The shows

CTV

CTV

By Pia Musngi

Justice

CTV/Fox

Wednesdays, 9-10 p.m.

the story: A behind-the-scenes look at a legal dream team’s strategy to win the most high-profile criminal cases, using shadow juries, trained expert witnesses and accident recreations.

the cast: Victor Garber (Alias).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television and Jerry Bruckheimer Television, executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and Jonathan Shapiro.

the verdict: The opening scene is straight out of the O.J. Simpson trial and the fast pace and high production values may whet the appetite of crime-lovin’ CSI watchers. Should prove a good lead-in for CSI: NY.

Smith

CTV/CBS

Mondays, 9-10 p.m.

the story: A man leads a double life as an expert thief and a family man in this multi-layered crime drama.

the cast: Emmy Award winner Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), Virginia Madsen (Sideways), and Simon Baker (The Guardian).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television; executive producer is the Emmy Award-winning John Wells (ER, The West Wing).

the verdict: Smith is like the Schwarzenegger flick, True Lies – without the laughs. The show’s most interesting aspect isn’t the formulaic heist and chase scenes, but rather the interplay between Liotta and Madsen as thief and long-suffering wife. Smith is up against the new FOX show, Vanished (airing on Global), but CTV is hoping star power will be pulling this one for the night.

The Nine

CTV/ABC

Saturdays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: Nine people are inexorably linked after surviving a 52-hour hostage standoff during a bank heist gone bad.

the cast: Tim Daly (Wings), Chi McBride (Boston Public) and Scott Wolf (Party of Five).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television, Sunset Road Productions, executive producer/writer Hank Steinberg (Without a Trace).

the verdict: ABC gave the show a decent slot on Wednesdays, post-Lost, but the Canuck strategy buries the show on Saturday nights. Then again, its only competition in that slot is the Canuck sci-fi series ReGenesis on Global. May win the night by default. If anything, it’s good to see Scott Wolf working again.

30 Rock

CTV/NBC

Saturdays, 9:30 -10 p.m.

the story: Another behind-the-scenes of a live TV show entry, this one’s about a comedy writer forced to deal with the egos of a new-to-TV exec and an unbalanced movie star.

the cast: Emmy Award winner Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live), Alec Baldwin (The Cooler).

the backing: NBC Universal Television Studio and Broadway Video Television; Tina Fey is writer, executive producer and star; Lorne Michaels is also executive producer.

the verdict: The show plays out like an extended SNL skit – which ain’t a bad thing, though it does drag a bit. Kudos to Alec Baldwin as the over-inflated network suit with a thing for GE convection ovens. Schedule-wise, it’s success will likely be tied to how well Let’s Rob…, its lead-in, fares.

The Class

CTV/CBS

Mondays, 8:30-9 p.m.

the story: In this comedy, a group of twentysomethings who shared the same third grade class meet up in an impromptu reunion, rekindling old crushes and picking up where they left off.

the cast: Jason Ritter (Joan of Arcadia).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television; James Burrows (Friends) directs, David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You) exec produce.

the verdict: Don’t let the pedigree fool you: Friends the sequel, this is not. The characters aren’t all that likable and at times the acting feels forced. The formula may have worked the first time around, but why beat a dead horse? But with Corner Gas as is lead-in, it may be a surprise hit for the net.

Traveler

CTV/ABC

midseason debut, 60 min.

the story: Two Yale Law grads must clear their names after a friend frames the pair for the bombing of a New York art museum.

the cast: Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling), Logan Marshall-Green (The OC) and Aaron Stanford (X-Men 2).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television and

The Jinks/Cohen Company; executive producers are Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (both of American Beauty) and writer/creator is David DiGilio (Eight Below).

the verdict: The pilot sets the pace but hasn’t yet set up the trio’s relationship, making it hard to care about the leads.

Waterfront

CTV/CBS

midseason debut, 60 min.

the story: Hard-nosed Providence mayor Jimmy Centrella copes daily with an ambitious attorney general, his wife, his legal shark daughter and his teen in this political drama.

the cast: Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos), William Baldwin (The Squid and the Whale), Larenz Tate (Crash) and Mary Stuart Masterson (Law & Order: SVU).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television; exec producers are Joe Pantoliano and Jack Orman (ER, Jag), who also serves as writer.

the verdict: There is some notable talent behind this one, but all will be determined by where this series resides on the grid.

