This week I’d like to take a different approach to For Your Consideration. Instead of trying to sell you on something, let’s talk about something we’re all being sold: this Fall’s new TV shows. This may make me seem extra geek, but I love this time of the year. Networks are busy giving the greenlight to what they found to be the cream of their pilot crop, which lets nerds like me speculate about what we’re dying to watch in a few months time.
Of course, in a few months time, we’ll be sorely disappointed that most of them stink. But that’s Future Me’s problem. Today I get to geek out about what I’m looking forward to most. There are about a dozen new shows I’m at least moderately excited for, but to make things challenging, I’m going to cut that list down to three.
Note: This list has been culled purely from network TV pilots. (Sorry, F/X and HBO.) Also, it’s safe to assume that if J.J Abrams or Steven Spielberg are producing something, I’m going to give it a shot. So consider this a list of Most Anticipated Fall Dramas That Aren’t Person of Interest, Alcatraz, The River or Terra Nova, because those are all no-brainers.
Who Made It: Written and conceived by Kyle Killen (Lone Star, The Beaver), a man with a track record of solid screenwriting that doesn’t get its proper dues. The pilot was directed by David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night).
Who’s In It: Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), B.D. Wong (Oz), Dylan Minnette (Let Me In), Cherry Jones (Signs), Laura Allen (Terriers) and Wilmer Valderrama (That ‘70s Show)
What’s It About: A cop who, following a car accident, finds himself slipping in and out of different realities whenever he closes his eyes. In one reality, his wife survived the crash, in the other it was his son. His shrinks think he’s crazy, but something more bizarre than just a psychological breakdown may be at play.
Why I’m Excited: This is the most interesting looking show premiering this Fall, which of course means that NBC will cancel it right away. That’s not being pointlessly glib, either, I fully expect the peacock to back out of these thing, the only question is will they stick with it long enough to give us a satisfying season (as they did with their short lived but superb alt-reality show, Journeyman) or axe it just as it’s getting good (as Fox did with Kyle Killen’s Lone Star).
Who Made It: Produced and written by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice), with a pilot directed by Paul McGuigan (BBC’s Sherlock).
Who’s In It: Kerry Washington (Lakeview Terrace), Tony Goldwyn (The Last House on the Left), Columbus Short (Armored), Henry Ian Cusick (Lost), Joshua Malina (Sports Night)
What’s It About: A team of media consults that make a killing off of protecting the public image of anyone rich enough to pay for them.
Why I’m Excited: On paper I should want nothing to do with this show. The premise is exceedingly obnoxious and Shonda Rhimes exclusively makes TV shows that might as well be dead air to me. But, it’s got an interesting cast and the promo looks like it could be a fun, pseudo-court room ensemble, and it’s been a few years since I’ve liked a show like that. However, that could be purely because the pilot was directed by Paul McGuigan, the man who directed the pilot for Sherlock, BBC’s omgamazing modernization of the iconic detective. Instinct tells me he may in fact just be polishing a dud here, but I’ll be tuning in out of the hope that this is more like Dirty, Sexy Money and less like Grey’s Anatomy but with politics.
Who Made It: Written and produced by David Greenwalt (both Buffy and Angel) and Jim Kouf (Angel).
Who’s In It: David Giuntoli (a ton of small TV roles), Reggie Lee (Drag Me to Hell), Silas Weir Mitchell (24),
What’s It About: A cop who discovers that fairy tales are real, he’s a descendant of the Brothers Grimm, and it’s now his duty to track and kill the beasties of the night.
Why I’m Excited: There are actually two fairy tale-themed TV shows premiering this fall, and I’ll also be checking out ABC’s Once Upon a Time, but the reason Grimm is on this list is because it’s the most underdog show any network slated this fall. It has no eye catching stars in it and it sounds cheesy as hell. Having said that, it looks like my kind of cheesy as hell. No surprise there, since its show runners have worked on the likes of Buffy, Angel, Eureka, Kidnapped, The X-Files and even National Treasure. This could either be the next Moonlight or the next Supernatural, and I’m really, really pulling for (though not betting on) the latter.
