Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fall Preview 2008 - Sept. 6, 2008



Channel hopping

The writers' strike derailed TV networks last season. This fall is all about getting things back on track and viewers back on board.

By Eric Kohanik

Last season’s writers’ strike really did knock the stuffing out of the TV industry, in a lot of ways.

That is about to become obvious as a new TV season gets rolling.

For some networks, the 2008 fall season will be a lot about relaunching shows that actually premiered in the 2007 fall season. Chief among them are series that never did return with new episodes after the strike.

So, count on big relaunches for series like Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money (all returning Oct. 1; ABC, A).

Then, there were the midseason shows that arrived during or after the writers’ strike. Although many of those were marginal ratings performers, network executives figured some were worth hanging onto. So, there will be lots of drum beating going on to stir up renewed interest in shows like Lipstick Jungle (returning Sept. 24; NBC, Citytv) and Eli Stone (returning Oct. 14; ABC, A).

For some TV series, meanwhile, the new fall season will be all about saying goodbye. So, look for the launch of the farewell seasons of such TV veterans as The Shield (returning Sept. 9; Showcase), Boston Legal (returning Sept. 22; ABC, E!), ER (returning Sept. 25; NBC, CTV) and, yes, even Royal Canadian Air Farce (returning Oct. 3; CBC).

But what about any fantastic new shows?

Uh, don’t count on a bumper crop of those this fall. Maybe networks are just waiting to harvest their best new stuff midseason.

That may work out in the end, since viewers often complain that they don’t really have time to add many new shows to their stable of favourites in the fall.

If you do have room for only one new drama in your fall TV viewing planner, try Simon Baker’s stint as The Mentalist (premiering Sept. 22; A and Sept. 23; CBS). It’s a good show that casts Baker as a former TV psychic who helps police solve crimes.

If you’re craving a clever new comedy, try Kyle Bornheimer‘s travails in Worst Week (premiering Sept. 22; CBS, E!). You just can’t help but like a show where the main character keeps having worse luck than you do.

And if you are simply missing the competitive juices of So You Think You Can Dance, there’s a whole gaggle of Canadians hot to (fox) trot on the new So You Think You Can Dance Canada (starting Sept. 11; CTV).

Of course, if you subscribe to pay TV, you’re really in luck. As well as great returning shows, pay TV is where the good stuff is really showing up this fall.

Vampire fans will adore HBO’s True Blood (premiering Sept. 7; The Movie Network, Movie Central). And, when it comes to sketch comedy, there’s nothing funnier than oddballs Matt Lucas and David Walliams re-inventing their wacky material for the new Little Britain USA (premiering Sept. 29; The Movie Network, Movie Central).

So, there you have it – the bottom line on the new season. Happy channel hopping!

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