Twenty Good Years

CTV/NBC

Sundays, 5:30-6:00 p.m.

the story: A modern Odd Couple, this sitcom follows the lives of two fiftysomething men who realize they only have about 20 good years left, and vow to live life to its fullest.

the cast: John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun) joins Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development).

the backing: Produced by Warner Bros., this sitcom has Tom Werner (Roseanne) as exec producer and writers Marsh McCall and Michael Lesson (The Cosby Show).

the verdict: This show certainly has good pedigree and stellar actors. The weekend timeslot is likely less a reflection of the show’s potential, than a result of CTV’s full schedule.

Happy Hour

CTV/Fox

Saturdays, 5:30-6:00 p.m.

the story: A man who has it all, loses it

the very same morning he moves from his small town to Chicago. While rebuilding his life, he encounters a random cast of characters who test his small-town values along the way.

the cast: John Sloan (The OH in Ohio).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television, Werner-Gold-Miller.

the verdict: Good backing but no big-name cast members and a Saturday afternoon time slot. The buzz has not been stellar, so don’t expect this one to stick.

STRATEGY PICKS

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

CTV/NBC, Sundays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: The ensemble drama shows the stress and the laughs behind the scenes on a late-night comedy show.

the cast: Amanda Peet (Syriana), Matthew Perry (Friends), and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television; Emmy Award winners from The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin (executive producer/writer) and Thomas Schlamme (executive producer/director).

the verdict: CTV is coming out with guns blazing on this one, boasting at their launch event that all the Canuck nets wanted this property, but CTV got it. It’s up against yet another ensemble drama though, the Calista Flockhart-helmed Brothers & Sisters on Global. Looks like 10 p.m. on Sundays will be a battle of the stick figures: will it be Calista Flockhart or Amanda Peet? PM

Pia Musngi, Media in Canada writer

It’s the glimpse behind the scenes in Hollywood that makes this show work, but there’s more than that: the snappy writing, likeable characters and a fake show, hence the name, which pokes fun at the system itself. But then again, I’m a fan of the 1976 film, Network – which definitely inspired this drama.

The pilot opens with a network exec ordering the show’s executive producer, (played brilliantly by Judd Hirsch) to cut a scene that would likely offend Christians. And all hell breaks loose – Network-style – with Hirsch on live TV denigrating the collapse of free speech and freedom of artists. All this on the first day of work for Amanda Peet’s character, the new net president. Enter the celebrated writing team (played by Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry) to save the day.

Perry is actually good in this role – allowing us to forget he was ever the goofy Chandler Bing from Friends. The only criticism? Peet doesn’t yet come off as the net prez she’s playing. Then again, it’s only her first day on the job. The premise has lots of cameo legs – like the pilot’s Studio 60 guest host, Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), who’s forced by wardrobe to choose between the ‘slutty’ dress and the ‘really slutty’ dress.

Let’s Rob…

CTV/ABC, Saturdays, 9-9:30 p.m.

the story: A down-on-his-luck janitor pulls together a bunch of his n’er-do-well pals to rob Mick Jagger’s luxe apartment in a bid to finance his dream of opening a bar.

the cast: Donal Logue (Grounded for Life) and Lenny Venito (NYPD Blue).

the backing: Touchstone Television;

Rob Burnett (Ed) is the writer, executive producer and director.

the verdict: Painful to watch though Mick Jagger showing off his pad is quite funny. Unfortunately, the loveable loser schtick just doesn’t work here. And the Saturday night slot may be the death knell for this sitcom. PM

Paula Costello, copy chief

The funniest part of this sitcom is The Mick himself, showing off his tony apartment to an entertainment show, giving a tour of his hat collection and his warm yogurt bath. I’ve never been the Snarl Boy’s biggest fan, but maybe I was wrong. It’s a lot of fun watching him laugh at himself. Buzz has been good, Mick should draw a demo of at least 34-54+ and the goofy antics of the would-be robbers might pull in youth, but this is only for the pilot. Mick is not going to be a series regular. So how long can this premise be drawn out? The show is by Jon Beckerman and Rob Burnett, producers of Letterman, but despite that pedigree, it doesn’t seem the net’s planning for Let’s Rob… to be on the sked for the long haul. Too bad. Good pilot.

