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Hercules The Strong Has Seen 28 New Network Shows!! Which Does He Least Disdain??

I am – Hercules!!

I did not go to San Diego Comic-Con this year. This gave me time to watch 28 network pilots. I am here to share.

Bear in mind that what follow are not necessarily good shows, but merely what Herc estimates are the 10 best of the 28 he got to see:

1. Studio 60

What’s it about? A pair of up-and-coming filmmakers are suddenly recruited to become showrunners at their alma mater - a show very much like “Saturday Night Live” - when the old showrunner has an network-induced on-air meltdown.
When’s it air? 10 p.m. Mondays on NBC, opposite “CSI: Miami” and “What About Brian.”
Who’s responsible? Writer Aaron Sorkin, who created “A Few Good Men,” “The American President,” “Sports Night” and “The West Wing.”
Who’s in it? Matthew Perry (“Friends”), Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”), Amanda Peet (“Syriana”), Steven Weber (“Wings”), Sarah Paulson (“Deadwood”), Nathan Corddry (“The Daily Show”), D.L. Hughley (“The Hughleys”) and Tim Busfield (“thirtysomething”).
Why is stupid Herc so excited? “Studio 60” is not only destined to be my favorite new show, I’m pretty sure it will depose contenders like “Veronica Mars” and “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Venture Bros.” and “The Brotherhood” and “24” and “Lost” as my favorite current series of any vintage. The network exec played by Amanda Peet is another of Sorkin’s Bartlet-esque dream presidents; by the time the pilot’s over, you want to put Jordan McDeere in charge of every network, plus all the cable channels. Matthew Perry front and center in Aaron Sorkin marks the formal achievement of critical entertainment mass. Perry and Bradley Whitford are terrific together, funny and moving and completely endearing in their unapologetic hetero mutual man-love. I love that in this alternate universe, Hollywood’s historic Palladium was somehow expanded and converted into a West Coast Studio 8H. (Was the show re-titled, I wonder, because “Studio 60” fits on the Palladium’s sign better than “Studio 7”?) If the pilot stumbles, it’s in making the departing Lorne Michaels character (Judd Hirsch) a lot less funny than the real Lorne Michaels. But Hirsch’s Wes Mendel is pretty much gone for good after the first act, so not a huge issue. It’s a four-star pilot, and I frankly expect an even better series.

2. Kidnapped

What’s it about? A superrich and well-insulated Manhattan family finds itself torn in all sorts of directions when its teen son (Leopold Caine!) is abducted by a murderous individual who really knows what the fuck he’s doing.
When’s it air? Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC, opposite CBS’ “CSI: New York” and ABC’s “The Nine.”
Who’s responsible? Writer Jason Smilovic, who masterminded “Karen Sisco,” ABC’s way-too-good-for-TV TV version of Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight.”
Who’s in it? Jeremy Sisto ("Six Feet Under"), Delroy Lindo ("Get Shorty"), Dana Delany ("China Beach"), Timothy Hutton ("Beautiful Girls"), Mykelti Williamson ("Boomtown"), Linus Roache ("Batman Begins"), Carmen Ejogo ("Lackawanna Blues"), Will Denton ("Palindromes") and Boris McGiver ("The Pink Panther"). And Mamet regular Ricky Jay!!!!
Why is stupid Herc so excited? It’s the best show nobody is talking about (possibly because people keep mixing it up with Fox’s super-similar - yet vastly inferior - “Vanished”?). You kinda know right away you’re in good hands the minute you notice the lack of pride world-weary Massive Private Bodyguard Virgil Hayes takes in correcting the elevator operator on a species of flora being transported. “We don’t discuss Virgil with guests,” Delany’s character reminds her preteen daughter (in French) as a “Times” writer lurks nearby. (If you’re a fan of Jack Bristow or Jack Bauer or Aaron Pierce, there’s an excellent chance you’re going to be way into Virgil Hayes.) And I’m not even sure Virgil survives the pilot. Jeremy Sisto (Brenda’s incestuous love interest on “Six Feet Under”) plays a character so badass he’s charged with cleaning up Virgil’s mess. He has a very kissable British partner who does not get kissed in the pilot. Delroy Lindo demonstrates all manner of heretofore unnoticed nuance as an FBI shark. Hutton kicks in some of the “Ordinary People” gravitas he pioneered more than a quarter century ago. Dana Delany is incredible, and today defines “milftastico.”

3. Jericho

What’s it about? A small town in Kansas loses all communication – TV, radio, phones - with everything beyond its city limits. And a huge mushroom cloud appears over Denver.
When’s it air? 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS, opposite “Bones,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Dancing With The Stars,” “30 Rock” and “20 Good Years.”
Who’s responsible? Stephen Chbosky (“Rent”) wrote the pilot. Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) directed.
Who’s in it? Skeet Ulrich ("Miracles"), Gerald McRaney ("Deadwood"), Ashley Scott ("Birds of Prey"), Pamela Reed ("Proof of Life"), Kenneth Mitchell ("The Recruit"), Lennie James ("Sahara"), Sprague Grayden ("Six Feet Under"), Michael Gaston ("Prison Break") and Erik Knudsen ("Saw II").
Why is stupid Herc so excited? This, I believe, is the best scripted pilot CBS has taken to series since “Northern Exposure.” That’s one creepy mushroom cloud! And there’s an exceedingly eerie answering-machine message! Plus? A resident of Jericho is undergoing an nasty IRS audit when the greater ugliness begins. The power goes out. There’s a tiny child whose trachea is swelling shut. The Geiger counters don’t register radiation, but there are all these dead animals lying around. People start fighting over gasoline. The Ulrich character won’t tell anyone where he’s been or what he’s been up to the last few years. This pilot isn’t as good as “Lost’s,” not by a long shot, but it’s way way way better than the pilots for “Surface,” “Threshold,” “Night Stalker,” “Invasion,” “Supernatural” and every “X-Files” rip-off trying last season to emulate “Lost’s” precedent-shattering sci-fi success. The cast is tremendous.

