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The premier premieres of fall
With temperatures below 90 degrees, your increasing workload, and a plethora of russet-hued clothes on M street, it seems as though fall is finally here. Fall brings plenty of opportunities to try new things, from doing your reading this semester, to new fashions, to new TV shows, and see what sticks. Fortunately for you, we’ve scouted out all the newly-premiered shows and can tell you what’s worthy of a time commitment.
With Privileged, the CW is trying to recreate the sizzling success of Gossip Girl by using popular trashy teen novels to create TV magic. The only problem is that the main character, Megan Smith (Joanna Garcia), isn’t as deliciously nasty, impeccably dressed, or sexually active as we’re used to. Instead, her fate is every liberal arts major’s worst nightmare—after four years of studying English lit at Yale, Megan not only finds herself not doing the serious reporting or writing she anticipated, but she is also incapable of even holding her job at a tabloid. Instead, she ends up in Palm Beach as the tutor to a pair of rich teenage twins.
While I expected a younger, hipper version of The Nanny Diaries, Garcia breathes new life into the predictable script. The problem is that Garcia is the only captivating actor on the show. By the end of the first episode, I could not remember the name of either twin, their stoic grandmother, the token hot rich neighbor, or the best friend not-so-secretly in love with Megan. Additionally, the plot twists were so obvious, the chance encounters so staged; I felt like I was watching The Hills.
Level of commitment: One Night Stand, unless you want to live out the fantasy that being unemployed after college means you’ll one day get to be an overpaid tutor with her own convertible.
Alan Ball’s (of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame) latest project, True Blood, has been one of the most hyped pilots this season, not only because of its creator, but also due to a viral marketing campaign. True Blood is based on the Sookie Stackhouse books, which center on telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (the lovely Anna Paquin, sporting a sometimes-there Southern accent and amazing blonde curls), who falls in love with vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).
While vampires and forbidden love sounds like familiar territory, in this world, vampires and humans attempt to coexist with the help of a synthetic blood substitute called TruBlood. There are allegories galore, and while the characters and the plot are meaty, the show is weighed down by heavy-handed backstory, and the dialogue lacks wit to lighten up the otherwise dark and dense material. The entire cast is intriguing, with an intricate and complex chemistry, but their material is formulaic and burdened with the obvious metaphors.
If Ball has the courage to diverge from the books, despite what the original author and her fans might say, he has a cast promising enough to deliver on the emotional intensity his work is famous for.
Level of commitment: Periodic Hook Up for the only-on-HBO vampire sex scenes and Anna Paquin in skimpy outfits, until the script improves.
Fringe focuses on “fringe science”—also known as mind reading, levitation, and reanimation of the dead. What “fringe science” is exactly isn’t ever clear, but J.J. Abrams’ brainchildren never are, as if even he hasn’t figured out all the details of his latest conspiracy. With Lost’s current popularity, I have no doubt there’s an audience for the intricate storyline that Abrams loves to weave, and Fringe has mastered the intrigue, suspense, and pacing necessary to make it feel like a one hour installment of a thriller instead of a TV show.
John Noble executes the perfect bumbling brilliant professor as Dr. Walter Bishop, the forefather of fringe science, and Joshua Jackson is delightfully skeptical and dry as his genius estranged son with a troubled past.
While all the signs of a conspiracy have already been put in place in the pilot with a surprise betrayal, mysterious signs, and a digital masterpiece of a robotic hand that made my jaw literally drop, there is one eyesore in Fringe. Unfortunately, it’s lead actress Anna Torv, who plays Olivia Dunham, an FBI Special Agent investigating fringe science.
As the heroine of Fringe, Torv needs to be many things she is not—likable, versatile, and sympathetic. Luckily, she has an undercurrent of chemistry with Jackson, which may be enough to hold viewer’s interest. Until then, I’ll settle for bizarre deaths, random cows, and LSD use masquerading as science.
Level of commitment: Long Term Relationship. Abrams is in it for the long haul, and you have to be, too, if you’re going to figure out what the spinning leaf at Massive Dynamic means and how in the world he plans on “reanimating” people from the dead.