FOX: ‘Touch’ Renewed… ‘Alcatraz,’ ‘The Finder’ Canceled

Kind of a mixed bag on this one.  We are, of course, thrilled that FOX has announced that they will bring back the Kiefer Sutherland/Tim Kring science fiction series, Touch for a second season.  As we noted in our review, we think Touch is the best new series of the 2012 – 2013 season and it just keeps getting better.

On a more disappointing note, Alcatraz has been canceled as has the Bones spinoff, The Finder.  We loved Alcatraz but we get why it had a hard time finding an audience.  Serialized science fiction revolving mysteries and time-travel just aren’t going to work on a major network.

We liked The Finder, too, and we’re a little surprised that it couldn’t succeed.  It really was just the type of quirky procedural that fans of Bones should have jumped on.

REVIEW: Alcatraz (FOX – Monday, 9:00 p.m.)

From executive producer J.J. Abrams (FRINGE, “Lost,” “Star Trek,” and the recent blockbuster “Super 8”) comes ALCATRAZ, a thrilling new series that follows a unique trio investigating the mystifying reappearance of 302 of Alcatraz’s most notorious prisoners and guards, 50 years after they vanished.

When San Francisco Police Department DET. REBECCA MADSEN (Sarah Jones) is assigned to a grisly homicide case, a fingerprint leads her to a seemingly impossible suspect: JACK SYLVANE (guest star Jeffrey Pierce), an Alcatraz inmate who died over 30 years ago. Given her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle, RAY ARCHER (Robert Forster), were guards at the prison – Madsen’s interest is immediately piqued. When the enigmatic, knows-everything-but-tells-nothing government agent EMERSON HAUSER (Sam Neill) tries to impede her investigation, she becomes doggedly committed to it.

Madsen finds herself working with an unlikely partner, Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast DR. DIEGO “DOC” SOTO (Jorge Garcia), to help piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The two discover that Sylvane is not only alive, but he’s loose on the streets of San Francisco, exacting decades-old revenge and leaving bodies in his wake. And strangely, he hasn’t aged a day since 1963, when Alcatraz was ruled by the iron-fisted WARDEN EDWIN JAMES (Jonny Coyne) and the sadistic ASSOCIATE WARDEN E.B. TILLER (Jason Butler Harner).

Detective Madsen and Soto must team with Hauser and his associate, LUCY BANERJEE (Parminder Nagra), to stop Sylvane’s vengeful killing spree. By delving into Alcatraz history, government cover-ups and Rebecca’s own heritage, the team will ultimately discover that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat. Because even though he may be the first, it quickly becomes clear that Sylvane won’t be the last to reappear from Alcatraz.

“Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat”

During the course of the investigation, Madsen and Soto will learn that Hauser has been awaiting the prisoners’ return for nearly 50 years. Soto will witness his life’s work – the history of Alcatraz – come alive, while he and Madsen fight to keep the country safe from history’s most dangerous criminals. – FOX

80 out of 100

Needless, to say, in true Jerry Maguire fashion, they had us at, “From executive producer J.J. Abrams,” and we just automatically assumed Alcatraz was going to be an excellent series and from what we can tell so far it is, but unlike what we originally predicted, it doesn’t look like we’ll be quite getting our Lost fix that we were hoping for (still hoping for this from ABC’s The River).  Abrams recently confirmed that he had nothing to do with the creation or writing of the show and that his role was facilitating its production and bringing it to television.  This is important to note because everyone is expecting that Alcatraz is just going to be a clone of Abrams’ other projects, and even though it’s obvious that the show is inspired by the spirit of Abrams, it is very unique and it is certainly not Lost, even though it might fool you into thinking it is with the Michael Giacchino score that sounds eerily similar to Lost‘s.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either, because there’s two things about Lost that make that kind of magic difficult to reproduce.  First, the fact is that Lost is one of the greatest television shows in history and trying to duplicate it would be a huge mistake, destined for failure.  The second problem is that Lost was a very deep and complex serial and as popular as it was, as the seasons progressed, it lost a significant portion of its audience due to the fact that you couldn’t just miss an episode and pick up the series the following week.  It made for great drama but it hurt the series overall as far as revenue was concerned.  On the same note, Lost came in at the tail-end of the era of serial dramas on prime-time television and if it had debuted two years later, it would never have been picked up for a second season.  That being said, networks are very skiddish about bringing serials to prime-time because over the last half-decade-plus, prime-time network viewers have generally turned away from them.

This is why Terra Nova and Alcatraz work.   Both of these shows have big theme/arc premises with mysteries at their core, however, both shows have made a point to have their series revolve around stand-alone, “monster-of-the-week”-type episodes which has proven to be a successful formula in the past… especially on FOX.  The phrase “monster-of-the-week” was a phrase that was often associated with The X-Files and why that show was so successful was that even though there was the alien abduction/mystery theme at its core, two-thirds of the episodes were stand-alone, “monster-of-the-week” episodes. It’s no wonder why The X-Files lasted for nine seasons over the course of two decades and became the longest running science fiction show in American history.  It appealed to everyone and you could pick it up at any time without feeling as if you were missing anything.

We have to give Kevin Reilly (entertainment president) at FOX credit.  He seems to have a handle on what works with television audiences right now and what doesn’t.  He’s admittedly a big fan of Fringe and he’s kept that show going for far longer than we really could have hoped to expect but he, of course, sees the same problems with that show being able to find the magic it had during the first two seasons compared to where it is now.  Fringe went from being very much in the mold of The X-Files in both content and style to being a serial that’s just completely inaccessible, now, to anyone but the most devoted fan.

Reilly must realize this, as well, and it seems to us that the creators of this show have come up with a Fringe v.2.0, effectively rebooting the basic concept of Fringe and repackaging it in a way  that doesn’t alienate audiences.  Yes, this serves to make it a little more vanilla than what the true fans of serialized SciFi would hope for, but it also serves to give it a better chance with general audiences and more importantly, the 18 – 49 crowd that the advertisers covet.