Global

By Annette Bourdeau

Brothers & Sisters

ABC/Global

Sundays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: An outspoken New York conservative radio personality contemplates moving to L.A. for a TV gig, where she would be closer to her family. The siblings are all dealing with the recent death of their father, secrets and running the family business.

the cast: Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal), Ron Rifkin (Alias).

the backing: From Touchstone Television with exec producer/ director Ken Olin (Alias).

the verdict: Early reviews are mixed. ABC is banking on it to fill the considerable void left by shifting Grey’s Anatomy to Thursdays, but the drama might be too soft to satisfy fans of Grey’s fast pace and biting humour.

Friday Night Lights

NBC/Global

Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m.

the story: Based on the movie of the same name, this Texas-based high school football drama features a team and its new coach

who face intense pressure from the football-crazed town.

the cast: Kyle Chandler (Early Edition).

the backing: From NBC Universal Television, with exec producer/writer/director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights the film), exec producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind), and David Nevins (Arrested Development).

the verdict: It will certainly attract some of the many fans of the film version. But, the question remains: Do Canadians care as much about football? Still, with its strong backing, it could do well in attracting viewers away from its

CTV competition: the anti-Dancing with the Stars crowd.

Heroes

NBC/ Global

TBA, 60 min.

the story: During a total eclipse, a professor in India discovers that there are seemingly ordinary people with super powers living among us. This drama follows how their lives change at this revelation.

the cast: Sendhil Ramamurthy (The Guiding Light), Ali Larter (Final Destination).

the backing: From NBC Universal Television with exec producer/writer Tim Kring (Crossing Jordan).

the verdict: It’s getting a lot of positive buzz coming out of the upfronts, and creator Tim Kring has reportedly stepped off of his other show, Crossing Jordan, to concentrate on Heroes, which bodes well for the show’s future. Timeslot will be key.

Kidnapped

NBC/Global

Wednesdays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: The plot follows investigators as they try to find the kidnapped son of a powerful New York couple. It’s styled after 24 with the single-story season format.

the cast: Dana Delaney (Pasadena), Timothy Hutton (Secret Window).

the backing: From Sony Pictures Television, the exec producer/director is Michael Dinner (Chicago Hope).

the verdict: It’s getting positive buzz, with high hopes that it will attract 24 fans. But it’s up against CTV’s CSI: New York, and, really, if you’re not already watching CSI, will a knock-off be of interest?

Six Degrees

ABC/ Global

Wednesdays, 9-10 p.m.

the story: A series of coincidences draws six strangers in Manhattan together.

the cast: Jay Hernandez (Hostel), Erika Christensen (The Perfect Score,) Bridget Moynahan (Sex and the City).

the backing: From Touchstone Television, with exec producers J.J. Abrams & Bryan Burk (Lost, Alias), and director Rodrigo Garcia (Six Feet Under).

the verdict: Good cast, good writing, engaging storylines about attractive young(ish) urbanites. Could do well in pulling the Grey’s Anatomy crowd, if it’s able to survive its brutal timeslot going head-to-head with Lost on CTV.

Standoff

Fox/ Global

Mondays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: Two FBI crisis negotiators are one of the department’s most effective teams when it comes to resolving volatile situations. Trouble is, they’re sleeping together, which complicates their work relationship.

the cast: Ron Livingston (Sex and the City), Rosemarie DeWitt (Rescue Me).

the backing: From 20th Century Fox Television, with exec producer/writer Craig Silverstein (The Dead Zone) and exec producer/director Tim Story (Fantastic Four).

the verdict: It leads out of promising new show (Vanished), but goes head-to-head with CSI: Miami on CTV. Its future is uncertain.