4. Heroes

What’s it about? An artist-addict discovers he’s clairvoyant. A cop discovers he can read minds. A cheerleader discovers an ability to heal her injuries. An office worker discovers he can freeze time. A stripper discovers she has a deadly mirror twin. A prisoner discovers he can teleport himself. A male nurse begins to think he can fly. A handsome Indian nerd is investigating. And all these newly superpowered beings seem to be connected to each other.
When’s it air? 9 p.m. Mondays, opposite ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Fox’s “Vanished,” The CW’s “Runaway” and CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” and “Old Christine.”
Who’s responsible? “Crossing Jordan” creator Tim Kring.
Who’s in it? Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls"), Adrian Pasdar ("Judging Amy"), Hayden Panettiere ("Ally McBeal"), Ali Larter ("Final Destination"), Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), Noah Gray-Cabey ("My Wife & Kids"), Leonard Roberts ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Santiago Cabrera ("Empire"), Tawny Cypress ("Third Watch"), and Masi Oka ("Scrubs").
Why is stupid Herc so excited? A lot of the pilot makes no sense to me. It’s loaded with bizarre coincidences. Most of the characters are underwritten, and some of them do things very differently than would most people dealing with the same circumstances. But the pilot at least plays more like “Unbreakable” than “Mutant X,” and there are questions raised that I remain keen to see answered. (There’s no way I’ll miss the second episode.) And it’s hard to get the pilot’s written prologue out of my head: “Although unaware of it now, these individuals will not only save the world, but change it forever.” The best news? Subsequent to the pilot shoot, the great Bryan Fuller (who created both “Dead Like Me” and “Wonderfalls” and wrote the pilot for “The Amazing Screw-On Head”) was brought aboard to help things along.

5. Runaway

What’s it about? “The Fugitive” meets “Everwood” as an entire family is forced to go on the run and reinvent their identities after their lawyer dad is framed for murdering his hot, lonely colleague.
When’s it air? Monday nights on the CW, opposite NBC’s “Heroes,” ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Fox’s “Vanished,” and CBS’s “Two and a Half Men” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
Who’s responsible? Writer Chad Hodge (“Tru Calling”). The pilot was directed by Mikael Salomon (“Rome”).
Who’s in it?Donnie Wahlberg (“Boomtown”), Leslie Hope (“24”), Dustin Milligan (“Final Destination 3”), Sarah Ramos (“American Dreams”), Nathan Gamble (“Babel”), Susan Floyd (“Random Hearts”) and Karen LeBlanc (“Kevin Hill”).
Why is stupid Herc so excited? It’s hard not to get sucked into The CW’s only new drama. The teen son is pissed because he had to ditch his hot blonde cheerleader girlfriend and has to share a room with his brother in some Iowa shithole. The wife is pissed because she suspects her husband either boned or wanted to bone the dead girl. The husband is pissed because the wife impulsively changes their cover story. The preteen son keeps forgetting elements of the that cover story. Don’t be dissuaded by the fact that Darren Star (“90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Central Park West,” “Grosse Pointe,” “The $treet,” “Miss Match”) is involved; he didn’t write or direct the pilot. “Runaway” is compelling. There is suspense. Leslie Hope, who played Jack Bauer’s wife during the first season of “24,” is one talented actress.

6. Smith

What’s it about? People who commit out-of-town armed robberies to supplement their incomes.
When’s it air? 10 p.m. Tuesday on CBS, opposite ABC’s “Boston Legal” and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.”
Who’s responsible? Writer-producer John Wells (“ER,” “The West Wing”).
Who’s in it? Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”), Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”), Jonny Lee Miller ("Trainspotting"), Amy Smart ("Starsky & Hutch,” “The Butterfly Effect") Simon Baker ("The Guardian") and Franky G ("Saw II").
Why is stupid Herc so excited? There’s a cool scene with Simon Baker fucking with a pair of Hawaiian tough-guys. There’s a cool sequence with Baker hanging out in the apartment of a new sexual conquest. There’s a cool scene with Amy Smart tearing her own blouse open and tasering an old high-school friend. There’s a strange scene with Virginia Madsen and a pee-cup that could cause a few viewers to tune in for episode two. It’s another stupid attempt to do Tarantino TV without Tarantino, but one of the better I’ve seen.