Fanboys and girls, it’s reality time:  if you want good, serialized SciFi on network TV, it’s going to have to be watered down a bit to appeal to everyone, otherwise it ain’t going to last.

Alcatraz has just the right mix of mystery and suspense combined with action, neatly packaged into hour-long segments to make genre fans and general audiences happy and that’s the smart way to go.

Is it a perfect series?  No  and it does have a lot of things that need to be worked on (like the silly dialogue) but overall, Sam Neill is fantastic and Jones and Garcia, while not winning any awards with their performances during the first two episodes, are certainly serviceable.  Again, we think this is a result of the dialogue.  Neill is such a pro that he could recite the back of a tube of toothpaste and it could be nominated for an Oscar, whereas Garcia and Jones just don’t have those kind of acting chops, yet.

Still, though, at the end of the day, all of its problems notwithstanding, this is a very clever and well-produced series and we expect that it will finally be the show that finds success in the old 24 timeslot.

You can watch full episodes of Alcatraz, here.

ALERT! 2012 Midseason Network And Cable Schedule! UPDATED!

In the interest of continuing to be relevant and to give you news when you actually need it and not a month in advance, we decided not to publish the complete midseason schedules for all the networks when they came out last month and instead, just give you the highlights now so you can set your DVR’s accordingly or make sure that you avoid a crappy show.  The upside is that most of the shows this midseason look even better than what we got in the Fall.

Tuesday January 3rd 

ABC     8:30 p.m.     Work It     NO!

The Tastic says: As we noted in our preview, this looks like it could possibly be one of the worst shows in television history.  Save your soul, do no watch this.

ABC     9:00 p.m.     Celebrity Wife Swap     YES!

The Tastic says: OK… honesty time.  We have to admit that we have our guilty pleasures and most of them revolve around reality shows on VH1, E! and ABC.  We actually like the dopey Wife Swap and throwing Gary Busey into the mix can only be a good thing.  Here’s a corny music video promoting the series.  Like we said… guilty pleasure.

Friday January 6th

SyFy     10:00 p.m.     Merlin     YES!

The Tastic says: We love Science Fiction but Fantasy has never really been our bag.  That being said, we have seen a few episodes of Merlin over the years and it’s good to see it’s back for the fans of the series.

Sunday January 8th

NBC     9:00 p.m.     The Firm     YES!

The Tastic says: As skeptical as we are about reboots especially when the source material is 20 years-old, we have to admit, this looks pretty good and it’s also nice to see Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer getting work.  From what we can tell, John Grisham appears to have complete control over this so that’s got to be a good thing.  NOTE: This is a two-hour premiere on this night only.   The Firm‘s regular timeslot will be on Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. beginning on January 12th.

Wednesday January 11th

NBC      8:30 p.m.     Are You There, Chelsea?     NO!

The Tastic says: Originally titled, Are You There Vodka?  It’s Me, Chelsea… based on the best-selling book by Chelsea Handler of the same name, we originally kinda-sorta recommended this thinking that it could go either way. Upon further review, it really looks like a complete piece of sh*t.

SyFy     10:00 p.m.  Face Off     YES!

The Tastic says: Part guilty pleasure, partly just a love for the craft, we can’t wait for new episodes of the SyFy reality series, Face Off to return.  Good stuff, indeed.

Thursday January 12th

CBS     8:30 p.m.     ¡Rob!     NO!

The Tastic says: F*cking seriously???

FOX     9:00 p.m.     The Finder     YES!

The Tastic says: A spinoff of Bones that looks a lot more interesting than Bones ever has been.

Sunday January 15th

FOX     8:30 p.m.     Napoleon Dynamite     NO!

The Tastic says: As we’ve noted before, Napoleon Dynamite was only mildly entertaining when it first came out in 2004 and now it’s just completely dated and irrelevant.  Again, there’s a reason FOX only ordered six episodes of this.

Monday January 16th

FOX     8:00 p.m.     Alcatraz     YES! – STAFF PICK

The Tastic says: The highly anticipated new series from J.J. Abrams looks like it’s finally going to give us our Lost fix that we’ve been jonesing for for so long.  Seriously, does anyone think that this doesn’t look absolutely fantastic?  NOTE:  This is a two-hour premiere episode.  The show’s normal timeslot will be on Mondays at 9:00 p.m.

SyFy     9:00 p.m.     Being Human     YES!

The Tastic says: We loved the first season despite all of the critics who continued to have to compare it to its BBC counterpart and took a dump on it.  We can’t wait for season two.

SyFy     10:00 p.m.     Lost Girl     YES!

The Tastic says: This popular Canadian import makes its debut on SyFy and we have to say, it looks pretty damned good.

Tuesday January 17th

F/X     10:00 p.m.     Justified     YES! – STAFF PICK

The Tastic says: One of the best shows on television, Justified, returns for its third season.

Wednesday January 18th

F/X     10:00 p.m.     Archer     YES! – STAFF PICK

The Tastic says: The funniest show on television, animated or otherwise, is back for a third season.  The first season is available on Netflix streaming and we highly recommend that you check it out if you’ve never seen it before.

F/X     10:30 p.m.     Unsupervised     YES!

The Tastic says: OK, so the trailer doesn’t look that great but it’s from the producers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Archer so we’re willing to give it a shot.

Wednesday January 25th

FOX     9:00 p.m.     Touch     YES! – STAFF PICK

The Tastic says: Kiefer Sutherland returns to television with Danny Glover in this fantastic looking, high-concept, Science Fiction drama from Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes.   We are so looking forward to this.  NOTE: This is a special “preview event” broadcast date for Touch. It will air in its regular timeslot beginning on Monday, March 19th.

