A look at Thursday night TV.
By ERIC DEGGANS
Published September 10, 2006
10 p.m., CBS, debuts Sept. 21.
Showbiz shorthand: A courthouse-based rip-off of Fox's hit medical drama, House.
My take: James Woods plays a character type he has nailed so often, he should have it trademarked: a charismatic, self-obsessed, motormouth (of course!) defense attorney named Sebastian Stark. In a turn found only in comic books and network TV, the death of a woman at the hands of a wealthy, wife-beating former client pushes Stark into taking a stratospheric pay cut to join the enemy: the Los Angeles prosecutors' office. And, like Fox's Dr. Gregory House, Stark's got a beautiful female boss to undermine and a comely staff of young lawyers to insult for not being as cool or smart as he is. Repeatedly.
Will it survive? It's got the plush, post-CSI timeslot, a pilot directed by auteur Spike Lee and a secret weapon in Sky High's Danielle Panabaker, who shines as Stark's wise-beyond-her-years daughter.
* Six Degrees
10 p.m., ABC, debuts Sept. 21.
Showbiz shorthand: Like the Kevin Bacon game, but hold the Bacon.
My take: It's the kind of connection folks in big cities dream about - six people whose fortunes keep bumping against each other in the Naked City. Linked by some mysterious connection, there's a widow who hires a beautiful nanny with a dangerous past who meets a smitten public defender who chases after her, meeting a limo driver who drinks in a bar frequented by the husband of a driven advertising executive who hires a burned-out photographer seeking a career comeback who finds his muse again while taking photos of a crying widow who just hired a beautiful nanny. It's exhausting just describing it.
Will it survive? Developed by producers of ABC hit Lost, it's as if they took all the interconnected flashbacks that garnish the show's action and centered one mildly interesting series on them all. Worth watching, at least for now.
* Ugly Betty
8 p.m., ABC, debuts Sept. 28.
Showbiz shorthand: The Ugly Duckling wears Prada.
My take: The ugliest thing about this series is the title, which hangs on a quirky dramedy featuring America Ferrera as a spunky, if homely, Latina hired to work for a fashion magazine publisher. She gets the job because her Coke-bottle-thick glasses and braces make her too ugly to attract the attention of her lecherous boss; but we know she'll keep the gig because, well, there's no series if she doesn't.
Will it survive? Not even a cameo from executive producer Salma Hayek, who developed the show from the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, la Fea, will save this awkwardly predictable series from competition with Survivor and My Name is Earl.
* 'Til Death
8 p.m., Fox, premiered Thursday.
Showbiz shorthand: The Honeymooners meets Yes, Dear.
My take: The moment Everybody Loves Raymond went away, fans hoped talented co-star Brad Garrett would land in a great showcase. Instead, he landed in this mess - a joyless screed on how newlyweds have more loving, sexual, sharing relationships than those who have been in the trenches awhile. As if.
Will it survive? Beside its depressing premise - news flash, Fox: longtime married folks watch a lot of TV - it's also up against Survivor and My Name Is Earl on CBS and NBC. Death may come sooner than they expect.
* HAPPY HOUR
8:30 p.m., Fox, premiered Thursday.
Showbiz shorthand: Swingers meets every awful sitcom you've ever seen.
My take: Once known as the most innovative comedy network, Fox comes full circle with a sitcom that regurgitates every cliche that killed the traditional sitcom. Lame, sex-based jokes, an incomprehensible premise (guy who gives up life for girlfriend is dumped by her and tries starting over with a swinging roommate), and dirt-cheap production style only scratch the surface of how awful this program really is.
Will it survive? At least one other critic has predicted it will be the first show canceled. Hard to believe the network of The Simpsons and Arrested Development was this desperate.
[Last modified September 7, 2006, 13:10:03]
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