Vanished

Fox/Global

Mondays, 9-10 p.m.

the story: This is the season’s other 24-inspired newbie, which follows investigators as they try to find the missing young wife of

a senator.

the cast: Joanne Kelly (Selling Innocence), Gale Harold (Queer as Folk).

the backing: From 20th Century Fox Television, it’s created by Josh Berman (CSI) and executive produced by Paul Redford (The West Wing).

the verdict: It was generating buzz even before the upfronts, and was one of just two shows Fox gave early pickup to. Plus, Global has it leading out of Prison Break, which definitely won’t hurt.

Day Break

NBC/Global

midseason debut, 60 min.

the story: A detective re-lives the same day over and over again: a day he’s framed for the murder of the state attorney.

the cast: Taye Diggs (Kevin Hill).

the backing: From Touchstone Television, exec producers Jeff Bell (The X-Files) and Matt Gross (Don’t Say a Word).

the verdict: This premise worked on the big screen for movies like Groundhog Day, but could get old very fast as a TV series. Timeslot will make or break this one.

The Winner

Fox/Global

midseason debut, 30 min.

the story: A cheeky Wonder Years spoof, a now rich and successful 43-year-old looks back on the year 1994. The twist? He has a trusty sidekick in his 13-year-old neighbor, who happens to be the son of the first girl he ever kissed.

the cast: Rob Corddry (The Daily Show).

the backing: From 20th Century Fox Television, with exec producers/writers Seth MacFarlane (The Family Guy) and Ricky Blitt (The Family Guy).

the verdict: It’s funny enough to appeal to Corddry’s Daily Show fan base, and accessible enough to attract the less-subversive sitcom crowd, too. This one just might be a winner.

STRATEGY PICKS

Shark

CBS/Global

Thursdays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: A slimy defense lawyer has a crisis of conscience when a wife-beater he gets off the hook winds up killing the woman. The mayor sweeps in while the Shark is vulnerable, and convinces him to switch teams and play for the good guys, much to the chagrin of the principled district attorney.

the cast: James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager, Boston Public).

the backing: Exec producer is Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind).

the verdict: CBS is demonstrating faith in Shark by slotting it in on cut-throat Thursday nights. Up here, it should easily sweep viewers away from the tired ER on CTV. The pilot is directed by Spike Lee, which has already helped it generate a lot of buzz. AB

Annette Bourdeau, staff writer

Two words: James Woods. The man is hilarious, and this pilot proves he can definitely carry a TV show, especially under the direction of the great Spike Lee. The writing is tight, and Woods’ delivery of the many incisive one-liners is impeccable. I was bracing myself for another cookie-cutter courtroom drama, and wound up laughing out loud throughout the show. Woods and co-star Jeri Ryan have great chemistry; their continuous sparring matches, as the slimy lawyer and the righteous DA respectively, are highly entertaining. And, a subplot about Woods trying to repair his relationship with his teenage daughter adds a little family drama for viewers looking for more than just witty banter.

The Black Donnellys

NBC/Global, midseason debut, 60 min.

the story: Four young Irish brothers struggle in their gritty working class New York neighborhood.

the cast: Kirk Acevedo (Law & Order: Trial by Jury), Olivia Wilde (The O.C.) Tom Guiry (Mystic River).

the backing: Created by Oscar winners Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco (both Crash).

the verdict: Great writing, decent cast, fresh TV idea. And, Paul Haggis is hot right now, so the show has already generated a lot of buzz. Global would be wise to give this one a juicy timeslot. AB

Stephen Stanley, creative director

When this show finally hits the airwaves in January, I expect it to make a lot of noise. Not unlike The Sopranos, Haggis’ show pits gut-wrenching family loyalty against the struggle to survive in the New York underworld. The whole concept of the ‘gangster’ gets reworked in this modern take on the mob, as the main characters, four young brothers, stake their neigbourhood’s claim out of pure survival. This is not organized crime; it’s a family that reluctantly stumbles into crime against all better judgment. Director Haggis’ visuals are stunning and his choice of music even better. When the pilot reaches the final moments to the opening strains of Arcade Fire’s Rebellion (Lies), they have you. Truth be told, this is not The Sopranos, but with only a half season of that show left on HBO, The Black Donnellys will do more than fill the hole that Tony and the boys are going to leave in our television hearts.

