05/16/13 02:19 PM
Premiering: Monday, May 20th at 9 p.m. (central) on ABC before moving to regular Thursday, 8 p.m. slot
Starring: Kristin Lehman, Louis Ferreira, Lauren Holly, Roger Cross, Brendan Penny, Cameron Bright
Produced by: Daniel Cerone, James Thorpe, Louise Clark, Rob Merilees, Rob LaBelle, Erin Haskett, Lindsay Macadam
By ED BARK
This one just might find an audience on a network that’s still enamored of serial dramas but does very well with its only remaining one-shot “crime procedural” hour.
We’re talking about Castle, and the Canadian import Motive is in that mode. Throw a murder out there, solve it by episode’s end and move on to the next one in a new self-contained episode. CBS has been doing this for years, and it’s now No. 1 with a bullet in both total viewers and, for the first time in 21 seasons, advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.
Motive has a bit of a gimmick, though, even if it’s been done before, most notably and indelibly with Columbo. Identify the killer during the opening minutes. Then let the gumshoes do their work while viewers are still left guessing -- up until the closing minutes -- as to why the murder was committed.
Monday’s premiere, with Motive then moving to its regular Thursday berth, quickly fingers a high school band member who’s initially taunted by low-lifes at a football game. His victim, also identified in short order, is a popular high school science teacher. You won’t have to do any heavy lifting, because ABC has weekly on-screen print IDs for “The Killer” and “The Victim.”
Connecting the dots after the corpse is found are homicide detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman from AMC’s The Killing) and partner Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira). The inevitable forensic lab slicer/dicer, Dr. Betty Rogers, is played by former Picket Fences star Lauren Holly, who’s also been a recurring player on NCIS.
Angie and Oscar get along fine, but can’t resist needling each other. Both actors know how to do this without over-doing it. She also has a teenage son, Manny (a recurring Cameron Bright), who’s first seen in the sack with a very voluptuous young woman who tells Angie her breasts are surgically inflated. Mom rolls her eyes but isn’t overly upset. Later on, she cheers Manny on at a drag racing competition. The lineup of teens wanting a mother like that might well equal the distance between Earth and Mars.
Meanwhile, the first two crimes are puzzled out in not always convincing fashion. Angie tends to have a lot of hunches. But in an hour’s time, minus commercials, the culprits also tend to cooperate by playing right into her hands.
This is especially true in the Thursday, May 23rd Episode 2, in which the killer is a former prosecutor running for mayor on a hardline law and order platform. A teenage girl is on his hit-and-run receiving end. And he’s way too over-zealous about framing a hunky teen playboy who’s been happily bouncing from one conquest to another, including the victim.
Motive uses flashbacks as walk-ups to its eventual murders. It’s a reasonably involving series made better by the chemistry between the two leads. Unlike Fox’s backhanded treatment of The Goodwin Games, ABC is giving Motive a substantial promotional push and slotting its first episode after a two-hour performance edition of Dancing with the Stars.
As a whodunit with the who already answered, Motive is more than passable and quite a bit better than two of this season’s string-along ABC clunkers -- Zero Hour and Red Widow. They’ve been canceled, but this series seems to have more of a clue about what it takes to carry on.
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05/16/13 12:35 PM
Premiering: Monday, May 20th at 7:30 p.m. (central) on Fox
Starring: Scott Foley, Becki Newton, T.J. Miller, Beau Bridges, Melissa Tang, Kat Foster
Produced by: Carter Bays, Craig Thomas, Chris Harris, Peyton Reed
By ED BARK
Somebody up there (in Fox’s boardrooms) really doesn’t seem to like The Goodwin Games.
It’s stealth-premiering on Monday, May 20th between repeats of Raising Hope and New Girl. But this information initially was found elsewhere and certainly not on the official Fox media site. The series’ “Fact Sheet” still lists this fairly agreeable comedy as a “midseason” replacement with no further elaboration. As for the on-air promotional drums, well, they haven’t been loud enough to stir any creatures, not even a mouse.
