REVIEW: ‘Elementary’ (CBS – Thursday, 10:00 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.

ELEMENTARY stars Jonny Lee Miller as detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases. Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson.  A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance.  However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients.  He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he’s devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs.  But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator. Sherlock’s police contact, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson (Aidan Quinn), knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team.  With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crimes, it’s simple deduction that he’s going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it’s elementary that it’s a job for Watson.  Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta, who directed the pilot, are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. – CBS

Score:     88 out of 100

Initial Impressions (September 6, 2012):

Shawn:  When we first heard about Elementary, we wanted to repeatedly punch ourselves in the face because we are kind of tired of seeing the U.S. television industry lazily copy the success of magnificent BBC programming by stealing their shows and then thoroughly screwing up what has made the BBC versions so great to begin with. To make matters worse, someone thought it was a great idea to send Holmes to New York and making matters even worse, casting Lucy Liu in the Watson role.  So, unlike the BBC’s Sherlock, which we’ll go as far to say may be the best show on television regardless of what side of the Atlantic you’re on, this adaptation of Doyle’s masterpiece not only has set the characters and the story in the modern era, but they’ve also gone so far as to change the locale to a completely different continent, ergo, destroying part of what makes Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes, and they’ve changed Doctor Watson from a male, British Army Doctor to a female Asian-American surgeon.  Fantastic.  Despite that, after watching the trailer, it really doesn’t look bad.  Don’t get us wrong, it’s no Sherlock, but it doesn’t look awful.  That being said, don’t fool yourself, the lame suits at CBS have brought us, yet again, another police procedural with a gimmick (see: Numb3ers, Unforgettable, CSI and The Mentalist for recent examples of CBS doing this).

Initial Impressions (September 8, 2012):

Redeye:  Lucy Liu  in what could be a compelling crime procedural show. Only problem is, it’s a crime procedural show.  Won’t someone  please tell CBS that those are played out already?

The Review:

Shawn:  We both got it right and I am relieved to say that although Elementary is not as good as the BBC’s Sherlock, it’s still an incredibly worthy entry in the mythology of the Doyle franchise.

I wanted to bring Sherlock up immediately and discuss it regularly because it’s the biggest elephant in the room of all and it needs to be addressed so we can move on.  Elementary is not Sherlock but how the hell could it be? BBC shows are in a completely different class than American shows.  It’s not even a fair fight.  The BBC is a government-owned entity and has been its entire existence and is not nearly as dependent on advertising and 18 – 49 viewership as privately-owned American networks are.  When the BBC greenlights a project, it’s from a perspective that quality programming begets more viewership.  That’s not how it works in the U.S.  The model here is to present a product that has the most likelihood of gaining the attention and eyes of the 18 – 49 crowd on a weekly basis, quality of programming being a secondary consideration.  This really is an apples and oranges comparison.

There is ZERO chance that Sherlock could ever be produced in the U.S. with its 90-minute feature-film run times and three-episode seasons.  It just isn’t possible except for maybe on a premium network like HBO.  It’s not a coincidence that the vast majority of BBC programming that has found its way to this side of the pond has found its success on PBS (including Sherlock), a not-for-profit entity funded exclusively by donations and government grants.  So, as someone who enjoys quality television programming, not only am I thankful for what the the BBC offers, I’m beginning to appreciate the government-funded model for the arts (because television is an art) that has been the tradition in the U.K. since the BBC’s inception and I would actually prefer that the U.S. follow their lead.

That being said, I am aware that the possibility of that occurring is slim to none and I’ve come to accept how the U.S. television industry works, warts and all, and that quality programming is possible even when working within and around the standard guidelines. I’m reminded of shows like Lost that managed to find an audience on ABC because it was three years into the series before audiences realized that they were watching a Science Fiction serial, which they had generally given up on a decade earlier. The fact is that 22-episode police procedurals generally succeed in the U.S. by just moving the pieces around and cutting and pasting and that, to an extent, is why Elementary works here so well.