In 2010’s Get Him to the Greek wiry British funnyman Russell Brand played a spoiled lush whose immature antics threatened his rock-star comeback. In the 2011’s Arthur Brand plays a spoiled lush whose immature antics threaten his billion-dollar inheritance. Greek turned out to be one of last year’s underrated comic gems; Arthur not so much. Why? The two films are wildly different to be sure but I submit that the biggest reason for the disparity in quality can be traced to one crucial distinction: Arthur is a remake and as such carries with it the acknowledged lack of creativity inherent in just about every remake not directed by the Coen Brothers.
And Arthur does what most bad remakes seem to do dropping what’s essential about the original film keeping what isn’t and wrapping it all up in a glossy generic heavily-promoted package. The storyline is essentially unchanged – to retain access to his family’s vast fortune perpetually inebriated playboy Arthur Bach (Brand) is arranged to marry a respectable woman he disdains (Jennifer Garner) but he jeopardizes his inheritance by falling for a girl of humble means (Greta Gerwig). Much of the soul and charm of the original film are gone however sacrificed for a succession of canned comic scenarios that probably seemed funny in brainstorming sessions (Russell Brand in a Batman costume? Hilarious!) but are considerably less so when rendered on-screen.
But hey – all the characters’ names are the same! And they’ve all been updated with contrived tweaks that these days passes for invention! Arthur’s acerbic English butler Hobson is now an acerbic English nanny (Helen Mirren); his African-American chauffer Bitterman is now a Puerto Rican-American (Luis Guzman); his betrothed Susan Johnson (Garner) formerly a dainty debutante is now a pugnacious high-powered executive; etc. Brand for his part has little hope of measuring up to Dudley Moore who scored an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the title character in the original. He does get a few choice lines and he manages to conjure a respectable romantic spark with the luminous Gerwig (trying her best with a character conceived as little more than an assortment of manufactured quirks) but his talents appear severely constrained by a script that can do little more than dress him up in zany outfits and hope for the best.
Penelope Cruz, who appears alongside Depp in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, first learned of the movie hunk's playful tendencies when they filmed drug drama Blow together in 2001.
And she learned Depp was still up to his old tricks when she joined him onset for the fourth installment of the Disney franchise.
She recalls, "When I met him 10 years ago he had a plastic one (fart machine) and now, 10 years later, he has one with a remote control... He fooled me once when we were doing Blow.
"When I was doing a very dramatic close up and he kept making that sound with the machine and I kept saying (to myself), 'Who is it, is it the sound guy?' And I remember just thinking, 'I hope they are not thinking it's me.' And Johnny was there with a straight face.
"And now he is doing it to (producer) Jerry Bruckheimer and Rob Marshall, the director, and to everybody!"
But the Oscar-winning actress insists working with Depp is always a pleasure.
She says, "We worked together 10 years ago and we had a great experience... I couldn't wait to work with him again because he's really one of the most kind and genuine people that I have ever met. And he became a good friend.
"He has one of the greatest senses of humour. He's really clever, really smart, kind, generous... I love working with him."
S15:E2 Last night was the first real episode of The Bachelor, and it was, fantastic! It was probably fantastic because I’m sick and delirious and I’ve forgotten what non-shlubby clothes look like, and I liked watching all the women get dressed up. But I’m actually pretty sure it was fantastic for non-sick people too, because it’s great to watch a show try so hard to be seen as an ambassador of love, but fail because its understanding of how people fall in love is warped to the extreme. People don’t fall in love during a couple’s massage, OR AT A CARNIVAL BY THEMSELVES or while they’re filming a PSA for the Red Cross! NO! People fall in love when the girlfriend’s infant pukes on the boyfriend and he laughs about it! Who ever heard of falling in love when the guy leads a girl into a room full of dresses and jewels and shoes that are all her size! You haven’t, right? Exactly! Nobody would fall in love in that situation because any man with tons of women’s clothing obviously likes to wear them himself! Anyway, let’s go over the episode.