Friday January 27th

Starz     10:00 p.m.     Spartacus: Vengeance     YES!

The Tastic says: We haven’t had a chance to really get into this series but from we’ve seen of it, we’ve liked it.  We also like when a series gives its season a name instead of a number (this is Spartacus’ third season, by the way.).

Sunday January 29th

HBO     9:00 p.m.     Luck     YES!

The Tastic says: So, we got to see the pilot of Luck when they gave a sneak preview of it back at the end of November and it annoyed the piss out of us as it was confusing as Hell if you don’t know anything about horse racing/betting.  Despite that, it was still really well-done and it has an all-star cast that includes Dustin Hoffmann, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina.

Monday February 6th

NBC     10:00 p.m.     Smash     YES!

The Tastic says: NBC gets their Glee, albeit a lot more dramatical.  Here’s the thing about Smash:  it looks good but it’s going to wind up in the bottom of our viewing list and probably sit there until the summer because there is just too much for us to keep with considering all of the other shows that either look a lot better or that we already know are a lot better.

Tuesday February 7th

ABC     9:00 p.m.     The River     YES! – STAFF PICK

The Tastic says: This is by far the best looking show of this entire television season.  Talk about getting our Lost-freak on, this show looks like it does that and then some.  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Sunday February 12th

AMC     9:00 p.m.     The Walking Dead     YES! – STAFF PICK

For those who didn’t already know, this will begin the second half of the second season.  We also have some more news for TWD fans, right here, as well as news for Mad Men and The Killing.


Sunday February 19th

HBO     10:00 p.m.     Eastbound and Down     YES!

The Tastic says: This show is absolutely hilarious and it has been under the radar for two straight seasons.  We’re looking forward to more hijinks in season three.


Sunday March 4th

ABC     10:00 p.m.     GCB     NO!

FKA, Good Christian Bitches, FKA Good Christian Belles, all we can say is way-to-go in “let’s-alienate-78%-of-our-audience-before-a-single-episode-has-aired-with-the-title alone” department, ABC.  Despite this, however, just watch the trailer to figure out on your own what a total sh*tfest this is going to be.  That combined with the fact that it’s an idiotic soap that’s trying to clone Desperate Housewives in order to pick up the mantle after it ends this Spring, provides a compelling enough reason for us to never watch it.  That being said, we’re sure it’s going to be massive hit for that crowd.

Thursday March 15th

ABC     8:00 p.m.     Missing     YES!

Mixed emotions on this.  Spies, non-stop action, Ashley Judd… what’s not to love, right?  We thought so, too, but then we noticed the timeslot and we’re slightly concerned over the description of the plot and it’s very clichéd nature.  The timeslot is an issue because at 8:00 p.m., you can expect a very watered-down show.  Still looks great, though.

Meet FOX’s New Shows For 2011 – 2012 (VIDEOS!)… And Watch How We Tear Them Apart (Preview – Review)

FOX announced their primetime 2011 – 2012 schedule earlier ahead of their press release at the upfront advertising event and we have all the information posted right here.  What we unfortunately didn’t get was nice little neat synopses of all the new shows that will be gracing our living rooms in 2011 – 2012.  So, a little while later, FOX obliged and issued an actual press release announcing the schedule and issuing those nice little synopses we like so much here.  They certainly make out life easier when we have to do the layouts for the reviews so we can tell you how awful they are.

"The 'Tastic Says... YOU FAIL!"

We aren’t going to publish the whole Press Release because it’s ridiculously long and we already published the schedule.  We’re just going to publish the synopses and critique them, TV-Tastic-Style but if you must read the whole thing, you can just go here.

Via Press Release:

FOX 2011-2012 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

NEW SERIES SYNOPSES

The new unscripted series launching this fall is:

The X Factor

Simon Cowell returns to FOX in the award-winning international phenomenon The X Factor. This new competition series, hosted by Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones, gives viewers the opportunity to help choose the next global superstar or breakout music group. The X Factor judges will travel the nation searching for undiscovered talent 12 years old or over – both solo artists and vocal groups – who are willing to brave the panel for a chance to make their dreams come true. Auditions for The X Factor were held this spring in Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; and Dallas, TX. In a departure from other singing competition series, the first time a contestant auditions for judges Simon Cowell, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Cheryl Cole and Paula Abdul, he/she will do so in front of an audience of thousands – raising the stakes and increasing the pressure to impress not only the judges, but also a potential legion of fans. This will be the ultimate test to prove they have the vocal ability, charisma and stage presence it takes to become a global superstar or breakout music act and win a $5 million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music. Those contestants who survive the first auditions graduate to “boot camp” and will be divided into four categories. Each category will be mentored by one of the show’s judges. Not only is it a competition between the hopefuls to stake their claim for the coveted win, but it’s also a showdown among the judges as to whose acts will dominate the competition and make it to the finals. The judges may have their say in how the competition progresses, but it will be up to America to decide who ultimately has The X Factor.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Syco Television, FremantleMedia North America
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Simon Cowell, Rob Wade, Siobhan Greene, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Richard Holloway, Andrew Llinares

JUDGES: Simon Cowell, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Cheryl Cole, Paula Abdul

HOSTS: Nicole Scherzinger, Steve Jones

The ‘Tastic Says:   Gee, We wonder if this show is going to be a hit.  Let’s be honest, this show is going to print its own money and since it’s got both Simon Cowell and now, Paula Abdul, well, there’s finally a singing competition worth our time again on FOX and as we all go to he mall and have to spend our X-Factor dollars with Simon Cowell’s face on them, we will say thank you, sir.