As I’ve noted, what’s become more and more commonplace is the the police procedural with the main character possessing some kind of uncanny and unique ability that’s not supernatural, however it does give them an advantage and greater ability to solve crimes. These shows have found a lot of success and though I’m generally skeptical of them because I come from the perspective of “you’re not fooling me, I can smell a generic procedural a mile away,” that didn’t happen with Elementary because like its BBC counterpart (which I grant is far more epic), it’s not about the ability, it’s about the characters of Holmes and Watson themselves, and they are portrayed masterfully through both writing and acting by Miller and Liu.

One of the things that needs to be noted as to why Sherlock is so good is because, frankly, Steven Moffat is a better writer than Doyle ever was and his main character’s persona being that of a self-described “high-functioning sociopath” (which was easy to call before he even admitted it) elaborates on themes only hinted at in the original work.  Why it works is because the writing never strays from that model nor do they stray from Watson’s model of the damaged, somewhat angry and lonely former soldier trying to make sense of it all while possibly being the only person that is capable of reigning in the eccentric consulting detective.  The point of this is that Moffat has smartly taken the template for the classic characters and re-imagined them while staying true to Doyle’s original intentions and this is exactly what Elementary does and it should be celebrated for doing it as effectively as it does, despite the handicap of being on American network television.

Miller is as perfectly cast for this Holmes as his long-time friend Cumberbatch is cast for his Holmes on the BBC’s hit.  Shockingly, Lucy Liu is an excellent Watson who serves to bring fresh perspectives that Holmes is frankly incapable of due to his inability to maintain normal interpersonal relationships, regardless of who’s writing the character.  As brilliant as Holmes is, even Doyle made a point to highlight his many weaknesses and in this version there is far more emphasis on the implied drug abuse issues than have been in the past. Other than the drug abuse issue, Holmes’ biggest character flaw is that though he may understand the human psyche and mentality, his own ego and inability to experience empathy has always been his downfall as well as ignoring the obvious when sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  A strong Watson is an absolute necessity in order to humanize Holmes and Liu does it aptly but don’t expect any romance between the two because it’s not even hinted at a little bit and I think the writers are aware that going that route would effectively be the sign that the show has officially jumped the shark.

Rounding out the trifecta is Aidan Quinn playing the role of Lt. Gregson (basically the equivalent of the D.I. Lestrade character on Sherlock), an NYPD detective who has had experience with Holmes and his unique abilities since his stint in London post-9/11 and respects his insights greatly to the point where he depends on them.  I like Quinn in this role – again, another perfect job of casting.  Quinn’s best performances in my opinion are where he plays the strong every man. I think he’s been short-changed in his career in a lot of roles where the attempt has been to portray him as the larger than life leading man or the villain.  He’s far more Jimmy Stewart than he is Cary Grant and his understated performance here brings a calming influence yet he still exudes a sense of leadership despite the fact that much to the dismay of the younger detectives under his command, he often defers to the expertise of Holmes.  Gregson comes off as a character who has had enough experience professionally to know that in order to be as good as he is at what he does there is a greater wisdom in deferring to the experts at the sake of even your own ego, even if that means placating Holmes’ already massive ego.

One of my biggest concerns was that Elementary was set in New York City and not London and that’s because if you’re a fan of the franchise, you know that the city of London is as much of an integral character to the stories as any of the actual performers.  I’ve noted several times how effective a locale can be for a series when done correctly.  Think of Los Angeles for  The Shield or Albuquerque in Breaking Bad or the biggest example, the island in Lost.  London in my mind has always been just as important to this franchise.  The truth is that Elementary is so well-rounded that the locale is almost insignificant and New York works nicely for it.

This being a standard 22-episode American series, don’t expect the writers to re-imagine classic Doyle tales the way that Sherlock has done (there’s simply not enough of them to do this with and 43 minutes isn’t enough time to do them justice), but it is apparent that the writers for Elementary have been chosen well and have a masterful ability to weave a good yarn in the traditional Holmesian style.  The pilot was incredibly impressive despite the fact that it was a one-off, killer-of-the-week story that is the hallmark for all procedurals.  That being said, the best part of the story was being engaged in Holmes’ process and his uncomfortable interactions with other characters and most importantly there was no Scooby Doo ending and that alone makes it a winner.

