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“Terra Nova” Doesn’t Meet Expectations

Jason O'Mara

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With Steven Spielberg’s name attached as an executive producer, the two-hour premiere of the Fox series “Terra Nova” arrives at 8 tonight on WUTV with bigger expectations than Buffalo Bills fans had Sunday before shocking the New England Patriots.
And unlike the Bills victory, the expectations for the $15 million pilot of “Terra Nova” eventually come crashing down like space debris.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t anything to recommend about “Terra Nova,” which revolves about the formation of a colony in the 22nd century so people can start over after the environment was destroyed by Republicans.
OK, I’m kidding about Republicans, though they seem willing to do just about anything to the environment these days if it would help the economy.
“Terra Nova” is apolitical but in this current political climate it does send a message to those willing to destroy the environment.
The series follows the five members of the Shannon family in 2149 when they flee from the environmentally-destroyed old world to a new exciting world 85 million years in the past with the help of a time fracture.
Set in Australia, “Terra Nova” (which is Latin for New Land) looks spectacular. The head of the Shannon family, Jason O’Mara (see above) of “Life on Mars,” has a Clooneyesque manner about him. Shelley Conn, the British actress cast as his doctor wife, Elisabeth, is very appealing and a newcomer to American television. Stephen Lang (“Avatar”), who plays Nathaniel Taylor, the leader of the 1,000 people on Terra Nova, gives off a strong vibe as a character who doesn’t seem to be all that he initially appears to be.
And the “slashers” or dinosaurs that roam the colony provide some pretty scary stuff.
But despite all the high-tech smoke and mirrors that shout “boy, this is one expensive series,” “Terra Nova” is pretty standard TV when it comes to the plot. It has obvious similarities to “Lost” and some implausible plot points that make one wonder how accountable people are held for their actions.
There is a renegade colony group, the Sixers, led by a powerful female Mira (Christine Adams), who by episode’s end gives a clue as to what Taylor is up to. This group is reminiscent of “The Others” on “Lost.” It is hard to tell upon first meeting if they are good or bad guys and girls.
Meanwhile, Taylor seems to be a stronger version of Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) on “Lost,” a leader whose agenda isn’t exactly like clear.
Unfortunately, the Shannon family dynamic comes wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1949 instead of 2149, except for the fact mom is the doctor. Dad is a strong former cop dealing with a rebellious teen-age son Josh (Landon Liboiron) interested in girls, a teen-age daughter Maddy (Naomi Scott) interested in boys and an adorable little girl Zoe (Alana Mansour) who the Shannons had despite an edict of not being allowed to have more than two children.
The action scenes involving the dinosaurs are really compelling and occasionally out of this world, but the family stuff brings the script crashing down to earth.
Maybe things will improve in subsequent hour episodes as the Shannons try to navigate a mysterious new world. But the first voyage that lands tonight is a little rocky and doesn’t have much that is really that new beyond the incredible special effects and the Australian scenery.
Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4
* Not surprisingly, the Buffalo Bills 34-31 upset of the New England Patriots was the talk of the highlights shows on Sunday night.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football crew led the charge, with Al Michaels, Tony Dungy and ex-Patriot Rodney Harrison all chiming in on the Bills’ 3-0 start to the season. If you were too busy celebrating Sunday night to hear them, here’s what they had to say about the No Name Bills.
Michaels: “In the opener at Kansas City, they killed them, and I remember they said, ‘Well, maybe Kansas City is not that good.’ Then, last week, they were behind by three touchdowns against Oakland and they pulled off a miracle win. Today, they’re down 21-0 and then they do it again. So everyone in Buffalo is going crazy right now.”
Dungy: “I like the way they’re playing. They’re playing with confidence; they’re playing with attitude. These guys now know that they can score a lot of points. They can come back from deficits; they can get good quarterback play. These guys believe.”
Harrison, in calling the Bills victory the headline of the day: “It pains me to say this, the Buffalo Bills beat my New England Patriots. Everyone felt like this was a game for Buffalo to come out and prove they’re a legitimate team. They’re now in first place in the AFC East.”
Stay tuned for more superlatives about the Bills this week. And if the Bills continue playing like this, NBC might just flex them into a Sunday Night game later in the season. The most interesting statistic I heard Sunday was that 79 percent of teams that start the season 3-0 make the playoffs.
* Bills fans love to hate Patriot Coach Bill Belichick and probably were happy to hear CBS analyst Rich Gannon blame him for being assessed a timeout with the clock stopped in the final two minutes after a replay ruled Bills running back Fred Jackson down inside the 1-yard line. A Buffalo News photo caption also claimed today that Belichick was “charged with an extra timeout.”

But Gannon and the caption were wrong. Belichick wasn’t being penalized for arguing. According to the Buffalo News today, Belichick called the timeout after being told the clock was going to start once the ball was placed for play. In other words, he called the timeout to save time if the Bills tried to score a touchdown on the next down. The Bills played for the field goal and the Patriots were called for a penalty that gave the Bills an extra down, which made the Belichick timeout issue irrelevant.


