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article imageFall TV preview, what you should watch and avoid

By David Silverberg     Sep 8, 2010 in Entertainment
DigitalJournal.com reviews the new series coming to Canada and the US this fall. Find out why Boardwalk Empire is a must-watch show and why Matthew Perry should have never returned to television.
Every fall, we're bombarded with new TV shows hungry for our attention. It can be overwhelming to decide what to watch and what to ignore.
DigitalJournal.com has compiled several reviews of upcoming shows debuting in September (mainly in Canada and the US). Below are reviews of shows we highly recommend (A-List), shows with great potential (B-List) and series you should avoid like Hurricane Earl (D-List). Note the reviews are based on pilots and not on any follow-up shows in the series. We list the U.S. and Canadian networks where these show will air and when they will debut (all times ET).

The A-List

Boardwalk Empire (HBO, HBO Canada; Sept. 19, 9 p.m.)
Steve Buscemi finally departs from the side-character role to take the leading man spot on Boardwalk Empire, an HBO series about Prohibition-era mobsters. The pacing and characters keep you hooked, thanks to the pilot's director, legendary director Martin Scorcese (Goodfellas, Gangs of New York). Atlantic City comes alive in this series, from the excellent set design to the sharp dress. What really gives this series extra polish is the writing: Buscemi deliver his lines with machine-gun precision, shades of Reservoir Dogs perhaps? Rest assured the final scene in the pilot will have you thirsty for more.
No Ordinary Family (ABC, CTV; Sept. 28, 8 p.m.)
If you want to know where Rita from Dexter ended up, check out No Ordinary Family. Julie Benz does a decent job playing a superhero mom, literally. Mom and family get magical powers, such as superhuman strength, after a plane crash in the Amazon. Forget the implausible idea of how water glowing green turned them into the Fantastic Four; instead, enjoy the storyline and the depth of this show. It's not just about parents with super skills; it speaks on the struggle of keeping a family together when everyday stress threatens to pull them apart. A very watchable show that should get better as the season progresses.
Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz star in ABC s new show No Ordinary Family
Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz star in ABC's new show No Ordinary Family
CTV Media

The B-List

$h*! My Dad Says (CBS, CTV; Thursday, 8:30 p.m.)
William Shatner is back and he brings his sly sense of humour to the table for $h*! My Dad Says, based on a Twitter account of the same name. Shatner lives with his son who has to deal with his father's quirks and embarrassing jokes, each more ridiculous than the next. Shatner makes his character believable, somehow, and his lines are the ones you'll enjoy most. The supporting cast is quite weak, including MADtv castoffs Will Sasso and Nicole Sullivan. If only the other actors could be as sharp as Shatner, this would be A-list material.
William Shatner stars in &H*! My Dad Says
William Shatner stars in &H*! My Dad Says
CTV Media
Shattered (Showcase, Global; Wednesday 10 p.m.)
Call it a copy show with a mental twist. Callum Keith Rennie plays a detective afflicted with multiple personality disorder, causing him to shift into a violent troublemaker at the most inopportune moments. His partner has to learn about the disorder as she goes, but too bad Camille Sullivan can do nothing but look anxious in every scene. Molly Parker is wasted as the wife who also has to deal with her two-faced husband, but the real winner here is Rennie. He flips between two personalities so effortlessly it never looks strained, and the tension in the pilot is a sign of great things to come. But it has the potential to be a routine crime drama, if it falls into the same blueprint every episode.
Callum Keith Rennie stars as a police officer with multiple personality disorder in Shattered
Callum Keith Rennie stars as a police officer with multiple personality disorder in Shattered
Global/Showcase
The Defenders
(CBS, CTV; Sept 22, 8 p.m.)
Landing in this lucrative prime-time slot on Wednesday nights is a legal drama CBS hopes will squash the new Law & Order coming to NBC. It just might: Jerry O'Connell and Jim Belushi (remember him?) play two smart but smarmy defense attorneys in Las Vegas. O'Connell doesn't stretch his acting range too far, what with his love of fast cars and hot women. Belushi is the better actor out of the two, and it's a shame O'Connell's lacklustre performance drags down the show. It has potential, because when was the last time the networks aired a legal series focusing on defense attorneys? The writing crackles at moments and the plot twists come unexpectedly. Let's just hope we don't get pointless spinoffs like The Defenders: Special Victim Unit.
Jim Belushi and Jerry O Connell star in the new legal drama The Defenders
Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell star in the new legal drama The Defenders
CTV Media

The D-List

Hellcats (CW, A-channel; Sept. 8, 9 p.m.)
Want to see a freshman drama/comedy about cheerleading? Right, neither do we, but for some reason Hellcats has been green-lit. It's a lousy show with a tired premise: Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka) is a pre-law student at Lancer University in Memphis and she needs money, fast. She joins the college's competitive cheerleading squad to earn some scholarship help and soon finds herself beset by backstabbing chicks and flirty guys. Yawn. Glee's already gone down this road. Maybe some people will be enthralled by the cheerleading moves but you'll find more intriguing athleticism at your local breakdancing competition.
Hellcats is a cheerleading drama on CW/A-Channel
Hellcats is a cheerleading drama on CW/A-Channel
CTV
Mr. Sunshine (ABC, A-channel; midseason)
Halfway through the pilot, you'll start to hate Matthew Perry. The hate-on is partially thanks to his character, Ben Donovan, a self-involved manager of a San Diego sports arena who thinks the world revolves around his trivial problems. You'll also be frustrated with Perry's acting, which hits the same note over and over. Perry should stay away from TV shows where there's little depth or originality in the writing. His star power can't save this show. We predict Mr. Sunshine will flop faster than a Baywatch remake.
Mike & Molly (CBS, A-Channel; Sept. 20, 9:30 p.m.)
Mike & Molly is hug-able, if that makes sense. It's tempting to hug the leading characters in this laugh-tracked comedy, Mike (Bill Gardell from My Name is Earl) the overweight cop and Molly (Melissa McCarthy from Gilmore Girls) the obese school teacher. They're just looking for love between Overeaters Anonymous meetings, but too bad the jokes fall flat and the supporting cast steals tension away from the core. Mike's sidekick jabbers too much with fat-guy one-liners and Molly's sister plays the weed-loving tart without any nuanced subtelty. Keep in mind Mike & Molly are from the same brains who brought us Two and a Half Men, so if you like that kind of humour -- instead of the intelligent 30 Rock stuff -- you'll fall in love with this show. Otherwise, you won't be able to get past the 15-minute mark.
Mike & Molly is a new comedy coming to CBS and A-Channel this fall season
Mike & Molly is a new comedy coming to CBS and A-Channel this fall season
CTV Media
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