7. The Knights of Prosperity

What’s it about? A bunch of New York half-wits form “The Knights of Prosperity,” dedicated to getting rich quick by plundering Mick Jagger’s opulent Manhattan apartment. (This one is better known as “Let’s Rob …”)
When’s it air? 9 p.m. Tuesday on ABC. Opposite The CW’s “Veronica Mars,” CBS’ “The Unit,” Fox’s “Standoff” and NBC’s “Law & Order: CI.”
Who’s responsible? “Ed” creators Rob Burnett & Jon Beckerman (“Late Show With David Letterman”).
Who’s in it? Donal Logue (“Grounded For Life”), Sofia Vergara (“Four Brothers”), Maz Jabrani (“The Interpreter”), Josh Grisetti (“The Namesake”), Lenny Venito (“The Sopranos”), Kevin Michael Richardson (“ER”) and Mick Jagger (“Freejack”).
Why is stupid Herc so excited? It’s a very silly show about profoundly stupid characters, but the Mick Jagger stuff is hilarious. Hopefully it will improve upon its pilot, just as Burnett and Beckerman’s last comedy, “Ed,” did.

8. Notes From The Underbelly

What’s it about? A thirtysomething couple gets pregnant on the first try.
When’s it air? 8:30 p.m. Thursdays on ABC. Opposite CBS’ “Survivor,” NBC’s “The Office,” The CW’s “Smallville” and Fox’s “Happy Hour.”
Who’s responsible? Writer Stacy Traub (“What I Like About You,” “Kitchen Confidential”). Barry Sonnenfeld (“The Tick”) directed the pilot.
Who’s in it? Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein"), Peter Cambor (“The J2 Project”), Melanie Deanne Moore (“Happy Family"), Michael Weaver ("The Mullets"), and Rachael Harris (“Fat Actress”).
Why is stupid Herc so excited? It’s brainy, it moves quickly, it has highly likeable leads, it has a funny “Lost” gag. Jennifer Westfeldt is exceedingly loveable; America needs to see more of her. Netflix the lesbian romantic comedy “Kissing Jessica Stein” if you don’t know what I’m talking about. ABC really should have turned this into an hourlong.

9. 30 Rock

What’s it about? The showrunner of a live hit sketch series called “The Girlie Show” is forced by an NBC exec to add a deranged movie star (apparently modeled on Martin Lawrence) to her cast.
When’s it air? 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC. Opposite CBS’ “Jericho,” Fox’s “Bones,” ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” and the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model.”
Who’s responsible? Writer Tina Fey (“Mean Girls,” “Saturday Night Live”).
Who’s in it? Tina Fey (“Mean Girls,” “Saturday Night Live”), Alec Baldwin (“The Aviator,” “The Cooler”), Tracy Morgan (“Saturday Night Live,” “The Tracy Morgan Show”), Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live,” “Mean Girls”), Scott Adsit (“Kicking and Screaming”) and Jack McBrayer (“Talladega Nights”).
Why is stupid Herc so excited? The pilot is kind of a disaster and makes not a ton of sense, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me laugh at junctures. So it sticks its head above the sitcom pack in this regard at least. Fey, now possessed of big American post-pregnancy breasts, continues to hold a vexing physical allure. The series is doomed as long as it follows the laughtrack-happy Lithgow/Tambor sitcom “20 Good Years,” which is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.

10. Men in Trees

What’s it about? A famous author and “relationship coach” learns, en route to a speaking engagement in remote Alaska, that her fiancé is having an affair. Devastated, she decides to remain in this tiny snow-covered town – where the male-female ratio is 10 to 1 – to write a book about men.
When’s it air? 9 p.m. Fridays on ABC. Opposite CBS’ “Close To Home,” NBC’s “Las Vegas,” Fox’s “Duets,” and the CW’s “Smackdown.”
Who’s responsible? Writer Jenny Bicks (“Sex and the City,” “Leap of Faith,” “What A Girl Wants”). James Mangold (“Heavy,” “Cop Land,” “Identity,” “Walk The Line” directed the pilot.
Who’s in it? Anne Heche (“Ally McBeal”), James Tupper (“Corky Romano”), Sarah Strange (“Life As We Know It”), Emily Bergl (“Carrie 2: The Rage”), John Amos (“The West Wing”), Francoise Yip (“Blade Trinity”), Abraham Benrubi (“ER”), Claudette Mink (“Alfie”) and Derek Richardson (“Hostel”).
Why is stupid Herc so excited? There’s nothing here that wasn’t done a dozen times better on “Northern Exposure,” but the cast gets this enterprise over a lot of so-so scripting. Heche, particularly, is sexy and exhibits a lot of confidence and remains very watchable.

As it happens, Netflix is making my top two pilots – “Studio 60” and “Kidnapped” - available for rental well in advance of their late-September broadcasts. Look! A press release!



-Promotion Launches Six Weeks Prior to Broadcast Premieres and Includes Preview Trailers of Fall Drama Lineup-

BURBANK - July 19, 2006 - In a first-of-its-kind promotion, NBC and Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced they will offer Netflix's approximately five million subscribers an advanced look at the premiere episodes of NBC's anticipated new drama series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Kidnapped." The shows will be made available in their entirety, six weeks before their respective broadcast premieres, on a special DVD created for Netflix that will also include preview trailers of the network's other new fall drama series. The announcement was made by John Miller, chief marketing officer for NBC Universal Television Group, and Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix.

