The promising, and not so promising, fall shows
Last week at the upfronts, the big five broadcast networks presented clips of their new fall shows to advertisers. Now it's our turn to be up-front with some snap judgments.
Most promising Smith. Heist dramas are a dime a dozen these days, but this series boasts Ray Liotta as the gang's leader and Virginia Madsen as his unsuspecting wife. A smoldering Liotta is basically par for the course, but it's rarely a bad thing. Least promising The Class. Jason Ritter (Joan of Arcadia) reunites his third-grade class so he can propose to his girlfriend, a fellow classmate (yeah, really). This leads to painfully self-important twentysomething navel-gazing.
Most promising Let's Rob... Dreamer Donal Logue (Grounded for Life) assembles an oddball crew to burgle Mick Jagger's apartment. The series might just have that Earl-with-a-mission underdog appeal. Least promising Big Day. An entire season based on the wacky wedding day of a young couple (The Practice's Marla Sokoloff and Four Kings' Josh Cooke). Weren't the best jokes wrung out of this premise back in Father of the Bride? Wendie Malick as mom-of-bride can only do so much.
Most promising 30 Rock. Saturday Night Live head writer (and ''Weekend Update'' anchor) Tina Fey plays the head writer on an SNL-style show. With regular, inspired SNL host Alec Baldwin as her patronizing, whispery boss, this could be brilliant stuff if it doesn't get too coy. Least promising The Black Donnellys. Even talented Crash director Paul Haggis can't intrigue us with this well-worn premise: loyal Irish brothers and the trouble they get into in New York City.
Most promising Justice. Yes, it is yet another legal drama this one focusing on matters like pretrial spin and jury selection but exec producer Jerry Bruckheimer has a rock-solid résumé (CSI, Without a Trace). Plus, we'll be treated to the pairing of two of our TV favorites: Victor Garber of Alias and Oz's Eamonn Walker. Least promising Vanished. What starts off as a simple kidnapping of a senator's wife turns into a Da Vinci Code rip-off, with quasireligious clues that equally bore and confuse.
Most promising The Game. With only two new shows, winning ''most promising'' isn't quite the honor it would seem. This Girlfriends spin-off about pro football players' significant others should fit in nicely with the network's Sunday comedy lineup. Least promising Runaway. With only two new shows, this isn't quite the slam it would seem. A woman is killed and the accused (Donnie Wahlberg) goes on the run. Think The Fugitive, only with Dr. Richard Kimble replaced by a New Kid on the Block.