The following new comedies will premiere this fall on FOX:

I Hate My Teenage Daughter (working title)

I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (working title) is a new multi-camera comedy about two best friends who are single moms struggling to raise their difficult and over-privileged teenage daughters. ANNIE (Emmy Award winner Jaime Pressly, “My Name Is Earl”) and NIKKI (Tony Award winner Katie Finneran, “Wonderfalls”) are former high school outcasts whose pasts inform their current parenting styles. Annie, who was raised in an ultra-strict, über-religious household where she had little-to-no freedom, pretty much allows her daughter, SOPHIE (Kristi Lauren, “You”), to do whatever she wants. Nikki, once an unpopular, overweight social pariah, has reinvented herself as a pretty Southern belle whose top priority is providing her daughter, MACKENZIE (Aisha Dee, “Dead Gorgeous”), with the childhood she never had. Sophie and Mackenzie are also best friends, which leads to a lot of co-parenting for Annie and Nikki. They have given the girls everything they asked for and everything they never had: clothes, money and self-esteem. The unintended consequence is they have created two mean girls just like the ones who tortured them years ago. Sophie finds her mother embarrassing and mocks her at every opportunity, but she secretly needs her mom and knows that her behavior is not always appropriate. Mackenzie, on the other hand, is the more manipulative of the daughters – she knows how to work her mother’s insecurities to her benefit. Annie’s ex-husband, MATT (Eric Sheffer Stevens, “As The World Turns”), wants to be a good parent, but is too clueless to know what that even means. That leaves his brother, JACK (Kevin Rahm, “Desperate Housewives,” “Judging Amy”), an attractive, high-powered attorney, to serve as more of a father figure for Sophie. Jack’s meddling would annoy Annie more if she didn’t have such a crush on him. GARY (Chad Coleman, “The Wire”), Nikki’s ex, also tries to help raise his challenging daughter, but the couple’s complicated relationship often makes his involvement more difficult. As their daughters begin to experience their first high school dances and other life-changing teen events, Annie and Nikki are often reminded of their own tortured adolescent years. But when Sophie and Mackenzie’s mean-girl antics cross the line, the moms quickly realize that they must, for the first time, dole out some real punishment and fix what is broken. They have no idea how to do that, but they do know one thing: They can’t do it without each other.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Television, Bonanza Productions Inc.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer, Andy Ackerman

WRITERS: Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer

DIRECTOR: Andy Ackerman

CAST: Jaime Pressly as Annie Watson, Katie Finneran as Nikki Miller, Kristi Lauren as Sophie, Aisha Dee as Mackenzie, Eric Sheffer Stevens as Matt, Kevin Rahm as Jack, Chad Coleman as Gary.

The ‘Tastic Says: We hate comedies anyway and they are usually pretty horrible on FOX to begin with.  Unlike Raising HopeTraffic Light, and Breaking In, this show doesn’t seem like an exception.  Sorry, but bratty teenage-girl bullies just don’t appeal to us nor do clichéd sitcoms. This show hasn’t aired a single episode and we already hate all of the characters. Also, is that the set from Becker?

New Girl (working title)

NEW GIRL (working title) is a new single-camera comedy from Liz Meriwether (“No Strings Attached”) that features a young ensemble cast and takes a fresh and outrageous look at modern male/female relationships. JESS DAY (Zooey Deschanel, “(500) Days of Summer”) is an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. Goofy, positive, vulnerable and honest to a fault, Jess has faith in people, even when she shouldn’t. Although she’s dorky and awkward, she’s comfortable in her own skin. More prone to friendships with women, she’s not used to hanging with the boys – especially at home. Of the three male roommates, NICK (Jake Johnson, “No Strings Attached”) is the most grounded. He had big plans for life, but somewhere along the way, he stopped caring and became a bartender. Usually the smartest guy in the room, he has an uncanny knack for reading people and uses humor to deflect everyone and everything. SCHMIDT (Max Greenfield, “Ugly Betty”) is a hustling young professional who fancies himself a modern-day Casanova. Though his heart is usually in the right place, he’s always scheming ways to climb the social ladder and is driven by an immature and almost obsessive urge to be on “the scene.” Viewing Jess as a gateway into the elusive female mind, as well as a personal project, Schmidt encourages the guys to bring Jess into the apartment. The third roommate, COACH (Damon Wayans Jr., “The Underground”), is a former high school athlete who currently makes his living as a personal trainer. Set in his ways and with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude to dating, Coach is most comfortable when he’s in the gym. Though he’ll never admit it, Coach’s macho athletic exterior is actually a cover for his shyness around women, and he struggles to translate his personal confidence into conversation, preferring to speak in sports metaphors – or not at all. Rounding out this group is Jess’ childhood best friend, CECE (Hannah Simone, “Beautiful People”), a deadpan, somewhat cynical model who blossomed after outgrowing her promiscuous adolescent years. She has the street smarts Jess lacks and spends a lot of time doling out no-nonsense relationship advice that only a professional model could give. She and Jess balance each other well and accept each other despite their faults, making Cece the perfect complement to Jess. As their relationships progress, the five friends come to realize they need each other more than they ever thought they would and end up forming a charmingly dysfunctional family.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment

CREATOR/WRITER: Liz Meriwether

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Liz Meriwether, Jake Kasdan, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Dave Finkel, Brett Baer

DIRECTOR: Jake Kasdan

CAST: Zooey Deschanel as Jess, Max Greenfield as Schmidt, Jake Johnson as Nick, Hannah Simone as Cece, Damon Wayans Jr. as Coach

The ‘Tastic Says: At the risk of repeating ourselves, we hate comedies anyway and they are usually pretty horrible on FOX to begin with.  This show actually doesn’t look absolutely horrible (actually it looks kind of sweet and endearing), but it’s just not our cup of tea.  But then, again, we were dead-wrong on Raising Hope so we’ll give it a shot despite that it’s got that My Boys vibe to it.