"This unique joint effort will generate even more early buzz for some of our hottest new dramas by letting the Netflix user get an early preview," said Miller. "The promotion takes aim at the Netflix demographic-rich entertainment consumer who is looking for this kind of high-end television show, and then is eager to pass the word."

"Great TV is an increasingly important and popular component of the 60,000-title catalog Netflix offers its subscribers," said Sarandos. "Joining forces with NBC to launch two terrific new series differentiates our service in the area of unique and original content and provides NBC with an innovative platform to promote its fall lineup."

Beginning August 5, Netflix subscribers will have the opportunity to view "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Kidnapped" before anyone else. When added to their personal "queues" on, the DVD will be mailed first-class with postage-paid return via the United States Postal Service, Netflix's customary means of distribution. Netflix subscribers can add the shows to their "queues" now and the promotional offer will extend until September 17.

To drive awareness of the offer, NBC and Netflix will employ a range of promotional vehicles, including tagged network spots and integration into the annual 30-minute NBC "Fall Preview Show," which airs repeatedly on the NBC stations (and NBCU cable channels) for approximately six weeks prior to premiere week in September. In addition, the promotion will be featured in banner ads on the Netflix Web site and print ads inside the company's trademark red mailers. Netflix will also promote the special offer to relevant subscribers based on previous rentals and ratings of comparable content.

About "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" Emmy Award-winning executive producer-writer Aaron Sorkin (NBC's "The West Wing") and Emmy-Award winning executive producer-director Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing") return to television with this crackling take on the drama behind the humor of producing a popular, late-night comedy sketch show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Sorkin lays bare the backstage politics, romances and delicate balance between creative talent, on-air personalities and network executives in an instant text-messaging world. Prominent are Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet, "Syriana"), a savvy new network entertainment chief who inherits a massive public relations disaster on the series and Matt Albie (Matthew Perry, "Friends") and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford, "The West Wing"), a brilliant creative team that she wants to resurrect the program. Also playing crucial roles are the sketch comedy series stars Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson, "Down With Love"), Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley, "The Hughleys") and Tom Jeter (Nathan Corddry, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"), their normally cool-headed director, Cal Shanley (Timothy Busfield, "thirtysomething") as well as supreme network honcho Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber, "Wings"). The series is a production of Warner Bros Television.

About "Kidnapped" NBC's "Kidnapped" is a high-stakes serialized thriller in which the teenage son of a wealthy Upper East Side family is kidnapped and everyone is a suspect. The series focuses on the elaborate, triangulated game between the kidnappers, FBI and law enforcement, and the private negotiating team contracted by this "perhaps" not-so-picture-perfect family. On a rainy New York morning, the idyllic existence of Conrad Cain (Timothy Hutton, "Kinsey"), a self-made millionaire with a long list of enemies, and his well-to-do wife Ellie (Dana Delany, "China Beach") is torn apart when their 15-year-old son Leopold (Will Denton "Palindromes"), a smart but quirky kid whose innocence makes him the perfect target, is kidnapped on his way to school. The boy's bodyguard Virgil (Mykelti Williamson, "Boomtown"), the boy's first line of defense even after the kidnapping, is left to die. Desperate to find his son while keeping his skeletons hidden, Mr. Cain enlists the services of Knapp (Jeremy Sisto, "Six Feet Under" and "Thirteen"), a "professional" investigator who works outside the law's strict rulebook to retrieve kidnapping victims and guide families through the grueling process, and his able partner and right hand Turner (Carmen Ejogo, "Lackawanna Blues"). Operating opposite Knapp and his team are Special Agent Latimer King (Delroy Lindo, "The Core"), an experienced FBI agent who postpones his retirement due to a vested interest in this complicated case, and King's colleague and antithesis Agent Andy Archer (Linus Roache, "Batman Begins"), who only knows how to play by the rules. "Kidnapped" is produced by Sony Pictures Television and 25C Productions. Jason Smilovic ("Karen Sisco"), David Greenwalt ("Angel"), Michael Dinner ("Invasion"), Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly are executive producers.

Streeting July 25!! Order Now!! Get Tuesday!! Animaniacs Vol. 1 * The Boondocks 1.x * Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes * Dark Shadows Vol. 25 * Galaxy High School Vol. 2 * Invisible Man 2.x * JAG 1.x * Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour 3 * La Femme Nikita 4.x * Miami Vice 1.x-2.x * Pinky and the Brain Vol. 1 * The Prisoner: Complete Series Megaset * Punky Brewster 3.x * Rawhide 1.x * Tales From The Crypt 4.x

Readers Talkback
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  • July 23, 2006, 12:06 a.m. CST


    by Bob of the Shire

    Anyway, did 30 Good Years suck? Has John Lithgow fallen from grace?

  • July 23, 2006, 12:08 a.m. CST

    Question for Herc

    by Biowolf

    I heard a new show called "Enemies" was coming this fall. Have you heard anything about it?

  • July 23, 2006, 12:32 a.m. CST

    Not excited for any of that other than Tina Fey's boobs

    by Darth Bauer

    Seriously. "24" and "The Shield" rule all.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:32 a.m. CST


    by BatPsycho

  • July 23, 2006, 12:33 a.m. CST

    So, Studio 60 & 30 Rock are the same then?

    by Cletus Van Damme

    ....just to clarify.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:36 a.m. CST

    I like the Cheerleader Hereos commercial

    by stargirl

    Teen suicide is fun!

