Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Friday, May 16, 2003

Idiot Boxing Again: Part One

Two excellent posts yesterday on the always informative and entertaining blog of Mark Evanier (link at sidebar), one about how the news continues to distort the Jessica Lynch story, doubtless for purposes of propaganda and a ripping good TV movie; and the other about the proposed new fall lineup on the major TV networks. I spent way too much time early this morning reading up about these shows from the link Mark supplied. Fox and UPN haven't provided show details to the site, but the other nets have, so I thought I'd do a "scan and pan" of 'em, but I'll do the entries one day at a time for easy reading. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and pitches are quoted verbatim from the networks' own preview sites (ABC, CBS, NBC and TheWB).


ABC: 10-8 (8:00) - The Pitch (TP): Brooklyn bad boy Rico Amonte was sliding into a life of crime. Then his policeman brother caught him in the act - and hauled him off to Southern California to get him on the straight and narrow. Two years later, Rico is a graduate of the Los Angeles Sheriff's academy - a Deputy Sheriff trainee about to hit the streets in uniform, and with a gun and a badge. This edgy, humorous and very real take on the lives of rookie cops is based on the experience of Sheriff Paul Pietrantoni. My Highly-Opinionated Snap Judgement (MHOSJ): A cop show - how unique! At least it's got that whiff of "hey, the real-life guy was Italian, let's make this one Latino!" demographic greed about it. Have fun, kids; I don't do cop shows.

CBS: Cold Case (8:00) - TP: At Philadelphia's police headquarters, known as the Round House, Detective Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris, "Minority Report") is the only female member of the homicide squad. She and her partner handle "cold cases," unsolved crimes that have stayed that way for years, by supplementing the original detective work with information uncovered by present-day science. Cold Case, from the creative team behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Without A Trace, explores such issues as why a case goes cold, why witnesses are reluctant to come forward and why unsolved cases become solvable after all these years. MHOSJ: A cop show - how unique! See above. I gather that police procedural shows are a bit different than beat shows, but there has to be some other interesting profession out there. Isn't the world outside becoming enough of a police state without us having to see yet more of it on TV (way disproportionately to the number of citizens who actually work in law enforcement)? Yeah, I know, the more cop shows on TV, so goes the theory, the more accepting viewers will be of police intrusion in their own lives... it's all kinda like Commercials for Cops!

NBC: The Lyon's Den (10:00) - TP: When the managing partner of the prestigious law office of Lyon, LaCrosse & Levine falls to his death under mysterious circumstances, an unlikely candidate is chosen to replace him -- Jack Turner (Rob Lowe, The West Wing). But Jack's passion is operating the firm's tiny, inner city law clinic, taking on the impossible cases LL&L never would. Plus, there's an undercurrent of treachery which seems to permeate throughout the entire law house. Yet, because it's his best hope to keep the clinic open, Jack reluctantly accepts the job. Now he's at the center of an ominous ensemble of conspiring fellow attorneys, ambitious paralegals and the system's most secretive and powerful players. A man has to be careful in this Lyon's Den, or he'll be next to take the fall. As if Jack didn't know that already. MHOSJ: A lawyer show - how unique! :) Seriously, I'm a little tiny bit more inclined to watch lawyer shows than cop shows, if only on the strength of very fond memories of The Paper Chase (which, to be honest, was a classroom drama rather than a law drama and besides, I would have followed John Houseman anywhere and I had a major crush on James Bridges), and boy howdy, has Rob Lowe redeemed himself or what? (Great quote from R. Kelly in that linked article, by the way... heh, "whiny little bitch"...) I might give this one a look-see.

TheWB: Tarzan and Jane (9:00) - TP: Tarzan and Jane reveals a part of the saga that has yet to be told. Flash forward two decades from the day young John Clayton was left for dead in the heart of the jungle. Today, robbed of both his birthright and his adopted home, Tarzan fights for his life in the glass and steel canyons of another jungle - New York City. From his rooftop perch, Tarzan protects the city with the primal morality that proclaimed him king of the jungle. His only human bond is Jane Porter - a beautiful and dedicated police detective who must battle her conscience as well as the criminal element. Engaged to another member of the force, Jane is torn between love, duty and her powerful attraction to this wild and dangerous vigilante. A Warner Bros. Television production, in the tradition of Smallville, from writer/co-executive producer Eric Kripke, director/executive producer David Nutter (Smallville, Without A Trace) and executive producers Laura Ziskin (Pretty Woman), David Gerber, P.K. Simonds (Party of Five). MHOSJ: I don't have enough digits to enumerate how many ways this sounds soooo wrong. Some icons (like Superman or vampires) are "updateable" or "teen-ifyable" to modern times and some (like Tarzan or the Lone Ranger) just aren't, and if you can't understand the difference, well, you probably work in network TV. (Besides, didn't this premise work far better as Beauty and the Beast? Yes, fairy tales can be updateable if you do 'em right.)

Continued above...