“Who are we right now? WHO ARE WE RIGHT NOW?” – Ashley H
Brad’s first individual date was with Ashley H, the dentist. He took her to a carnival that had been constructed in the middle of nowhere that was just for them. At first, it was obvious she was a little disappointed that her date was at a carnival because she figured it meant Brad thought of her as his little sister, and someone he had to babysit. But she quickly established her adulthood when she told him about her father, who was a homeless alcoholic and she didn’t know where he was. This resonated with Brad. He told her that his dad wasn’t around either, and when he was, it would only be because he was planning on disappearing for years at a time. They kissed on the ferris wheel in agreement over their asshole absent fathers.
"All I want for my birthday is Brad. Every girl he kisses after me will be a disappointment.” - Michelle
For the group date, Brad took something like fourteen women to a studio to shoot a PSA for the American Red Cross, where the message would be that donating blood is a no-drama activity compared to the love quarrels/scenarios they were going to act out. Each of the women had parts where they would have to seduce Brad or kiss him, and then react dramatically when another girl would come in and interrupt them. (NO ONE SAID, “HEY, HOW ABOUT THEY JUST GIVE BLOOD?” NO ONE SAID THAT? No one said, “How is Brad acting as some guy named ‘Gustavo’ and mediating between two girls who are dressed up in maid uniforms and yelling at each other while clutching framed photographs of him any way to advocate for blood donation!” Way to go, ABC. You keep making your ratings impenetrable by those bullshit procedural dramas.) Michelle was deeply depressed that it was her 30th birthday and it didn’t look like she was going to have any alone time with Brad, and we learned that she’s the manipulator out of all the girls, which is shocking because she’s from Salt Lake City.
“What would it take to make this date better? What about Train?” – Brad
For his second individual date Brad took Jackie to a hotel where he treated her to a massage and a room full of gowns and shoes that were her size. He told her to prepare for a night on the town and to choose anything in the room that she wanted to wear. When Jackie was finally all dolled up, Brad took her to the Hollywood Bowl, which is apparently some big what to do concert venue where The Beatles and Elton John have played. But sadly, neither The Beatles nor Elton John were there to perform a private concert while they sat onstage and enjoyed some dinner – the worst band of all time was. As Jackie was gushing over the venue and the dinner they were about to have, Brad asked if anything could make the night better, like maybe some music from TRAIN. Brad, you idiot! Train makes NOTHING better! Train doesn’t even make the stink of a dead cat in an alley any better! But of course, Jackie loved her private concert, never stopping to think that the reason ABC got TRAIN to perform was because their schedule was completely open due to the sounds of sheer terror that they make with their instruments.
The last part of the episode was dedicated towards a confrontation that took place between Raichel (the body waxer) and Melissa, some crazy woman who quit her job and spent all her savings on clothes so that she could come to California and woo Brad. They accused each other of interfering with the other’s relationship with Brad, and it was quite a sight! Then, Ali Fedotowski and her fiancé Roberto (from the most recent season of The Bachelorette) came by and met with all the women to try and decipher who was there for the right reasons and who was there for the wrong reasons (like T.V. exposure, acting experience, and the like). It was amazing to see Brad already having difficulty in figuring out who’s really here for him, and I thought producers would have saved the “Ali and Roberto intervention” for a later episode, like oh, I don’t know, MAYBE THE SEASON FINALE. In the end, they told Brad to get rid of Melissa and Raichel because they were just too much for him and if he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life telling them that no, there weren’t any onions in their teeth and no, he didn’t want the hair removed from his undercarriage, then he better send them home. Which he did. Gustavo would have been proud.