  • July 23, 2006, 12:38 a.m. CST


    by stargirl

    Hereos sounds like cereal.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:39 a.m. CST


    by 13596484

    It would be good to know which 18 other pilots you have seen - just the names perhaps, so that we know which not to look forward to. Have you seen Day Break and Traveler, for example?

  • July 23, 2006, 12:41 a.m. CST

    Wait, so 30 Rock is one of the good ones?

    by The Guy Who Nods

    It's a disaster that doesn't make sense, but I laughed a few times? So basically what you're saying is, there's only about eight really good new shows and then two thrown in to make it an even ten.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:44 a.m. CST

    "Fey... continues to hold a vexing physical allure".

    by Mr Brownstone

    Funniest thing you've ever written buddy. Lot's of interesting shows this fall. Heroes, Jericho and Studio 60 are at the top of my list. Runaway sounds kinda like Running On Empty.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:47 a.m. CST

    HERC, I'd like to point something out...

    by Shermdawg

    Out of the X-files ripoff/Lost moochers of last year: Surface, Threshold, Night Stalker, Invasion, and Supernatural, which one is still around? Hmm? :P

  • July 23, 2006, 12:49 a.m. CST


    by Mr Brownstone

    Aren't there some other post apocalypse themed shows debuting this fall? See any of em?

  • July 23, 2006, 12:57 a.m. CST

    I'll give Jericho a shot, the premise sounds nifty.

    by Shermdawg

    I really wanna see Heroes, buuut, I'm afraid that I'll get even more pissed off at the way Fox handled X-men if I do. They should have taken things slow and started out with a series. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, X-men could have dwarfed Star Trek in terms of longevity. (Gawd Damn, have I mentioned that I hate Tom Rothman lately? Cause I do.) From what I've seen of the ads, Heroes looks great. Especially the girl who was in Remember The Titans, who in just once line uttered, is already a better Rogue than Anna Paquinn.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:10 a.m. CST

    Bring on Perry!

    by Flickerhead

    Can't wait to see Matthew Fucking Perry on television again. Sorkin's show has such a juicy premise to begin with, but throw Perry in there and you've got fucking gold. Will he be able to outlive Chandler? Is such a thing even possible? I mean, the fucker had one of the most iconic roles in the modern history of television ("Friends" haters, go fuck yourselves--could you BE any more pretentious?), so it'll be fun to see him in a new role.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:28 a.m. CST

    Damn, I was hoping for good things from Tambor

    by eppdude

    after the Arrested demolition. But Lithgow IS fucking annoying. Yes, definitely pumped about Studio 60. And since 30 is half of 60, should we then assume Fey's show is only half as good as Sorkin's? I think it's a safe bet.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:45 a.m. CST

    Studio 60 is destined to be a hit...

    by CardinalHog

    Studio 60 is the only new show that holds my interest. The preview that was/is up on is brilliant. The chemistry between the actors is unmatched. It's amazing how many shows now-a-days are growing to be better than any Hollywood flick could imagine to be. I can't wait for Studio 60. This is what "Sports Night" should have been.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:50 a.m. CST

    "stupid Herc" really is stupid if...

    by Deep Cover

    ...he thinks another Sorkin drama is going to be better than BATTLESTAR. No frakkin' way.

  • July 23, 2006, 2:51 a.m. CST

    Flickerhead, I was unaware that disliking a bad show...

    by Lenny Nero

    ...made me pretentious. Seriously, it's time to invoke one of Siskel's Laws: "Nobody can tell you what is funny or sexy. Either it is, or it isn't." Basically, humor is so subjective that I can find, say, "Friends" to be unbearably unfunny and not have it be a "fuck off" kind of moment.

  • July 23, 2006, 2:54 a.m. CST


    by Mechasheeva

    sounds cool as hell, but at first I thought it had something to do with that new Clive Barker videogame. Disappointment soon followed.

  • July 23, 2006, 3:08 a.m. CST

    Jericho is great...

    by LeiaDown&FuckHer

    Or at least the pilot was anyhow, and holds great promise. As such I predict it'll be cancelled inside of 6 episodes.

  • July 23, 2006, 3:17 a.m. CST

    all of these shows sound like shit

    by Strabo

    Seriously, is that the best they can do?