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“Gifted Man,” “Pan Am” Have Bumpy Arrival Times

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One of the funniest descriptions of the CBS series “The Gifted Man” came from the son of the funniest Canadian TV critic I know.
After hearing that the series is about a handsome, gifted doctor who sees visions of his late ex-wife telling him what to do to be a better person, the college son said something like this to his dad: “Oh, so you mean, the doctor’s ex-wife nags him from his grave.”
That pretty much tells the story of the pilot, which airs at 8 tonight on CBS.
You’ll Like It If: You love the looks of Patrick Wilson (seen above with cast member Margo Martindale), who plays Dr. Michael Holt, a handsome, athletic, rich neurosurgeon who has the talent of Dr. Gregory House. He saves a professional tennis player from her ambition and tries to save a friend from himself. He initially is slightly more likable dealing with his assistant (played by the Emmy-winning Martindale of “Justified’) and his stressed out sister.Then his ex-wife, played by Jennifer Ehle, arrives with the gift that expands his heart.
You’ll Hate It If: You get tired of series in which people have unexplainable talents or visions and you need something more grounded.
Outlook: At 8 p.m. Friday, anything is a tough sell. The cast is strong and I can see CBS having a vision that this will work in a time shot where the Jennifer Love Hewitt series “The Ghost Whisperer” prospered. But success all depends on Wilson’s appeal and perhaps whether CBS gives him the gift of a better time slot. Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4

The second notable series to premiere this weekend is “Pan Am,” which arrives on schedule  opposite CBS’ “CSI: Miami” at 10 p.m. Sunday. That isn’t exactly a soft landing for the pre-feminist 1960s stewardesses and jet age pilots who are circling the globe when the women wore uniforms and offered coffee, tea or milk with a smile and occasionally added something extra. It’s the extra the show concentrates on. The one member of the cast most likely to be recognized is Christina Ricci, who plays the rebel. The cast of characters also includes two competitive sisters, one a former beauty queen, who create a lot of turbulence for each other.
You’ll Like It If: You enjoy looking at beautiful, stylish people and feel nostalgia about the days women wore girdles and “silly little hats” and passengers could fly when snacks were plentiful and before baggage fees and security checks made traveling one big pain. To spice your trip up, the script offers some romantic heartbreak and gives a couple of stewardesses an extra job as international spies.
You’ll Hate It If: You’re not a fan of flying or nostalgia and lines like this: “Better buckle up, adventure calls.” Or “I want to see the world.”
Outlook: Did I mention it is opposite “CSI: Miami” on CBS? And the Sunday Night NFL game on NBC? You don’t have to be a traffic controller to see that this well-produced and pretty-looking series is flying in dangerous territory. It doesn’t help that it takes the show’s pilot a considerable amount of time to takeoff. ABC better give “Pan Am” another route to success. Rating: 2 and a half stars
Early Ratings Report: As much as I liked “The X Factor” premiere Wednesday, early local ratings returns indicate that Simon Cowell’s baby isn’t going to be anywhere near as popular as “American Idol” here.
Wednesday’s two-hour premiere on WUTV was beaten by just about everything in prime time except the NBC comedies “Up All Night” and “Free Agents.”
“Factor” got slightly more than half the audience of “Criminal Minds” on CBS and about two-thirds of ABC’s “Modern Family,” which got a huge boost from its Emmy wins and had its highest local rating to date by far.
The big prime time winner locally in week 1 is “Two and Half Men,” which got a huge 25.5 rating for Ashton Kutcher’s debut and helped the premiere of “2 Broke Girls’ get a 20.5 rating after it. “Girls” moves to 8:30 p.m. Monday so it should see a steep drop. “Men” also should see a steep drop since the first episode had a huge tune-in factor.

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Sampling The New TV Menu and Wanting More

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Sorry, Charlie, they should have thrown the idea of remaking “Charlie’s Angels” out to sea.
How bad is it?
The one featured actress that viewers are likely to know is Minka Kelly (seen right with co-star Annie Ilonzeh), the former “Friday Night Lights” star who until recently was romantically involved with New York Yankees great Derek Jeter.
However, Minka isn’t one of the original trio of Angels in tonight’s 8 o’clock  opener on Channel 7, the ABC affiliate.
So that pretty much telegraphs one of the early plot lines. If the writers were going to change an Angel, they would have been wise to do one of the other lesser-known beauties.
But that isn’t even the major flaw of “Angels,” which isn’t about to make you forget the Kate Jackson- Jaclyn Smith-Farrah Fawcett 1970s version about three former criminals who solved cases and triumphed despite – or because of — its sexism.

