All summer long, I've been giving you my first impressions of the networks' new shows. Now, with fall TV upon us, it's time to tell you which shows are deserving of space on your TiVo and which ... well, aren't. Today, I'm starting off with five shows that — based on their pilots — you'd be best to steer clear of this fall.
5. "Life" — I was into the premise of this show about a detective who gets sentenced to life in prison and rejoins the police force after his wrongful conviction is overturned. But the show itself was such a bundle of cop-show cliches and random quirks that it was already grating on me by 10 minutes into the pilot. Lead actor Damian Lewis gives his best shot, but if the writers want to create a "House"-style misanthrope, they're going to have to do more than make him wax poetic about fruit all the time.
4. "Viva Laughlin" — I once declared this musical drama the pilot I most wanted to see ... but then I actually saw it. What a bummer. I thought it would be a fun, cheesy, over-the-top hit. In reality, the musical numbers that didn't involve Hugh Jackman fell flat, and the dialogue was cringe-worthy. I still hold out hope that it could get better, but I doubt it's going to be on the air long enough to improve.
Three more to be wary of, so read more
3. "The Big Bang Theory" — Look! It's smart guys who are too inept to date a hot chick! How revolutionary! I don't claim that every single TV show on the air has to be groundbreaking; sometimes I just want a quick, mindless laugh. But I would prefer that shows stop relying on the same old, tired, geek-vs-hottie, pretty-girls-are-dumb, smart-boys-are-hopeless brand of "jokes," and this show never really gets beyond that.
2. "Big Shots" — How do you screw up a show with three hot guys, one adorable smart guy, and a plum post-"Grey's Anatomy" time slot? You reach so hard for the "'Sex and the City' for men" premise that your characters must reinforce numerous times that they are not, in fact, women. There's just nothing here to hold onto besides trite story lines about adultery, unfulfilling sex and indulgent spending. This one has the star power to be a hit, but it needs some major retooling first.
1. "Cavemen" — I know. Shocking, right? The premise is just so flimsy here, and the joke so one-note, that I'm not sure there's any way this pilot could have overcome all the negative "you've got to be kidding me" press this show has gotten for months. I'll admit that there are funny things about this show (the costumes; the caveman who reads The Economist), but it still feels exactly like those Geico ads — and there's a reason they only lasted for 30 seconds.