Invincible is Rudy and The Rookie all rolled into one. Set in the mid-‘70s Mark Wahlberg stars as the real-life Vince Papale a blue-collar Philadelphian down on his luck after his wife leaves him. His only solace is playing football with his cronies and rooting for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles who are in a real rut. Newly hired head coach the legendary Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) decides to infuse some new blood into the team by holding open tryouts. All of Vince’s friends think he’d be perfect and urge him to go for it. He does makes it and is soon playing with some of his idols much to their chagrin. I mean who is this punk anyway? Sure he’s got some excellent instincts but can he really be a NFL player with no experience? Yes in fact he can proving to all those regular Joes out there you can live the dream. Yeah yeah. Unfortunately none of the actors really add anything either. Wahlberg is definitely a natural to play this kind of role having already done so in Rock Star. At least in Invincible he gets to show off some of his athletic abilities rather than just his bare chest in black leather pants. But the performance is run of the mill. As is Kinnear who as Vermeil takes on the headaches of turning a losing team into winners all while his supportive wife sweetly reassures him he’s doing the very best he can. Seen it. To their credit some of the supporting actors—including Kirk Acevedo (The New World) Michael Kelly (Dawn of the Dead) and Michael Rispoli (Mr. 3000)—paint a convincing picture of genuine camaraderie between local Philadelphians. And Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) rounds things out as Vince’s cute love interest (and eventual real-life wife) who knows a few things about football by golly. You’d think Invincible would be a no-brainer feel-good kind of sports flick. It’s based on a real-life person has that whole underdog thing going for it and it’s football. What could go wrong with that? Nothing really besides the fact it’s been done about a hundred times over—and has now been left in the hands of newbies. First-time director Ericson Core a former cinematographer and writer Brad Gann are clearly green doing things by the play book line for line. It’s scary helming a feature film for a big studio like Disney who had such sport hits like The Rookie and Remember the Titans. Perhaps Core wanted to go more out on a limb but was reigned in. Who knows? The football scenes are definitely the highlight and Core handles the action well. I mean you do want Papale to prove himself the natural athlete he truly is and make all his homies proud. But the rest of it is just blah.
For me, it's been a summer of grumbling.
As I have written, that is what we, the movie-going public, do when studios offer us a steady diet of sequels and remakes.
And given that this summer--with a few notable exceptions such as Shrek--did not exactly wow us, we have come up with a list of movies that are currently in pre-production or production that we're begging the studios to cease all work on. Immediately.
Jurassic Park IV
We know this is on the drawing boards now. The stink on this franchise is worse than on my gym shoes. What can they possibly do to make this fresh? More dinosaurs? Been there. New dinosaurs? Done that. The original cast members shouldn't even take the producers' calls anymore.
Drew Barrymore has been mentioned in connection to this remake of the Jane Fonda vehicle. OK, we say enough of Drew in Charlie's Angels. More than we wanted to, in fact. Plus, classic camp such as Barbarella is almost impossible to remake decently.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2
I know. I love looking at Angelina Jolie, too. I love watching her kick some major booty, as well. But can anyone say, "One and done?" I know I can. This movie was soulless, gutless, and a major disappointment even for the video game's aficionados.
Planet of the Apes 2
Another of those "one and done" type movies. As much as I liked it-hey, there's nothing wrong with vapid fun--I'm thinking it was monkeys who wrote this script. Unless they find some better writers on the planet Mark Wahlberg ultimately landed on, this franchise is better off staying lost in space.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The Gene Wilder original was so perfectly done, I don't see how anyone could think they could improve upon it. Wilder's Wonka toed the line perfectly between manic and mirth. If Robin Williams takes over the title role, as is rumored, Wonka will be more sickly sweet than the candy he produces.
The Mummy III
Talk about aging poorly. I know the second installment did monster box office--get it, monster, mummy?-but, please, please don't back to the crypt again. Much like the Jurassic Park franchise, there isn't much more that this series can show us. Unless they start thinking about Bride of the Mummy. (Kidding, of course.)
The Philadelphia Story
Can anyone match Katharine Hepburn's clever moxie? Jimmy Stewart's earnest, lovable, bumbling journalist? Cary Grant's tux-encumbered suave persona? We think not. The 1940 original remains as wonderfully piquant a love triangle as has ever graced the screen. There's not a director out there who's shown they could handle this material without making it overly saccharine.
Other series/movies that need to be let lie: Rush Hour, The Matrix 3 (a second one's OK, but a third?), Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal, and yes, Austin Powers, baby.
Fall can't come soon enough if it starts offering us some real meaty cinematic fare to digest.