You’ll Like It If: Looking at pretty women in a pretty setting (Miami) is enough for you to ignore a routine plot and stilted dialogue. Rachael Taylor (“Grey’s Anatomy’), Ilonzeh and Kelly are the new Angels, with Ramon Rodriguez as the younger Bosley, who now is a computer hacker.
You’ll Hate It If: You had hoped that TV had changed dramatically since the late Fawcett sold all those iconic posters.
Outlook: These dull “Angels” should get a flying start tonight, but should quickly land with a thud.
Rating: 1 and a half stars out of 4
 “Whitney,” 9:30 tonight, Channel 2, is the other comedy from comedian Whitney Cummings, who co-created “Two Broke Girls” for CBS. Her philosophy is “getting married is so dumb” so she lives with her significant other, Alex (Chris D’Elia) without visions of the altar that hanging over their heads after five years together. Whitney does a lot of awkward, loud and annoying things, including eventually asking her boyfriend to marry her. His response: “I love you so much I’m not going to marry you.”
You’ll Like It If: They’re not married but they still behave like a married couple. They bicker a lot over what she should wear and how often they have sex. So your bickering tolerance will be tested, along with your taste test. It can get a little raunchy.
You’ll Hate It If: Your idea of humor doesn’t involve seeing the lead visit a Sex Shop with her girlfriends, discussing with them about how often she and her partner have sex weekly and delivering lines like: “I’m not Daniel Day-Lewis. I just want to get laid.”
Outlook:I’m not a prude so I laughed a few times, but not as loudly as a laugh track that is annoying as Whitney. Having said that, I can’t imagine watching this sex talk more than once a month at most.Rating: 2 stars.
I’ve already written about the two other new offerings premiering tonight.
Here is a recap:
There were plenty of reasons for “Person of Interest” to get extra buzz before it premiered at 9 tonight on Channel 4.
It stars Michael Emerson, who played Ben Linus, one of the most intriguing characters on ABC’s “Lost.”
The co-star is Jim Caviezel, best known for playing Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.”
It is produced by J.J. Abrams, who added the summer movie hit “Super 8” to a resume that includes TV’s “Lost,” “Alias” and “Fringe.”
Those are three great reasons for the series to get some interest.
But the biggest reason comes courtesy of Rupert Murdoch, whose media company News Corp is in serious jeopardy because of a hacking scandal.
You can’t help but think of the News Corp scandal while watching “Person of Interest” because the main characters hack into cell phones to get information in New York City..
They invade privacy in the post 9/11 world for good reason – to save someone. But the ease with what they do it with the help of red light cameras and hacking devices still is pretty scary stuff.
The pilot reminded me of a combination of the Francis Ford Coppola movie “The Conversation,” Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” and the old Edward Woodward CBS series “The Equalizer.”
Caviezel plays John Reese, a former CIA agent type who becomes a vigilante after being pressed into service by Emerson’s character, Mr. Finch. Except for a Ratso Rizzo limp when he walks, Mr. Finch isn’t much different than Ben Linus. He is mysterious, a bit of weasel and says things that are supposed to be profound. Caviezel’s Reese is the strong silent type of character that Eastwood can do in his sleep.
The opener is what is referred to as a premise pilot, which means Reese and Mr. Finch have several “walk and talks” in which they explain why Mr. Finch has enlisted the formerly homeless Reese to shoot anyone he needs to prevent (and solve) crimes in the name of justice.
The walk and talks also allow the viewer to understand the similar government experiences that made these two very different men eventually see eye to eye.
It is an incredibly violent show that requires a viewer to suspend disbelief often – especially when Reese is able to escape multiple armed villains and a female district attorney enters a violent criminal’s cell by herself without concern for her safety.
I didn’t exactly understand everything behind the technology because it is explained so fast, but at least it is more understandable than “Lost” ever was.
If it becomes a hit – and CBS moved “CSI” because it saw the possibilities – I’m thinking Abrams, Emerson and Caviezel will have Rupert and his scandal to thank. Rating: 2 and a half stars

* I’ve watched “Prime Suspect,” the Americanized version of the career-defining British series starring Helen Mirren that premiered 20 years ago and still plays on WNED-TV, twice.  I figured the adaptation of Lynda LaPlante’s British series deserved a second look.
It didn’t get any better the second time. ”Prime Suspect” stars Maria Bello as a tough female homicide detective, Jane Timoney, trying to gain respect from the all- boys club in the Homicide Squad of the NYPD York Police Department run by a guy trying to be open-minded (played by Aidan Quinn).
Now I’ve been a fan of Bello for some time. She first got my attention joining the cast of “ER,” then bolting to become a movie star. She got some good movie roles, but stardom never came so she is back on TV wearing a variety of stylish hats in a series that seems to have forgotten how much women have gained since Mirren’s version (she was called Jane Tennison) of “Prime Suspect.”
The NBC pilot would have looked out-dated in 1996, when LaPlante and Buffalo writer-producer Tom Fontana combined on a failed pilot, “The Prosecutors,” about two tough women starring Michelle Forbes and Stockard Channing.
The men in the homicide squad in the Americanized version of “PS” should all be sentenced to watching Fontana’s Homicide,” “The Wire,” “NYPD Blue,” “The Closer,” “Hill Street Blues,” all the “CSIs,” “NCISs” and “Law & Orders” to see how much female cops and prosecutors have gained in 25 years.
The writers have told TV critics that they realize they have overdone the sexist angle in the pilot and promise it will be toned down. Additionally, it was announced that Broadway actress Elizabeth Rodriguez has joined the cast to play another detective. Hopefully, that will give Jane someone to bond with or at least complain to about the jerks she is working with.
Starting with an opening scene in which Jane pulls a gun on a New York cabbie who initially refuses to stop smoking, the writers have made Timoney a bit too tough and not vulnerable enough to be sympathetic until one brief scene near the end.
She is ambitious to an irritating degree even when she proves to be the smartest person in the male-dominated room, which is all the time.
She is mad at the world, provoking fights with her boss, her boyfriend, his ex-wife and the condescending Neanderthals she works with that belittle her and speak to her through conversations with each other.
Her support group includes her father (Peter Gerety of “Homicide”), her boyfriend and the only male NYPD detective who doesn’t need to be immediately sent off to a gender equality class.
Clearly, the series is relying on the idea that Bello deserves to be a TV star and the way of making her one is to make her less glamorous and make her character the smartest in a room full of criminals and fellow detectives who are criminally sexist.
This formula of having women characters stronger and smarter than men has worked best on cable, which is where “Prime Suspect” probably belongs. I wish HBO, Showtime or even FX had commissioned it.
In short, NBC’s “Prime Suspect” needs some work to be worthy of its cast. To succeed, its writers should enter the 21st Century and worry less in future episodes about making Jane tough and more about making her sympathetic and vulnerable. Rating: 2 stars

