A look at Monday night TV.
By ERIC DEGGANS
Published September 10, 2006
* Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
10 p.m., NBC, debuts Sept. 18.
Showbiz shorthand: The West Wing meets Saturday Night Live.
My take: Cooked up by former West Wing masterminds Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme, this fast-paced dramedy outlines a faded late-night comedy show taken over by two whiz-kid producers when the show's creator loses it, Howard Beale-style, during a live broadcast. Showbiz insiders can play spot-the-character: Judd Hirsch channels a rumpled version of SNL guru Lorne Michaels, while Amanda Peet's slick female TV executive recalls failed ABC executive Jamie Tarses. Sorkin splits his own id between ex-West Wing-er Bradley Whitford's drug addicted director Daniel Tripp and former Friend Matthew Perry's self absorbed writer Matthew Albie. Sorkin does for network TV writers and producers what the West Wing did for politicians: makes them look as smart and sharp as they think they are.
Will it survive? It's getting the kind of roll-out-the-red-carpet treatment only a desperate, fourth-place network can provide. But it's up against CBS's powerhouse CSI: Miami and America's proven distaste for Hollywood satire - which viewers probably think is redundant.
8 p.m., MyNetworkTV, premiered Sept. 5.
Showbiz shorthand: Bold and the Beautiful meets Kitchen Confidential by way of Telemundo.
My take: In crafting a new network to serve all the TV stations left out by UPN and the WB's merger into the CW, MyNetworkTV put all its eggs in one basket: offering two English-language versions of the classic Spanish language soap opera form, the telenovela. This show has all the classic elements: two handsome brothers, running from a crime boss, fall in love with the same woman at a restaurant managed by their father, who they don't know. And yes, it's as awful as the synopsis sounds.
Will it survive? Filled with no-name actors, amateurish performances and forgettable plot lines, this series' only plus is its lush production values and MTV-sharp editing - hardly enough to keep people tuned in six nights a week for 13 weeks.
* The Class
8 p.m., CBS, debuts Sept. 18.
Showbiz shorthand: The class reunion from hell.
My take: One of the most traditional new sitcoms this year, the show centers on Jason Ritter as a lovesick guy who calls together his third-grade class two decades later for a party to fete his girlfriend - who promptly dumps him. But, as only can happen on TV, love connections have already begun among his former classmates, which draws them all closer.
Will it survive? Audiences may be so busy scratching their heads over the premise - why a reunion of former third-graders? - that they give up on the show.
9 p.m., NBC, debuts Sept. 25.
Showbiz shorthand: Unbreakable meets the X-Men.
My take: Let's say you suddenly discover the ability to survive any injury; do you waste time attempting suicide by flinging yourself off high structures, or do you enter that hot dog-eating contest you always wanted to try? That's the disquieting problem with this show, where average folks suddenly discover way-cool powers like flying, seeing the future and teleportation - and mostly mope around like they stepped in something icky.
Will it survive? Not unless they amp up the action and stop with the moping.
* Fashion house
9 p.m., MyNetworkTV, premiered Sept. 5.
Showbiz shorthand: Dynasty on an awful lot of antidepressants.
My take: It's the only MyNetworkTV show with two big-name actors. So why doesn't Morgan Fairchild appear in the debut episode of this tiresome nighttime sudser about a big-name fashion design company? And why does Bo Derek play her catty, Devil Wears Prada-style fashion mogul Maria Gianni like she has overdosed on Prozac? And why isn't a series whose plot lines read like a Mad TV sketch more, well, fun?
Will it survive? When the promotional reel is 10 times more interesting than the pilot episode - including a Fairchild/Derek catfight that does not appear in the first episode - you know trouble's coming.
9 p.m., Fox, debuted Aug. 21.
Showbiz shorthand: Ransom meets 24. Again.
My take: Fox has made debuting cheaper clones of rival networks' concepts a regular habit, and here it will present its own incremental abduction drama nearly a month before NBC's high-quality Kidnapped hits. In Fox's version, a senator's wife vanishes and viewers come to learn that she - and the abduction - are not what they seem.
Will it survive? It's in the same Monday time slot where 24 found success. But will viewers find the search for a senator's wife as compelling as the race to save Los Angeles?
9 p.m., the CW, debuts Sept. 25.
Showbiz shorthand: 7th Heaven meets The Fugitive.
My take: I can't decide if showing teens who remain self-centered and pouty - even when their entire five-member family goes on the run because dad has been accused of a murder - is horribly unfair or frighteningly realistic. Adding former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg as the haunted, laconic dad only adds to the confusion.
Will it survive? Wahlberg and 24's Leslie Hope are solid, but there may not be enough teen-centered soap here to keep 7th Heaven fans tuned in.
[Last modified September 7, 2006, 13:18:53]
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