Brilliantly cast, brilliantly written with no sense of needing to prove itself, Elementary is by far one of the best new dramas of the fall and it stands alone as an excellent tribute to the classic detective.  The biggest issue I have with the series is that CBS, being the scared little babies that they are, actually used the hashtag #Sherlock during the pilot to generate buzz for the series.  That’s cheap and unnecessary and it shows that as much confidence that the writers and producers have in the series, CBS is a little more skeptical and is hedging their bets.  Dumb across the board.

Chance of Renewal:  100%

It’s already huge and with Person of Interest as its lead-in, CBS has a one-two drama punch on Thursday that’s going to be impossible to beat.

Watch Elementary, here.

The Chicago Code (FOX – Monday, 9:00 p.m)

THE CHICAGO CODE, the compelling new police drama from critically acclaimed creator Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), follows the Windy City’s most powerful and respected cops as they navigate the city’s underbelly to fight crime and expose corruption within Chicago’s notorious political machine.

Set and shot on location in Chicago, THE CHICAGO CODE is a fast-paced series centered on JAREK WYSOCKI (Jason Clarke), a local legend and a larger-than-life veteran of the Chicago Police Department who wields considerable power thanks to his relationship with TERESA COLVIN (Jennifer Beals), his ex-partner and the city’s first female superintendent, now in charge of a 10,000-member police force. While Teresa diplomatically governs amidst the complicated landscape of Chicago politics, Jarek works the streets on a crusade to clean up corruption and crime and avenge his brother’s murder. Along the way, they will stop at nothing to bring down their powerful adversaries, including ALDERMAN RONIN GIBBONS (Delroy Lindo), a building-magnate-turned-politician who has ruled his ward with a velvet glove for over two decades.

Joining Jarek on the street is CALEB EVERS (Matt Lauria), an eager young detective trying desperately to prove himself. Also in Jarek’s charge is his niece, VONDA WYSOCKI (Devin Kelley), a rookie beat cop whose father – Jarek’s brother – was killed in the line of duty when she was young. Jarek keeps close tabs on her and is less than thrilled with the risk-taking ways of her cocky hotshot partner, ISAAC JOINER (Todd Williams). Also in the mix is low-life LIAM HENNESSEY (Billy Lush), an Irish thug who blends in with the gritty world of local crime. – FOX

8 out of 10

So here we are asking ourselves again, why, oh why, do the best scripted dramas always wind up on FOX?  They are only going to canceled when FOX inevitably pisses their pants after a couple of episodes.  The Chicago Code is eerily similar to Lone Star in that it’s a serialized, well-written, well-casted and well-acted dramatic series… that probably won’t last a single season because FOX has no patience for shows like this.  For the sake of this review, though, let’s pretend that FOX won’t cancel it before the end of the first season.

The Chicago Code is everything it claims to be and perhaps a bit more.  Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) is brilliantly cast as the down-to-earth, old-school detective who is used to thinking unconventionally and using unorthodox methods in order to effectively do his job.  Beals, is his former partner and newly appointed Police Superintendant who has recruited him to help her to clean up the corruption in Chicago.  If you think you’ve seen this before, you have.  This is almost the exact same scenario as in Brian De Palma’s 1987 classic The Untouchables when Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) recruits Jim Malone (Sean Connery) to help him take down the corrupt politicians, corrupt police department and Al Capone.

Watch this scene to understand The Chicago Code:

… and THAT’S The Chicago Code.  There is no sugar-coating it.  This is a modern-day telling of a classic story of crime and corruption and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit) is not even being subtle with his homage to The Untouchables.  Good for him because he’s a brilliant writer and he’s smart enough to know that if you are going to use someone else’s source material for inspiration, use only the good stuff.  What made HBO’s Deadwood so good was the fact that it was Shakespeare set in the Old West.  It’s no different with any good drama and The Chicago Code excels in exploiting its predecessor.