* Finally, I must say I enjoyed the opener of Simon Cowell’s “The X-Factor” more than I expected, even with all the obvious similarities to “American Idol.” Cowell seemed happier to be there working for himself and the show smartly concentrated early on the talented more than the silly and offensive people looking for attention.

Notably, one of the early contestants who passed to Boot Camp was a former Buffalonian named Terrence Carter. He’s 36. We didn’t see or hear much from him but I imagine that means we’ll hear plenty from him later. If you know anything about him, I’d like to hear from you.

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VanCamp’s Charms Power “Revenge”

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Who doesn’t love Emily VanCamp (right)?

The Canadian actress has been adorable ever since she hit the regular TV screen as a teenager on “Everwood,” the WB series in which she played Amy Abbott, the love interest of the emotionally-scarred Ephraim.

Greg Berlanti, the creator of “Everwood,” eventually found a place for her on “Brothers & Sisters,” as Rebecca, who become the love interest of the emotionally-scarred Justin (Dave Annable).

And now she gets her star turn on “Revenge,” an ABC drama that the producers have told TV critics is loosely based on “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

VanCamp plays a former jailbird who got rich and now is out to get all the obscenely rich people in Southampton, Long Island who conspired to ruin her father’s reputation years and her childhood years earlier when she was an adoring daughter. It premieres at 10 tonight on Channel 7.

In other words, Emily has gone bad after getting rich. But it is the kind of bad that people can root for against even worse rich people, the one group that TV series love to hate.

As good as it is to see VanCamp expand her acting range, it is a little unsettling to see the formerly adorable Emily play such a schemer. And I can almost hear Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner lament the class warfare in “Revenge.”

VanCamp plays a character who has taken a new identity as Emily Thorne, who narrates the pilot and looks great in a red dress. Through flashbacks, viewers learn that Emily lived in Southampton 17 years ago when she was known as Amanda and only a dog and a nerdy rich tech guy Nolan (Gabrielle Mann) still recognize her.

She rents a house next to the wife (she is known as Queen Victoria and is played by Madeleine Stowe) and husband (Henry Czerny) who destroyed her father. Emily’s primary goal is seeking revenge in a way that nobody figures out what she really is up to. Her entrée into Queen Victoria’s family is Daniel (Josh Bowman), the handsome son who can’t resist Emily’s charms. Who can?

Emily’s beauty helps her pull it off for the most part, with the help of an event planner Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) who is her close friend. Flashbacks enable viewers to see what Emily’s life was like when she was known as Amanda. Back then, she hung out with the middle class son of a local tavern owner, Jack (Nick Wechsler), before her dad was arrested right before her eyes.

The villains are rich people, who have affairs with their best friends’ spouses and screw their underlings financially while they smile and act like do-gooders.

It makes it easy to root for Emily, who gets people in trouble acting naïve when she knows exactly what she is doing. When she tells a rich woman “I hope your husband is feeling better” it is to get the woman in trouble and not to sympathize.

The hour is intriguing and very easy on the eyes, but glamorous series like this can be tough sells beyond a season or two despite all the potential stories with this rich cast.

“Revenge” probably would have played much better as a TV movie, but I can think of much worse ways to spend 13 to 22 evenings a year  than watching VanCamp parade around in colorful dresses at opulent parties in what could become this generation’s version of “Dynasty” or “Dallas.”

Rating: 3 stars out of 4


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“New Girl” is Season’s Best New Series

