NBC: "Chuck" Pilot Review

As we were preparing for the new fall season, we were most looking forward to ABC's new programming. However, we ended up be being pleasantly surprised at what NBC had to offer: a multitude of new and different shows that really piqued our interest.

Premise: A one-hour, action-comedy series about Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) – a computer geek who is catapulted into a new career as the government’s most vital secret agent. When Chuck opens an e-mail subliminally encoded with government secrets, he unwittingly downloads an entire server of sensitive data into his brain. Now, the fate of the world lies in the unlikely hands of a guy who works at a Buy more Electronics store. Instead of fighting computer viruses, he must now confront assassins and international terrorists.

Just how much did we enjoy "Chuck?" Enough that it will be replacing "Prison Break" on our Watch Live list. Yeah, it's
that good.

Cameo alert!: Matthew Bomer (late of ABC's short-lived "Traveler") pops in as Bryce Larkin, Chuck's old college roomie/assumed-to-be-accountant, but actually rogue CIA spy who passes on the gov't secrets to an unsuspecting Chuck.

J’s thoughts:

What I liked loved: the faux spy opening, Zachary Levi as the lovably naïve Chuck, Adam Baldwin doing what he does best: antagonizing the guy he has to protect.

Chuck and bff Morgan call Chuck's sister Ellie's boyfriend, 'Captain Awesome.'
There's also a minor throwaway joke – as Chuck enters a Costco-type Warehouse, he passes a display of AstroDiapers (slightly dated, but still pretty amusing).

Overall impression: while many have been comparing this show to "Alias" and another new fall show, "Reaper," personally I am reminded a bit more of "Jake 2.0" with its humor and its normal-guy-unwittingly-thrust-into-spy-world setup. Hopefully the rest of the episodes will live up to the pilot.
Rating = 5!

M's thoughts:

"Aces Charles, you're aces" Ellie (Chuck's sister)

What I liked loved: ummm just about everything! There was a super cool car chase scene, using porno to defuse a bomb, and the place where Chuck works, "Buy More," is situated right next to a "Large Mart."

Overall impression: I really loved the Alias-style opening. It's fantastic to see Adam Baldwin (Jayne on Firefly) back on T.V.; that dude totally rocks. The pilot is action- packed and funny. They don't throw too much information at you, they kind of ease you into the plot. I seriously think the rest of the episodes will keep with the same energy as the pilot.
Rating = 5


CBS: Round Up Pilot Review

Usually when anybody mentions the CBS network to us, we yawn. The one and only entertaining show on that entire network is "How I Met Your Mother." Sadly, I can't even remember a time before HIMYM that there was a show on that I actually enjoyed. As this season gets ready to begin, CBS is in the bottom of our watch list, with the exception of "Cane." For those of you out there who are CBS watchers, we give you this brief, semi-biased opinion on the other new shows the network has to offer.

Big Bang Theory

J’s thoughts:
Entertainment Weekly describes it as "Beauty & the Geek: the sitcom." There were a few funny moments, but nowhere near Mother-level hilarity. I'm going to PASS on this one. Rating = 2

M’s thoughts:
2 Geeks with a combined IQ of 360 and 1 “hot” girl. I’m sure there are probably some pretty funny bits but..... I would pass as well. Rating = 2

Kid Nation

J’s thoughts:
Certainly a controversial, but interesting concept. However, child labor as weekly entertainment? No thanks! Rating = 1

M’s thoughts:
Poor little kids with no parents, that’s just so wrong. NO WAY I’m watching this one! Rating =1 (but I’d go lower if I could)

Viva Laughlin

J’s thoughts:
After viewing the extended promo, my first and only reaction was: Huh? Kudos to CBS for trying something….different (to put it nicely). I love me some Hugh Jackman and Eric Winter (please please PLEASE go back to "Brothers & Sisters!"), but that's not reason enough for me to tune in. Rating =1 ½ (for effort?)

