From the overall lack of new shows to the low number of pilots the networks have sent out (thanks again, writers' strike), it's been a weird Fall TV season when it comes to recommending new series. Tonight, though, marks the premiere of two shows I can speak highly of for very different reasons: Fringe on Fox and Privileged on The CW.
Let's take Fringe first. This is Fall's big, high-concept, much-anticipated series from JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci — you know, the guys behind little projects like Lost and Transformers and Star Trek. It also had one of the more expensive pilots of the year (rumored to be $10 million for about 90 minutes), and it shows, with explosions, science-y effects, and cattle (yes, cattle). As I wrote earlier, Fringe focuses on three characters — an FBI agent (Anna Torv), a genius mad scientist (John Noble), and his slacker-genius son (Joshua Jackson) — who get sucked into the mysteries of fringe science, aka cloning, mind reading, etc. Abrams has said he wants the show to be less all-consuming than Lost or Alias while still telling interesting stories, and though the pilot didn't click 100 percent for me, I'm hooked enough to want to see more.
Privileged, on the other hand, is just cute. JoAnna Garcia oozes charm as Megan Smith, the tutor to two Palm Beach heiresses (Ashley Newbrough and Lucy Kate Hale), and her sparkle is reason enough to tune in. The pilot wasn't perfect, and it left a lot of things up in the air (like why a Yale grad would take a tutoring job without even laying eyes on the kids), but since I first watched it, it's settled into my mind like a pleasant memory. It's not the funniest show on TV this Fall, or the most clever, or the best written — but it's undoubtedly the sweetest, and that should count for something.
Fringe starts at 8 p.m. tonight (though it will regularly air at 9), and Privileged premieres at 9 p.m. Will you be watching either? To check out trailers for both, just