Ryan’s no slouch, either, when it comes to stories about corruption having been the creator of F/X’s hit The Shield which lasted for six seasons which revolved around a group of corrupt detectives in the L.A.P.D.  And like The Shield, The Chicago Code does something that we absolutely love and we praised it before in our review of A & E’s The Glades; it uses the city itself as not just a backdrop, but as a living, breathing character.  One gets the feeling that they know Chicago as well as the residents do by watching The Chicago Code and that is a key factor that makes the show compelling and worth investing in for audiences.  It’s also beautifully shot and is a visual pleasure to enjoy in high-definition. Unfortunately, though, as previously noted, we don’t think the show has much of a chance at survival.

To be fair to FOX, and as much as we rip on them, there is a big problem with The Chicago Code that has nothing to do with bad management at FOX: it’s a serial.  Serialized television has no place in major network schedules any more.  It just doesn’t play with this generation of viewers who are inundated with 300 plus channels of cable television, the Internet, and reality television.  This generation of television viewers expects everything to be immediate with their entertainment and they simply have no patience for a story that doesn’t effectively conclude itself at the end of the hour.  This isn’t a criticism, this is just a fact and if you’re wondering when the end of serialized drama on network television officially occurred, it was May 24, 2010, which is the day of the series finale of 24 and the day after the series finale of Lost.  It’s getting more and more difficult to put any effort in writing reviews for serialized drama on network television because we are kind of at the “what’s the point?” stage as we expect every serialized drama on network television to be canceled no later than the end of its first season.

Now, that being said, we believe that FOX has made the same mistake with this show that they did with Lone Star and that is airing it on FOX instead of F/X.  F/X has been consistently able to support to serialized dramas and The Chicago Code would be a perfect fit there.

Of course, we certainly hope that we are dead-wrong about the lifespan of The Chicago Code on FOX but the numbers were only OK for the premiere (2.4 rating for 18-49) and the tendency for serialized shows is to lose audience after the premiere, not pick them up.  So we’ll keep our fingers crossed but we aren’t very optimistic about any long-term success for this show.

Watch full episodes of The Chicago Code, here.

Fall 2010 TV Preview – Tuesdays

Part Two of the Seven Six part series.

Tuesday

8:00 p.m.

ABC:     No Ordinary Family – September 28, 2010 (NEW SERIES!) (Full Review Here!)

ABC Studios brings to life “The Incredibles”, the story of the Powells, an every day american family, who are too busy to spend time together. So they decide to take a trip as family as a way to reconnect, but on the way, their plane crashes. Now there’re back to their normal lives, but something seems to be happening to each one of them… they have superpowers. – ABC

Shawn: First, let’s give credit to ABC for not only acknowledging right off-the-bat the most obvious criticism of this show – that being that it looks like Disney-Pixar’s The Incredibles – but outright OWNING it.  That’s the way to beat them at their own game!  And why wouldn’t Disney try to capitalize on their property in a prime time, live-action drama (for those of you that are unaware, Disney owns ABC)? Screw the nay-sayers, this show looks like a lot of fun and is my choice for sleeper hit of the season.  The concept is great and it’s not just a show for the family but it’s a show focused on the family as much as it is on their super powers.  Casting always tells me a lot about a show and No Ordinary Family is no different.  You’ve got Michael Chiklis as the dad (The Shield), Julie Benz as the mom (Dexter), Romany Malco (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) as the best friend and sidekick and lo and behold, Stephen Collins (7th Heaven) who appears to be our Lex Luthor-type.  I don’t care if I sound like a 10 year-old fanboy, I can’t wait to watch No Ordinary Family and apparently based on the amount of merchandising I saw over at the official site, ABC is pretty confident that they have a hit on their hands as well.

CBS:     NCIS – September 21, 2010

Shawn: NCIS enters its eighth season and is still one of the most watched shows on television and the highest rated drama.  I’ve been there from the beginning since it was a spinoff of J.A.G. and the show has gotten increasingly better each season and I don’t see any signs of it jumping the shark any time soon.  At first glance, NCIS would appear to be your standard fare, formulaic cop show that I regularly rail against and during the first couple of seasons, that’s exactly what it was.  But, the cast and the characters were compelling enough to keep me around until season 4 when it really came into its own with multi-episode, cloak and dagger story arcs and complex character development.  You simply can’t go wrong with NCIS.