Goodwin Games is from the creative team behind How I Met Your Mother, which hasn’t done too badly for itself. And it premieres a week after Fox announced its 2013-14 prime-time lineup, which last May included The Goodwin Games. It even made the headlines in a network publicity release, touted as an “inventive new comedy.” Ah, but that was then. Now it’s just a burn-off, with Episode 1 sacrificed opposite down-to-the-wire performance editions of both NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Here’s the premise. Benjamin Goodwin (Beau Bridges, seen only via his videotaped will) is the late father of three estranged, maladjusted adults. None of them knew the old man was worth $23 million at the time of his passing.
Oldest son Henry Goodwin (Scott Foley) is a 36-year-old, nose-in-the-air surgeon who gets the news of dad’s death while heading to the operating room. “Prep for surgery,” he orders. “I’ll process.”
Chloe Goodwin (Becki Newton), 34, is a child math whiz who lately has taken on the role of struggling actress. She’s auditioning for a role when the news comes. A funny throwaway line ensues -- not from her but from one of the casting people.
Jimmy Goodwin (T.J. Miller) is 32 and just out of prison after serving time tied to another small-time theft. Dad’s death is by no means his biggest concern. He’s still in debt to a loan shark who wants his money now.
The three of them head off to little Granby, New Hampshire for the funeral. Squabbles resume -- and intensify during the unveiling of Benjamin’s will by an unyielding estate attorney named April (Melissa Tang). His three offspring learn that to inherit the cash they’ll have to accept a series of challenges that he dubs The Goodwin Games. A simple game of Trivial Pursuit is hurdle No. 1, with a mystery guy named Elijah also participating.
“I don’t think we ever finished a game without an injury,” Jimmy notes.
Some decently inventive twists and turns ensue as Jimmy, Henry and especially Chloe vie for dad’s fortune. Jimmy may be a simpleton, but he has both a squishy-soft heart and a cute little daughter who knows his score.
“I was on a super-long business trip,” he says, apologizing for missing her birthday. But she knows he was in jail, and delivers a sweet little lecture about being better in the future.
Future episodes, provided Fox actually airs them, will continue these high stakes games of cat-and-mouse among the three fractious but slowly bonding siblings. Henry’s first love, Lucinda (Kat Foster), with whom he’s also reconnecting, adds another spoke to the ensemble.
Goodwin Games isn’t an Olympian comedy but it’s by no means an out-and-out clunker either. It would have been nice to see it get a fairer shot much earlier in the season, particularly after Fox created a vacancy between Raising Hope and New Girl with its quick axing of Ben and Kate.
It’s now almost assuredly too late to slot Goodwin Games between reruns of those comedies while many Americans turn their eyes to outdoor pursuits and vacation plans. Most Americans, whatever their intentions, won’t even know this newcomer is on the air. But it is, with even Fox looking the other way.
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05/16/13 08:19 AM
By ED BARK
The little CW network might as well go ahead and rename itself Syfy Junior. Four of its five new scripted series for next season are otherworldly and the other is set in 16th century Scotland.
The network already is home to Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Arrow and Beauty and the Beast. And all those heavily ornamented posers on America’s Next Top Model also can seem as though they’ve just arrived from another planet.
Three of the newcomers are for this fall, with a Vampire Diaries spinoff called The Originals likely to generate the most buzz on a network that got a bit of a lift last season from Arrow.
Cancellations include 90210, Gossip Girls, Emily Owens, M.D. and Cult, which most TV watchers new knew was on in the first place. The returning Nikita will get a six-episode kiss-off on a night and date yet to be announced. Returnees Hart of Dixie, Supernatural, Beauty and the Beast and The Carrie Diaries all are relocating to new nights.
Here are CW’s three new fall series:
The Originals (drama) -- Set in New Orleans, this Vampire Diaries offshoot centers on Klaus Mikaelson, the “original vampire-werewolf hybrid.” A veteran of 48 episodes of VD, he’s still played by Joseph Morgan. An alliance with witches is brewing -- this can only be toil and trouble -- when Klaus returns to the city his family helped build. Why? He’s heard that someone is plotting against him.
