Chuck, Journeyman Monday, Sept. 24(NBC) Series Debuts: This is not another hack piece about how the new fall season is all “geeked” out. Damn, TV critics are a creative lot. The titular Chuck of NBC’s new Heroes lead-in works at Buy More (think Best Buy) in the tech-troubleshooting Nerd Herd (think Geek Squad), so of course he’s a girlfriend-free underachiever—until he accidentally downloads the entirety of America’s secret intelligence into his brain via an e-mail (just go with it) and, bam! Instant Alias, with clip-on ties instead of wigs. Chuck takes the average-dude-in-over-his-head comedy of Andy Barker P.I. (remember that?) to a new level—the first episode’s chase scenes could be the most hysterically intricate ever shot for television—and nails the balance of smart comedy and sweet charm, not to mention killer action. As for NBC’s new time-travelin’ sci-fi drama Journeyman … at least it’s better than Day Break (I know you don’t remember that). The Big Bang Theory Monday, Sept. 24(CBS) Series Debut: Hyper-intelligent geeks struggle to meet hot girls; middling comedy ensues. On the upside, The Big Bang Theory actually makes Rules of Engagement seem funny an hour later—score, CBS!
Cane Tuesday, Sept. 25(CBS) Series Debut: Jimmy Smits presides over a Cuban-American family’s sugar-and-rum empire in Florida; middling soap-opera drama and intrigue ensue. CBS has promoted Cane with Mojito-flavored lick-strips in magazines, so at least one original idea has come from all of this.
Reaper Tuesday, Sept. 25(The CW) Series Debut: Another nerdy guy toiling away in a big-box store is thrust into extraordinary circumstances—similarities to Chuck don’t quite end there; instead of being forced to moonlight for the government, Reaper’s Sam has new gig with Satan. Tomato, tomato. But, whereas Chuck star Zachary Levi carries his show with confident ease, Reaper’s Bret Harrison (late of Fox’s The Loop) is upstaged at every turn by slacker bud Sock (Invasion’s Tyler Labine) and the Devil (Twin Peaks’ Ray Wise), who bought Sam’s soul before he was even born—enough about Britney being a bad parent—and now employs him to hunt down escaped Hell-ions. Reaper has a funny, crackerjack Kevin Smith-directed pilot ep, but is it too smart for the viewers of lead-in Beauty & the Geek? Oh, hell, yes.
Private Practice, Dirty Sexy Money Wednesday, Sept. 26(ABC) Series Debuts: Ever seen Kate Walsh on a talk show? Hi-larious. She’s also probably more capable of carrying a show than anyone back on Grey’s Anatomy, from whence Private Practice spun-off last spring in a lame tentative “pilot” episode. Fortunately, the final Addison-does-Cali product is far better, and this is coming from a guy who hates Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, really, really hates Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, and ABC didn’t send me Dirty Sexy Money, so fuck it. The Bionic Woman, Life Wednesday, Sept. 26(NBC) Series Debuts: The good news: The Bionic Woman lives up to nearly all of its Battlestar Galactica-pedigreed buzz. The bad news: That buzz is limited to the relatively small audience of Galactica (sorry, not everybody reads your blog), and Michelle Ryan’s performance in the title role is so stiff you may wonder if she’s not entirely circuitry and silicone. The best news: Matters not, because The Bionic Woman is dark, taut, action-packed and riveting every second that Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff appears onscreen as the first bionic woman who’s gone rogue and quite insane. She’s out to kill her 2.0, and The Only TV Column That Matters™ is rooting for her—I wanna see that series. I don’t, however, want to see another cop show. Life is another cop show. Ergo …
Fall Premieres • MetalocalypseSunday, Sept. 23: Dethklok returns to make everything more metal than metal. Or more brutal than brutal. Watch and/or die! (Adult Swim) • Cold Case, SharkSunday, Sept. 23 Lily solves a ’94 case with a select Nirvana soundtrack; Jessica joins Team Shark as we all knew she would. (CBS)
• The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family GuySunday, Sept. 23: Stephen Colbert life-coaches Homer, Hank takes on Nebraska and Peter mangles the legend of Star Wars. (Fox)
• How I Met Your Mother, Two & a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, CSI: Miami Monday, Sept. 24: Ted and Barney get legendarily shitfaced, Jake starts junior high, Jeff is kicked out of the bedroom for snoring and Horatio tries to solve the case of why Rules of Engagement wasn’t canceled. (CBS)
• HeroesMonday, Sept. 24: Who’s alive? Who’s dead? What’s the new Big Threat? Why didn’t NBC send out preview screeners? Arrrgggh! (NBC)
• NCIS, The Unit Tuesday, Sept. 25: Hot goth-chick scientist and the old 24 president—that’s all I know about NCIS and The Unit. Sorry. (CBS)
• Bones, HouseTuesday, Sept. 25: Brennan and Booth track down cannibals who ate a violinist; House tries to diagnose a patient who had a building fall on her—which may be the first clue. (Fox)
• Boston Legal Tuesday, Sept 25: Denny Crane gets busted with a hooker and a hot new female attorney joins the firm. Business as usual. (ABC)
• Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Tuesday, Sept 25: Benson almost recovers from her eight-season bad hair day and meets Dr. Balkie. (NBC)
• Criminal Minds, CSI: NY Wednesday, Sept. 26 Mandy Patinkin phones it in for a few scenes; Mac and Stella find blood on the Statue of Liberty’s crown—and it’s not hers! (CBS)
Listen to Bill Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96’s Radio From Hell. Patinkin-free blogging at BillFrost.tv. cw
Panicked letters have been flooding in about the Feb. 17 (maybe) Digital TV Transition—not to The Only TV Column That Matters™, of course, but I’m always here to help. The following is a compendium (means summary) of concerns compiled into convenient FAQ (means Frequently Asked Questions, or Frost Ain’t Qualified) form. Prepare to have your Fears All Quelled (another FAQ). ...
If you embrace movies as works of art, not just as works of commerce, then here’s why you should embrace Coraline: Not a frame of it looks like it was crafted with a thought to who might actually want to buy a ticket. nI mean that as a compliment, and not a backhanded one. In contemporary Hollywood, there’s only one paradigm for selling any kind of feature animation, and that’s s...