The Shows

Acting chefs, flawed motivational speakers, Degrassi Redux, presidential send-ups, CIA agents of all kinds and more reality clones than you can shake a stick at. Join us for another irreverent romp through a fresh crop of fall debuts....

Acting chefs, flawed motivational speakers, Degrassi Redux, presidential send-ups, CIA agents of all kinds and more reality clones than you can shake a stick at. Join us for another irreverent romp through a fresh crop of fall debuts.

NBC

By Sandy Brown

Emeril

NBC, Tuesdays, 8-8:30 PM

the story: The Food Network’s popular chef Emeril Legassi moves to prime time in a sitcom version of his cooking show. The focus is on the production of the cooking show and the various adventures and mishaps that go along with presenting cooking to the masses.

the cast: Emeril Legassi (as himself)

the verdict: NBC execs claim they don’t play by the conventional rules of TV, and they have definitely thought outside of the box on this one. Despite millions of viewers on the Food Network, Emeril’s over the top stylings – ‘Bam!’ – might not play as well with work-weary viewers, especially if the network can’t resolve rumoured problems with the execution of the pilot and accompanying script. One gets the feeling that while cable may be the new minor league for the major nets, this particular recipe is a little half-baked. As CBS Television president Leslie Moonves put it: ‘As an actor, I hear he’s a great chef.’

the backing: A solid case where if the numbers aren’t there, NBC will likely send it back up the dial to specialty land.

Scrubs

NBC/CTV, Tuesdays, 9:30-10 PM

the story: Half-hour sitcom about a young medical intern who embarks on a career in medicine at a hospital that promises to be full of wildly unpredictable patients and staff.

the cast: Zach Braff (The Broken Hearts Club), Donald Faison (Felicity), Sarah Chalke (Roseanne)

the verdict: What happens when a network tries to combine two ultra-successful shows? You get the camp shtick of Friends and the antiseptic stench of E.R. Despite the fact that there is a lot of room for comedy in hospitals (see comic tour de force Disorderlies for hard proof), Scrubs will likely test the patience of viewers early and be declared dead on arrival.

the backing: Ad buyers on Madison Avenue were originally skeptical about a medical sitcom shot on film, but once they had a peak at the full pilot, felt that Scrubs had a chance behind Frasier on Tuesdays.

Inside Schwartz

NBC, Thursdays, 8:30-9 PM

the story: A romantic comedy about a 24-year-old wannabe sports star and young broadcaster whose inner thoughts are revealed through a series of personal conversations with sports figures. He works minor league baseball broadcasts; the subplot centres on his love life (what’s new?).

the cast: Breckin Meyer (54, Road Trip)

the verdict: Desperate to hold on to their ‘Must See TV’ positioning, NBC has come up with a comedy that could play well against the aging cast of Friends. (Speaking of which isn’t it about time those people cashed in their 401Ks? Schwimmer looks like he could use a cane and Aniston is older than Shannen Dougherty.) NBC referred to Meyer as a feature-film star in its May upfront presentation in New York. Last time we checked, Steve Martin was a film star, Kate Hudson, even, perhaps a budding film star – but this guy? That been said, maybe Meyer doesn’t need to rank high on the Hollywood power list to make this one a hit. The story is appealing and, if the writing is as good as it once was on Friends, this could be a winner.

the backing: Serious, because NBC needs a new hit to hold on to Thursday night ratings. It’s heavily backed in the lineup, and NBC will be keeping its collective fingers crossed for this one to get legs – fast.

Crossing Jordan

NBC, Mondays,

10-11 PM

the story: Dr. Jordan Cavannaugh is a sexy Boston-based medical examiner with a penchant for crime solving that goes beyond her legal expertise. Her reputation preceded her in Los Angeles and now she’s returned home to ply her wares and reunite with her father, who is haunted by the unsolved murder of his wife.

the cast: Jill Hennessy (Law & Order)

the verdict: Hennessy is solid, but there is something less than thrilling, chilling even, about the storyline. However, media critics feel NBC may have a winner in this series – where CSI meets Erin Brockovich in New England.

the backing: Monday nights aren’t NBC’s biggest priority right now but they will likely pull a big crowd of people who aren’t interested in Monday Night Football (read: women).