M’s thoughts:
After viewing the extended promo, I laughed. Man I love Hugh Jackman and Eric Winter too but I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around a singing/drama show. I love the odd musical episode thrown it but this is just a little to odd even for me. Rating =1 ½


J’s thoughts:
This poor man's "Angel" already got on my bad side this summer with its cheese-tastic promos. The full preview (complete with the recasts) didn't do much to sway my opinion: Oh look! Vampires can be outside during the daytime! This vampire likes to save people, not bite them. He doesn't hang out with the goth-punk dressing crowd. BORING! The only reason I will tune in for the premiere is Jason Dohring, the erstwhile Logan Echolls ("Veronica Mars"). Rating = 2

M’s thoughts:
Yeah I know lots of weird vampire cliches and yet I am still oddly fascinated. There is just something about vampires that makes me want to tune in. I rate the meager promos we are given a 2, but be sure to check back with me after the season gets going!


CBS: "Cane" Pilot Review

TVGuide.com writes:
Three generations of the Duques, a wealthy rum-making dynasty with Cuban-immigrant roots, struggle for power among themselves and with longtime rivals, the Samuels clan. The ailing Duque patriarch, Pancho (H
ector Elizondo), retires and divides the family assets among his daughter and two sons. But Alex (Jimmy Smits), “adopted” by the family at a young age and now married to the daughter, holds control of the company, earning Frank’s resentment. “It’s Shakespearean in scope,” Elizondo says of the drama’s mix of business and family dynamics and buried secrets.

J’s thoughts:
Cramming so many plotlines into one pilot can be both bad and good. It can leave the viewer struggling to keep track. However, they did a decent j
ob of setting up a season's worth of story.

We'll see plenty of fam
ily dynamics, power struggles (business and personal), and jealousy over favoritism of a "prodigal son" (in this case, adopted son/son-in-law Alex)

What I liked : can I just say how nice it is to finally see Hector Elizondo back on TV? We were treated to a memorable guest appearance on "Greys" last season, but it's great to have him on our screens on a weekly basis.

Jimmy Smits is effective as the leading man. His Alex is in control, family-oriented, and loyal to the core. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for his family. And really, I mean anything. I won't ruin the entire pilot (unless of course, you've seen the preview, which pretty much gives away every highlight from beginning to end)

Nestor Carbonell's (creepy Richard Alpert on "Lost") Frank is devious, power-hungry and resentful of his father's favoritism of Alex. The expected clashes between Frank and Alex should make for lots of good drama.

Since Nip/Tuck tends to gross or sometimes creep me out more often than not, I may think about DVR-ing it and watching this
baby live. Rating = 3 ¾

M’s thoughts:
I personally loved having so many ideas crammed into one pilot. It just makes me want to watch more. I want all the dish but I want t
hem to draw the story out just long enough for the season, any more than that and I’ll start to get angry.

I’ve gotta say I LOVE this cast! I hate to be repe
titive so I’ll just say “ditto” to J’s remarks since it was put so well.
Rating = 4



You Watch / I Watch: Funny Gal edition

Here @ Tuned In...Seriously, we have always shared a mutual love of TV shows. Where we differ has always been in the quantity of shows we're willing to watch. I watch only two that M does not, while she watches about...oh, SIX that I do not. So we struck a similar deal to my BB8/My Boys agreement with RQ: I will give "Men in Trees" a go-round and Marissa in turn, will give "30 Rock" a second chance.

See, we were both rather unimpressed with the "30 Rock" pilot and never picked it up. Then, as the TV season began to wind down this past spring, I began to catch bits and pieces here and there. As the buzz kept growing and the hilarious recaps from my co-worker continuely piqued my curiosity, I decided I'd give it another try. If you haven't seen a single episode, I highly recommend starting with the "Tracy Does Conan" episode. All I need to say is: Blue Man.

I'll let M post her thoughts on my little assignment for her = catching up on the entire first season of "30 Rock." I also have my own homework to complete, finding out what the deal is with "Men in Trees." Thankfully, I have a full month to get this done -- anyone else who watches this wanna tell me exactly why I should love this show?


You Watch / I Watch - Oh "Brother" edition

Here's the thing: I was able to successfully avoid the time-consuming/patience-draining spectacle known as "Big Brother" for a full seven seasons. Then came season Numero Ocho.

How exactly did I get sucked into the BB craze you ask? I blame it on my co-worker friend, whom I shall refer to henceforth as "RealityQueen." Reality shows are her thing. She's always trying to persuade me to watch something that's not DWTS, AI, or on VH1.

This summer, we made a deal -- I'd give up three nights of my week to follow "Big Brother" while RQ would pick-up TBS's "My Boys." Was it worth it?

