"I bought myself a parrot that could talk, but it did not say 'I'm hungry', so it died."--Mitch Hedberg
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Best of the Newbies

Every season, a ton of new shows premiere that usually don't last past the fifth episode. Thanks to the success of shows like 24 and Lost, networks are finally taking risks this year with new high-concept and science fiction shows, which in all honesty, are the kinds of shows I want to watch. I don't like cop dramas or medical dramas, I like shows that are actually interesting. That's why, for me, this fall TV season rocks. For the most part. Here's my rundown on some of the new shows this season.

Prison Break (FOX, Mondays @ 9PM): This was the first of the new shows to premiere. Very 24-esque in its fast-paced action, intelligent writing, and multiple season-long plot threads. Prison Break tells the story of a man named Michael Scolfield who held up a bank to get himself into the prison that was holding his brother, Lincoln Burrows. Burrows is set to be executed in about a month's time, accused of killing the vice president. Michael's objective is to break him out before the execution date. The first main twist is that Michael, an architectural engineer, helped design the prison that he is now incarcerated in. By establishing ties with various other powerful inmates, Michael ensures that they'll have people on the outside to help them escape when they do decide to break out. Episode by episode, the mystery of how Michael will escape unfolds in exciting ways. The show gets very intense sometimes (there is one scene in particular where Michael is held down by some other prisoners as they take off his big toe with hedge clippers), which often serves as a rude awakening to Michael. Meanwhile, on the outside of prison, Burrows's ex-girlfriend is investigating his case and finds that he may have been framed by the government. The show is suspenseful, engrossing, and intriguing, and everyone who hasn't yet should give it a chance. It's a great show to tide you over until 24 returns in January. (5 episode have aired so far)

Supernatural (WB, Tuesdays @ 9PM): I've only seen the pilot of this show, but I'll give my two cents: Supernatural is about two brothers (Sam & Dean) who hunt various supernatural creatures (things like ghosts, werewolves, creatures from black lagoons, the like) in search of their dad. After their mother was killed by an unkown supernatural force, their father began the hunt for all things that go bump in the night, bringing his young sons along with him. Now they're both grown up and in search of their father, who has recently disappeared. The show was intriguing and certainly scary at times, but I wasn't engrossed in the characters enough to stick with it past one episode. The show allegedly draws from real-life supernatural legends, so that's kinda cool. (2 episodes have aired so far)

Invasion (ABC, Wednesdays @ 10PM): This is one of the aforementioned science fiction shows. Shown on the same network right after Lost, this show could not have a better lead-in for the type of show it is. The pilot began with a hurricane approaching a town. The story centers around a broken up family. Park ranger Russell Varon is married to his second wife, Larkin Groves Varon, a news reporter. Her brother Dave Groves lives with them and Russell's two kids from a previous marriage, Jesse and Rose. Their mother Mariel (Russell's ex-wife) is married to Sherriff Tom Underlay, who himself has a daughter from a previous marriage named Kira. One big, messed up family. Got all that? No, of course you don't. Anyways, Russell's 7-year-old daughter Rose noticed hundreds of lights falling into a lake during the hurricane. When Dave and Russell go to investigate, they discover a skeleton and encounter one of the lights - a stingray-esque alien of some sort, apparently, that attacks and nearly kills Dave. Meanwhile, Mariel (Russell's ex-wife, remember) got separated from everybody during the storm and was found in the middle of a field completely naked and completely unharmed. Apparently, something has happened to her, and her new hubby Tom knows all about it, since the last shot showed him talking to his wife saying "The first days are always the hardest...baby steps, honey." This show had a VERY intriguing pilot episode, and I am definitely psyched for the next episode. (1 episode has aired so far, the second is on tonight)

Reunion (FOX, Thursdays @ 9PM): This show is a great example of how a very good idea can go so very wrong. The premise is great: the show follows a group of friends. It starts as they graduate from high school in 1986, and every following episode is another year in their lives. So episode 2 is 1987, episode 3 is 1988, etc. all the way until 2006. I'm sorry, but that's a really great premise. The potential for greatness in telling a story that way is immense. If only they had a good story to tell. Bad writing, bad acting, lame characters, and an all around bad plot make this show very, very dissappointing. Reunion is the worst of really bad teen soap dramas. The characters are all cliché and aren't likable enough to want to stick with them through 22 years of their life. The show tries to add a murder mystery into the plot to spice things up, but it doesn't work. Hopefully, if the show lasts past its first season, a new plot and set of characters will be chosen for the second season that will actually be...well, good. (2 episodes have aired so far)

Threshold (CBS, Fridays @ 9PM): Another scifi drama, Threshold tells the story of Molly Caffrey, a woman who works for the government dealing in worst-case scenarios. She develops plans for what the US should do in case of worst-case scenario crises. The government finds her and tells her that one of her plans, Threshold, has been set into motion. Apparently, a crew aboard a cargo ship had a close encounter with an alien being from the fourth dimension. Although most of the crew is dead, Molly and her Red Team (a group of misfits put together to help deal with the crisis) discover that a handful are missing. As it turns out, these aliens aren't terraforming the earth to suit their needs, but are instead transmitting information into humans that they come in contact with. This information changes the humans' DNA, in effect turning us into them. Molly and two other members of the Red Team discover a video tape taken by one of the ship's crew members that shows an alien vessel. Seeing and hearing this tape causes these three to be exposed to the "virus" that the aliens are using to change the humans into the aliens. Anyways, long story short, Molly and the Red Team begin to track down the crew members in an attempt to stop this invasion, even though three of them may already be infected. The show gets a little ridiculous at times, but overall it's very interesting and the characters are likable and engaging. (3 episodes have aired so far)


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