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If you can relate to awkward romance and you are a big fan of “Dirty Dancing,” you should have the time of your life watching the new Fox comedy “New Girl” at 9 tonight on WUTV.
It is by far my favorite new show of the season.
Thanks to star Zooey Deschanel (see right), “New Girl” is everything that Monday’s CBS comedy “Two Broke Girls” isn’t – charming, sweet and funny without being offensive.
It has one thing in common with “Broke” – in both shows the series lead quickly discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her. It is just funnier in the “New Girl” version.
Deschanel defines adorable as Jess, who wallows in her pain until she finds three male roommates through Craig’s List who almost instantly are attracted to her combination of vulnerability, quirkiness and naivete. They are even willing to embrace her love of “Dirty Dancing,” which she watches endlessly during her break-up depression.
The three men act like her brothers as she goes back in the dating minefield. If anybody should know about how callous and thoughtless and self-involved men can be, it would be these three childish men.
Jake Johnson is the sweet friend, Nick, who is still getting over his own breakup and has some of Jess’ vulnerabilities.
Max Greenfield is the sexist class clown, Schmidt, who makes inappropriate sexual remarks that end up costing him money to fill the collective house “douchebag jar.”
Schmidt’s initial target is Cece, Jess’ best friend, who is a smart model who warns the boys to treat her friend well.
Damon Wayans Jr. is Coach, who doesn’t know how to have a conversation with a woman that doesn’t end in shouting. Unfortunately, Wayans had to leave the show because ABC surprisingly renewed “Happy Endings.” Lamorne Morris replaces him in the cast next week.
You’ll Like It If: You’re like most TV critics and find Deschanel adorable and enjoy seeing her bond so quickly with her new bros.
You’ll Hate It If: The “Dirty Dancing” music gives you a headache and — a la “When Harry Met Sally” — you just don’t believe men can be friends with women without sex getting in the way.
Outlook: After “Glee,” “New Girl” should get a great tune-in audience and actually should appeal to both sexes. Everyone I have shown the pilot to – and that’s several friends and relatives — has loved it. 4 stars out of 4
The other new show premiering tonigh, the CBS drama “Unforgettable,” airs at 10 tonight on Channel 4. Think “The Mentalist” with a female spin.
Poppy Montgomery, who you undoubtedly remember from “Without a Trace,” arrives with a new hair color (red) as Carrie Wells, who was once the youngest homicide cop in Syracuse. She has a rare gift that enables her to remember just about everything but details of the death of her sister, which haunts her. Dylan Walsh of “Nip/Tuck” plays Detective Al Burns, a former lover and former partner who still cares for her and convinces her the department needs her abilities to solve cases instead of winning money at the casino.
You’ll Like It If: You like looking at Montgomery and enjoy series in which someone has a talent that borders on the supernatural even if it actually exists. They’ve loaded her character with sympathetic traits, too. She believes “her whole life is like a lie.” She lives in Queens because “I don’t have the energy for the city.”
You’ll Hate It If: You think the skill that Carrie possesses robs a viewer’s ability to play along with solving cases because the conceit of the show allows cases to be solved out of left field. And you hate it when female characters are stupidly placed in jeopardy as Carrie is late in this episode.
Outlook: After the two “NCISs,” this well-cast series will get a strong tune-in tonight. It is a well-constructed procedural in the CBS mold and is entertaining even if you don’t have to be a psychic to see the end coming. It has big shoes to fill in the time slot vacated by “The Good Wife” and it is doubtful that it will get the same audience. But it should work. 2 and a half stars out of 4
* Finally, I didn’t laugh much during the much-anticipated premiere of the revamped “Two and a Half Men” with the more likable Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen alongside Jon Cryer. But I’ve never been a big fan of this sleazy comedy and early jokes about Charlie giving his conquests multiple social diseases weren’t about to attract me.
It took about 13 minutes to deal coldly with Charlie Harper’s death (Sheen) before Kutcher arrived playing a dot.com billionaire who would chuck all the money if he got just got his girlfriend back.
Kutcher’s character, Walden, is a sensitive hugger who thinks nothing of walking around Charlie’s old Malibu home naked, a joke that got tired quickly. He bonded just as quickly with Charlie’s brother Alan (Cryer), who momentarily thought Walden was going to be his wing man.
However, Walden gets the girl or girls just as easily as Charlie used to, only he does so in a much more likable manner.
Indeed, just about everything in this version of “Men” is more likable. Maybe even the dialogue will be cleaned up just a little. Ah, I’m asking for too much. Sorry Charlie, but if you liked and laughed at “Men” before, I’m guessing you will like the Kutcher for Sheen trade. Just count me out.

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Emmy Forgiven; “Broke” Sells, “Playboy” Disappoints