The new animated comedy joining the FOX schedule this fall is:

Allen Gregory

ALLEN GREGORY is a new animated comedy series that tells the story of one of the most pretentious 7-year-olds of our time. When he looks in the mirror, ALLEN GREGORY DE LONGPRE (Jonah Hill, “Superbad,” “Get Him to the Greek”) doesn’t see a child. He sees a young man who is intelligent, sophisticated, worldly, artistic and romantic – characteristics he inherited from his doting father, RICHARD (French Stewart, “Private Practice,” “3rdRock from the Sun”). The pair share an extraordinary father-son bond – a bond that is sometimes annoyingly interrupted by Richard’s life partner, JEREMY (Nat Faxon, The Cleveland Show, “Reno 911!”), for whom Allen Gregory has minimal respect, if any at all. They live together in a stunning architectural loft, along with JULIE (Joy Osmanski, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Allen Gregory’s adopted Cambodian sister. Although Allen Gregory has allegedly composed operas, written novels and dated Chloë Sevigny, he’s about to embark on his greatest challenge yet: leaving the safety of his father’s homeschooling and attending elementary school with children his own age. His journey will be a struggle, not only with the other kids at school, but with the faculty as well. Whether it’s the all-out rivalry with GINA WINTHROP (guest voice Leslie Mann, “Funny People”), his by-the-book second grade teacher; his unique relationship with JUDITH GOTTLIEB (guest voice Renée Taylor, “How I Met Your Mother”), his 68-year-old principal; or his desperate desire to be best friends with JOEL ZADAK (guest voice Jake Johnson, “Get Him to the Greek”), the school’s popular stud, Allen Gregory has his work cut out for him. With the help of his trusty friend and assistant, PATRICK VANDERWEEL (Cristina Pucelli, “Finley the Fire Engine”); and the support of SUPERINTENDENT STEWART ROSSMYRE (Will Forte, “Saturday Night Live”), who believes the De Longpres are a tremendous asset to the school, Allen Gregory won’t have to get his hands too dirty. ALLEN GREGORY is about an outsider. And while he may put on a tough exterior, deep down, all Allen Gregory wants is to fit in. Well, that, and for Julie to run away and never be seen or heard from again. And Jeremy too.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment

CREATORS: Jonah Hill, Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jonah Hill, Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, David A. Goodman

VOICE CAST: Jonah Hill as Allen Gregory De Longpre, Nat Faxon as Jeremy, French Stewart as Richard, Joy Osmanski as Julie, Cristina Pucelli as Patrick, Will Forte as Superintendent Rossmyre

GUEST VOICE CAST: Leslie Mann as Ms. Winthrop, Jake Johnson as Joel, Renée Taylor as Principal Gottlieb

The ‘Tastic Says: There’s a reason FOX only ordered seven episodes of this. It looks absolutely horrific but the one promising thing that we can say is that at least it’s animated and we won’t have to look at Jonah Hill. Seriously, did someone at FOX just say, “Hey, look… a Stewie Griffin knock-off!  That will make a good show for the idiotic masses on Sunday night! Hell, they’re still watching Bob’s Burgers and The Cleveland Show aren’t they?”

The following new drama will debut this Fall on FOX:

Terra  Nova

From executive producers Steven Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Jurassic Park”), Peter Chernin, René Echevarria (“Castle,” “The 4400”) and Brannon Braga (“24”) comes an epic family adventure 85 million years in the making. TERRA NOVA follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in jeopardy, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past. When scientists at the FERMI Particle Accelerator unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past – a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time. The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet foreboding land. JIM SHANNON (Jason O’Mara, “Life on Mars”), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. Jim’s wife, ELISABETH (Shelley Conn, “Mistresses”), is a trauma surgeon and the newest addition to Terra Nova’s medical team. JOSH (Landon Liboiron, “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) is their 17-year-old son who is angry to leave life as he knows it behind; upon arriving at the settlement, he finds himself instantly drawn to the beautiful and rule-breaking SKYE (Allison Miller, “Kings”). MADDY (Naomi Scott, “Life Bites”), Josh’s endearingly awkward 15-year-old sister, hopes Terra Nova will give her a chance to reinvent herself. Although Elisabeth’s medical training secured the family a spot on the pilgrimage, a secret involving their five-year-old daughter, ZOE (newcomer Alana Mansour), soon endangers their place in this utopia. Upon the Shannons’ arrival, they are introduced to COMMANDER NATHANIEL TAYLOR (Stephen Lang, “Avatar”), the charismatic and heroic first pioneer and leader of the settlement. Taylor warns the travelers that while Terra Nova is a place of new opportunities and fresh beginnings, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Along with blue skies, towering waterfalls and lush vegetation, the surrounding terrain is teeming with danger – and not just of the man-eating dinosaur variety. There is also a splinter colony of renegades led by the battle-hardened MIRA (Christine Adams, “TRON: Legacy”), who is vehemently opposed to Taylor and his leadership. Even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls of the colony is the chilling possibility that something sinister is happening inside Terra Nova. The Shannons will come to suspect that not everyone on this mission has the same idea of how to best save mankind; in fact, there may be forces intent on destroying this new world before it even begins.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment, DreamWorks Television, Kapital Entertainment

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, René Echevarria, Brannon Braga, Alex Graves (pilot), Jon Cassar, Aaron Kaplan, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Craig Silverstein, Kelly Marcel

DIRECTOR: Alex Graves

CAST: Jason O’Mara as Jim Shannon, Stephen Lang as Nathaniel Taylor, Shelley Conn as Elisabeth Shannon, Landon Liboiron as Josh Shannon, Naomi Scott as Maddy Shannon, Alana Mansour as Zoe Shannon, Christine Adams as Mira, Allison Miller as Skye.