CH

By Annette Bourdeau

Big Day

ABC/CH

Wednesdays, 8:30-9 p.m.

the story: Billed as ’24 meets Father of the Bride,’ this comedy follows a couple’s wedding day in real time.

the cast: Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me), Marla Sokoloff (Desperate Housewives).

the backing: From Sony Pictures Television with exec producers Josh Goldsmith (13 Going on 30,) Cathy Yuspa (13 Going on 30).

the verdict: Early buzz isn’t great. And while Wendie Malick is entertaining as always, the rest of the cast is a tad lackluster, as is the writing.

Help Me Help You

ABC/CH

TBA, 30 min.

the story: An unstable, egomaniacal group therapy leader hides behind his image as a ‘respectable, best-selling author,’ as he deals with his own family problems and mid-life crisis.

the cast: Ted Danson (Cheers).

the backing: Exec producers/ writers Jennifer Konner (Undeclared), Alexandra Rushfield (Undeclared), director Brian Dannelly (Weeds).

the verdict: Danson is backed by a strong supporting cast, and early buzz is decent.

Psych

USA/CH

Wednesdays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: This dramedy follows a guy who becomes a police consultant by convincing the police that he’s psychic, when it’s really just his superior observational skills that help him solve crimes.

the cast: James Roday (Miss Match,) Dulé Hill (The West Wing).

the backing: From NBC Universal Television Studios, with exec producers Steve Franks (Big Daddy), Kelly Kulchak (Everybody Loves Raymond).

the verdict: It’s up against CSI: New York on CTV, which will definitely be tough to beat. Viewers looking for a crime-solving show will likely stick with the familiar.

Saved

TNT/CH

Thursdays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: This fast-paced drama follows four paramedics as they race around trying to save lives and struggle to find personal balance.

the cast: Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do), Elizabeth Reaser (The Family Stone).

the backing: Exec producers are David Manson (Nothing Sacred) and David Nevins (Arrested Development).

the verdict: Scott is great as the brooding paramedic, and could help the show attract a loyal fanbase of young women who have lost interest in ER, which occupies this timeslot on CTV. Early buzz is positive.

‘Til Death

Fox/CH

Wednesdays, 8-8:30 p.m.

the story: Idealistic young newlyweds move in next door to a cynical middle-aged couple.

the cast: Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Joely Fisher (Desperate Housewives).

the backing: From Sony Pictures Television, exec producers Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (both of King of Queens). Directed by Ted Wass (Less Than Perfect).

the verdict: The very similar comic sensibility will appeal to Everybody Loves Raymond fans looking to fill that void. Buzz is good.

10 Items or Less

Sony/CH

midseason debut, 30 min.

the story: ‘Lightly scripted’ improv set in a grocery store that was recently taken over by the inexperienced son of the store owner when the owner dies. His clueless management style leads to clashes with his disgruntled employees.

the cast: John Lehr (I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!)

the backing: Exec producers Robert Hickey, Nancy Hower and John Lehr. From Sony Pictures Television.

the verdict: Good premise and the cast is dynamic. This series will likely appeal to fans of The Office.

My Boys

Sony/CH

midseason debut, 30 min.

the story: Attractive blonde female sportswriter looks for love, but finds that being a tomboy is a challenge in the search for Mr. Right.

the cast: Jordana Spiro (JAG), Michael

Bunin (Scrubs).

the backing: From Sony Pictures Television, with exec producer Gavin Polone (Curb Your Enthusiasm).

the verdict: While the premise is a tough sell (attractive blonde who loves sports, beer and poker can’t find a man), the writing and acting make it watchable. Could find a following if given a decent timeslot.

Runaway

The CW/CH

TBA, 60 min.

the story: Half thriller, half family drama, it features a family on the run from the law and bad guys alike trying to start over in small-town Iowa.

the cast: Donnie Walberg (Band of Brothers), Leslie Hope (Commander-in-Chief).

the backing: Exec producers Darren Star (Sex and the City), Ed Zuckerman (Law & Order).

the verdict: Early buzz is decent, and there are rumblings that Runaway could become the next Everwood.