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Emmy host Jane Lynch was severely let down by the show’s writers Sunday night from the overproduced opening number right through the Jersey Shore parody and barely got a passable performance .
The best moment of the Emmy Awards came when the Canadian Tenors – who weren’t initially identified – sang during an In Memoriam part of the show that featured all the Hollywood stars (in front of the camera and behind the scenes) that had died in the past year.
When a feature on the dead is the highlight you know the show was pretty deadly.
But I’m not complaining. My night was made by two moments featuring men born in Buffalo.
The first was when Kyle Chandler (see right) – in the night’s biggest upset – won as best dramatic actor for his role as Coach Eric Taylor in “Friday Night Lights.” That was one of two big awards for “FNL” – the other being the best dramatic writing award for Jason Katims. Chandler seemed totally unprepared for the win and seemed later to be upset that he forgot to thank the co-star, Connie Britton, who played his wife.
A lot of people probably didn’t realize Chandler was born in Buffalo, primarily because he left town when he was very, very, young.
More people were likely to know that “Bones” co-star David Boreanaz – the son of Rocketship 7’s Dave Thomas – was born here before he reminded the world.
After co-presenter Anna Torv of “Fringe” identified the Canadian Tenors, Boreanaz asked her if she was Canadian. She said no, which led Boreanaz to say “I was born in Buffalo. That’s close to being Canadian.”
The Emmy voters identified most of the winners I would have selected – including three who don’t exactly look like the typical Hollywood star – Melissa McCarthy of “Mike & Molly,” Margot Martindale of “Justified” (she actually thanked a TV critic) and Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones.”
“Mad Men” won a deserving fourth Emmy as best drama, which seemed to surprise creator Matthew Weiner. And “Modern Family” won about every comedy award, which led to a couple of performance bonuses.
Ty Burrell’s speech speculating about his late father’s reaction to his success as best supporting actor was the best speech of the night. And every time co-creator Steve Levitan accepted an award, either he had something funny to say or his wife in the audience had a funny look at her face when he discussed their sex life in front of the world.
I have an idea for next year’s Emmys. Let either Burrell or Levitan be the host and definitely let Levitan write the filmed sketches.
* Now it is time to start addressing the new shows that are seeking 2012 Emmy consideration.
Nostalgic for a time that men were Bunny-chasing men and women didn’t seem to care as much about just being sex objects?
Nah, more likely audiences may be nostalgic for a time they could turn on a TV sitcom and not tell their children to cover their ears.
This is all a preamble to two new shows premiering tonight that show how far – and how little – women have come in the past 40 or 50 years.,
In reviewing them, I plan on going back to the format that worked so well in the past when the Buffalo News actually had a daily TV critic dispensing previews rather than have one that reviews shows “sight unseen.”
“Two Broke Girls,” 9:30 p.m., Channel 4: In the first three minutes, the lead character, a salty-tongued waitress named Max (Kat Dennings), says the words “boobs” and “dry vagina” (there isn’t a sitcom this year that doesn’t say vagina) and then finds her Russian co-worker “coming” in a back room – sight unseen, of course. Then we’re introduced to a second waitress, Caroline (Beth Behrs), a former billionaire who mistakes clam chowder on her uniform for a substance Cameron Diaz made famous in “There’s Something About Mary.” Max and Caroline initially trade barbs, then bond over their distaste for male dishonesty and need for money.
You’ll Like It If: You are into raunchy comedy and believe what the TV world needs to illustrate how far equality has come between the sexes is a show about women that can be as tasteless as times as its lead-in, “Two and a Half Men. It will also help if you love Dennings, who plays the very definition of acerbic exquisitely.
You’ll Hate It If: This comedy – which has made many TV critics Top 10 lists — is a taste test really. If raunchy and stereotypes aren’t your thing, you will run away from it. Besides the waitress, the cast includes three characters – a chef, a guy at the register and an Asian owner – who are over-the-top offensive clichés in this comedy from Whitney Cummings and Michael King of “Sex and the City.”
Outlook: After “Two and a Half Men,” it can’t miss no matter how far in the gutter the language goes and how bankrupt subsequent scripts become now that the waitresses have become friends. Dennings and Behrs have instant chemistry that eventually compensates for the tasteless start and should win viewers over after the series doesn’t try so hard to get your attention. Rating: 3 stars out of 4
“The Playboy Club,” 10 p.m., Channel 2: Eddie Cibrian stars as a former mob lawyer turned legit who helps cover-up the death of a big-time mobster who tried to hit on a beautiful, naïve cigarette girl (Amber Heard) who just got hired by The Playboy Club in Chicago. Laura Benanti plays the veteran Bunny who sings and tries to mentor the naïve ones.
You’ll Like It If: You’re nostalgic, you like to look at pretty women and love the jazz of the era that occasionally plays in the background of a show that is rich in style and atmospherics and short on believability.
You’ll Hate It If: You were expecting a series titled “The Playboy Club” to actually have a good deal of sex and don’t feel you need another history lesson on Chicago and the mob.
Outlook: Cibrian is the epitome of Don Draper cool and the pilot looks almost as beautiful as some of the girls in it. But if the low interest among younger viewers for ABC’s recent telecast of Jackie Kennedy’s thoughts and words and for AMC’s Emmy-award winning “Mad Men” is any indication, “Playboy” may be a tough nostalgic sell. It doesn’t help that it premieres on the night that “Castle” viewers discover how Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) survived a shooting last May. The truth is “Playboy” should have been a pay-cable series because without the sex it is pretty boring and tame. Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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Beard Dropping Midday News; Ch. 2 News on Early Roll

Anderson Cooper at Qualcomm Stadium during the...

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Channel 2 morning anchor John Beard is joining his buddy Ed Kilgore in the world of the shorter work week.
General Manager Jim Toellner confirmed that part of Beard’s new deal enables him to give up the station’s midday news at 11 a.m., the only local newscast to air on a local affiliate at that time.

Beard will remain as the co-anchor of the NBC affiliate’s No. 1 rated “Daybreak” alongside Jodi Johnston.
Mary Friona will take over the midday news, the least popular and least important of Channel 2’s newscasts, Toellner confirmed.
Friona could take over as early as Monday.