(Sorry, but no video on this one.  I was completely unable to find any trailers for season 8 on YouTube or anywhere else)

FOX:     Glee – September 21, 2010

Shawn: Glee is great.  Everyone should be watching this.  It is funnier than any other sitcom on TV with the exception of Modern Family, has wonderfully heartwarming drama and the musical numbers are creative and fantastic.  I challenge you not become moved during the musical numbers on Glee.

9:00 p.m.

CBS:     NCIS Los Angeles* – September 21, 2010

Shawn: The only reason I’m putting NCIS Los Angeles (now in its second season) in this preview is to clarify why I recommend NCIS but not its spinoff.  Simply put: I just don’t like it.  I was very excited last year about the possibility of an NCIS spinoff but I only lasted six episodes into the first season.  The show makes no sense at all.  The premise is unbelieveable, the plotlines are boring and formulaic, and the characters are clichéd and have absolutely zero chemistry.  I like Chris O’Donnell a lot.  He’s very talented and I appreciate the fact that he dropped out of the business to raise a family and be a father to his 103 children.  There’s nothing more noble than being a father and a husband.  Unfortunately, his talents are being wasted on this safe, simplistic and dry show.  On principle, I don’t recommend this show, but I may watch the season premiere just to see if they’ve fixed any of the mess that is NCIS Los Angeles.  I’m always willing to give a show a season to work out the bugs and if they do, I’ll report back with the good news.

(Again, no trailer for this show either… blame CBS)

FOX:     Raising Hope – September 21, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

Raising Hope is a new single-camera family comedy from Emmy Award winner Greg Garcia that follows the Chance family as they find themselves adding an unexpected new member into their household. At 23 years old, JIMMY CHANCE (Lucas Neff) is going nowhere in life. He skims pools for a living, parties every night and still lives at home with his family, including his MAW MAW (Cloris Leachman); his mother, VIRGINIA (Martha Plimpton) and his father, BURT (Garret Dillahunt). Jimmy’s life takes a drastic turn when a chance romantic encounter with LUCY (guest star Bijou Phillips) goes awry once he discovers she is a wanted felon. Months later, when Jimmy pays a visit to the local prison, he learns Lucy is pregnant with their baby, and after she gives birth, he is charged with raising their daughter. – FOX

Shawn: I didn’t think it was possible but Rasing Hope has given me whole new reason to hate sitcoms.  You see, what’s pissed me off thoroughly is the lie perpetuated on show’s Official Page that I posted above.  It’s leaving out a crucial detail and the omission is by design.  The little baby’s mother, isn’t just a wanted felon, she’s a serial killer and her big joke in the trailer is that they would never execute a mother of a seven month-old baby.  Then, they cut to a scene with Jimmy sitting on the other side of the glass with the baby on his lap watching her get electrocuted and about halfway through the process he covers the baby’s eyes.  I’m sorry, and you can call me old-fashioned, but a baby being separated from its mother and then forced to watch her get executed in an electric chair is not exactly what I would call charming or endearing.  FOX has been doing a very good job of hiding that little piece of information on their website and their regular TV spots for this show.  Gee, I wonder why?  What I saw is not nearly as bad as the fact that they are trying to hide it.

Beyond, that, of course this show is as stupid, clichéd and as recycled as any other sitcom.  Seriously, though, the rule of thumb for FOX should be to assume all of their sitcoms are going to suck.  It’s just a question of to what degree of suckitude (© 2010, TV-Tastic).  Raising Hope is certainly no different from any other FOX sitcom and they brag about why it sucks.  The claim to fame of this show is that Greg Garcia created it and of course he was the award-winning writer who came up with My Name is Earl.  What no one wants to admit about My Name is Earl is that it wasn’t funny after the first season and to be honest, the novelty wore off after the first 10 episodes.  And of course, this show isn’t even much different from Earl with the portrayal of the stupid, white-trash and downright depressing family.  Again, recycled crap.  It’s seems like a shame too because the main cast includes Cloris Leachman, Martha Plympton and they FINALLY got a lead role for one of my favorite character actors of all time, Darren Gillahunt (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Deadwood), an actor that is so talented that he played TWO different characters on Deadwood and no one noticed it was the same guy.  So, yeah. we’ll be passing on this.  Oh and if you watch this video, you’ll the scene in question.