I don't quite have an answer for that yet. It was certainly entertaining, to say the least. The only thing I'm sure of is, those people are a bunch of nutjobs! We were introduced to JENuinely ridiculous slogans, bitchfests and people that would cry...every...freaking...episode!

And I allowed myself to get sucked in -- not only watching Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, but also going online and reading updates from the live 24 hr. feeds. What the hell is wrong with me?! I'm also still waiting on RQ to complete her end of the bargain (although to her credit, she has watched a few eps of "Boys" finally and found them to be enjoyable)

SPOILER ALERT! I thought the end of tonight's final HOH competition was fairly anticlimactic. It was inevitable that ED and whiny Daniele would be victorious. I personally think the season will end with a whimper. All the suspense has been taken out of it. Well hopefully there will be a few surprises thrown in. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the houseguests
react to Eric's big secret.



Casting News Roundup!

It's been a busy week in TV land -- here's the latest:

- The adorable Rachel Bilson - last seen (finally) marrying Seth on "The O.C." - will cozy up to another adorkable guy, Zachary Levi, on NBC's "Chuck." (that pilot review is on its way kiddies!)

- Alyssa Milano ("Charmed") tries to work her magic on Earl Hickey; let's hope she's less annoying and wearing more clothes. Zap2it.com

- The eternally-youthful Morgan Fairchild (really, what is her secret? She looks exactly the same as she did in the '80s and '90s - she's gotta be like 95 by now right?) will vamp up kooky Elmo, AK on "Men in Trees." Ausiello Report


The CW: "Gossip Girl" Pilot Review

From TVGuide.com: Oh, to be young, rich and bitchy. That seems to be the mantra of the characters in Gossip Girl, the CW's new teen drama based on Cecily von Ziegesar's popular book series of the same name. When former queen bee Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) returns home from boarding school for the upcoming semester, she isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms by her former BFF Blair (Leighton Meester). And that’s just the start of the drama. There are love triangles and more backstabbing than you can imagine.

- Kristin Bell is the voice of the quippy "Gossip Girl!"

The Players:
Dan- Sensitive, Humble and a Loner
Nate- Charming, Conflicted and Lost
Chuck- Wealthy, Handsome and Dangerous
Serena- Beautiful, Dangerous and Fallen
Blair- Popular, Sexy and Vulnerable
Jenny- Young, Sweet, and Naive
(courtesy of CWTV.com)

M’s thoughts: Unfortunately this is a show we were not able to sneek a peek at.
We did get to see quite a few extended previews on CWTV.com though and from what I can tell Josh Schwartz (The O.C.) has done it again. Based on a New York Times best seller, "Gossip Girl" takes you inside the deliciously scandalous lives of the Manhattan elite. I personally am looking forward to this show. I loved me some O.C. and I’m thinking this will be just as juicy and full of drama as that was.

J’s thoughts: As a "Veronica Mars" loyalist, I have a deep-rooted commitment to eternally hate The CW for its appalling choices. Thus, you can understand the struggle of watching their new fall pilots and not totally hating them. We were unable to view the "Gossip Girl" pilot, so we shall have to patiently sit and wait (like the rest of you folks) for the premiere on Sept. 19th.

Our Combined Rating: Without a full view of the pilot, we give it a 3.

"Gossip Girl" will air Wednesdays @ 9pm



The CW: "Aliens in America" Pilot Review

Half-hour comedy set in Medora, Wisconsin. Main Character Justin is socially awkward, geeky, and unpopular. So much so that he feels like an alien in his own life, hence the title of the show.

TVGuide.com: No matter what he does, socially awkward teen Justin Tolchuck (Dan Byrd) just can't fit in at his Wisconsin high school. And the antics of his well-meaning but clueless mother (Amy Pietz) don't help. Being on the outside takes on new meaning when Raja (Adhir Kalyan), a Pakistani Muslim exchange student, moves in with this quirky middle-American clan.

For full review, follow the link:

- On Raja’s first day of school the teacher says that the students can benefit from learning about “Muslimism” and “Islamica.”
- Cameo Alert! Christopher B. Duncan (aka Clarence Wiedman on Veronica Mars) drops in as Justin’s school counselor who doubles as a car salesman.

Marissa’s Take: There are a lot of parts of the show that are genuinely funny but I felt like the show left me wanting more. The mother is just too overbearing and grating and in the pilot the father is slightly wimpy and kind of quiet, but who knows with the addition of Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls) it could be a show worth watching.
Rating: I would give the pilot a 1 1/2 and the show a 2.

