Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Friday, May 16, 2003

Idiot Boxing Again: Part Six

See previous posts. Breaking up The Pitches (TP) and My Highly Opinionated Snap Judgements (MHOSJ) on the networks' new fall series by day yadda yadda. All times listed are Eastern and PM, and TP quoted verbatim from the nets. Thanks for sticking with me this long. No new shows listed for Saturday, but lots for...


ABC: Back to Kansas (8:30) - TP: In Tom's marriage to Susan Kelly, everything is relative. Tom, an only child, quickly learns that Susan's family is not only larger-than-life... it's larger than most. Tom and Susan moved from New York to Kansas to be closer to the quirky, tight-knit Kellys. The in-jokes, the family quirks... every get-together tests Tom's nerves, but nothing compares to his worst nightmare - game night. From befriending Susan's weird, bug-collecting brother to schmoozing with her smug, condescending uncle, Tom tries to become one of the family... whether he likes it or not. From exec-producer Brad Grey (The Sopranos, Just Shoot Me) comes a family-sized comedy with a super-sized heart. MHOSJ: You know, if game night is your worst nightmare, I'd say you're doing okay. If this show were done by middle Americans rather than left- or right-coasters, I might be more attracted to it. Then again, the fish-out-of-water premise worked well for Rob Morrow (although I think the appeal of Northern Exposure lay more in its magical realism).

ABC: Hope and Faith (9:00) - TP: Stay-at-home mom, Hope (Faith Ford), leads a busy, family-centered suburban life with her husband, children and live-in father. Her celebrity sister, Faith (Kelly Ripa), has been living the high life in Hollywood as a daytime soap opera diva. But when Faith's character is suddenly killed-off on "The Sacred and the Sinful," she flees Tinseltown and the relentlessly inquiring minds of the tabloid press, and seeks refuge in suburbia with Hope. Hope & Faith is a comedy about what happens when the fast lane collides with the carpool lane. It's about the moments that make you want to hug your sister... and the times you want to write her out of your life. MHOSJ: How stupidly precious is it that the actress named Faith plays the character named Hope rather than the character named Faith? And Kelly Ripa??? I'm wincing already. But I kinda want to like this one, so I hope it pleasantly surprises me. Seems like a good pairing with its lead-in (another middle-America show presumably written by people who don't live there).

CBS: Joan of Arcadia (8:00) - TP: Not your typical family show. Not your typical family. Will Girardi (Joe Mantegna) is the new police chief of Arcadia, California. Helen, his smart, tough wife, is trying to get their 19-year-old son Kevin, who was disabled in a car wreck a year earlier, to take an interest in life again. Luke, their other son, is a nerdy 15-year-old who thinks he has it all figured out. And Joan, their 16-year-old daughter, is a typical teenager oblivious to her treacherous surroundings. But family life in the Girardi household has just become a bit more complicated: God has decided to talk to Joan. And that's not something a teenager wants to handle. Joan of Arcadia traces the overlapping lives of the Girardis as it focuses on the family's evolution and on Joan's now even more interesting journey toward womanhood. God help her. God help the Girardis. Academy Award® winner Mary Steenburgen costars, with Amber Tamblyn as Joan. MHOSJ: It's so crazy it just might work! And I love the little register symbol the pitch uses after "Academy Award."

CBS: The Handler (10:00) - TP: Joe Renato (Joe Pantoliano, The Sopranos) is a handler, an FBI agent who trains street operatives and prepares them to go undercover. Deep undercover. The Handler follows the way he supervises his team--including Lily (the rookie) and Darnell (the veteran)--while giving us a psychological portrait of a man who manages the lives of his agents as he interacts with the law-enforcement bureaucrats who need his services. MHOSJ: Oh look, another cop show. (See previous posts.)

TheWB: Like Family (8:30) - TP: Holly Robinson Peete and Amy Yasbeck return to The WB in the realistic multi-ethnic comedy Like Family. When two families - one black, one white - share the same house, they discover that their differences are definitely more than skin deep. Tanya (Peete), Ed and their teen kids are a middle-class African-American family who open their doors for an old friend who is down on her luck. Newly single Maddie (Yasbeck) and her 16 year-old son Keith just need a place to stay until they can get back on their feet. What sounds like a perfect arrangement soon becomes non-stop tension (and laughs) as the two families argue about everything but skin color! An autobiographical take on family from creator Dan Fogelman with executive producers Rick Wiener & Kenny Schwartz (Mad About You), Warren Littlefield (Do Over) and Warner Bros. Television. MHOSJ: Crossover appeal? They sure seem to salivate over that possibility. Although in saying "they argue about everything but skin color" you do realize they're emphasizing even more that this a show about skin color. I'll probably watch it once or twice if I remember it's on.

TheWB: All About the Andersons (9:30) - TP: The WB is proud to welcome comedy sensation Anthony Anderson (Barbershop, Me, Myself & Irene, Big Momma's House, Life) in an all new multi-ethnic comedy. Anthony plays a struggling actor and single dad trying to provide a stable environment for his son, Tuga (8). No sooner has Anthony moved back into his parents' home than he suddenly remembers why he left in the first place. His mother is always understanding and supportive, but his cantankerous father hasn't changed a bit. He tells Anthony to abandon his acting hopes and get a "real job" working with him in the family beauty salon/barbershop. To complicate things, Anthony's old room is being rented out to a medical student - which leaves Anthony alone in the garage. Torn between teaching his son about determination and providing for him, Anthony decides to give up his dreams until Tuga reminds him that besides each other, their dreams are all they have. A semi-autobiographical comedy about fathers and sons from Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers Adam Glass, Anthony Anderson, and Marco Pennette, with executive producer/director Jamie Widdoes. MHOSJ: See, this is one where they say "multi-ethnic" but it actually seems to mean "black." In any case, it sounds cute and I like the idea of setting a TV show in a barber shop, but what I really want to see is the inevitable show set in a nail salon. I mean come on, every neighborhood shopping district seems to have at least one nail salon per block (more if it's a working-class neighborhood). I smell sitcom premise!!

Happy viewing, all.