Syfy:     Stargate: Universe

The latest series for the Stargate franchise has Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) as part of a group that is transported to Destiny, a self-guided spaceship used to place stargates around the universe.

Shawn: SGU starts its second season and I am loathed to admit it, but I like this show and I really shouldn’t.  It is a complete rip-off of Star Trek: Voyager and Battlestar Galactica with the quest to get home and the incessant, holy-crap-we’re all-going-to-die-by-the-end-of-the-episode-but-somehow-we-are-miraculously-saved-at-the-last-minute crisis of the week, but still, somehow, it manages to work.  The characters are OK and are becoming more developed every episode and the special effects and action do work well.  SGU also succeeds because you don’t get the feeling that you have to know the entire Stargate Anthology in order to get the show.  If you like space-based Sci-Fi, this show is definitely for you, if it’s not your thing, you can pass on this and your life won’t be any less fulfilled.

9:30

FOX:     Running Wilde – September 21, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

Will Arnett stars as a Beverly Hills jackass who ends up falling in love with Emmy Kadubic (played by Keri Russell), a charitable tree hugger, who hates his lifestyle and moral code.

Shawn:     “What… the… fudge… was that?”  You see, those are the words that came to mine when I watched the extended trailer for this show, except for the fact that just like Ralphie from a Christmas Story I didn’t use the word fudge.  Unlike Ralphie, however, I didn’t have a bar of Palmolive handy to cleanse my soul from what I had just seen.  Obviously, the geniuses at television development at FOX are the same people in charge of player development for the New York Mets.  I have it on good authority that the roundtable discussion for filling the 9:30 hole on FOX went something like this:

Writer 1:     OK, we want to go with something recycled along the lines of The Nanny and Dharma & Greg  and every couple-based sitcom from the last twenty years that involves two people from extremely different worlds.

Writer 2:     Well, I brought a hat full of a bunch of paper slips with different subjects on them.  Let’s shake it up and pull out the first ten and apply it to your lame-o premise.

Writer 3:     Um… I brought pot.

OK, so I completely made that up, but seriously, after watching the trailer below, does it not seem like that’s exactly how they came up with this show?  It’s typical FOX suckitude for sit-coms.  Running Wilde is a perfect bookend to Raising Hope.  Both these shows look awful individually but together they qualify for “making-me-puke-in-my-mouth” status.  But, fear not.  TV-Tastic predicts that both of these shows will be cancelled before Thanksgiving replaced with re-runs of Bones or House.

10:00 p.m.

ABC:     Detroit 1-8-7 – September 21, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

In this ABC crime drama project, a fictional documentary filmmaking crew goes inside Detroit’s homicide division. – ABC

Shawn: “Once in a generation, a cop show comes along that re-writes the rules.”

That is seriously said in the voice-over at the beginning of this trailer.  It may be true, but that show was The Shield, not Detroit 1-8-7 (which sounds more like a the title of an N.W.A. album than it does a dramatic television series).  Sorry, but this show re-writes nothing.  It’s the epitome of why I don’t watch formulaic cop shows anymore.  It’s all the same thing but this one is trying to be clever by combining the rawness and the grittiness of The Wire and to an extent Homicide: Life on the Street and the pseudo-documentary style of… The Office.  That’s right, The Office.  The difference is that The Office actually is consistently shot like a documentary.  The style of this show is all over the place.  I’m sorry, but if you want to convince us that the show is being shot by a documentary camera crew, your shots cannot include shots only possible if filmed while a cameraman is sitting on the hood of a moving car (that’s in the trailer).

Beyond, that, though Detroit 1-8-7 doesn’t look awful, it just looks ordinary and typical.  I’ve seen this cop show before, and I can tell I’m not alone in thinking this way.

This is from 1-8-7’s Official Page:

“The detectives are well-developed and easy to follow… There are relationships worth investing in.”

– Mekeisha Madden Toby, Detroit News

“…promises to be a mighty fine ride…smartly cast urban crime drama’s gutsy, gritty allure.”

