours a day watching TV (loser) I feel not only qualified, but almost obligated to weigh in on the networks’ new shows for the fall schedule. I mentioned NBC’s dismal ideas the other day, with the government sex toy “The E-Ring” and “Inconceivable,” which should turn out to be the best show on television set entirely in a fertility clinic.

Fox, I am surprised and happy to say, seems to have done a better job. Who would have thought that the innovator of “Cops”, the 10:00 news and the glowing hockey puck would rise to be number one in the coveted 19 to 49 year-old demographic this year?

Fox is taking the risky step of not introducing ANY new reality shows (as opposed to almost every other network channel who have their attorneys working day and night figuring out how close you can come to copying a reality show without breaking the law). They have instead decided to rely on the renewed strength of the hour long drama (“Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “The OC”) and to try their hand at a couple of sitcoms, even though history has shown Fox to have the amazing ability take a seemingly good show and either ruin it, cancel it or pound it into obscurity (“Wonderfalls,” “The Family Guy,” “Arrested Development”).

Here are the shows and their descriptions, courtesy of my favorite news source, Yahoo news:

"Prison Break," a drama about a man on death row. His brother is convinced he's innocent and robs a bank to get in the same prison, where he comes armed with an elaborate escape plan.

I think this has great potential. You see the success of a shows like “Lost” and “24” and “Alias”, and the source of that success is intense action and unbeleivably frustrating cliffhangers. Someone is running from someone, something is plotting something, there’s violence and sex and people love it. There is constant action, so the show rarely needs to rely on characters and relationships to get by (Do you really care about anyone other than Jack Bauer on “24”? Really?)

Then of course there’s the Oz-like possibilities. The bottom line is people love the taboo of life in jail. If they aren’t afraid to be edgy, this could be the best thing the show has going for it. If they, instead, try to focus too much on this guy’s innocence and no one really cares if he’s innocent or not, audiences will lose interest before the first anal sex threat is even made.

Key to success: A great escape plan. We’re talking like Shawshank Redemption great. A long, drawn out, smart escape plan.

"Bones," a sort of "CSI" for REALLY dead people, is a drama about a team of forensic anthropologists who study bones to solve crimes.

Is it just me or is the fascination with anything forensic just completely blown out of proportion? The entertainment companies seem to think that the general public is OVERWHELMED by the practice of identifying a body by a piece of hair left behind at a crime scene. Now this? What’s next? “Odor”? A show devoted to catching criminals by the scent they leave behind?

Key to Success: Strong characters and good plot ideas; not just bones.

"Head Cases" stars Chris O'Donnell as a lawyer who gets kicked out by his wife and suffers a nervous breakdown. He meets Rachel Leigh Cook to help him get on his feet again.

The show would have no chance if Rachel Leigh Cook wasn’t in it. I’ve been wondering recently (basically right after I read her name) what has happened to her in the entertainment world. If she can make Freddy Prince Jr. tolerable for a feature length film, she might be able ot make this show watchable.

And Chris O’Donnell is no slouch either. He’s probably the second most famous O’Donnell, right after Rosie. Remember the movie with all the women in wedding dresses chasing him? Remember?

It’s a tired premise of “man on the rebound meeting a girl,” but people will watch.

Key to success: Tightness of Rachel Leigh Cook’s outfits.

"Reunion," sort of the inverse of "24," the series follows six friends over the course of 20 years. Each episode is set in a different year.

I hardly have an opinion on this one without knowing who’s in it or, more importantly, what they look like. And I’m not motivated enough to go look it upon the internet either. But I will say this: unless these friends have had some VERY interesting lives, no time gimmick is going to make it watchable.

Key to success: T & A, good back-story.

"The Gate," set in San Francisco, is a drama about a detective in the police department's deviant crime unit.

As a steadfast fan of “Law and Order: SVU” (aka “Law and Order: Rape”), I must say that the “deviant crime unit” is a good place to troll for plot lines. But what show set anywhere other than New York has survived? Can you really make us believe that there are some awful, twisted crimes taking place in the home of Rice a Roni? When I think of San Francisco, I think of trolley cars and good chardonnays, not sadism and molestation.

Key to success: Not showing a trolley car in between scenes.

"The War at Home" is a comedy about once-rebellious parents of now-rebellious kids.

How does this work? Do the parents sit around talking about how they used to sneak out of the house, drop acid and loot burning buildings, only to find in the next scene their children climbing out the bedroom while one says, “Dude, I see pink elephants. Is that smoke I smell? Let’s go!” (Falls out the window – cue laugh track.)

Needless to say, I’m incredulous. Shows like this rarely survive, mainly because it’s not 1989 anymore and no one cares about charismatic kids like they did in “Family Ties” and “Growing Pains.” “Everybody Loves Raymond” was an adult comedy that happened to have a few kids in it. Most episodes, you would think their kids could be out playing with electrical wires and they wouldn’t notice. In “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “Frasier” kids were jokes, not people. I just don’t see it happening.

Key to success: Funny kids, avoiding tired parent/children storylines.

"Kitchen Confidential" is a comedy about a once-hot cook stuck slinging pasta at a restaurant chain because of his boozing lifestyle. He's given one chance at a job at a top restaurant but has 48 hours to impress 300 people — including the food critic at The New York Times, a jilted ex.

Is this the first episode, or is this an actual series? Do they film it in real-time, like 24? Will the last episode of the season be called “Finally Serving The Meal?” And what the hell is so “confidential” about it?

Things I can guarantee:

1. a plate of food will be dropped in someone’s lap.

2. the chef will come in late for work, drunk, and spill sauce on someone in the kitchen.

3. someone will get burned on the oven and, in turn, knock food out of someone’s hands splattering it all over them.

Basically, this show will rely on food being spilled.

Keys to success: Naked women and live-action gun fire.

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