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The Boob Tube Has Us In September...

Good-looking people...
good-looking aliens?
I’m starting to get my TiVo trained, and I’m exercising my thumb a little bit more. That’s because the new fall season is getting started, and I get the feeling I’m going to be watching a hell of a lot more TV this coming season, as we’ve got a lovely slew of shiny program newness headed our way, and there seems to be a lot of good stuff coming out. I managed to see bits and pieces earlier in the summer (i.e. Comic Con), and I thought I’d share some of the notes I took on few of this fall’s freshman crop, along with my opinion.

Invasion, ABC, Wednesdays 10pm, premieres September 21st
Shaun Cassidy called this “a family drama”, but it’s still Sci-Fi, according to what I saw. Invasion’s premise seems to be that there’s something out there, underwater, and it might be responsible for more than we think. The show opens with a mighty hurricane bearing down on a small Florida town, and a large (and mildly dysfunctional) family prepping for the worst. The youngest daughter runs off as the worst of the storm begins, to find the family cat, and instead sees strange lights shimmering in the water, unaffected by the mighty storm. After the storm blows though, people are missing and the strange lights aren’t the only thing the characters need to worry about.

From what I saw, you get a format that is very similar to that of Lost, where the viewers and characters learn the situation and encompassing details at the same time. We get caught up in the drama of a young father, his two children and new wife, plus his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, so when the creepy lights shows up, it’s completely unexpected, and brings a nice anticipation with it, without losing the true-to-life feeling of the story.

The opening episode might be a bit disturbing for some to watch at this point, since a powerful hurricane is central to the plot, and the filming and wrecked sets were done incredibly well. It’s very real, and, so close to the aftermath of Katrina, mildly disturbing. 24 got some editing when it premiered right after 9/11, Invasion might get some too, though with the hurricane being such a major part of the plot, they might even delay the premiere until things settle a bit.

To the point: Worth giving a try, but it’s a wait and see.

From fangs to Bones...
Bones, Fox, Tuesdays 8pm, premieres September 13th
Inspired by actual forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs, Bones is the latest in the CSI inspired crime procedural dramas, though this takes the turn of the cases being old, and/or nothing being left of the victims except, yup, you guessed it, bones.

Our main character is Dr. Temperence Brennan, a forensic anthropologist and sometimes mystery novelist with a knack for reading the clues left on the bones of victims. She’s got a crack team, including a bawdy computer programmer, a brainy lab tech, and an insect expert with a penchant for conspiracy. Dr. Brennan is often and unwillingly called out to assist the FBI, who has its own issues with her, and ends up working with Special Agent Seeley Booth to solve murders where the bodies are so destroyed, only someone who can read bones has any chance of finding out who, what, and how.

To tell the truth, the premiere episode of Bones was pretty uninspiring. It’s a crime drama, which is a genre whose freshness date has long past. It sticks to the science, as far as the inexperienced eye can tell, but there are some farfetched tech toys employed, that made me wonder if this was going start becoming a science fiction series. The murder itself was pretty basic; find the body, collect evidence, talk to suspects, get clues, find out truth. The main characters are at least interesting, with Emily Deschanel’s Dr. Brennan smart, impatient, and charging headlong into things waaaaay out of her field. David Boreanez has dropped the vampiric angst for Seeley Booth (who names these people?), but is comical occasionally as the suffering Booth, following Brennan around and trying to keep her in line. Their sniping of each other earns some chuckles, and they have a good chemistry.

My favorite character , however, is the programmer, the rowdy, slightly raunchy Michaela Conlin, played by Angela Montenegro. She’s not your stereotypical engineer, and she’s a delight because of it, often speaking her mind, and she’s not afraid to use what God gave her to get what she wants.

To the Point: Another crime drama, another day. Kind of fluffy, but nothing to get excited about.

It's a mystery.
Night Stalker, ABC, Thursdays 9pm, premieres September 29
Based on the cult classic television show, Night Stalker revolves around reporter Carl Kolchak and his obsession with strange murders. He starts a new job at a newspaper, and ends up being partnered with Perri Reed, an up and coming hot reporter who starts off resenting Kolchak’s interference with her stories, but then realizes he may have more insight than he’s letting on.

From what I saw, Night Stalker is starting out dark, and while there might be more humor later on (at least that’s what the Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union promised at the panel), it’s still seems like it’s going to be based in horror. What I saw was very straightforward: two reporters working the same case, a violent murder under unusual circumstances, and Kolchak seems to be able to find clues that Perri can’t or isn’t seeing. And while they’re still working out their working relationship, we’re seeing parts of suspenseful and terrifying murders.

It felt very underdeveloped, as if everything was thrown together last minute, and they didn’t have time to settle into the writing, or the directing, or into their roles. The mystery and horror aspects seem very interesting though, and I think with a few episodes to develop a stronger theme, it’s going to be a pretty good show to watch. I didn’t recognize Stuart Townsend at first, but he’s definitely got the ability to do the mysterious stranger role, as well as some light humor, and Gabrielle Union is good as the tough, determined young reporter.

To the Point: Needs some work, but worth keeping an eye on.

So, from what I’ve seen so far, the season is shaping up to be a lot of fun. There isn’t too much that’s crying out “WATCH ME”, but there enough interesting stuff to keep us glued to our TV sets like the good couch potatoes we are.

Happy Watching!

Erin Frost

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