The Tomorrow People (drama) -- The title characters are humans “born with paranormal abilities,” which don’t include a glimpse into the future staying power of this series. Stephen (Robbie Amell) thought he was normal until he began teleporting in his sleep. So he eventually hooks up with three other Tomorrow People, who of course are being “hunted down by a paramilitary group of scientists known as Ultra.” Greg Berlanti, executive producer of Arrow, is at the controls.
Reign (drama) -- Newcomer Adelaide Kane stars as “headstrong” teen Mary, who’s nearing the start of her tumultuous Queen of Scots tenure. She has an arranged engagement to “dashing” Prince Francis (Toby Regbo), who’s intrigued but still reluctant to commit. His “roguish” half-brother Bash (Torrance Coombs) has his own agenda. Uh-oh -- royal triangle.
This is CW’s announced fall schedule:
Hart of Dixie
Beauty and the Beast
The Tomorrow People
The Vampire Diaries
The Carrie Diaries
America’s Next Top Model
Here are the three midseason newcomers:
Star-Crossed (drama) -- Emery and Roman first meet as six-year-olds. She’s a small-town human girl and he’s an Atrian from outer space. They quickly become friends before Roman is tracked down and taken away. Years later, she learns he’s still alive, imprisoned with fellow Atrians in a closely guarded camp known as the Sector. And so on. The principal love birds are played by Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) and Matt Lanter (90210).
The 100 (drama) -- Lo, it’s been 97 years since “nuclear Armageddon” destroyed Earth. The last survivors were 400 denizens of 12 international space stations. They’d been orbiting at the time and since have multiplied to 4,000. Now, in a bold experiment, 100 juvenile human prisoners are exiled on Earth to see if the place is still livable. Starring a cast of largely unknowns, plus Henry Ian Cusick from Lost and Paige Turco (Person of Interest, Damages).
Famous In 12 (reality) -- Can a family become famous in just 12 weeks time? Hey, that’s an eternity in these times. Then again, this family will be on the CW network, so the odds perhaps are insurmountable. It’s billed as a “unique social experiment” in which the guinea pigs will “each get a series of challenges to create a public profile fit for a Kardashian.” Furthermore, they’ll “exploit all forms of social media to wage a campaign of fame.” Hoo boy.
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05/15/13 09:43 AM
By ED BARK
CBS is amping up its comedy content, highlighted by a new Thursday night pairing of Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
A runaway No. 1 in total viewers and first with advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds for the first time in 21 seasons, CBS will go with four new sitcoms and a lone freshman drama in the fall. It’s also adding a comedy rerun component to Saturday nights.
The network’s success story is marred only by the unusual number of failures among last season’s newcomers. Only the Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary has been renewed while Vegas, Golden Boy, Partners, Made In Jersey and The Job have been canceled. CBS also has axed CSI: NY after nine seasons while likewise dropping Rules of Engagement after a long run of off-and-on scheduling. The Monday night comedy Mike & Molly is being held until midseason.
CBS has done some night-swapping, too, with Person of Interest moving from Thursdays to Tuesdays while Hawaii Five-0 goes from Mondays to Fridays. The Person of Interest transfer gives the network a super-potent drama trio that also includes NCIS and its L.A. spinoff. Meanwhile, ABC will set forth with four untested new series on Tuesdays this fall. That now seems like a possible suicide mission.
The other major CBS move is a comedy bulk-up on Thursdays, with the Williams-Gellar series and another new sitcom starring Will Arnett joining incumbents The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. The network has left well enough alone by keeping its Wednesday and Sunday lineups intact.
Here are CBS’ five announced new fall series:
The Crazy Ones (comedy) -- Williams stars as the eccentric -- what else? -- head of an advertising agency, with Gellar cast as his even-keeled daughter and business partner. The supporting cast includes former Lone Star star James Wolk, who’s currently playing up-and-coming young ad man Bob Benson on AMC’s Mad Men. On CBS, Wolk co-stars as a “dashing and talented” ad agency staffer named Zach. So it looks as though his participation in Mad Men could either be curtailed or end entirely. The show’s executive producer is David E. Kelley, who previously has specialized in comedy-laced dramas such as Boston Legal and Ally McBeal.