The ‘Tastic Says: *sigh* We love everything about this, we just don’t think it has a snowball’s chance in Terra Nova to survive.  FOX must know that epic SciFi on Network Television is dead and buried.  Heck, they won’t even acknowledge that it is a SciFi show.  Notice how they are calling it an “epic family adventure”  Brannon Braga went so far as to say, “It’s really about this frontier family trying to survive.” Sure it is.  This is the most expensive show in television history.  We’re concerned that it could be disastrous for FOX.

The two new dramas set to debut midseason are:

The Finder

Iraq war veteran WALTER SHERMAN (Geoff Stults, “She’s Out of My League”) gained a reputation while serving in the Army Military Police as someone who was very good at tracking down insurgents, deserters and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Unfortunately, Walter found one IED just moments before it found him. Two months later, when Walter woke from his coma, he earned an honorable discharge and returned home. His resulting brain damage from the explosion transformed him from someone skilled at recovering people and things into something much more extraordinary: a Finder. From the creator of the hit series Bones comes THE FINDER, the new one-hour procedural centering on a remarkable man who uses his unique gift to help others recover what they’ve lost. Walter may have left the military, but his reputation as a discreet professional who can unearth anything and anyone has been passed on to generals, politicians and other powerful figures. His first post-military assignment was to find the CIA head honcho’s missing daughter and bring her home. Walter did both, and since then has never been without an assignment. After settling in Key West, Walter met the beautiful and worldly IKE LATULIPPE (Saffron Burrows, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), a woman with a mysterious past and many hidden skills. She tends bar at The Ends of the Earth, which also serves as a makeshift office and home base for Walter. Walter helped Ike escape a dangerous life, and for that, she is eternally grateful. Another island denizen dedicated to Walter is LEO KNOX (Michael Clarke Duncan, “The Green Mile”), once an obese lawyer who, after the deaths of his wife and children, completely reinvented himself into a gentle giant, philosopher and Walter’s legal advisor. Because of his skills, Walter is often asked to find a person or a thing that law enforcement either will not or cannot find. With the help of Ike and Leo, as well as a patchwork of indebted connections, he and his team ultimately find meaning in their own lives by finding something or someone other people have lost.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Hart Hanson, Dan Sackheim, Barry Josephson

WRITER: Hart Hanson

DIRECTOR: Dan Sackheim

CAST: Geoff Stults as Walter Sherman, Michael Clarke Duncan as Leo Knox, Saffron Burrows as Ike Latulippe.

The ‘Tastic Says: We’re not fans of Bones.  It’s not bad, it’s just a vanilla procedural. The Finder, however, seems quite interesting.  We’re always willing to give a procedural a shot when they put a unique twist on it.  This reminds of the A&E hit, The Glades.

Alcatraz

From executive producer J.J. Abrams (FRINGE, “Lost,” “Star Trek” and the upcoming “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Super 8”) and writer and executive producer Elizabeth Sarnoff (“Lost,” “Deadwood”) comes ALCATRAZ, the chilling new thriller centered on America’s most infamous prison and one-time home to the nation’s most notorious murderers, rapists, kidnappers, thieves and arsonists. When San Francisco Police Department DET. REBECCA MADSEN (Sarah Jones, “Sons Of Anarchy”) is assigned to a grisly homicide case, a fingerprint leads her to a shocking suspect: JACK SYLVANE (guest star Jeffrey Pierce, “The Nine”), a former Alcatraz inmate who died decades ago. Given her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle, RAY ARCHER (Robert Forster, “Jackie Brown”), were guards at the prison – Madsen’s interest is immediately piqued, and once the enigmatic, knows-everything-but-tells-nothing government agent EMERSON HAUSER (Sam Neill, “Jurassic Park”) tries to impede her investigation, she’s doggedly committed. Madsen turns to Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast, DR. DIEGO “DOC” SOTO (Jorge Garcia, “Lost”), to piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The twosome discovers that Sylvane is not only alive, but he’s loose on the streets of San Francisco, leaving bodies in his wake. And strangely, he hasn’t aged a day since he was in Alcatraz, when the prison was ruled by the iron-fisted WARDEN EDWIN JAMES (Jonny Coyne, “Undercovers”) and the merciless ASSOCIATE WARDEN E.B. TILLER (Jason Butler Harner, “The Changeling”). Madsen and Soto reluctantly team with Agent Hauser and his technician, LUCY BANERJEE (Parminder Nagra, “ER”), to stop Sylvane’s vengeful killing spree. By delving into Alcatraz history, government cover-ups and Rebecca’s own heritage, the team will ultimately discover that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat. For while he may be the first, it quickly becomes clear that Sylvane won’t be the last prisoner to reappear from Alcatraz. Through the course of the investigation, Madsen and Soto will learn that Agent Hauser has known about the prison’s secret history and has been awaiting the prisoners’ return. Soto will witness his life’s work – the history of Alcatraz – come alive. Madsen will be forced to keep her supportive San Francisco cop fiancé, JIMMY DICKENS (Santiago Cabrera, “Heroes”), at arm’s length from the highly classified assignment as she sees everything she thought she knew about her family’s past shattered, all while fighting to keep the country safe from history’s most dangerous criminals.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Bonanza Productions Inc.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Danny Cannon (pilot)

WRITERS: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

DIRECTOR: Danny Cannon

CAST: Sarah Jones as Det. Rebecca Madsen, Jorge Garcia as Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto, Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser, Parminder Nagra as Lucy Banerjee, Robert Forster as Ray Archer, Santiago Cabrera as Jimmy Dickens, Jonny Coyne as Warden Edwin James, Jason Butler Harner as Associate Warden E.B. Tiller

GUEST CAST: Jeffrey Pierce as Jack Sylvane

The ‘Tastic Says: OK, for everyone with Lost withdrawal like us, this is the show we’ve been waiting for.  Looks like Lost meets Fringe meets Prison Break.  We just hope the Losties transfer over to FOX and find what will no doubt be a gem of a show from J.J. Abrams.  The smartest thing that they have done with this show is to air it mid-season, meaning ZERO hiatuses which exactly what needs to be done with serials during this era for any hope of success.

