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The New TV Season: My Bets For The Dead Pool

Well, it’s that time again. Time for TV execs, with only one week of ratings are already eyeing shows for mid-October executions. The good folks over at Brilliant But Cancelled have not yet started their “Death Watch“, but it should be firing up any moment now (unless they fund a better way to make a living – perhaps whoring themselves out for candy bars and spare change).

I don’t have anywhere near the patience to closely follow every new show from week to week and report on their current chances of a DNR order. I have, however, watched a pant-load of television – mostly on DVR – this week and have a few early favorites (which will likely get cancelled) and a few shows I think will die quickly (that most likely will live on forever).

So, in no particular order, here are my guesses as to what gets cancelled, and what shows will make TV history.

Chuck – Monday, 8/7, NBC – The pilot was pretty good, if a little slow. The premise is weak (watching a web video embedded with top secret government information will dump those secrets straight to your brain), for no other reason that encoding for web video is so bad you’d end up brain fried or (more likely) the video would be so large there’s no way it could be sent, downloaded, or viewed in the time it happens in the show. Perhaps if they had the new wideband cable modem.

The secret agent that protects Chuck is hot, but that’s about all this show has working for it. I’m hoping the pace picks up a bit for the second episode tonight, but I don’t have faith.

My guess: Chuck gets stale pretty quickly. Viewer numbers will decline accordingly. My guess is this one’s gone by the new year.

Reaper – Tuesdays. 9/8, CW – For those who don’t spend a lot of time watching the CW (ok, that’s most of you), and for those who didn’t even know there was a fifth broadcast network, you really should give Reaper a chance. The pilot was directed by Kevin Smith of Clerks fame, and was really quite good. It suffered from some of the slowness of Chuck, but not near the level. I attribute the slowness to the setup for the show (which involves a premise even flimsier than Chuck’s, but it’s supposed to be.).

On the morning of his 21st birthday, Sam discovers that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born. On the big 2-1, he is forced to become a bounty hunter for the horned one (played by Ray Wise, best known as Dr. Alec Holland from Swamp Thing… ok, maybe not best known, but I loved that movie). Hell is overcrowded and the evil doers are escaping. Sam’s job is to capture them and drop them at the DMV (hell on Earth).

I wasn’t terribly happy with the casting of the man in red, but what are you going to do. Sam comes across the way Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother would adapt to being Satan’s henchman. It’s really quite amusing. His best friend Sock (played by Tyler Labine) comes across like a guy trying hard to be Jack Black. My wife found it annoying, but I liked him.

My guess: I’m hoping for good things from Reaper. I suspect they’ll keep it on simply because the CW has no viewers anyway, so why not be daring.

Dirty Sexy Money – Wednesdays, 10/9, ABC – Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Sports Night) returns to TV as Nick George, the lawyer for a mega-wealthy family (think the Hiltons, but with guys) who have more money than brains. Nick’s dad had been the family lawyer until his plane crashed. Nick, never a fan of surrendering dad time to the Darlings, has been pursuing a life as a legal advocate for the underserved.

Unlike Chuck and Reaper, the premise on this one seems perfectly plausible. Somewhere in America you know there is a Nick George – called at all hours of the night to fix the legal messes of the society set. Hell, Britney’s just quit for nuttiness not to far removed from the pilot’s. Nick is asked to transfer title to a yacht won by one of the Darling boys in a poker game, only to discover on arriving at the dock the kid is being arrested for human trafficking because said yacht was full of illegal aliens.

Perhaps the best part of the show, however, is the ringtones that announce the family’s calls. Juliet Darling (Samaire Armstrong), the Paris Hilton-esque airhead that wants to pursue acting, rings in to the sound of Rich Girl by Hall and Oates. Brian Darling, the abusive minister who is having an affair, rings to a chorus of Hallelujahs!

My guess: The show is darker than a lot of your typical TV fare. It’s more dramedy than comedy, and more cynical. I hope it stays on because it has a lot of potential, but it may have trouble finding an audience. I think it would have been better as an HBO series.