Law & Order:

Criminal Intent

NBC/CTV, Sundays, 9-10 PM

the story: Follows the same format as the ever-popular first series, except this one will give viewers an inside look at how the crimes are committed.

the cast: Vincent D’Onofrio (Men in Black), Kathryn Erbe (Oz)

the verdict: Aside from the obvious moral ambiguity of giving people lessons on how to enact violent crimes, the show will most surely be another hit from television’s

best producer, Dick Wolf.

the backing: Wolf Films and Studios USA will have an even better thing going with a triumvirate of Law & Order shows. Expect the network to step up behind this one, especially after the strong finish the original had this past May.

ABC

By Sandy Brown

Philly

ABC/CTV, Tuesdays, 10-11PM

the story: A young lawyer does double time as a single mom and defense attorney in the rough-and-tumble Philadelphia city hall courts.

the cast: Kim Delaney, Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do)

the verdict: Kim Delaney is a recent NYPD Blue alum, and like Ami Brennerman (Judging Amy) before her, she has more than earned her stripes. Delaney may well prove to be Philadelphia’s second star (after the pint sized and magically talented Alan Iverson, of course). Steven Bochco knows better than anyone how to produce gritty, not to mention award-winning, dramatic television. And that is what he will do again this time.

the backing: ABC will back this one heavily, and rightly so. It should thrive.

The Dad

ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30-9 PM

the story: Jim Belushi plays a father who’s struggling to hang on to his manhood while providing for the family and offering them the American dream.

the cast: Jim Belushi (Saturday Night Live), Courtney Thorne-Smith (Ally McBeal), Kimberly Williams (Father of the Bride)

the verdict: With all due respect to Jim Belushi – his performance in Oliver Stone’s El Salvador opposite James Woods was worthy of a supporting actor Oscar – America already has a first father and his name is Homer Simpson. None can stand up to the Simpson’s great dad, and none ever will. Ray Romano already takes care of the ‘nice domestic father’ on CBS, and Malcolm in the Middle’s Hal has the other end of the ‘dad as donkey’ routine solidly locked up. Look for the network to try to pull audience away from Raymond, but it’s a tough slot and a dicey gambit that people will not turn the channel after Millionaire. Note to channel surfers: keep surfin’.

the backing: Times are tough on the network, with too many shows for viewers to tune into. ABC will likely cancel quick.

Bob Patterson

ABC/CTV, Tuesdays,

9-9:30 PM

the story: Bob Patterson is a motivational speaker who inspires and teaches millions of people who all try to live by his various philosophies. While he has an entourage of people who market his persona and hoards of followers, Patterson has difficulty keeping his own personal life together.

the cast: Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), Robert Klein (Robert Klein on Broadway)

the verdict: What few know about Jason Alexander is just how multi-talented the actor is – he’s also a fantastic song-and-dance man. Unlike Michael Richards, who eagerly jumped at a self-titled show last season and, though loved as Kramer, will probably be reduced to oddball roles in future movies of the week, Alexander is a serious contender. Remember George Wendt, who played Norm on Cheers? Remember his show? Well, Ted Danson has a hit show, Becker, after pacing himself in terms of his TV future. Alexander has done the right thing, and the guy’s got legs. Smart money says it should be around for a long time.

the backing: Some warning signs are that ABC is already reshooting the pilot, and it’s up against Frasier on Tuesday nights. On the other hand, anyone who has seen the first few episodes of Seinfeld knows that great things sometimes take time to ripen.