The following new animated comedy will premiere in midseason on FOX:

Napoleon Dynamite

Based on the hit film, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE is an animated series that follows the continuing adventures of America’s most awesome awkward teenager and his quirky family and friends as they struggle to navigate small-town life in rural Idaho. The original cast from the film – Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Sandy Martin, Jon Gries and Diedrich Bader – will voice their characters in the series, and many new characters will be added along the way. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (Heder) is a 16-year-old boy convinced – for no apparent reason – that he is destined for greatness and blessed with unlimited “sweet abilities.” He spends his days practicing ninja moves, drawing ligers, soul dancing and bragging about his “girlfriend in Oklahoma” whom nobody has ever seen. Napoleon’s brother, KIP (Ruell), is an unemployed 32-year-old who lives at home and believes he would be an amazing catch for any girl who would respond to his online come-ons. The Dynamite brothers live with GRANDMA (Martin), a crusty woman who can often be found four-wheeling with her lady friends at the local sand dunes. Napoleon’s allies include PEDRO (Ramirez), his unflappable best friend who has recently been elected class president; and DEB (Majorino), an incredibly sweet girl who sees the good in Napoleon and dreams of someday being his wife. Napoleon’s UNCLE RICO (Gries) lives out of an orange custom van, where he obsesses over his botched high school football career and dreams up ways to become rich and famous. Then there’s REX KWON DO (Bader), a self-proclaimed martial-arts master who runs the local dojo. Guest voices in the debut season include Jennifer Coolidge (“American Pie,” “Legally Blonde”), Sam Rockwell (“Choke”) and Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”).

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television

CREATORS/EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, Mike Scully

VOICE CAST: Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Gries as Uncle Rico, Aaron Ruell as Kip, Efren Ramirez as Pedro, Diedrich Bader as Rex, Tina Majorino as Deb, Sandy Martin as Grandma.

The ‘Tastic Says: Oh, you’ve gotta be f*cking kidding us!  Who’s brilliant idea was it to pick up an animated series based on a film that was a gimmick that wasn’t that funny to begin with when it aired seven years ago?  We’ve gotten married and had three kids since this was popular (no joke),  for Pete’s sake.   As with Allen Gregory, we think there’s a reason FOX only ordered six episodes of this.

The following drama is in development and slated for midseason:

Touch

From writer/creator Tim Kring (“Heroes,” “Crossing Jordan”) and executive producers Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope  comes TOUCH, a preternatural drama in which science and spirituality intersect with the hopeful premise that we are all interconnected, tied in invisible ways to those whose lives we are destined to alter and impact. Through masterful storytelling, the series follows a group of seemingly unrelated characters – beginning with a former firefighter tormented by his inability to save a dying woman, an Iraqi teenager who will go to great risks to help his family, a gifted singer whose actions at a karaoke bar save lives thousands of miles away and a British businessman desperately trying to retrieve a key piece of information from his lost mobile phone – who affect each other in ways seen and unseen. At the center is MARTIN BOHM (Kiefer Sutherland, “24”), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his mute, severely autistic 10-year-old son, JAKE. Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son who shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake busies himself with cast-off cell phones, disassembling them and manipulating the parts, allowing him to see the world in his own special way. After multiple failed attempts at keeping Jake in school, Martin is visited by social worker CLEA HOPKINS, who insists on doing an evaluation of the Bohms’ living situation. Although new at her job, Clea sees a man whose life has become dominated by a child he can no longer control. She believes his attempts to communicate with Jake are just wish fulfillment, and determines that it’s time for the state to intervene. But everything changes when Martin discovers that Jake possesses a gift of staggering genius – the ability to see things that no one else can, the patterns that connect everything. Jake is indeed communicating after all. But it’s not with words, it’s with numbers. And now he needs Martin to decipher their meaning and connect these numbers to the cast of seemingly unrelated characters whose lives they affect. Along the way, Martin will be guided by BORIS PODOLSKY, a discredited aging professor who offers Martin a compelling but unorthodox theory about Jake and his rare ability. Whether it be chance, coincidence, timing, synergy or fate, there are events that touch us all, as part of an interconnected, dazzlingly precise universe.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Tailwind Productions, Chernin Entertainment

CREATOR/WRITER: Tim Kring

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Tim Kring, Francis Lawrence, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Kiefer Sutherland, Suzan Bymel

DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence

CAST: Kiefer Sutherland as Martin Bohm

The ‘Tastic Says: OK… this does look very good and very intriguing but there’s an elephant in the room regarding this:  where’s it going to fit?  Touch was not listed in the primetime schedule for FOX for Fall or midseason so what is FOX planning on killing by January?  This show is a major player.  You don’t get Tim Kring and Kiefer Sutherland and premiere them on Friday nights.  Scheduling issues notwithstanding, this show is very SciFi and it better not be to confusing or it’s going to drive audiences away.  Not us… no, we’re in it for the long haul but the rest of the “normies” will probably freak if it starts getting a little complicated. 

(Sorry, no trailer available yet.)

FOX Picks Up Four New Pilots for 2011 – 2012: J.J. Abrams’, Alcatraz, Bones Spinoff, The Finder, Comedies The New Girl & I Hate My Teenage Daughter

There is ZERO coincidence at all that on May 10th, FOX announced that they had closed the deal to bring House back for an eighth season, that they also announces they were canceling all of their remaining shows that hadn’t already been picked up for renewal (Lie To MeHuman Target, The Chicago Code, Traffic Light, and Breaking In… although as we reported, the reports of BI‘s death may be premature).  It’s also not a coincidence that FOX announced that they were picking up four new pilots for Fall 2011 on the same day as well.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Alcatraz, from J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot Prods. and Warner Bros. TV. The crime drama revolving around Alcatraz and the team investigating the mysterious reappearance of its 1960s inhabitants in the present stars Lost‘s Jorge Garcia. The drama gained early buzz and a fan in Fox’s Peter Rice, according to sources, though some questioned whether the net had room for another mystery drama with Abrams’ Fringe already on the schedule.