Journeyman – Mondays, 10/9, NBC – Journeyman’s pilot was sort of hard to follow. The show jumped around without any explanation in (I assume) an effort to make the viewer as disoriented as the poor guy that suddenly starts jumping through time. It was a strange tactic given that TV viewers usually watch as a way of escaping feelings of confusion and overwhelming stress. Mrs. Quip couldn’t watch it. She started to, but the jerking around couldn’t hold her attention. Maybe the second episode will be better. They should hope so, or they’ll end up bleeding audience pretty quickly.

The premise should seem pretty familiar. It’s basically Quantum Leap, but without the annoying sidekick, the cheesy special effects, and the temporary displacement of whoever he jumps into. Like Sam Beckett, Kevin McKidd (who plays the title character) bounces back to the past to correct historical flaws that would have a negative impact on the Earth of today. Unlike Beckett, it’s not a one-time, one-place bounce. McKidd’s character jumps completely at random – sometimes from moving vehicles. He’s also discovered that his ex (for whom he still carries a torch) is a fellow time traveler, and not dead as he had believed.

My guess: This is a show that could have a good following if it doesn’t cause epileptic fits in the viewing audience. The bouncing through time makes for a tough program to watch for those of us with adult onset ADD.

The Big Bang Theory – Mondays, 8:30/7:30, CBS – The bog bore theory. Seriously, if everyone thought nerds were funny, they wouldn’t be nerds. The script is dry, the acting is poor. If you want to catch this one, you’d better do it quick. I suspect another comedy will be tucked in between How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men before you’re done loosening the belt at Thanksgiving.

Back To You – Wednesdays, 8/7, Fox – Kelsey Grammar’s return to TV alongside Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond proves two things. First, Patricia was definitely not the funny one on ELR. Second, Kelsey Grammar’s as a blowhard pompous jackass has gotten stale. He’s trying to be Frasier the anchorman. It’s really a bit tiring.

My guess: People liked Frasier, so maybe they’ll like this, but I don’t see.

Big Shots – Thursdays, 10/9, ABC – Christopher Titus is a great comedian. I’ve always liked his stand up and was a fan of his Fox show Titus. I think the string has ended, though. I’m not sure if it’s his fault or the rest of the cast, but I found this show to be just awful. Think of the rich kid you went to high school with. You know th guy. He was loved by everyone, and had everything he wanted, but always came across to you like a used car salesman. This is a show full of those guys. They’re CEOs of major companies now, and live a life of cocktails and women. It’s great for them, but watching it is painful.

My guess: I can’t imagine this show having any staying power. I’d put money on a November/December exit.

Moonlight – Fridays, 9/8, CBS – Beginning to build Occult Fridays as a staple of their lineup, CBS adds the Vampire Detective show Moonlight to the time slot following Ghost Whisperer. If the premises of Chuck and Reaper leave you shaking your head in disbelief, wait until you hear this one. The main difference is the former two are comedies, this one is a drama.

Mick St. John (sounds like a porn star name, huh?) is a private detective who also happens to be a vampire. His mission is to hunt down the bad guys, while keeping the vampire’s a secret. In the pilot, a young reporter – on that Mick saved from his crazy ex-wife she-vampire years ago – begins writing articles about the vampires feeding on girls in LA. It seems a wannabe vampire is killing co-eds and the real vampires are catching the heat. Only by solving the crime can Mick keep the public from looking for vampires.

My guess: I love vampire flicks. I’ve always been fascinated by the myth. I loved vampire movies (pretty much all of them). There have been very few vampire flicks I have missed. That said, even I can’t watch this. Look for the sun to come up on moonlight around the fourth week.

So that’s the run down. There are a few unaired shows that I have my eye on. Pushing Daises, for instance, has the potential to be good and I’m even looking forward to Cavemen with a morbid sense of curiosity. I’m still looking for that gem, though. I’m still hunting for the diamond in the current lineup. Dirty Sexy Money and Reaper have been the two I’ve liked the best, but there’s always time for a new series to catch my eye.

Written by Michael Turk