Thieves

ABC/CTV, Fridays,

9-10 PM

the story: The FBI offers thieves Johnny and Rita a get-out-of-jail-free card when they are caught trying to pull off a diamond heist: the duo can avoid jail by recovering missing government property. Anything the feds have lost the two must find. In this To Catch a Thief meets Moonlighting entry, the pair enjoy a flirtation that might lead to romance, amidst all the action of their latest daring assignment. Only time will tell.

the cast: John Stamos (Full House), Melissa George (Sugar & Spice)

the verdict: As if the FBI didn’t have enough problems at the moment. The cast is terrible: How John Stamos became a star ranks with life’s other great mysteries, like how people become professional football coaches and how my grade-three art teacher later went on to become a Canadian MP. It must have something to do with papal decree.

the backing: A good spot for this type of fare. That’s the biggest plus – apart from tracking the leftover fans of Full House, wherever and whoever they are.

Alias

ABC/CTV, Sundays, 9-10 PM

the story: Alias balances the tumult of twentysomething life with the demanding perils of the spy-game. Sydney Bristow is a modern, young woman in SD-6, a top-secret division of the CIA. But she’s also a shy and reserved grad student being stretched too thin, and she loves Bobby, and – you get it. The question is: will her personal life or espionage be more trying on her young soul?

the cast: Jennifer Garner (Pearl Harbor), Victor Garber (Titanic, Annie), Ron Rifkin (L.A. Confidential)

the verdict: A pretty good cast, but really – is anybody that interested in the love life of a young female spy? Since I put it that way, yes. If the show goes beyond the GI Jane format, and stays away from massive CIA conspiracies and too much agent angst, then it might hold interest. Note to Canadian networks: How about a show focusing on a CSIS agent who hangs out at Winnipeg shopping malls tracking the activities of drugstore shoplifters?

the backing: Not sure what Michael Eisner is feeding the good folks at ABC but that’s besides the point. It’s what they’re smoking that needs to change. Still, there is a battle shaping up on Sunday nights and this one skews young, so it could stick for a while.

CBS

By Sandy Brown

The Guardian

CBS, Tuesdays, 9-10 PM

the story: Okay, let’s see if we can get this straight. A drug-addled hotshot lawyer working at his father’s successful Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh?!) law firm has been arrested for drug use and must do community service in the form of child advocacy at Legal Aid, where he can now start to realize that making a difference is as important as his $2,000 suits. Nothing is as important as a $2,000 suit, with the possible exception of $2,000 worth of champagne and Beluga caviar. Everyone knows that, even children.

the cast: Simon Baker (Simon Baker?), Dabney Coleman (Dabney Coleman?)

the verdict: Hit! Great comedy to rival Frasier on NBC. One problem: it’s supposed to be a drama. Send this one back to rehab.

the backing: This is low priority for CBS, for whom the Survivor success is still growing.

The Agency

CBS/Global, Thursdays,

10-11 PM

the story: Another show about the CIA and its inner workings. The various duties of undercover operative Matt Calhoun will no doubt detail all the fabulous secrets of the secretive government bureau.

the cast: Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal), Andrea Roth

the verdict: Was kibitzing with a young Texan woman at a bar in New York recently. As it turns out she’s been to the Pentagon and talked with top CIA officials including one U.S. Army general who shouldn’t – for security reasons, of course – be named here, but who mistakenly called her thinking she was, herself, an operative. After a number of visits from agents to both her home in Texas and her apartment in NYC, they finally discovered that she was, alas, simply a cosmetics salesclerk for L’Oréal, as she had told them countless times. Go figure. There is a strong contingent of people in this world who daydream about working overtime as undercover agents for the government and the power that might go with it. Such people, mostly accountants and middle managers who bemoan the lack of excitement in their own jobs, will make this show popular, especially in the Midwest.

the backing: With ER starting to falter, thanks to the changing faces in the cast and the OR bloodbath scenes, look for CBS to capitalize here.

Wolf Lake

CBS, Wednesdays, 10-11 PM

the story: X-Files wannabe about an investigator who probes mysterious activities among – you guessed it – wolves. Set in the Pacific Northwest, the series stars Lou Diamond Phillips as canine cop.

the cast: Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns), Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves)

the verdict: Phillips hasn’t been seen in anything decent since he tipped a bowl of peyote and threw it up in the follow-up to the original Young Guns feature, and this is possibly the lamest excuse for a television series since Alf. You’ve got to love Greene – how many actors would cite the ability to drive a John Deere riding mower as an overlooked talent? – but come-on Graham, you’re better than this.

the backing: Not much.

