Fall season is underway, and maybe it's just us, but we're already sick of seeing ads for these shows and talking about these pilots. Especially since almost all of the pilots we did see that really knocked our socks off aren't airing until midseason. We are not patient people, so we're looking ahead at the winter to the shows that have piqued our interest. Some we haven't seen, but on paper they've got a lot of potential and could be the cure for our forthcoming winter doldrums.
10. House of Lies
Kristen Bell. Back on TV. And not just doing voiceover work. We're sold. She's in a comedy with Don Cheadle and Ben Schwartz (who has been killing it on Parks & Recreation) in which she's working at a cutthroat management consulting firm. We haven't had a peek at this Showtime series yet, but we're so tuning in for the premiere.
Let's say we're cautiously optimistic about this one. We love Kiefer Sutherland, and the idea of him playing the father to a gifted son who can sense odd patterns in numbers has potential. But the show is also from Tim Kring, a.k.a the creator of Heroes. So, at the very least, the first season should be good.
8. Good Christian Belles
This is the apparent successor to Desperate Housewives and judging by the pilot, we might get hooked on this big bitchy ball of cotton candy fluff. Leslie Bibb is a divorcee who returns home where people either love or hate the former mean girl who once ruled her Dallas suburb with an unforgiving iron fist. She has to adapt and fight off the likes of Kristin Chenoweth in order to survive. It's a little cartoony at times, but we can't turn down a good catfight.
7. Magic City
It's a period piece, set in the '50s, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan running a hotel in Miami. It's supposedly filled with mobsters and showgirls and the only thing working against it is that it will be on Starz, which tends to lean towards the cheesy, violent and scantily clad in its original dramas. But we'll give almost anything with Morgan a fair shot.
6. The River
Paranormal Activity mastermind Oren Peli brings his first-person brand of horror to television in this series about a documentary crew on a mission in the Amazon to find a Crocodile Hunter-type television star (Bruce Greenwood), who went missing in the region several years ago. The pilot is genuinely spooky and while the Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity approach results in some flat dramatic moments at times, the blend of horror and adventure is pretty compelling. Bonus points for bringing Leslie Hope -- Jack Bauer's sainted dead wife -- back from the grave for a meaty role as Greenwood's widow who refuses to believe her husband is really dead.
We haven't seen this one yet, but we're putting it on our must-see list mostly because of David Milch. We loved Deadwood (John from Cincinatti, not so much) and now he's setting his clever mind to the world of gambling. And the cast has some fairly heavy-hitters, including Nick Nolte, Dustin Hoffman, Ian Hart and Jason Gedrick. HBO drama and horse-racing? We're betting big on this one.
From executive producer J.J. Abrams (and the rest of the Bad Robot family) comes a new drama co-starring Jorge Garcia. It's a cop show with a supernatural twist (this is Abrams-produced, after all), in which dead Alcatraz inmates mysteriously return to commit crimes in present day. The pilot was intriguing and we loved the cinematography. Here's hoping it doesn't become just a crime-of-the-week procedural. But smoke monsters need not apply.
3. Apartment 23
This is hands-down our favorite comedy of the 2011-2012 series, and not just because James Van Der Beek is staring as a version of himself. Okay, it's partly because of that, but it's mainly due to Krysten Ritter, who has finally gotten the lead TV role she deserves. Her brutal and edgy humor are what Whitney would die to have an ounce of, and we're looking forward to seeing the roommates/frenemies on this show try and out torture each other all winter.
We were wowed by this well-executed pilot, which deftly puts Jason Isaacs in the position of playing a man who may or may not be going a little bit crazy. It's far better than his work in Abduction. Trust us. After his detective character survives a car accident with his wife and son, he finds himself co-existing in two worlds, one where his wife lived and his son died, and one where the reverse happened. If we were to reduce it to a soundbite, we'd call it Memento meets Inception. We want to see more. Right now.
The pilot of this show was one of the best we've seen in a while, and though it might be hard to sustain that long term, we're excited to see it try. It's got Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston staging a musical about Marilyn Monroe, and some actual Broadway folks thrown into the mix to give it a modicum of credibility (what with Katherine McPhee and all, it needs some help). Ignore the inevitable and lazy comparisons to Glee -- this is a musical-based TV drama done right.
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