Time for the mid season replacement series. Here is a look at five that made their debut last week.
Starring: Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, W. Earl Brown, Richard Cabral, Caitlin Gerard, Benito Martinez, Penelope Ann Miller, Elvis Nolasco, Johnny Ortiz and Aliyah Shaddeed
Airs: Thursdays at 10:00 p.m./ABC
This show features multiple storylines and focuses on race. There really isn’t any likeable characters to root for – at least not in the first episode. Russ Skokie (Hutton) and his ex-wife Barb (Huffman) learn that their son is dead. Russ is already a mess as he is a gambling addict and Barb is a no-nonsense bitter woman. They clearly can’t stand each other. Barb is convinced that an “illegal” killed her son. A second storyline features a drug-loving couple who will do anything for their next hit. A night out consists of finding spare change to split a beer at a local bar in hopes of finding a “John” to “entertain” so that they can buy more drugs. The story is terribly sad. And then there is hard-working auto shop owner Alonzo and his son Tony who is arrested for a murder. What a mess.
Many drama series are mixed with bits of comedy. American Crime is neither one of those shows nor is it a “feel-good” one either. That isn’t to say that the show is not good. It is. It just isn’t enjoyable to watch. The acting is very good and the storyline is probably more realistic than many would like to admit. Christians will find themselves wanting a good Samaritan to join the cast and share the love of Christ because these people need it. If you watch TV to escape reality, this isn’t your show.
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Dean Winters, Janet McTeer, Edward Fordham, Jr., Kal Penn and Aubry Dollar
Airs: Sundays at 10:00 p.m./CBS
Though appearing to be a crime-drama, Battle Creek is more of a comedy with a much better paid of mixed personalities than CBS’ new version of The Odd Couple which is suppossed to b a comedy! Better known as the “Mayhem” character in those insurance commercials, Winters plays Russ Agnew, a hard-working detective in Battle Creek, Michigan with a police department that has virtually no budget to fight crime. The ingenious ways that he and his crew go to fight crime is funny enough for its’ own show, but he gets help in form of clean-cut Special Agent Milton Chamberlain (Duhamel). The two don’t hit it off too well as Milton appears to be perfect in looks and actions, but he has a few secrets that will be revealed as the series goes on. Russ is clearly jealous and yet has respect for the agent. Russ is all about threats and acting tough whereas Milton’s tactic is to act above reproach and with…dare I say…morality?
Though the show does features other characters, it really is all about these two and how they learn to navigate working with the other. If CBS can keep up the show’s momentum, it should be around for awhile.
Starring: Patricia Arquette, James Van Der Beek, Charely Koontz, Shad Moss, Peter MacNicol and Hayley Kiyoko
When: Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m./CBS
CSI: Cyber is the third spin-off of the CSI franchise after CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Cyber takes place in Quantico, Virginia (perhaps “SCI: Quantico” was too difficult to pronounce?) and unlike the previous shows, it deals with only cyber crimes, not dead bodies – at least not in the pilot episode. The unit is lead by Allison Dubois (Arquette) who is passionate about her work due to a previous incident where her work laptop was stolen and all of her client’s information was compromised. Her character is inspired by the real-life work of Cyber Psychologist, Mary Aiken.
Although the show is similar to it’s predecessors in its presentation, the storylines try to be different. This unit is different with its own unique “nerds” but they all utter the series’ trademark bad jokes and winks to the camera. The only real difference is that there are no gory images of slain bodies. Allison’s right hand man is gameboy and FBI Agent Elijah Mundo (Van Der Beek.) All I know of Van Der Beek’s acting career is that he played the title character in TV’s Dawson’s Creek and later made fun of himself in the terrible ABC comedy, The B in Apartment 23, so it is hard to take him seriously, but he does okay.
The pilot episode dealt with a storyline of bad guys selling babies via online auction which started off okay, but got quickly muddled. It seems terrible to say but by the end of the episode you didn’t care that the baby was brought back to his parents alive or not. In the end, it is a fair show, but would do better as a stand alone rather than a spinoff.
Starring: Jason Isaccs, Anne Heche, Alison Sudol, Ori Pfeffer, David Costabile, Lauren Ambrose, Angela Bettis, Richard E. Grant, Regina Taylor, Omar Metwally, Tim Kring, Gideon Raff
Airs: Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. on USA
Dig is a short-term television event lasting for ten weeks. For a title that is a verb, meaning “action,” the show is rather dull. It’s a mystery through and through. Even at the end of the first episode, you don’t really know much more than you did at the beginning. The worst part is that you don’t care. Though beautiful to look at (it was partially filmed in Jerusalem, Croatia and New Mexico), there really isn’t much reason to watch the production.
The main storyline features a FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem. Peter Connelly, (Issacs), is fascinated with with a young red-haired beauty (Alison Sudol), which is understandable since she resembles his daughter who has recently passed away. What is not unstandable is that when she strips, jumps in a sacred pool of water and invites him to join her, he doesn’t hesitate to get naked. Creepy. To make matters worse, he is and his boss (Heche) are sex buddies. Why either of these details are necessary to the story is beyond me.
As you’ve probably already figured out, the red-haired beauty is found dead and Peter goes on a mission to find out who killed her. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, a young boy is held captive in a castle-like fortress and is being groomed for a super-secret, but probably religious, mission. He is supposedly the chosen one. Then, in another part of the world, a young Jewish man is caring for a spotless calf – a literal sacred cow. How all these stories fit together could change the world for good. This should be exciting stuff, but it isn’t.
Secrets and Lies
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Juliette Lewis, KaDee Strickland, Natalie Martinez, Dan Fogler, Indiana Evans, Abby Crawford and Melissa Gilbert.
Airs: Sundays at 9:00 p.m. on ABC
At first glance, ABC’s new series looks like a clone to FOX’s Gracepoint where a young boy is murdered and authorities are on the lookout for the killer. However, unlike the former where everyone is a suspect, Secret and Lies is shown from one person’s point of view – the main suspect. Ryan Phillippe is Ben Crawford who discovers his neighbor’s son, Tom Murphy, dead in the nearby woods during a morning run. While anyone in the nearby cul-de-sac could be guilty of the crime, Detective Andrea Cornell (Lewis) is focused solely on Ben. Soon, Ben is living in a nightmare as various “secrets” and “lies” about himself and others are revealed.
Unlike Dig, this mystery is much more intriguing. Phillippe is extremely good as portraying the confused Ben but some of the acting of the supporting cast is a bit to be desired. Lewis features a permanent scowl and seems a bit too sharp. You would think that she would have some lines where she could actually smile. Belle Shouse’s acting, (she plays Ben’s younger daughter), is stilted but pales in comparison to Dan Fogler who plays a family friend living in the Crawford’s guest house. It is hard to say which is worse – Fogler’s lines or the way he delivers them. Judging by the show’s first three episodes, these are the show’s only weak spots, but there could be more in the coming weeks.