The Education

of Max Bickford

CBS, Sundays, 8-9 PM

the story: Richard Dreyfuss, a.k.a. Mr. Opus, having given up the piano is now going to torture us from a professorial soapbox as his latest character faces yet another turning point in his life after being passed up for what he feels is a long-overdue promotion. Pity. Don’t you feel for academics?

the cast: Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Goodbye Girl), Marcia Gay Haden (Coach)

the verdict: Is there anything more annoying than 60 minutes of regurgitated stories that everyone knew about months before being reported on? Yes, and Richard Dreyfuss be thy name. The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle are the right thing to ease those end-of-weekend/start-of-week anxieties. Dreyfuss will only exacerbate whatever neurosis people already have heading to work Monday a.m. Don’t buy, it’s fool’s gold.

the backing: Buyers like it, which really makes one wonder what the world has come to.

Citizen Baines

CBS, Saturdays, 9-10 PM

the story: A senator must return to Seattle after losing his campaign for a fourth term and come to grips with a new, uncertain life. The show focuses on his attempt to re-connect with three daughters after years spent on Capitol Hill.

the cast: James Cromwell (Cocoon), Embeth Davidzt, Jacinda Barrett, Jane Adams

the verdict: John Wells (ER, The West Wing) produced this one, so it will likely be solid, but there are still questions around its premise and time-slot. Obviously, CBS is still trying to be a family network catering to ‘regular’ Americans, and they may have hit the nail on the head with this one.

the backing: Given the strength of the producing corps, this will get strong backing in the beginning. Wouldn’t be surprising if CBS is testing the waters with the weekend slot: Look for this one to bounce to early week if it earns its wings and the audience responds.

The Ellen Show

CBS, Fridays,

8-8:30 PM

the story: An L.A. businesswomen is forced to return to her small-town roots after her Internet start-up goes belly up.

the cast: Ellen DeGeneres, (Anne Hecht, but not anymore)

the verdict: Coming-home stories are sad. Ellen is funny to some, but this might rub a little too close to the bone for some dot-com failures we know. Others will revel in the awkward comedy, and the disharmony of a sophisticated woman being forced back into her childhood nightmares.

the backing: DeGeneres still wields considerable power in some Hollywood corridors. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say, and she’s no fool. This might work.

American

Wreck

CBS, Fridays,

8:30-9 PM

the story: Danny is a recently divorced father of two teenagers trying to make sense of his life (aren’t we all?). He runs a community centre where he… oh dear, what a loser.

the cast: Daniel Stern (City Slickers, Home Alone)

the verdict: Aptly titled. This one’s got disaster written all over it.

the backing: Fridays at 8:30? Don’t bet on it.

FOX

By Sandy Brown

Undeclared

FOX/Global,

Tuesdays, 8:30-9 PM

the story: Comedy about six college dorm dwellers at a southern Californian college, as seen through the eyes of a young man who has made a recent leap from skinny high-school nerd to handsome college stud.

the cast: Jay Baruchel

the verdict: Judd Apatow has a solid resume as writer/producer for shows like The Larry Saunders Show, Freaks and Geeks and The Ben Stiller Show. This could strike a strong chord with young viewers, and should be funny. If there is one thing that FOX does extremely well these days, it’s picking a solid comedy.

the backing: Nothing is stopping this from being successful as long as the writing is as good as anticipated. Think about how much fun college was until faced with earnest Felicity types. This should make sense to rational buyers, especially ones who are sick and tired of the saccharine sweetness of Friends and the teenage melodrama of Dawson’s Creek.

24

FOX, Tuesdays, 9-10 PM

the story: This series covers 24 hours on presidential primary day in L.A., from midnight to midnight, with each episode covering one hour in the life of CIA agents as they try to uncover a plot to assassinate a presidential nominee.

the cast: Kiefer Sutherland (that’s a

film star, Mr. Zucker), Mia Kirshner

the verdict: Now this is a show that sounds like the CIA we all know and love. This will likely be the event show of the big network season. While Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under (HBO) will earn a loyal following, 24 promises to captivate. The story is exciting, innovative, and Twin Peaks-esque – which could well make this the show to watch this season.

the backing: FOX will push it to the end of the earth if they need to. For those tired of Frasier’s high-brow ruminations, this will be the winning alternative, and more.