  • July 23, 2006, 4:22 a.m. CST

    RE: 13596484

    by Scream27

    After seeing 15 or so pilots this summer, none of which floated my boat to write in, like last summer I did with Prison Break. Where Herc busted my balls, being seeing as it is an international hit, and season 2 is filming now I think can spot a good pilot when I see one. I would put Travler higher up on Herc's list than Runaway. Yes Travler is the fugitive but with two guys, but there is some sub-plots going in the background with flesh this pilot out more than Runaway. The only worry I have is that they best not show the pilot in September, as there could be a backlash from its plot. As for Shark, its James Woods playing a lawyer. Doing the same act when he was playing himself from the episode of Entourage he was in a few weeks back. Jericho, has the cool mushroom cloud and the eerie message on voicemail, add in the ex-cop from St Louis and we might get 10 episodes, but I can see this being too gloomy for US audiences and expect it to follow in the footsteps of threshold. Also the new show with the hottest babes is secrets of a small town. We have Denise Richards as the uber-hot step-mum, we have Leighton Meester as a pair of hot twins, and Lucy Hale as the chick who stole the both of the twins boyfriend (it

  • July 23, 2006, 5:38 a.m. CST

    My thoughts on pilots...

    by Starkers

    I agree completely about the Studio 60, Kidnapped and Heroes comments, but Jericho??? The lamest Pilot I've seen yet! Terrible use of pop music, pedestrian direction, and generally poorly written. The only bright spark was Gerald McRaney (aka George Hurst of Deadwood). A show such as Traveller is vastly superior IMO. Yet to see Runaway or Smith. Shark is no doubt the first of many House imitators and is just kind of there. "The Nine" was incredibly well shot but you can see the shows writters painting themselves into a corner in the first episode. I don't see how it could go for more then a season. I've been told that Friday Night Lights is great, anyone seen it? Have you seen Daybreak yet Herc? Is it any good?

  • July 23, 2006, 6:03 a.m. CST


    by topaz4206

    Has been leaked online as well. I thought it was good, but nearly every power is so X-men-y that it was a little upsetting. And I'm not sure I understand what the mirror-chick does.

  • July 23, 2006, 6:16 a.m. CST

    Mirror-chick powers

    by Scream27

    She just looks hot, and fingers crossed will strip for us later in the season. As for "The Nine" I hope there are some flashbacks so we can see what happened during the robbery.

  • July 23, 2006, 6:21 a.m. CST

    Allan Ball Vampire show...

    by Yeti

    currently titled "Pureblood" won't hit the small screens till Spring 2007. Expect the unexpected (this is Allan Ball after all) I would say he'll do for Vampires what he did for family dysfunction and undertakers. Stay Tuned.

  • July 23, 2006, 6:34 a.m. CST comes through on Veronica Mars ComicCon dish..

    by paulh

    They graduated to a 4,000 seat meeting space at the San Diego Convention Center and here's the scoop (spoilers, obviously):

  • July 23, 2006, 8:38 a.m. CST '24' and 'Lost' then. Cool.

    by I Dunno

  • July 23, 2006, 8:55 a.m. CST

    So which show will be cursed by Herc's support?

    by chrth

    I'm guessing Kidnapped

  • July 23, 2006, 9:16 a.m. CST

    is Hercules The Strong bound from speaking ill

    by punto

    of any of these show until the day before they premiere (like last year)?

  • July 23, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Damn, the "Smith" cast is strong...

    by Uga

    And please tell me Sorkin can write his show without making snide political commentary. Too much to ask?

  • July 23, 2006, 11:37 a.m. CST

    Stupid Herc was truly stupid when he recommended Bones

    by newc0253

    but apart from that, i still trust him/her/whatever.

  • July 23, 2006, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Tina Fey ruined SNL

    by Bob of the Shire

    End her reign of terror.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Heroes looks like a ripoff of The 4400.

    by Z0D

    The only thing that I could find interesting about Heroes is the flying nurse dude and his other flying friend. I have a fascination with flying. But there's already a show in place and that's The 4400. Heroes is a blatent rip-off. ___KNEEL___

  • July 23, 2006, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Television is getting good again...

    by DanielKurland

    A LOT of these shows sound really interesting, and I am so fucking please at the insane amount of publicity Studio 60 is getting, because I'd really like Sorkin to be on top again. Hopefully he'll be able to write every episode, like in the past. Yes, Matthew Perry will get his first Emmy for this show, and WILL outlive "Friends" quite easily. The fact that on the West Wing, his small guest appearances were Emmy nominated is proof of this. Really glad to see Skeet Ulrich on TV again, and hopefully Jericho will live longer than Miracles. Excited for a lot of the stuff here, and paulh, thank you for the VM info, i've been searching for it.

  • July 23, 2006, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Sorry ZOD...

    by Shermdawg

    but it's more of a X-men ripoff, and to some extent so is teh 4400 from what I've heard.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:03 p.m. CST

    TV is better than movies now.

    by Red Ned Lynch

    Shouldn't be but is. Less upfront risk, more revenue streams, longer earning life means more risks taken. More time means a chance to do more intricate plots and deeper character development with a broader and richer cast of characters. Now that arc driven shows are more accepted television is becoming the novel of pop culture and movies are becoming the short story. Movies have adapted to TV challenges before so maybe expect more trilogies from the get-go and Kill Bill type serialized films. And the fall slate is so loaded there will have to be at least a couple winners. Please.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:13 p.m. CST

    If these are the best of the new TV shows...

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    ...then I'd hate to see the bad ones. There isn't a single show on this list that looks original or interesting.

  • July 23, 2006, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Since Aaron Sorkin's shows tend to have a lot of humor,

    by twitchinmonkey

    It'll be interesting to see if Matthew Perry can make the transion to comedy after all the years on Friends...