CHUM

By Annette Bourdeau

Entourage

HBO/Citytv/Bravo

Thursdays, 10-11 p.m.

the story: A look at the exploits of a young Hollywood star and his entourage.

the cast: Adrien Grenier (Hart’s War), Jeremy Piven (Old School).

the backing: Exec producers actor Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights), Doug Ellin (Life With Bonnie).

the verdict: It already has a loyal following on HBO stateside and among Canucks with cable, not to mention solid DVD sales/rentals of season one. CHUM is certainly throwing its hat into the big Thursday night programming showdown with this one.

Jericho

CBS/Citytv/Space

Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m.

the story: A mysterious mushroom cloud causes chaos in a small town, cutting it off from the outside world.

the cast: Skeet Ulrich (Scream).

the backing: From CBS Paramount Network.

the verdict: Similar fare Supernatural has been a modest hit for CHUM. This could do the same, benefiting from the big push CBS is putting behind it, and its decent timeslot. Early buzz is good, too.

Men in Trees

ABC/Citytv

Fridays, 9-10 p.m.

the story: A successful New York City relationship coach finds out while en route to a speaking engagement in Alaska that her fiancé is cheating on her. Crushed, she decides to slow things down and stay in the north, amid the abundance of single, available men.

the cast: Anne Heche (Nip/Tuck).

the backing: Exec producers Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City), Kathy Conrad and James Mangold (Walk the Line). Warner Bros. is one of the backers.

the verdict: Early buzz isn’t very good, nor is the Friday night timeslot. While the premise is cute, the execution unfortunately doesn’t live up to the high expectations that come with the impressive backing.

3 Lbs

CBS/Citytv

TBA, 60 min.

the story: An emotionally cold brain surgeon hires a keen young doctor to act as his partner in the neurological wing at an old New York City hospital.

the cast: Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada).

the backing: Exec producers Barry Levinson (The Bedford Diaries), Paul Stupin (Dawson’s Creek).

the verdict: The pilot isn’t very strong, and buzz is minimal. Timeslot will be key.

Hidden Palms

CW/Citytv

TBA, 60 min.

the story: A teen boy tries to adjust to his new life in Palm Springs when his mother remarries and uproots the family following the suicide of the boy’s father.

the cast: Michael Cassidy and Taylor Handley (both of The O.C.).

the backing: Exec producer/writer Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek).

the verdict: Solid show – good writing and acting, plus lots of juicy teen angst, and with Williamson’s track record, could do well in attracting those who have grown tired of The O.C.

STRATEGY PICKS

Betty the Ugly

ABC/Citytv

Fridays, 8-9 p.m.

the story: A plain gal from Queens with no fashion sense tries to survive in the superficial, cut-throat fashion mag world in this witty dramedy. Based on the hit Colombian telenovela Betty La Fea.

the cast: America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves), Vanessa L. Williams

(South Beach).

the backing: From Touchtone Television; actress Salma Hayek (Frida) is an

executive producer.

the verdict: In my opinion, it’s one of the best new shows of the season – the writing, acting and premise are all very solid. It just might be strong enough to survive its unfortunate Friday timeslot. AB

Natalia Williams, Special Reports Editor

ABC has given the show an unenviable time slot, and the bigger Canadian nets passed on it, so whether this will sink or swim is debatable. Still, there’s something about Betty.

America Ferrera is superbly cast as the very awkward girl with the very big dream of making it at a fashion magazine. She tries, she stumbles, she aches (and sometimes assuages the pain with apple pie), but she keeps going. She has, after all, a dream. (Also a joy to watch is Vanessa L. Williams who does bitchy oh so well.)

Betty the Ugly is a fantastic farce on the world of fashion. But it really works because we all have little Betty in us: a sense of the awkward and the out of place – so when Betty does well, when she succeeds despite the mean spiritedness that surrounds her, the little Betty in you rejoices. And the fact that you also get to laugh out loud in the process makes this one to watch while it lasts.