– Matt Roush, TV Guide

First, notice the ellipses that permeate both quotes like bullet-holes, indicating that ABC cut a lot out.  Second, knowing that, this is really the best ABC could come up with to promote critical acclaim for the show?  Seriously, that Matt Roush quote is just embarrassing, but honestly, I really don’t expect much from him anymore.  I think he just has too much on his plate so unless he really likes something a lot, he just whips out the TV reviewer’s thesaurus and gives us “mighty fine ride,” “smartly cast (which is kind of like sensible shoes),” “gutsy” and “gritty.”  As far as Makeisha Madden Toby is concerned, I think she got the memo that if you write for a Detroit Newspaper and live in L.A., it’s in your better interest to be pleasant when discussing a drama set in the city you don’t live in but is responsible for your paychecks.  I’m sorry, but, “The detectives are well-developed and easy to follow…” and “There are relationships worth investing in,” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

I’m sorry but there’s just too much good TV this Fall for me to waste my time with this.  I may catch the pilot or an occasional episode, but this isn’t appointment television by an 8-mile.

NEXT: Wednesdays

Fall 2010 Prime Time Preview – Mondays

Welcome to the TV-Tastic First Annual Fall TV Preview.   This is the first of what we hope to be many television season previews.  In January we’ll be doing a Mid-Season Replacement Preview and in Summer 2011, we’ll be doing a preview of the cable offerings and random shows that FOX just throws out there June through August to fill up airtime that no one seems to care about (see: The Good Guys).   This is a seven part series and today we are covering Monday night television.

We will not be including a preview of every single show that’s in the Fall lineup.  We’re only previewing the stuff  we care about and of course the new offerings on network and cable.  Our rating scale for this will be based on whether we think you should waste your time with it or not and we’ll tell you why.  No numbers on this just, simple recommendations like “you have to see this” or “pass on this” or “I think I just puked in my mouth a little bit.”  Vic’s been very busy so I’m going solo on this for right now but he will be adding his two-cents later and I’ll update the blog and the subscribers accordingly.

So, without further ado, let the games begin, and by the way, this is one of the best Fall Lineups in years and it mostly is because of NBC (which is a phrase I never thought I would utter).

TV Guide Fall Schedule

TV Guide Fall Schedule Calendar

Monday:

8:00 p.m.

FOX:     House – September 20, 2010

Shawn: I love House, it’s a “can’t-miss.”  You know it and I know it.  How many shows can they change the night and timeslot every two weeks and it’s still be successful?  There is one reason and one reason only to watch House, and that’s House, himself.  I hate medical dramas as they’re all the same tripe.  House could be a show set on submarine or in a cannery (or a nunnery) and it would still be great.

NBC:     Chuck – September 20, 2010

Shawn: I unfortunately missed all of season 2 and 3 because of scheduling issues but I love this show and I’m glad it got a fourth season.  It’s just a fun show that’s got something for everyone.  Humor, action, romance and of course, Adam Baldwin.  I dare say, what more do you need?  I’ll be catching up with Seasons 2 & 3 and saving season 4 for later.

9:00 p.m.

FOX:     Lone Star – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

Shawn: I’ve already seen the pilot and it is definitely worth watching.  See my full review with trailer here.  Upon further review my biggest concern for it is it is in the same time-slot as this:

NBC:     The Event – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

The Event is an emotional, high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, “The Class”), an everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his would-be fiancée Leila (Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history.

Sean’s quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including newly elected U.S. President Elias Martinez (Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”); Sophia Maguire (Emmy Award nominee Laura Innes, “ER”), who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Leila’s shadowy father (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”). Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind. – NBC

Shawn: This is by far the most anticipated show of the new year and for good reason.  It’s a spy/action/political thriller à la 24 shown from multiple perspectives with a Lost-type/FlashForward-type mystery to it.   The cast is amazing and the effects look killer.  This is one of those moral imperative shows.  You must watch this.  I’d comment more on it but the trailer confused the crap out of me and I still haven’t processed all of it.

9:30 p.m.

CBS:     Mike & Molly – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

A couple finds love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting in this multicamera comedy from Chuck Lorre, the force behind Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.

