CTV’s new shows

A look at CTV's new shows for fall - and what they're up against.

No Ordinary Family (ABC)
Tuesdays 8 p.m.
An earnest dad (Michael Chiklis, The Shield), busy mom and bratty teenagers are just a regular family trying to squeeze in some bonding time during a vacation when their flight crashes into the Amazon River and they acquire superpowers. Sure, they can suddenly leap over buildings, read minds and acquire a “lair with Wi-Fi,” but underneath it all this story is limited to mundane, middle-class family problems. It may take a crew of X-Men to beat out the high school Glee team (its competitor in this timeslot), but these heroes lack the sardonic dark side that makes superheroes so intriguing.

The Defenders (CBS)
Wednesdays 8 p.m.
Jim Belushi describes the two prosecutors played by himself and Jerry O’Connell as two “working class guys who passed the bar” and therefore have the street smarts that perhaps other lawyers lack.
When they’re not in the courtroom, the defenders are trying to sort out their colourful personal lives. Belushi’s character is spying on his wife whom he suspects of cheating, while O’Connell’s has an assortment of Las Vegas babes and fast cars that occupy his time. The Defenders is funny enough to be the long-term nest both seasoned actors have been looking for, but it’s up against J.J. Abrams’ new spy entry Undercovers, so has tough competition. The Defenders is also not airing in simulcast, so if it attracts a first-time audience it may be on another network.

Law & Order: Los Angeles
Wednesdays 10 p.m.
Last fall, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) arrested four teen girls for allegedly breaking into the celebrity homes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and stealing their party dresses. The crime showed just how far someone who is fascinated by Hollywood will go to attain that lifestyle, and as the news spread, celebrity gawkers wondered what other perverse cases the LAPD sees on a daily basis.
The networks have not released casting details of Law and Order: Los Angeles as of press time, but we can expect the familiar structure with storylines that are loosely based on celebrity crime news stories to the score of Lady Gaga (one can hope).
Law and Order: Los Angeles is up against another courtroom drama, The Whole Truth, which presents a case from the perspective of both the DA and the defence, and which Dick Wolf should have no problem winning against.

$#*! My Dad Says (CBS)
Thursdays 8:30 p.m.
William Shatner takes on another not-all-there role as a dad who compares women to lawns “begging to be mowed” and calls his heavyset son (Will Sasso) “James Gandolfatty.”
Spewing one-liners with a complete disregard for consequences, it’s almost as if he were tweeting them to an anonymous account. Now if only someone would create a show based on a Twitter hash tag…oh, wait. This half-hour sitcom based on an internet meme about an aging father whose younger son moves in with him because he can’t afford to pay his rent anymore, will go to battle with Citytv’s 30 Rock. Shatner has a hefty fan base of all ages, so he has a good shot against Tina Fey and co., whose audience skews female and younger.

Blue Bloods (CBS)
Fridays 10 p.m.
The future of this cop drama from the exec producers of The Sopranos, about a New York family that has three generations employed in the law-and-order industry, will wholly depend on how addictive the plot is as it matures. Tom Selleck, who plays the chief and patriarch of the family, should attract a slew of female fans but the amount of screen time he gets will depend on how much trouble his oldest son (Donnie Wahlberg) gets into, and if his by-the-book district attorney daughter (Bridget Moynahan) can bail him out quickly.
The Friday timeslot is not ideal but Blue Bloods will likely attract a wider demo than its competitors Mantracker and Outlaw, and if CTV streams the series online, it could gain enough momentum to coast into another season.

The Conan O’Brien Show
Mondays to Thursdays 1 a.m.
TBS, Conan O’Brien’s new network in the U.S., is proving to be a lot more appreciative of the comedian than NBC was. Earlier this month TBS launched an ad campaign to encourage Emmy voters to honour O’Brien’s work on NBC’s The Tonight Show, with zingers like: “Outstanding achievement in the use of SPF150.”
CTV will air Conan after Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but the net also hinted that viewers with full-time jobs will be able to watch O’Brien earlier on the Comedy Network. O’Brien has millions of fans in Canada, but whether he can overcome the curse of the timeslots is one of the most debated of this season’s fall TV predictions.


Mr. Sunshine
We know one show this season is based on a Twitter account, but is Mr. Sunshine inspired by the blog Stuff White People Like? There are a disproportionate number of racist jokes in the pilot of this comedy about a middle-aged sports arena manager (Matthew Perry) and his boss (Allison Janney). But while some of the lines presuppose irony – “Get me an Asian kid!” screams Janney before a press conference, and in another scene, “Yay, black kids!” – others do not, like the fact that Perry’s character can’t remember which of his Latino co-workers
is Miguel, so he calls them all Miguel.

The Borgias (Showtime)
The Borgias, which is about the infamous and powerful family living in Rome during the Renaissance, will appeal to the period piece and intrigue buffs who pick up on all the Machiavelli references and pretend to be annoyed by sensational scenes of inaccuracy. The family’s patriarch (Jeremy Irons, Being Julia) becomes Pope, however his family gets caught up in all the betrayal and scandal that comes with power.

Got to Dance (CBS)
Paula Abdul will get more air time than ever as the exec producer, coach, lead and creative partner on this reality series based on Britain’s popular show of the same name. Abdul’s Twitter fans reportedly can’t wait to be confused by the 47-year-old’s woozy talk, and given the high ratings of dance-related programs, it seems boogie is in and vocal prowess is out.

Criminal Minds Spinoff
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) leads a team of FBI agents whom he handpicked to help the unit capture violent criminals. Now going into its sixth season, Criminal Minds, which attracts about 2 million viewers according to BBM Canada, was due for a refresh and has enough support to expand the brand. When the show debuts, Whitaker could also attract the film crowd who wants to see how the Oscar winner fares on the small screen.

The X Factor
Fall 2011
North American viewers won’t see too much of Simon Cowell this season, but in 2011 the American Idol judge that audiences love to hate will bring his brand of blunt honesty to wannabe musicians and singers in the U.S. “Proven ratings, proven success,” is a network mantra, and with 500 million fans across 18 countries, it can safely be applied (a year early) to Cowell’s newest talent show brand.

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