Review Briefs: TV Premiere Week

BY PAMELA FOOHEY

Having just finished watching the season premiere of Desperate Housewives, and thereby completing a week of intense primetime TV viewing, I feel inspired to comment on the new season prospects for some of the most popular shows on TV. Overall, I was quite satisfied with this week’s display of anticipation building and diffusing, and have been hearing the same from others. Before continuing, be warned that the following mini-reviews may contain spoilers. Stop reading now if you haven’t had the chance to catch up on your TiVo.

Boston LegalNetwork: ABCTime: Tuesdays, 10pm

Of all the premieres, Boston Legal by far was the best. I have always been a fan of David E. Kelley and Boston Legal. In my opinion, the wackier the better. Fortunately, this has seemed to be Kelley’s goal as he has worked his way from The Practice and Ally McBeal to Boston Legal. In addition to the wackiness, I have always been impressed by Kelley’s ability to recognize and maintain a good cast. By the end of season 2, Boston Legal had ditched most of its ancillary cast members, leaving only the best, topped off by James Spader, William Shatner, and Candice Bergen. Indeed, the show began to take on a life of its own last season and the premiere continued right on course.

In line with what I consider to be the best episodes of the series, the premiere dealt with two main storylines, one very serious and timely, the other slightly bizarre. Interspersed between these storylines were some of the show’s trademark hilarious filler scenes, which help tie each episode together and make Boston Legal what it is. The premiere also marked the return of two of the best recurring characters: Michael J. Fox as Daniel Post, and Christian Clemenson as “Hands,” both of whom gave excellent performances. And, of course, there were celebratory cigars and scotch at the end. All I have to say is keep the blow-up dolls coming.

Rating: ****

Grey’s AnatomyNetwork: ABCTime: Thursdays, 10pm

You couldn’t walk through the Hark last Thursday without overhearing conversations about which Grey’s premiere party people were planning to attend. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, the premiere was not spectacular. In fact, it was a boring, depressing, and longer than necessary hour. Part of what makes Grey’s great is that it has some funny, witty moments. Unfortunately, there were so many loose ends left over from the second season finale that the writers did not have enough space to interject any lively, offbeat moments. Rather, they spent the hour jumping from character to character, trying, and for the most part failing, to deal with the drama from last season. To top it off, the producers sprinkled flashback sequences that seemed only tangentially relevant throughout the episode.

Overall, the writers had too little time to deal with too many problems, and resorted to solving the issue by leaving out important characters, most notably the Christina and Burke relationship. A better solution would have been to leave out some of the less than necessary sub-plots, ditch the flashbacks, and focus on the main characters by putting them in the hospital situation on which the show is premised. I know I will watch the show next week, but the premiere did not leave me in anticipation.

Rating: **

ERNetwork: NBCTime: Thursdays, 10pm

I have been eagerly awaiting the 13th season premiere of ER since Abby collapsed in a pool of her own blood while Kovac watched helplessly chained to a gurney, the rest of the ER tried to save Jerry, and Sam and her son were kidnapped by her ex-husband. For those of you who gave up on ER years ago, let me bring you up to speed: Abby is carrying Kovac’s baby and they are a couple, more or less (they have become the new Hathaway and Ross); Jerry is still manning the reception desk; and Sam is a nurse who has assumed the role of most overworked nurse in the ER (formerly Hathaway).

The premiere did not disappoint. The season finale left off at such a suspenseful point that the premiere really could have coasted through the first half hour. But the writers took the initiative and developed the plotlines into something spectacular that will last for at least a few more shows. In true ER fashion, the episode was not a happy one: Abby’s baby was born very premature, there were complications with the birth and Abby can no longer bear children, Kovac had a distressing emotional outburst, and Sam shot her ex-husband. Actually, watching the episode was like watching a season finale, only better because instead of waiting three months, we will find out what happens next week. To top it all off, Sally Field will be returning as Abby’s mother next episode. I have made peace with the fact I may be one of the only people watching ER next week or any other week, and am looking forward to a superb season.

Rating: ***

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