The Finder, a Bones spinoff from sister studio 20th TV. The drama, which centers on a military-trained “finder” (Geoff Stults) who helps locate lost items or persons in the Florida Keys, recently rolled out to solid ratings as a back-door pilot. The project won high marks internally, particularly by those who wanted to find a way to continue the recently renewed Bones franchise once the long-running — and thus pricey — original ends.

The New Girl, a Zooey Deschanel comedy from 20th, will appear on Fox’s fall schedule. The single-camera series, which is believed to be a Kevin Reilly favorite, centers on a quirky female teacher who becomes roommates with three guys: a man-child, a player and a cynic.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter, a Jaime Pressly/Katie Finneran comedy from Warner Bros., is a go. The multicamera laugher centers on two women who have daughters like the girls who once picked on them in high school.

Deadline is reporting that the Ethan Hawke spy-thriller vehicle Exit Strategy is still in play for mid-season and may being held off for retooling.

Described as a high octane procedural, Exit Strategy centers on a team of 5 experts associated with the CIA who are deployed when a CIA operation goes bad to extract the ones involved before it’s too late. Hawke will play the team leader, the architect of exit strategy who also empathizes with the people they extract and would rather die than let them get hurt. Each episode will tackle a different crisis in a different country. Exit Strategy is envisioned as a potential successor to Fox’s signature drama 24. Like 24, the action in Exit Strategy will also unfold in real-time. And like 24’s Kiefer Sutherland, Hawke would segue from the feature world to take on the lead in Exit Strategy, his first series. Kurtzman, Orci and KOPP’s Heather Kadin are executive producing the project, with Guggenheim co-executive producing.

Folks, don’t forget that the major network up-front advertising events begin TOMORROWMonday, May 16th and go on through Thursday.  This is the week that we will find out the fates of all this season’s shows that haven’t already been decided and we’ll also find out what new shows will be on the schedules for the 2011 – 2012 season. You can find out the schedules for all of the events, here.

NEWSFLASH: CBS Picks up J.J. Abrams/Jonathan Nolan Pilot, Person of Interest

J.J. Abrams (left), Jonathan Nolan (right)

In news that should make every genre fan happy for a variety of reasons, CBS has greenlit the pilot for the J.J. Abrams/Jonathan Nolan project, Person of Interest.

From Deadline.com:

“The project, from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams’ Bad Robot, is a crime drama centered on a CIA agent, presumed dead, who is recruited by a reclusive billionaire to wage war against violent criminals in New York City.”

The interesting thing about this is that the first time we looked at this piece the other day, in the description it featured the phrase,

“An ex-CIA hitman and a scientist team up to prevent crimes before they happen.”

You’ll notice that in the comments section of the Deadline piece that the above description is even referred to by one of the various whiny posters on that site.  We don’t know why this was scrubbed from the original piece but we were able to find the same description posted at Entertainment Weekly and it is described as “official” although no sources were indicated to verify that it is indeed official, but it is coming from EW so there’s no reason to assume that it’s not legitimate.

That being said, though,  since it isn’t sourced at this point and Deadline did scrub their original piece (and ALL Abrams’ projects are notoriously secretive), officially we can’t say whether it’s more like Human Target or more like the Stephen Spielberg Sci-Fi flick Minority Report or a hybrid of both, perhaps.

So what is so great about this project, anyway?  Well, of course, it’s a J.J. Abrams project and he’s just about the hottest property in Hollywood right despite the recent failure of NBC’s Undercovers (which, unlike audiences, we actually liked) so that’s the biggest selling point but maybe as cool is that this story is the brainchild of Jonathan Nolan.

Jonathan (whose nickname is “Jonah”)  is of course the younger brother of esteemed director and writer Christopher Nolan who is of course famous for the most recent Batman film franchise, Memento, The Prestige and 2010’s blockbuster hit (and Academy Award nominee for Best Picture) Inception.  What folks may not know (we certainly didn’t) is that Jonathan Nolan actually co-wrote The Dark Knight and The Prestige with his brother as well as Memento and he actually wrote Memento Mori, the original short story which the film is based on.  Oh, yeah… he also wrote the screenplay for the highly anticipated third installment of the Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises and he co-wrote 2009’s Terminator: Salvation.  You can check out his whole bio here.

CBS: "Don't worry, genre fans. We're not FOX."

Needless to say, Jonathan Nolan is an experienced and talented genre writer and we are looking forward to what he can bring to television with J.J. Abrams and though normally we would worry about a show like this because it usually winds up getting pitched to FOX and we all know what happens with brilliant genre and scripted drama that FOX gets their hands on, even with J.J. Abrams’ name attached to it.  This is not the case with CBS who tends to have a pretty good eye (no pun intended, but we’re going with it) for this type of scripted genre programming and give shows like this some time to build an audience.

Michael Emerson

Oh, and one more thing:  Guess who’s already been cast for the pilot?  None other than Lost alum Michael Emerson.  According to Reuters, Emerson who’s best known for his Emmy award-winning role as Ben Linus on Lost, will play the billionaire benefactor who will aid our player-to-be-named-later in fighting crime.

We don’t really know any more details right now about Person of Interest and probably won’t for some time (again, that’s to be expected with Abrams) but we are hopeful for an air date of Fall 2011 for the pilot but realistically it’s probably going to air mid-season 2011 – 2012.  The ‘Tastic, of course will keep you updated.