A few weeks ago, Kilgore left the 11 p.m. newscast to work part-time and anchor the 6 p.m. news.
* It is a marathon and not a sprint, but the post-Oprah area looks like it is going to have some expected good consequences for Channel 2.
With “Dr. Oz” having much lower ratings than Oprah as Channel 4’s news lead-in at 4 p.m., Channel 2 News was able to win the 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. newscast competition on Monday and Tuesday.
The margin was higher at 6 p.m. Tuesday when Channel 2 (12.5) equaled the ratings of Channel 4 (7.8) and Channel 7 (4.7) combined.
It is too early for Channel 2 to pop champagne, but it is clear that the new post-Oprah afternoon block is hurting Channel 4, which moved CBS’ coverage of Monday’s men’s final of the U.S. Tennis Open to WNLO-TV during the afternoon to allow the syndicated shows to air as scheduled.
The first two installments of Anderson Cooper’s (see above) syndicated show on Channel 4 had ratings in the low 1’s at 3 p.m. opposite “Dr. Phil,” who had Casey Anthony’s parents on Tuesday.
And “Ellen” on Channel 2 decisively defeated Oprah’s replacement, “Dr. Oz,” at 4 p.m., leading into the news.
Channel 2’s news surge has been a big boon to the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which averaged double-digit ratings on Monday and Tuesday and easily won locally.
* Wine expert Kevin LoVullo announced on Facebook that his radio show, “Spiel the Wine,” is moving to Channel 2 in November. Toellner confirmed that is the target date and added the station is looking to line up sponsors.
Channel 2 is beating WBBZ Owner Phil Arno to the punch on the wine show – he said a few weeks ago that he hoped to do one.

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NBC Comedies: Big on Stars, Short on Laughs

Christina Applegate at the 66th Golden Globes ...

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You’d be up all night trying to figure out why NBC commissioned two new comedies premiering tonight geared to the age 35-54 crowd.
My advice: Go to bed and avoid “Up All Night” (10 tonight, Channel 2) and “Free Agents” (10:30 tonight, Channel 2), adult comedies dealing with the issues involving having a baby and rejoining the dating pool.
OK, I awoke this morning and realized what NBC probably thought it had in “Up All Night” from creator Emily Spivey (who has “Parks and Recreation” and “Saturday Night Live” on her resume).
We have Christina Applegate (see right). Who doesn’t love her? We have Maya Rudolph. Who doesn’t love her? We have Will Arnett. Who doesn’t love his wife (Amy Poehler)? We have a cute baby? Who doesn’t love babies?
Unfortunately, we get every you-can’t-have-it-all cliché in the book after Reagan Brinkley (Applegate) has a baby and rejoins the staff of a talk show, “Ava,” hosted by Maya. Meanwhile, Reagan’s lawyer-turned house husband Chris (Arnett) stays home to raise their daughter and act like a child playing online games.
There isn’t a laugh in the half-hour despite Rudolph’s best efforts to compensate for the material.
The script does bleep out some offensive words used by the parents, which is the best writing in the episode.
I have no idea what NBC thought it had in “Free Agents,” which is based on a British comedy and co-created by Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”).
Maybe it thinks the relatable situation for many middle-aged people is enough to survive.
Hank Azaria plays Alex, a melancholy corporate public relations worker who just got divorced and doesn’t know how to dress for success as he rejoins the dating pool.
His zany co-workers in a firm whose goal is to either fix a client’s problems or blame someone else are there to assist him. They include a co-worker, Helen (Kathryn Hahn), whose fiancé died a year ago, keeps huge photographs of him above her bed and likes wine. Lots of wine.
I’ll say this — the cast is large enough to see some future story line possibilities, something that is hard to envision with “Up All Night.”
Of course, the big story line in the pilot is the attraction that Alex and Helen have for each other. They decide they need a safe word – potato — so they don’t hop into bed together at odd times..
It is hard to tell who is more desperate. I’d go with NBC. Unless you are even more desperate, avoid these parents and free agents at all costs.
It is easy to figure out whom to blame – the writers.
Rating: “Up All Night”: 1 and a half stars out of 4; “Free Agents:” 2 stars

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“Ringer” Starts New Season With a Buzz