Shawn: Did Kevin James get taller, fatter and less articulate?  As a rule, I’m skeptical of sitcoms to begin with because for the most part they are unoriginal and they all recycle the same stupid jokes decade after decade.  Even the more original and funny comedies like The Office eventually wind up being copied (see: Parks & Recreation) and eventually run out of steam… waitaminute… The Office was a copy as well.  Anyway, the point being is that Mike & Molly is the reason that I hate sitcoms.  This is just embarrassing.  Seriously who does this simple-minded crap appeal to?  What I find humorous is that they brag how this show is from the producers of Two and a Half Men.  Hey… newsflash:  despite how many people watch it, Two and a Half Men is complete crap as well. I would definitely pass on this.

10:00 p.m.

CBS:     Hawaii Five-O – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

When Steve McGarrett’s father is murdered, he decided to return home to Oahu in order to catch the killer. The governor offers him the opportunity to run a new task force where he is able to call the shots. Detective Steve McGarrett brings together his own team, beginning with Chin Ho Kelly; an ex-Honolulu Police Detective and former protégé of McGarrett’s father. Kelly has been assigned to a federal security patrol after being suspected of corruption. Detective Danny “Danno” Williams is a New Jersey cop who recently moved to the island and is raising his 8-year-old daughter. Kono Kalakaua is Kelly’s cousin and a rookie officer, fresh from the academy. McGarrett’s team is giving full backing from the governor and plays only by their own rules. – CBS

Shawn: Way to go CBS for making this show sound like every other dry, formulaic cop show.  Thank God for trailers, eh?  I have to say,  I was just going to recommend the pilot and only the pilot simply for the sake of novelty (and the great cast). Watch it, know it’s probably going to be crap-tastic and forget about it. Then I saw the trailer below.  This isn’t Hawaii Five-O, this is friggin’ Alias in Hawaii with cops and it looks great!  Back to that great cast, you’ve got Alex O’Loughlin (The Shield) as McGarrett, Scott Caan (Boiler Room and the Ocean’s Eleven films) as “Danno,” Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, 24) and the smoking hot Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) as Kono Kalakaua.  This one of the best casts of any show this season and I’m really glad to see Kim in a more prominent lead-role where he actually speaks his native language for a change… which of course is Eastern Pennsylvania English.  Heck, he didn’t even have to move for this show considering his last gig was on Lost for six seasons which is was of course, also filmed in Hawaii.  And, by the way, I am well aware that for a cop show the amount of action looks ridiculous.  That’s part of the reason why it appeals to me so much.  I mean, crap, if you’re going to go camp, go all the way… and we’d better see Wo Fat, too or I’m writing a letter.  This is another definite must-watch show.

NBC:     Chase – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)

From Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) and executive producer Jennifer Johnson (“Cold Case,” “Reunion,” “Lost”), “Chase” is a lightning-fast drama that drops viewers smack into the middle of a game of cat-and-mouse as a team of U.S. Marshals hunts down America’s most dangerous fugitives.

Kelli Giddish (“Past Life”) stars as U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, a cowboy boot-wearing deputy whose sharp mind and unique Texas upbringing help her track down violent criminals on the run. Starring as the members of Frost’s elite team are Cole Hauser (“K-Ville”) as Jimmy Godfrey, an East Texas kid who never grew up and is a true American cowboy; Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”) who plays Marco Martinez, a good intelligence guy who loves to talk; and Rose Rollins (“The L Word”), who portrays Daisy Ogbaa, a weapons/tactical specialist and a woman of few words. Rounding out the cast is Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives”), who stars as Luke Watson, the fresh-faced newcomer whose Washington, D.C. upbringing did little to prepare him for the Lone Star State. – NBC

Shawn: Although, seemingly formulaic and reeking suspiciously of U.S. Marshals (I was waiting for Tommy Lee Jones to pop out and start barking orders about finding Richard Kimball in the trailer), the high-energy and the strong cast of Chase makes it certainly worthy of consideration.  I’m not jumping out of my pants about it yet but it is a Jerry Bruckheimer production and that definitely makes it worth watching for at least the first three or four episodes.  “Cautiously optimistic” is the best way to describe my enthusiasm for Chase.

NEXT: Tuesdays