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Lots of New Shows Tonight, But Only Some Are Worthwhile
October 9, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
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Tonight's biggest must-see show is one that NBC didn't send for preview, because it couldn't. It's the premiere of the first of several October prime-time Thursday special editions of "Weekend Update," broadcast live at 9:30 p.m. ET. Plan your night around that, for starters. As for the rest...

Eleventh Hour, a new CBS series premiering at 10 p.m. ET, is one of three new shows unveiled tonight that are Americanized versions of series from other countries. Eleventh Hour and ABC's Life on Mars (10 p.m. ET) get their inspiration from British shows, and NBC's Kath & Kim (8:30 p.m. ET) is inspired -- if that's the word -- by a long-running Australian sitcom.

Add those to ABC's Ugly Betty, CBS's Survivor and NBC's The Office, all based on shows from other countries, and you have 6 of tonight's 14 prime-time commercial broadcast network offerings -- almost half -- adapted from "foreign" TV.

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But back to Eleventh Hour. The original series starred Patrick Stewart. The CBS version stars Rufus Sewell, with Marley Shelton as his sidekick. He plays a biochemical expert assigned to the FBI, and this Americanized attempt plays like X-Files Lite. It's neither horrible nor memorable, and has none of the wit or chemistry of Fox's Fringe, which mines similar territory. Skip Eleventh Hour, and stick to the Fringes.

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Another premiere tonight, over on the FX cable network, is Testees, premiering at 10:30 ET. I've seen only the pilot episode, and I'm not sure quite what to think -- except that I think some parts are too crude, others too obvious, but still others pretty amusing. Overall, there's an outlandish originality to this show's premise, which has two thirtysomething slackers, Peter (Steve Markle) and Ron (Jeff Kassel), raising money each week by volunteering as human guinea pigs at a bizarre research facility.

Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday, I'll review on Friday, after I've seen the Thursday opener. As for Kath & Kim (don't) and Life on Mars (do), I review them today on the Broadcasting & Cable website, and I may as well cross-reference, and cross-promote, myself by including the link HERE.

LIFE-ON-MARS-Imperioli.jpgOtherwise, I'll just say that the added treats in Life on Mars -- which stars Jason O'Mara as a cop who suddenly time-shifts from 2008 to 1973, and features Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol -- include some great period music, one monumental architectural image, a great Imperioli mustache, and an incredulous bartender being asked by the time-traveling hero for a Diet Coke. ("Now that would be something, huh?" he says of the drink, which wasn't introduced until 1982).

KATH-&-KIM-Oct-09.jpgAnd that the only treat in Kath & Kim is to count how many times the simple-minded main characters, played by Molly Shannon and Selma Blair, get so distracted by something, they act like cats teased by a flashy or fast-moving object. And believe me, it's not worth the effort.

 

 

 

1 Comment

 

Olive said:

Life on Mars is the only new show that I'm looking forward to (well, unless you count Weekend Update). I'm a huge Keitel fan, so this is going to be good...

Comment posted on October 9, 2008 12:56 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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