Bernie Mac

FOX, Wednesdays,

9:30-10 PM

the story: Mac and spouse never wanted to raise kids. Fate plays its role when his sister checks into rehab leaving her kids with Mac and wife. He believes in discipline for children and imposes it on the children in a unique and comic way.

the cast: Bernie Mac (as himself)

the verdict: This is FOX giving UPN and WB a poke in the side, and the first time in recent memory that FOX has overtly promoted live ‘ethnic’ comedy the way those two stations regularly do. Much of the show’s success will depend on just how funny Mac really is. Tough to tell, but this type of fare works very well when Will Smith stars.

the backing: FOX would like to own more audience in the middle of the week. This might stick for them.

Pasadena

FOX/Global, Fridays, 9-10 PM

the story: Follows the trials and tribulations of a prominent clan in posh Pasadena, Calif. This one comes with an interesting twist in that family members are not what they appear to be.

the cast: Alison Lohman, Dana Delany

the verdict: Aaron Spelling-type fare has performed poorly recently: see Titans for a solid example. Some people might feel starved for a good old Dallas-type show. FOX has done well to put it in the 9 p.m. time-slot, as this is where audiences will best serve it. The fact that it is being directed and produced by old Woody Allen muse Diane Keaton also speaks volumes for the show’s potential.

the backing: FOX has good reason to push this one pretty hard. If it catches on they can lock up Friday nights, since there is a shortage of popular programming there right now.

Emma Brody

FOX, Mid-season

replacement

the story: Emma is a young woman working as a vice consul in the U.S. embassy in London. From Toledo, Ohio, to the romance and excitement of Europe’s third coolest city, Brody has to deal with the various problems Americans get into overseas.

the cast: Arija Bareikis

the verdict: God I hope this works. Here’s the problem: writers and producers have long bemoaned the fact that TV fare set in Europe simply doesn’t work in America. They are right, and a couple of cosmic failures prove their point. As NBC chief Bob Wright once said: ‘Something like 85% of Americans don’t even own a passport. Do you have any idea who we are speaking to?’ On the other hand, people are becoming more and more internationally savvy every day given increases in travel, global communication, yadda, yadda, yadda….This is still a show about Americans, which should bode well for it. God I hope this works.

the backing: Hot producing team, very smart idea. FOX would be foolish not to go all out.

CTV

By Lisa D’Innocenzo

Degrassi:

The Next

Generation

CTV, Sundays,

7-7:30 PM

the story: It’s been a decade since the gang left the trials and tribulations of Degrassi High behind them. To mark their 10th anniversary, CTV will air a one-hour special featuring their reunion to kick off Degrassi: The Next Generation. While mom Spike (Amanda Stepto) catches up with her friends, Spike’s daughter Emma – last seen as a two-year-old on the ’80s show – will be introduced in the season opener. Then the 15-part series will follow Emma and her friends as the 12-year-old heads off to Degrassi Junior High. Thank God Spike kept the kid…

the cast: Newcomer Miriam McDonald as Emma Nelson, Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty Van Zandt, Daniel Clark as Sean Hope

the verdict: Part of the reason the original program was popular was that it hit the screen before the queen of all high-school dramas: Beverly Hills, 90210. Since then, not many teen shows have had characters with bad hair days, not to mention acne or a weight issues. Some of us would love a more gritty portrayal of teen angst, but kids today may not want the mirror held up that close, as suggested by the failure of Freaks and Geeks. Even if there is a cult following for the original series among youth today, they are probably more intrigued by the hideousness of ’80s fashion than anything else.

the backing: Produced in association with CTV by Toronto-based Epitome Productions (executive producer is Stephen Stohn, Riverdale), the firm behind the original Degrassi programs. Chances are it will last through its 15 episodes: it fills that CanCon quota, after all.

