Saturday, February 28, 2009

March Is The New Mid-Season...

Once upon a time in a magical land called Hollywood, harried, somewhat unkempt writers bit their nails down to the quick awaiting news on if the pilots they pitched would receive full season orders, be given solid No's, or worse: be relegated to the limbo that was "mid-season replacement" territory. Such shows weren't guaranteed to air at all, if the initial fall line-up (the shows that network executives felt had the most potential) didn't fail expectations. And if the shows did get a shot after premature cancellations, there was no guarantee they'd find an audience, considering so many other new programs before them had a few month head start in garnering loyal followers. These days, though, mid-season is no longer something to be feared or shamed, as critically acclaimed programs such as Lost and 24 are now given those premiere dates, making them something of pride. Typically mid-season begins in January, but as the years have gone on, and with cable networks delivering their own original programming without adhering to network timelines, mid-season has begun to mean anything from the winter through the spring. March 2009 will be bringing even more new (and some returning) programming, but not all is destined to stick around to see the light of a second season.

Based on the real life of horror and crime novelist Rick Castle, ABC's new drama, appropriately-titled, Castle, will begin airing on March 9. Starring Nathan Fillion as the title character, Castle follows the writer after he joins forces with Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) to help catch a serial killer who is staging murders based on scenes from his books. Castle tries to be witty, but Fillion's antics unfortunately come off more as goofy, evoking memories of his Dr. Horrible days, which makes the overall show seem bumbling and teetering on the edge of reality. The real life Rick Castle is poker buddies with the likes of James Patterson, Sue Grafton, and Stephen King, so at least there is hope for some cool cameo moments!

Comedy Central and RENO 911! left us with a huge cliffhanger last July when Lt. Dangle and the gang took off on an ill-fated parade float. Did they all survive? Did anyone walk away without their eyebrows? Was it just an elaborate hoax? Was the show even going to come back to give us any answers? Well, we now know the answer to at least that last question, and hopefully we will find out the others come March 12 when the Reno Sheriff's Department is back in all of their misguided glory. Two new cops will be joining the squad, fueling the rumors that not all of the original cast will return, but both new guys (Ian Roberts, playing a by-the-book Sergeant, and Joe Lo Truglio, a big city play-by-his-own-rules type) appeared in the big screen version of the show, so whatever happens, the improv ridiculousness will not miss a step! And it is safe to say that roller-skating Terry (Nick Swardson) will stir up some trouble, as well.

The CW just announced the renewal of six of their shows, but Reaper was not included. Perhaps executives at that baby network are awaiting the success of its second season premiere tonight to make any determinations on its longer-term future. Reaper returns with Sam (Bret Harrison) in the midst of an existential crisis of sorts, wondering if he really is the devil's son or if it has just been elaborate trickery to get him to do some things he wouldn't ordinarily do. Jenny Wade (Feast, Pushing Daisies) will also pop up for at least a three-episode arc, and Sam will have to battle the devil's actual child, who isn't so keen on sharing daddy. Sounds like this once-snarky take on a sitcom family might finally be on its way out with these soap opera-esque antics!

Based on the popular web series of the same name, In The Motherhood begins on ABC on March 26. The slightly larger screen version has different stars-- Cheryl Hines, Megan Mullally, and Jessica St. Clair-- but the stories are still plucked from the headlines of real life mothers' family newsletters and submitted to the show. With such sharp, witty comediennes in the lead roles, the characters are quirky, complicated, and as post-modern as can be, guaranteeing the laughs to keep rolling.

The first television show about a modern day Cupid (starring Jeremy Piven and aptly titled Cupid) went off the air without even a yelp from the stinging sensation of his arrow. The second television show about Greek Gods living in the present-day world, The CW's Valentine of this past fall, made just about as big an impression, even though in this adaptation Cupid was replaced by a shaggy, promiscuous Eros. So what would make ABC think that a remake of Cupid starring Bobby Cannavale, who might always be known as the "funky spunk" guy from Sex and the City regardless of how many other programs he's had larger, longer, even starring, roles, would fare any better? On March 31, we will all find out, though, as Trevor Hale (Cannavale), a man who believes he actually is a Cupid-incarnate is placed under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Claire McCrae (Sarah Paulson) and told he must attend her singles group therapy sessions on a regular basis so that she can monitor his progress. Needless to say, he'll probably make a believer out of her, since this is being marketed as a romantic dramaedy, but the prognosis looks significantly less positive for audiences.

Also premiering this month is ABC's Better Off Ted (March 18) and NBC's Kings (March 19), while also returning are NBC's second season of Donald Trump's The Celebrity Apprentice (March 1), AMC's breakout series Breaking Bad (March 8), and The Tudors (March 30).

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