The Millers (comedy) -- Quickly rebounding from NBC’s disastrous Up All Night, Arnett plays a newly divorced local news reporter preparing to leap back into the singles game until his parents tell him they’re also splitting after a 43-year run. So of course mom moves in with him. The parents are played by Margo Martindale (FX’s The Americans) and Beau Bridges.
Mom (comedy) -- Producer Chuck Lorre gets his fourth CBS comedy series, with Anna Faris (The House Bunny) playing a “newly sober” single mom with two kids and a “critical, estranged” mom played by Allison Janney (The West Wing). Lorre also helms The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly.
We Are Men (comedy) -- Four single guys living in an apartment complex unexpectedly bond over “their many missteps in love.” Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Jerry O’Connell (The Defenders) head the cast.
Hostages (drama) -- Toni Collette (United States of Tara) stars as an elite surgeon who’s “thrust into a chilling political conspiracy” when her family is taken hostage by a renegade FBI agent played by Dylan McDermott (The Practice). Further complicating her life, Collette’s character is ordered to assassinate the president of the United States while operating on him. Jerry Bruckheimer (the CSI franchise) is executive producer.
Here is the new fall schedule announced by CBS:
How I Met Your Mother
We Are Men
2 Broke Girls
NCIS: Los Angeles
Person of Interest
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
The Big Bang Theory
The Crazy Ones
Two and a Half Men
The Amazing Race
The Good Wife
CBS has three new midseason series in waiting, including a high-tech thriller that will replace Hostages on Monday nights after its shorter run series finale in January. The tack is similar to ABC’s aggressive plan to offer some of its returning serial dramas in two uninterrupted 12-episode chunks bridged by special events and limited series.
Here are the three midseason entries:
Intelligence (drama) -- Lost star Josh Holloway returns to action as a high-tech intelligence dude with a super-computer microchip in his noggin. This makes him the “first human ever to be connected directly into the worldwide information grid and have complete access to Internet, WiFi, telephone and satellite data,” says CBS. Yeah, but is he a good tweeter? Another familiar TV face, Marg Helgenberger from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, also is back in play as our hero’s boss lady.
Reckless (drama) -- A beauteous Yankee litigator and a charismatic Southern attorney must keep their “intense mutual attraction” under wraps while a police sex scandal potentially tears Charleston, S.C. apart. Relative unknowns Anna Wood and Cam Gigandet play the principals, with help from Gregory Harrison (Trapper John, M.D.) as a former father-in-law who’s still a powerbroker.
Friends with Better Lives (comedy) -- Six pals are in different stages. All are outwardly content but also wondering if their friends are even happier. James Van Der Beek, back from playing himself on ABC’s canceled Don’t Trust the B -- In Apartment 23, is the best known member of the ensemble cast.
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05/14/13 11:40 AM
By ED BARK
Struggling ABC will go into battle this fall with more freshman series than any other rival -- including an all-new Tuesday night -- and a one-step Dancing with the Stars airing only on Mondays.
The No. 4 network in the key 18-to-49 demographic is making room by canceling a flotilla of series. The casualties, most of them previously announced, include Body of Proof, Red Widow, Malibu Country, Happy Endings, Family Tools, How to Live with Your Parents (For the rest of Your Life), Last Resort, 666 Park Avenue, Zero Hour, Private Practice and Don’t Trust the B -- In Apartment 23.
The new season’s stand-alone DWTS, with both performances and results on the same night, possibly could still have a viewer vote-in component, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee said Tuesday in a teleconference with TV writers. Ratings sagged badly this season while viewership continued to skew beyond the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range.
Lee said he hoped that a condensed DWTS will “build a sense of occasion.” ABC also is determined to find ways to “help us age it down” he said.
With DWTS out of the picture, the network’s all-new Tuesday night lineup will start off with Marvel’s New Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a spinoff of The Avengers movie helmed by fave rave sci-fi producer Josh Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Firefly). It will have super-stiff competition opposite CBS’ NCIS, this season’s most popular scripted series.
Thursday night’s leadoff hitter, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, is a spinoff of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. It joins returnees Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal on what Lee called “a powerful night of empowered women.”