Maybe I’m Adopted

CTV, Tuesdays, 8-8:30

the story: The comedy from WB stars Molly Stage as a bright 15-year-old with a bizarre family, including loopy grandparents, oblivious parents and four neurotic siblings. Molly is a high-school nerd, but could edge into the cool crowd with some effort – she’s definitely cute enough. Thought bubbles and pop-up onscreen commentaries à la Blind Date will punctuate the program. Executive producer is Suzanne Martin of Frasier.

the cast: Reagan Dale Neis plays Molly, Julia Sweeney (Saturday Night Live) is Mom and Fred Willard (Best in Show) is Dad. Neis comes off a stint on Friends as Liz, the college girlfriend of cradle-robber Ross.

the verdict: The notion of Molly’s narration popping up in thought bubbles might invigorate the banal and boring format of the half-hour family sitcom. However, one question looms: Is this just a copycat version of Malcolm in the Middle with a female lead? I’m not sure the world needs one.

the backing: Warner Bros. Television/Touchstone Television produced the show. Since WB has supported long shots like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Felicity in the past, the prospects for longevity look good. Question is, will CTV hang in there?

The Amazing Race

CTV, Wednesdays, 9-10 PM

the story: Yet another reality series, this time from CBS, the network that kicked the trend off with Survivor. This time, 11 teams, each comprised of two people with some sort of pre-existing relationship, trek around the world for 30 to 40 days. At every pit-stop, the duos will complete a series of challenges (sound familiar?) before uncovering their next destination. Inept couples will be eliminated as they fall behind, so maybe the true survivors will actually win in this game. Each team will have a strict budget, which means sleeping on park benches, and air travel will be restricted, forcing them to resort to trains and camels. A camera will be on at all times to catch any physical tension that might erupt both on the street and between the sheets. The first team to reach the final spot wins a million bucks.

the cast: Phil Keoghan (Adventure Crazy) will host. The contestants will no doubt look great in swimsuits, or be crotchety old folks.

the verdict: Survivor still rocks (in my opinion), but when will the TV gods realize that it can’t be duplicated? The slew of reality imitators out there proves that television programming remains formulaic, and suggests there aren’t too many networks willing to take a chance on a novel idea. Either that, or the collective mind of creative types in the industry has faded to black. Unless it grabs interest quickly, viewers will likely dismiss this as yet another clone.

the backing: Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Armageddon teams up with Bertram van Munster of Cops and Wild Things fame. Bruckheimer is known for over-the-top special effects and flicks that are unnecessarily lengthy, so maybe his TV series will overstay its welcome too.

Global

By Peter Vamos

Search For a

Supermodel

Global, Sundays, 7-7:30 PM

the story: From the ‘you’ve-seen-this-before-but-we’ll-take-your-money-anyway’ department comes a spin-off from Popstars, Global’s own reality hit from last season. So how does Search For a Supermodel differentiate itself? Well, in this one, the winner becomes, like, a supermodel, as opposed to, like, a pop star. Instead of a record contract, lovely young Canadian girls get a chance to win a $250,000, two-year modeling contract with the Ford Agency in New York. The eight-part series takes viewers into the pressure cooker behind the catwalks where it will be revealed that men in frocks run about yelling, ‘Who belongs to this eyelash?’ Amazingly, Supermodel is produced by Lone Eagle Entertainment, which also brought us Popstars.

the cast: Wannabe models

the verdict: It will flop. But then I’m not in the target demo, and that’s what I said about Celebrity Family Feud.

the backing: With a formula like this, do you really need any promotional support?

Popstars II

Global, TBA

the story: Popstars is not a new show, you say. Wrong. This installment has a whole new group vying to become Canada’s next marketing/music phenom. Ever since the product of last season’s show – all-girl group Sugar Jones – began steaming up the Canadian shopping mall circuit (it was at Bramalea City Centre May 5), the world has been waiting with nervous giddiness to see how executive producer Michael Geddes will follow up. In a twist that is as sublime as it is inspired, the new series will create a boy-girl group.

the cast: Wannabe pop stars

the verdict: How can it fail? Answer: Because Canadian kids will wake up from their cereal-induced comas, mutter something about déjà vu, and change the friggin’ channel.

the backing: ‘Global will be using all of its significant multimedia assets to promote the new show including on-air, online and print properties.’