  • July 23, 2006, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Sherm, they don't wear super hero suits in The 4400

    by Z0D

    And the 4400 characters also aren't mutants. Mutants have physical changes to their chromosomes or biochemical change in the codons that make up genes. Basically mutants have physical characteristics that have resulted from those changes. On the other hand, the 4400 just have different parts of their brains turned on making them advanced humans. ___KNEEL___

  • July 23, 2006, 2:23 p.m. CST

    20 Good Years

    by brs1905

    I have seen most of the NBC and CW pilots, and 30 Rock is too all over the map to last past 13 eps. Tina Fey & Rachel Dratch can be vey funny, but they try & force it waaaaay too much. Supporting cast carries it, and somebody make sure Alec Baldwin stays on TV. 20 Good years is one of the best 4 camera sitcoms Ihave seen in a long time. 3rd Rock was one that it was had to see at first, but was very funny. 20GY can bee the same. Studio 60 is awesome, and could be as good or better than its older brother Sports Night. You'll love the Felicity Huffman cameo in the pilot

  • July 23, 2006, 2:51 p.m. CST

    From ComicCon -- "B5: The Lost Tales," coming in 2007.

    by Leto III

    So where's the series announcement/Talkback??

  • July 23, 2006, 3:55 p.m. CST

    I'm surprised

    by the crucible

    I found both Traveller and The Nine so much better than Runaway... like Herc said Runaway is a family drama and it seemed to sink into the stupidity of most family drama shows, very little excitement and very little of interest.

  • July 23, 2006, 5:33 p.m. CST

    Heros annoys me already

    by punto

    that description sounds like the show writers have 0 imagination. the only 2 chicks are a 'cheerleader' and 'stripper'? I'm not really a feminist, but I'm bored by shows that don't know what to do with their female characters (other than have them run around in slow motion)

  • July 23, 2006, 7:14 p.m. CST

    Z0D, lol

    by Shermdawg

    I'm not saying it's bad, I haven't seen it. But from your description, it still sounds awfully close to X-men. Not so much that its a ripoff, but I'm sure they had to be inspired by something. And we both know what that was.

  • July 23, 2006, 7:23 p.m. CST

    A lot of the pilots sound interesting

    by nemesisdarkside

    How am I gonna be able to keep up with these new shows as well as my other shows. Luckily I'm upgrading my broadband in September. Not that my broadband upgrade has ANYTHING to do with viewing US TV programmes! ;P Thank God for "Trans-Atlantic Cable"!!!

  • July 23, 2006, 7:34 p.m. CST

    The SI Curse. The EA Sports Curse. The Herc Curse?

    by paulh

    Hey, it can happen. And where's the VM ComicCon talkback? The introduction of the panel is already on YouTube ;)

  • July 23, 2006, 7:53 p.m. CST

    I'll give a couple a shot...

    by dubsy

    likely Kidnapped, Heroes and Studio 60. I owe being a fan of Lost to Herc. Way back in the day when he used to post episode reviews with all the questions, he did one for the pilot of Lost. Until that point I hadn't heard much about it but when he said best thing he's ever seen I took a look and so glad I did. Jericho sounds good too but I'll wait to see more of a consensus opinion before I take the leap. I already got Lost, 24, Veronica Mars, Prison Break and Entourage to keep tabs on and I don't have that much time. Thank god I'm getting DVR

  • July 23, 2006, 8:50 p.m. CST

    Video of Jericho at CBS' site

    by Bob of the Shire

    Starts off making it look like an "Ed" clone and then bam, mushroom cloud and all communication is cut off. Could be very interesting, although I'm very wary.

  • July 23, 2006, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Tina Fey needs to be fucked good and hard

    by Monkeybutt2000

    Then maybe she would go away

  • July 23, 2006, 10:19 p.m. CST

    Jericho's pilot was terrible

    by Brock Samson

    Dull, poorly acted, and sadly predictable for a show about the end of the world. Studio 60 has a great script, and hopefully 30 Rock will bomb and end Tina Fey's awful career.

  • July 23, 2006, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Jericho poorly acted??

    by splungiest

    Who acted the most poorly? Gernald McRaney? Skeet Ulrich? Pamela Reed? Did you really watch this pilot, Brock Samson?

  • July 23, 2006, 11:15 p.m. CST

    Ali Larter!

    by topaz4206

    How frickin hot did Ali Larter look in the pilot of Heroes! I'd pay $39 per 20 minutes to watch her read.

  • July 23, 2006, 11:51 p.m. CST


    by ILK

    It's wasn't that bad. I love the premise. Seems like a show that if given the chance, really could become very, very good. Heroes was pretty damned good, too. Herc was dead on in his description of it being more Unbreakable than Mutant X. Within the first few minutes I was thinking about Unbreakable. It felt like a film, too. If you want to check them out, the file sharing fairy just whispered in my ear (shhh.. she said "search") then promptly creeped me out by saying something about crisco and the evolution of banana shape.

  • July 24, 2006, 6:09 a.m. CST

    Better than VM?!!!?!1MEGATON!!?!?!?!???

    by MemBirdman

    I mean, sure, being one of the 12 Sports Night's original die-hards, I want Studio 60 to be Sports Night spiritual successor and therefore get the ratings that the predecessor deserved. But better than Veronica Mars? PLEASE tell me it's apples and oranges, that it will simply be the #1 for a person who gets paid to make lists and not a situation where you'd trade one for the other!