ABC also announced five midseason series, including Killer Women. Publicity materials say it stars Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as “ballsy, badass” Molly Parker, the only woman on the Texas Rangers law enforcement team. Still, for some reason the title is plural.
Lee said the network plans to air some of its established serial dramas in separate blocs of 12 episodes to avoid interruptive repeats. Candidates for this treatment are Grey’s, Once Upon a Time, Revenge and Scandal, with limited-run series (mostly to be announced later) bridging the gaps.
Here are ABC’s eight fall newcomers:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (drama) -- Clark Gregg resumes his role of Agent Phil Coulson from last year’s The Avengers, which was directed by Whedon. His new team, comprised of largely unknown actors, will “investigate the new, the strange and the unknown around the globe.”
Lucky 7 (drama) -- A group of Astoria, Queens gas station employees finally hits a lottery jackpot after chipping in together for months. So now what’ll they do? Isiah Whitlock, Jr. from The Wire tops the cast.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (drama) -- John Lithgow plays the White Rabbit and Sophie Lowe (Beautiful Kate) is Alice. They join other famed characters in “a tumble down the rabbit hole to this Wonderland where nothing is impossible.”
Betrayal (drama) -- A photographer and an attorney, both married, fall instantly in love before finding themselves on opposite ends of a high profile murder investigation. Starring Hannah Ware (Boss) and Stuart Townsend (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), with old reliable James Cromwell chipping in.
The Goldbergs (comedy) -- Set in the 1980s, this one’s about “a loving family like any other, just with a lot more yelling.” Co-stars Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and George Segal are the best-known of the ensemble group.
Super Fun Night (comedy) -- Three female best friends have a standing date night every Friday until some inevitable sitcom “monkey wrenches” intrude. The three principals are played by Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids), Lauren Ash (Lars and the Real Girl) and Liza Lapira from ABC’s axed Don’t Trust the B -- in Apartment 23.
Trophy Wife (comedy) -- Bradley Whitford of The West Wing fame plays the third husband of a “reformed party girl” named Kate (Malin Akerman of Suburgatory). Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins also are in the mix as the Whitford character’s ex-wives.
Back in the Game (comedy) -- An up-against-it single mom and her son move in with her cantankerous, estranged father, played by James Caan. His nickname is “The Cannon,” which likely rules out subtlety. Maggie Lawson (Psych) co-stars.
This is the fall schedule announced by ABC:
Dancing with the Stars
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Back in the Game
Super Fun Night
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Last Man Standing
Saturday Night College Football
America’s Funniest Home Videos
Once Upon a Time
Here are the five midseason series announced by ABC:
Killer Women (drama) -- We’ve pretty much been over this one, but it’s always fun to write “ballsy, badass” again. Which is the network’s eye-catching description of Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer), the only female Texas Ranger amid men who want to see her fail.
Mind Games (drama) -- Steve Zahn (Treme) and the well-traveled Christian Slater (three prime-time series flops in a row) star as brothers running a “unique agency committed to solving clients’ problems using the hard science of psychological manipulation.”
Resurrection (drama) -- Deceased loved ones walk anew, puzzling the citizenry of Arcadia Missouri. Principal among them is an eight-year-old boy who wakes up alone in a rural China rice paddy with no idea of how he got there. He then returns to his hometown of Arcadia, whose denizens include veteran actors Omar Epps (House), Kurtwood Smith (That ‘70s Show) and Frances Fisher.
Mixology (comedy) -- A recently dumped dude named Tom (Blake Lee/Parks and Recreation) is tossed “back into the dating pool, whether he likes it or not.”
The Quest (reality) -- A dozen “lucky” contestants embark on the journey of a lifetime upon entering “the world of Everealm.” It’s billed as “a land of magic and malevolence, where mythical creatures lurk in the woods, agents of darkness stir in the shadows and mystical beings infiltrate the keep.” The keep? ABC leaves it at that.
The network also has ordered Toy Story of Terror, a special from the makers of the blockbuster Toy Story films. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen actually are lending their voices, which makes this much more enticing than if it were Scott Baio and Joey Lawrence in a typical TV markdown.
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