No Boundaries

Global, TBA

the story: Survivor in the B.C. interior? Well, yes. This new 13-episode reality show, created by Vancouver-based Lions Gate Entertainment and producer Jayme Pfahl – who brought us the infinite sequels to The Neverending Story – will feature 15 contestants battling each other and the elements and performing ‘breathtaking’ and ‘extraordinary’ feats as they challenge the ‘furious forces’ of nature. Load up the beers in the cooler, it looks like someone is going on an adventure.

the cast: Wannabe explorers

the verdict: Having been proven wrong again and again when I predicted that people aren’t really stupid enough to consistently watch these reality shows, I say this will be the biggest hit in the history of humanity. Three thumbs up.

the backing: Global’s on-air, online and print properties.

CBC

By Lisa D’Innocenzo

Trudeau

CBC, Debuts winter 2002

the story: A two-part dramatic series about the former prime minister that dwells on both the political and personal aspects of his life.

the cast: To be determined.

the verdict: Just how long does the CBC plan to milk the death of this man? Certainly, a number of Canadians felt passionately about the guy, but can’t we let him rest in peace? Mind you, the program will likely appeal to bleeding-heart baby boomers, and they make up a robust market. And hey, maybe the pirouette will replace the handshake in Canada.

the backing: It’s the CBC, so no doubt a gazillion teasers will pop up during regular programming in an attempt to attract viewers.

The Last Chapter

CBC, Debuts winter 2002

the story: A six-hour mini-series consisting of a ‘raw, carefully researched dramatization about the fascinating sub-culture of biker gangs.’

the cast: Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Top Gun), Roy Dupuis (La Femme Nikita)

the verdict: No doubt it will be well researched, but the topic would probably be more effective as a documentary. The Sopranos might have turned organized crime into a television success story, but The Hell’s Angels and The Rock Machine? They have about as much glamour as Stockwell Day in a wetsuit. The biker gangs might enjoy their moment in the spotlight, though.

The backing: A co-production between CBC and French-language network Radio-Canada.

Tom Stone

CBC, Debuts January 2002

the story: A ‘quirky drama’ from the makers of North of 60, Tom Stone is the story of an ex-cop, ex-cowboy, ex-rig worker and ex-con, who gets out of the slammer when Seargent Marina di Luzio, a commercial crime specialist, recruits him to help her battle corporate and political crime. But for all that Tom brings to the table, keeping track of him on the outside ain’t easy.

the cast: To be determined

the verdict: Is it really any wonder Canadians have an inferiority complex? How can we not, when our national public broadcaster insists on perpetuating stereotypes like that of Westerners who still wear spurs and ride into sunsets? Speaking of inferiority, this series sounds like a replica of the ’80s prime time soap Dallas.

the backing: From independent production company Alberta Filmworks.

Foreign Objects

CBC, TBA, debuts fall 2001

the story: Six episodes about a documentary filmmaker named George who finds himself in various interesting situations.

the cast: Ken Finkleman wrote, directed, executive produced and stars in the show.

the verdict: I love Ken Finkleman and thought his show The Newsroom was both smart and funny. Why was it cancelled? Perhaps, there aren’t enough people in this far-and-wide country who appreciate Finkleman’s style. Or maybe it was too niche-oriented and only appealed to media types. In any case, I expect this show to be solid but, with six episodes, it hasn’t got many shots at building a fan club.

Rideau Hall

CBC, TBA

the story: A one-hour special in which a newly elected prime minister plots to destroy Canada’s relationship with the monarchy by appointing Regina Gallant, a one-hit-wonder disco queen, to the post of governor general.

the cast: Bette MacDonald (The Bette Show)

the verdict: I look forward to any program that addresses the inanity of our unbearably long connection to an outdated establishment, the British monarchy. Could be funny, especially if it delves into the ridiculousness of paying someone good money to assume the useless post of governor general, which basically entails parading around aimlessly with one’s husband. Thankfully, comedy is one of the CBC’s strengths.