Sarah Michelle Gellar

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“Ringer” is a humdinger of a new fall series.
It would easily have made my Top Five of the fall if I hadn’t gotten sick and had time to actually list a Top Five.
I’m advising you of this because anyone over the age of 25 might not be able to find the series in which Sarah Michelle Gellar (yes, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) stars as very different twin sisters.
It premieres at 9 tonight WNLO-TV and is the rare CW series that doesn’t try to appeal only to adolescent girls and 20something women.
My only quibble with it is that the promos for “Ringer,” which appear on WNLO as well as bigger sister WIVB-TV, give far too much away of the plot of a creepy, suspenseful opener that would be best discovered by viewers by themselves.
Think “The Patty Duke Show” with a twisted plot – if one side of Patty had a dark side.
The sisters have one thing in common – they’re very pretty. That’s about it.
One sister, Bridget Kelly, is a former exotic dancer who is down on her luck and had the misfortune of witnessing a murder. She is being chased by really bad guys as well as a good guy played by Nestor Carbonell of “Lost.” Carbonell plays a FBI agent who needs Bridget to testify against a mob boss.
Funny, how so many “Lost” actors are popping up on series this season – including Michael Emerson of “Person of Interest” and Terry O’Quinn on “Hawaii 5-0.”
But I digress.
The other sister, Siobhan Martin, outwardly seems to have an ideal life – a handsome, very rich British husband (Ioan Gruffudd), an opulent home and parties, parties parties.
However, since her husband doesn’t know she has a twin, it is easily to question how good her marriage has been for the past five years before she mysteriously disappears and Bridget starts living her good (???) life.
Slowly viewers get inside the tawdry world of Siobhan and question whether Bridget is actually the good girl or at least trying to be.
Will Bridget be discovered by the bad or good guy and no longer have to strip? Will Siobhan be discovered alive?
It’s a great set-up for Gellar, who doesn’t have to do much but look beautiful and try to figure out how Bridget can pull off a quite a sister act by her facial expressions.
It might have worked better as a movie, but if “Ringer” can keep doubling the intrigue weekly it will be a hit by CW standards.
Rating: 3 and half stars out of 4
* Did anyone notice during the Bills 41-7 win over Kansas City Sunday that CBS’ fantasy stats were in worse shape than the Chiefs? At one point, CBS had someone other than Drew Brees playing quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. All I can think is that preseason stats got stuck in its computer.
* And didn’t you love this tweet on the CBS bottom line as Bills tight end Scott Chandler had a career day. “Can’t KC cover the Bills tight end?”
It is usually the Bills who have trouble covering tight ends.
* Channel 7 meteorologist Jennifer Stanonis told her Facebook friends today that she is going back to college to get a second degree and is leaving her full-time position at the ABC affiliate. However, she added she will fill-in at Channel 7 when needed.


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Diary of a Sick TV Critic

NEW YORK - MARCH 02:  TV sportscaster Marv Alb...

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Miss me?
I’ve been sick.
And I can’t even blame the Buffalo Bills, who until Sunday seemed to have been blamed for everything but the national debt.
I’m writing this from where I’ve been for most the past five days – my bed.
And what do you do when you are sick in bed?
Watch TV. Listen to the radio. Read the newspaper.
So here are some observations from what I’ve seen, heard and read over the last five days. I didn’t take any notes – didn’t have the energy. So I’m going to rely on memory.
* I’ve always loved play-by-play man Marv Albert (see above). I grew up listening to him during the New York Knicks heyday in the early 1970s. OK, my memory is a little foggy. I grew up in the 60s.
I was happy to hear that he joined CBS for the NFL season and was working the Bills opener against Kansas City.
That is why it is sad for me to say that the next time he does a Bills game CBS should provide him a seat by the window. He misidentified Bills, didn’t see fumbles that the viewer could see and at one point didn’t even realize which side of the 50-yard line the Bills had the ball.
In short, he was as awful as the Chiefs in a 41-7 loss. Sure, he had his usual assortment of funny lines, but that’s not enough when you are making so many mistakes.
* I’ve always loved Dick Enberg and his voice and thought his work for CBS on the U.S. Tennis Open was as strong as ever. It was nice to see a tribute to Enberg featuring tennis stars of the present and the past at the end of Sunday night’s coverage.
* I thought the series finale of FX’s “Rescue Me” was very well done – somehow managing to keep its humor and adding extra poignancy without trying to make viewers cry. The only featured character to die in the horrific fire in the semifinal episode, overweight Lt. Ken Shea (John Scurti), had been flirting with death all season. Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) and his wife Janet (Andrea Roth) named their son born in the episode Shea. Nice touch.
* Those Buffalo News advertisements featuring editor Margaret Sullivan talking about the New Sunday News are very well done. But if I were filming them I might have had more reporters in the background rather than a view of a mostly empty newsroom that could remind people of recent staff cuts.
I thought the first new Sunday paper was loaded with good stories. I especially enjoyed Tim Graham’s update on Kevin Everett. But I would have considered waiting a while to introduce the New Sunday News for two reasons. I would have tried to avoid looking a little insensitive by using 9/11 to promote something new.
And I would have waited a little longer after all the recent buyouts reduced the staff again. In that way, it wouldn’t have looked like the News was doing something akin to what TV stations do when they try to create a splash without adding manpower – emphasize style by changing the set.
* One of the more notable moments of the Republican presidential debate was when the California audience broke into spontaneous applause after Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended the number of executions in his state. The reaction seemed to stun moderator Brian Williams, who smartly brought it up in a follow-up question to Perry.
* I turned on the WGR post-game Sunday after the Bills big win in time to hear a caller talk about all the negativity on the station about the team. Hosts Mike Schopp and Chris Parker defended themselves. The guy wasn’t talking about their comments on the post-game show. It would have been pretty hard to hammer the Bills about anything. The caller was talking about the negative attitude about the Bills all preseason.
And he was right. The afternoon hosts actually spent 15 or 20 minutes last week ridiculing and misrepresenting a throwaway line by Coach Chan Gailey that he expected to win every game. What coach wouldn’t say that?
And from all the hammering of Bills Owner Ralph Wilson for being cheap, money doesn’t necessarily equate to success. The stars and touchdown makers in the 41-7 win over Kansas City featured a tight end who has been repeatedly cut (Scott Chandler), a running back (Fred Jackson) who wasn’t drafted, two receivers (David Nelson and Donald Jones) who weren’t drafted and a quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) who was a late round draft choice.
That’s enough for now. I figure I’ve ticked off enough people and it’s time to go back to sleep.

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