Jenn’s Take: The tone and vibe of the show make it a perfect timeslot partner for “Everybody Hates Chris.” While mainly a comedy, there are reminders of the seriousness of the issues (racism & prejudice) sprinkled throughout the pilot. For me, I thought it was refreshing to get a non-sugar coated take on the subject. A bit of heart and good potential.

Rating: the pilot for me was a 3 – but the show as a whole: 2

"Aliens in America" premieres Monday, Oct. 1st @ 8:30pm


The CW: "Reaper" Pilot Review

The unceremonious cancellation of our beloved “Veronica Mars” had us ready to instate a boycott of The CW (with the exception of Thursday nights – hey, you try to say ‘no’ to those Winchester boys ..…mmmhmmm thought so).

Then, we watched “Reaper”…….

The official description from the network: The devilish new drama REAPER from executive producer/director Kevin Smith, this humor-filled adventure is the story of a slacker named Sam (Bret Harrison, "The Loop," "Grounded for Life") who learns that his parents accidentally sold his soul to the devil before he was born, forcing him into a new life as the devil's bounty hunter. Ray Wise ("24," "The Closer") plays Satan, and Tyler Labine ("Boston Legal," "Invasion") plays Sam's best friend Bert "Sock" Wysocki.

- His first assigned vessel for capturing rogue demon souls?? a Dirt Devil hand vacuum.
- The Devil’s first pops up in Sam’s backseat like a carjacker – sounding creepily like Darrell Hammond impersonating Ted Koppel on SNL.
- After a failed initial attempt to catch the demon, Sam and sidekick Sock have to sit and wait while the Dirt Devil recharges.

“We’re very proud of him for trying…..it’s just that college made him sleepy.” -- Sam’s mom, making excuses for his slacker ways

“I got chased by a pack of dogs, moved an air conditioner with my mind, and the Devil tried to car-jack me….so overall, not a great day."

Our take:
the show is just the right mix of slapstick-y seriousness. The leads are perfectly cast -- Tyler Labine is, as usual, spot-on as the wise-cracking sidekick.

Rating: = One of our favorite pilots so far.

Reaper premieres Tues. Sept. 24th @ 9pm



Tuned In's Ratings System for New Fall Pilots

A less visually-pleasing version is to your right. It shall remain in place until the full launch of the new fall season. Cheers!



Faces We're Thrilled to See Back on Our Screens

This fall, TV geeks everywhere will be happily welcoming back some very familiar faces.

"Alias" stars are resurfacing on some high profile projects this season:

  • Michael Vartan (Vaughn) is one of ABC's "Big Shots"
  • David Anders (the deliciously evil Sark) joins the cast of "Heroes" as Takezo Kensei, the legendary subject of stories told to Hiro as a child. For more on Kensei, visit the Yamagato Fellowship
  • Kevin Weisman (tech guru Marshall) pops up on "October Road" Ask Ausiello

While most of us are still mourning the loss of "Veronica Mars," a few key cast members are moving on:

  • Perhaps the best casting news of the season, the uber-talented Kristen Bell joins "Heroes" in the recurring role of Elle, a mysterious woman with ties to the supposed death of Peter, H.R.G.'s past and Claire's future
  • Meanwhile, Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls) tries his brooding skills as a vampire on CBS's "Moonlight"

We continue to follow the "Firefly" crew wherever they go:

  • Nathan Fillion (Captain Mal) moves to Wisteria Lane as boy-toy hubby of Dana Delany. As with all new families on "Desperate Housewives," they're keeping some super-dark secrets
  • Adam Baldwin (malevolent Jayne) reluctantly teams up with/antagonizes "Chuck" on NBC

A few beloved supporting "Gilmore Girls" players return:

  • Edward Hermann (grandpa Gilmore) scrubs in for a multi-episode arc on "Grey's Anatomy"
  • Melissa McCarthy (lovable Sookie) plays friend to Christina Applegate's amnesiac on ABC's "Samantha Who?"
  • Scott Patterson (Lorelai's one-and-only, Luke) is the head of the family on The CW comedy, "Aliens in America"
  • Sean Gunn (eccentric Stars Hollower Kirk) brings his wacky self to "October Road" (I guess ABC really wants me to watch this show -- using Kirk and Marshall as bait; have they no shame?)