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Fall TV preview

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader


The 2008-09 TV season was one that the broadcast networks are probably trying to forget. Overall viewership was down last season compared to the previous and has been steadily declining the last few years. The number one drama on TV last season was CSI that averaged just a bit more than 19 million viewers an episode. To put that number into perspective, according to The New York Times the most watched show of 1998 was E.R. that once drew a record 47.8 million viewers.

I can only imagine that we're witness to the slow, gradual end of the dominance of broadcast TV as people find their entertainment elsewhere on the Internet and cable. Regardless on whether broadcast TV implodes this year, next or five years from now, there are a few interesting looking TV series set to debut next fall. I just wish the networks would take a few more chances with their original programming and stop trying to clone hit series or movies from years past.

Set to premiere on NBC Thursday, September 17 is the series Community that stars Joel McHale (of The Soup and the aborted series The IT Crowd last season) and Chevy Chase as two of a group of students attending community college as adults. The promo for the series looks funny enough and Community was created by Joe and Anthony Russo who had a hand in the series Arrested Development. So I have high hopes for this one.

Sometime after the Olympics the series Day One, about a group of survivors living after some unknown worldwide devastation, is also set to premiere on NBC. This series looks to be equal parts Lost and Cloverfield in that these survivors are trying to uncover a grand mystery as to why this devastation occurred and the promos for the show featured a heck of a lot of amateur looking camera shake like the movie Cloverfield. Interestingly enough, Day One isn’t the only series that seems to be “inspired by” Lost and Cloverfield.

The other is ABC's FlashForward set to debut Thursday, September 24. This series follows a less devastating global event where the entire population of the planet simultaneously blacks out for a few minutes and during this time each catches a glimpse of their lives six months from now. Both FlashForward and Day One looks interesting enough, but haven't we had our fill of these Lost-esque shows the last few years, none of which have lasted more than a single frustrating season?

An update/reboot of the classic 1980s "enemy aliens in the guise of friendly aliens invade the Earth" series V is set to debut on ABC Tuesday, November 3. I'm interested in a V update, but really have to wonder about a series. It seems to me that the original limited episode V mini-series were successful in that it had a complete story with an end and the spin-off V series failed for the reason that there was no end/resolution in sight. But maybe this time ABC will find success with a longer V?

I was surprised to find the promo to the ABC comedy Modern Family, set to debut Wednesday, September 23, as funny as I did. The concept behind the show is vanilla enough, three modern families being interviewed by a documentary crew akin to The Office – but the execution and writing for Modern Family in the promo ABC debuted online seemed very funny indeed. One bit had a father deciding to shoot his son with a BB gun in order to teach him a lesson while another featured a Ed O'Neill (Married, With Children) being upset that people seem to think that his much younger wife might actually be his daughter – when in fact with their age difference she could be.

I'm excited about the updated version of The Prisoner set to debut sometime in November on AMC. This mini-series is reportedly more of a "reinterpretation" of the original trippy 1960s version and stars Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) in the title role and Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings) as the one man with all the answers. AMC has a very good track record with their series (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) and I'm interested in seeing how this new The Prisoner turns out.

Today, The Prisoner, tomorrow a "reinterpretation" of Gilligan's Island? We can only hope! Visit me online at AlphaEcho.com.

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