Same Guys, New

Dresses

CBC, TBA

the story: The cast of Kids in the Hall returns to CBC to star in this feature-length documentary.

the cast: The fab five: David Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson

the verdict: The sketch comedy troupe specialized in an irreverent brand of humour that caught on not only in Canada, but also in the U.S., where its TV show played on both CBS and HBO. Since it has hit the big leagues, the documentary should quite easily interest a suitable number of admirers.

Citytv

By Duncan Hood

Enterprise

Citytv/UPN, Wednesdays,

8-9 PM

the story: Call it low-tech Star Trek. This latest installment of the successful sci-fi property from Paramount Network Television takes place only 100 years in the future, predating even the schlocky ’60s adventures of James T. Kirk. Tagged ‘the final frontier has a new beginning,’ the series promises not to shake up the traditional formula too much – beyond replacing touch screens with manual controls and reuccessful sci-fi property from Paramount Network Television takes place only 100 years in the future, predating even the schlocky ’60s adventures of James T. Kirk. Tagged ‘the final frontier has a new beginning,’ the series promises not to shake up the traditional formula too much – beyond replacing touch screens with manual controls and regressing to a less enlightened society when men still ran the ships. Rick Berman (executive producer of Voyager, Next Generation and Deep Space Nine) stays at the helm.

the cast: Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) stars as Captain Jonathan Archer; supporting cast includes Connor Trinneer, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, John Billingsley and Jolene Blalock.

the verdict: With millions of trekkers jonesing for a fix after Voyager’s ‘Endgame’ ep, how can it fail? Berman has the formula down pat, so as long as the writing’s good and the acting passable, the audience will be there. Still, lots of people tune in for the explosions, so lets hope going low-tech doesn’t mean cutting the F/X budget.

the backing: High. This is UPN’s core offering and Toronto’s own federation station has already started running targeted on-air promos – four months before the debut.

That’s My Bush!

Citytv/Comedy Central,

Wednesdays, 10-10:30 p.m. (debuts July 18, 2001)

the story: A sitcom parody and political satire from Comedy Central and the makers of South Park. The infamous Matt Stone and Trey Parker try their hand at a live-action sitcom, where apart from raking the fertile ground of one of America’s most controversial presidents, they poke holes in the standard sitcom format. For instance ‘the aborted dinner date’ episode features much in the way of traditional over-the-top farce and stupid hijinx, but also includes a slimy aborted fetus puppet as a lobbyist for the pro-life movement.

the cast: Timothy Bottoms stars as George W. Bush, Carrie Quinn Dolin as Laura Bush, Kurt Fuller as Bush’s advisor, and Marcia Wallace as his housekeeper.

the verdict: South Park found an audience, so why can’t this? The question is just how big that audience will be: the humour is too much for many, so niche is the way to go. Was a big hit on Comedy Central in the U.S., so it might have been better placed on Comedy Network here.

the backing: Doesn’t have a big network behind it, but City has a good record for promoting the hell out of its acquisitions.

The 5th Wheel

Citytv, Weekdays, 5-5:30 PM, Thursdays, 10:30-11 p.m.

the story: No story here, just more depressing reality from Universal Worldwide Television and the producers of Blind Date. Hosted by Aisha Tyler (Talk Soup), this variation on a tired theme sends couples out on double dates and then throws a mystery person into the mix as things begin to heat up.

the cast: Regular, non-unionized folk

the verdict: How much reality can people take? There’s going to be a dot-com-like shake out and this one’s a prime candidate for the axe.

the backing: Less than Survivor 3 and Temptation Island 2.

Love Cruise

Citytv, TBA

the story: Fox and the producers of Road Rules and Real World bring us Temptation Island on a boat.

the cast: See 5th Wheel.

the verdict: See 5th Wheel.

the backing: See 5th Wheel.