CBC

By Terry Poulton

Intelligence

Tuesdays, 9-10 p.m.

the story: Taut, both-sides-of-the-track crime drama has the chief of a fictional Canadian intelligence org cutting a deal with a gangster kingpin. He’ll help her solve crimes if she protects him from prosecution.

the cast: Ian Tracey (Da Vinci’s Inquest,) Klea Scott (Collateral,) Matt Frewer (Desperation).

the backing: Produced by Haddock Entertainment (DaVinci’s City Hall).

the verdict: While no preview DVDs were available, Die-hard 24 and spy-fi fans should enjoy seeing the good old cat-and-mouse formula played out on Canadian turf. And with the Chris Haddock touch, it could resonate with Da Vinci fans.

Rumours

Mondays, 9-9:30 p.m.

the story: Echoing Just Shoot Me, this one is a comedic take on the inner workings at a glitzy woman’s magazine.

the cast: Amy Price Francis (Snakes and Ladders), David Haydn-Jones (The Last Kiss), Jennifer Dale (Revenge of the Land).

the backing: Executive produced by former Citytv mogul Moses Znaimer and Jocelyn Deschenes.

the verdict: A curious anomaly for the Ceeb, but one they’re certainly excited about given its executive producers and the success of a similar show in Quebec.

Jozi-H

Fridays, 9-10pm

the story: This gritty drama is set in a hospital emergency room in Johannesburg, South Africa, where an international troupe of doctors, surgeons and nurses try to save lives, limbs and their own sanity.

the cast: Sarah Allen (Wall of Secrets), Vincent Walsh (Saving Private Ryan).

the backing: Co-produced by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and CBC.

the verdict: Emergency room formula that stretches way back to Calling Dr. Kildare could stand some rejuvenation. And the clever spin of playing out familiar situations in a polyglot hot spot just might do the trick.

Hockey: A People’s History

5 x 120 min., TBA

the story: Filmed entirely in HD, this epic undertaking traces how Canada’s national game helped shape the country.

the cast: Bob McKeown (the fifth estate) interviews everyone from old-time hockey greats to Don Cherry to current up-and-comers.

the backing: Produced by CBC and Société Radio-Canada.

the verdict: Similar in style to Canada: A People’s History, which was a ratings hit for the net.

72 Hours: True Crime

Mondays, 9:30-10 p.m.

the story: Investigations of high-profile crimes via a blend of real-life interviews, documentary footage and dramatic re-enactments.

the backing: Coproduction of Kensington Communications, Creative Anarchy,

Meech-Grant Productions, Canal D and CBC, executive producers/creators Robert Lang and Robert Sandler.

the verdict: Might be time in viewing schedules for yet another true-crime documentary series, but it seems a tad doubtful.

Everest ’82

2 x 120 min., TBA

the story: A suspenseful recreation of the 1982 climb of Mount Everest by the first Canadians ever to do so.

the cast: Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills 90210), William Shatner (Boston Legal).

the backing: Directed by Graeme Campbell (Instant Star).

the verdict: Appropriately chilling look at why mountain climbers do what they do will likely have narrow appeal, but then there’s the Shatner/Priestley factor, so could do well on star power alone.

October 1970

4 x 120 min., TBA

the story: It had all the elements of a foreign contemporary fictional thriller: terrorists, kidnappings, political murder, but the October Crisis actually happened right here in Canada. This nail-biter recreation will bring it all back to those who lived through it and open the eyes of those who didn’t.

the cast: R.H. Thomson (Road to Avonlea,) Denis Bernard (Trudeau II: Maverick in the Making), Patrick Labbé (Trudeau II).

the backing: Produced by Big Motion Pictures and Barna-Alper Productions, written by Peter Mitchell (Cold Squad) and Wayne Grigsby (Trudeau, Trudeau II), directed by Don McBrearty (Terry).

the verdict: ‘Just watch it,’ Pierre Trudeau might say, paraphrasing his famous battle cry when asked how far he’d go to quell the October Crisis. Good advice regarding this exceptional mini-series.