  • July 24, 2006, 7:20 a.m. CST

    cletus van damme

    by Trader Groucho 2

    Studio 60 and 30 Rock have overlapping premises, yes. Studio 60 is an hour show and 30 Rock a half-hour sitcom. I would infer from that - along with the differing sensibilities of show creators Aaron Sorkin and Tina Fey, each brilliant in their own right - that the tone of the two shows is going to be significantly different.

  • July 24, 2006, 7:23 a.m. CST

    bob of the shire

    by Trader Groucho 2

    your wish has been granted, with a bonus. both fey and drache are departing snl in favor of 30 rock.

  • July 24, 2006, 7:25 a.m. CST


    by Trader Groucho 2

    Some of us LIVE for the snide political commentary, and I guarantee you no shortage of it from either Sorkin or Fey.

  • July 24, 2006, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Yes splungiest, and it was dull as well

    by Brock Samson

    I have seen the pilot for Jericho. As for the poor acting, it comes from whoever plays the kid who discovers that other cities have been hit besides Denver, the guy who's running for Mayor against McRaney(there's your speeps episode, by the way. Which candidate will do a better job dealing with the mutated road gangs that will perodically attack the town), and from McRaney himslef. Yes, maybe I'm comparing it to his awesome portrayal of George Hearst on Deadwood, but Major Dad's character is both unlikable and cliched. The pilot is dull. The main thrust of the plot is the town looking for a lost schoolbus. AFTER the bombs go off. It was tedious to watch, and predictable throughout. Sorry. Maybe it gets better. But it's so slow that it'll lose all it's viewers in 3 weeks if it keeps up the pace of the first episode.

  • July 24, 2006, 10:54 a.m. CST

    What about...

    by Don Lockwood

    Standoff? The Nine? Justice? Six Degrees?

  • July 25, 2006, 3:26 a.m. CST

    Heroes = Unbreakable The Series

    by Jim Jam Bongs

    I always thought that M. Night should have continued Unbreakable as a series. But now there's Heroes. Really, if you loved (or even just liked) Unbreakable, you'll probably dig Heroes. There are a number of twists, and a fine set-up for a season-long arc that will give these characters a purpose. As for Jericho, it's fascinating, but I wonder if it could be ultimately depressing. It feels like LOST set in a small town, but it doesn't seem like it could have any sort of fantastic element. Basically, it implies that major U.S. cities get nuked.

  • July 25, 2006, 11:36 a.m. CST

    i will watch Jericho

    by liljuniorbrown

    But i know it will be canceled. I wish Sci/fi channel would go ahead and pick up the rights to produce it for there channel now because thats the only chance it has.I just watched the CBS video and it looks awesome, even with rat boy Skeet playing a main part. I love GM and with him playing mayor and leader this should be pumping on all cylinders.There is so much they can do with this like the above mentioned mutant gangs,food shortages, mysterious strangers coming to town, wildlife gone crazy and mutated,and even a Maximum Overdrive like machines gone crazy episode. They can even have Delta Burke guest star as the mushroom cloud. We need to get back to the old days of great episodic (if thats a word) television like the truly awesome Gunsmoke,as a matter of fact the writers need to go to CBS and watch every single episode of Gunsmoke over and over again along with movies like Romero living dead series and few more films like that,which can express what people do in situations where reality has changed completely. I just have high hopes for this but reality is sinking in.

  • July 25, 2006, 3:54 p.m. CST

    Traveler is just dumb, Heroes a mess. Jericho hokey.

    by elab49

    'missing person' works - like Bunny Lake etc - when the person is new in area, they don't know anyone, foreign country. Not when they have 2 years worth of photos with someone clearly going - oh no, don't take a photo of me. So the Feds saying - he doesn't exist - shows how preposterous the entire exercise is. From the time they get back to the hotel and come out with that ludicrous piece of exposition you just have another fast paced show that relies on you switching your brain off. Heroes - where to start? THe women are cheerleaders or whores (very grown up - a mature adult woman would clearly freak out the geek creators), they are desparate for the genre fans to get sucked in and not think to much - ST, Xmen, Smith/Anderson. But some of the dialogue isn't bad though. But the flying? My local panto does better - it looked awful! Jericho - too much hokey speechifying and sparsely drawn characters. And Lennie James's cop who apparently knows EXACTLY what to do when there is a suspected nuclear blast? I think not. So far I'll be watching The Nine (excellent writing, rounded characters, well structured) and Eureka (bloody good fun).

  • July 25, 2006, 9:38 p.m. CST

    Enjoyed Heroes pilot but concerned about Fuller

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    The pilot had a vibe that was definitely similar to Unbreakable. But the problem, by the end of the pilot, the proverbial cat is pretty much out of the bag -- the characters know for sure they have super powers. How will the series' style evolve from there? I hope Bryan Fuller doesn't turn it into a cutesy-poo self-aware quirkfest like what the shows he created were like. (He did not create Heroes, but will produce it after the pilot.) I really feel that in order for Heroes to work as an ongoing series, it must keep a serious, grave, real-world tone. Since this is on NBC, I have doubts this series will last beyond 13 episodes or a full season. (NBC has notoriously high ratings expectations for all its shows.) So I hope they have a complete 13-episode arc planned.