by Jim Harris
The broadcast TV networks have just announced their fall lineups, and there are a number of new shows.
• A remake of the old crime drama “”Ironside.” This time, the star is not merely in a wheelchair, he’s in a coma. According to the producers, there’s not a whole lot of action. It’s more of a character-driven show. In the pilot episode, everyone gets excited when it appears that Ironside has moved an eyelash.
• In “Sanctuary,” vintage comic book character Little Lulu comes to life as a grown-up environmental attorney, fighting to save the only remaining habitat of the Six-and-a-half-toed Booby. Her ex-boyfriend, Tubby, has become the Governor of New Jersey. He wants to build a donut factory on the Booby nesting site. Lots of sexual tension. Some graphic scenes involving donut gorging.
• “PWD” bills itself as “Tales of the brave men of the Philly Water Department and the women who love them.” The men work in holes in the ground for months at a time, dealing with angry residents and 200-year-old sewer lines. In the exciting promo, a hard-hatted, shirtless guy yells, “Look out – that pipe’s gonna blow!”
• “The T-Team” is about a quartet of colorful rogue Tea Party patriots (Joe the Plumber, Walt Whiteman, Nathan Whale and Free Willy) who roam the country in their Liberty-copter fighting spineless liberals.
• “Captain Nimby” is a superhero who drives around wearing an ermine cape in a souped-up golf cart and confronts people trying to establish businesses or social services in “nice” neighborhoods. He beats them senseless with a badminton racquet while yelling “Not in MY back yard!”
• “The New Wide World of Sports” pits Sunnis against Shiite Muslims in a soccer match that ends with a bang. Gun control advocates compete against defenders of the Second Amendment in a hoops contest that’s a real shootout. There are several period dramas of dubious accuracy featuring historical babes in seductive costumes. These include “Mary, Queen of Hots,” “Viking Vixens” and “Renaissance Call Girls.”
• Following up on “Hannibal,” NBC’s series about a cannibalistic serial killer, there are two new shows featuring cannibals, including “Honey, Who Ate the Kids?” about a severely dysfunctional family and a PG-17-rated version of “Hell’s Kitchen.” In this case, “Parental Guidance” means therapy sessions with a licensed psychiatrist.
• For younger viewers, the CW Network is offering what it calls “visceral” shows that eliminate any elements like plot or character development that might slow down the pace. In “We Gotta Get Outta Here,” good looking, muscular men and women in perilous situations (ticking time bombs, fires, collapsing buildings) yell, “We gotta get outta here!” Another entry, “Loud Noises,” features booms, bangs, explosions, gunshots, chain saws, restaurant dining rooms and revving engines. Never one second of silence.
Reality shows on tap include:
• “Cats Stuck in Trees.” A new cat and a new tree each week.
• “The Yanks are Coming!” Teams of Americans roam the globe from convenience stores in New York City to hovels in Timbuktu, laughing at foreigners and mocking them.
• “Almighty G” is a hip-hop photographer to the rap stars who gets shot by a different “celebrity” every week. Spin-offs from the popular “Dancing with the Stars” include Sleeping, Belching, Bathing, Knitting, Praying and Preening with the Stars. Americans just can’t get enough of doing stuff with the stars.
• “America’s Best Surgeon.” Each episode features sexy young surgeons performing heart transplants and breast enlargements live onstage. Simon Cowell is back as a hilariously rude judge, saying things like, “You’re kidding – right? You DROPPED the heart! You call yourself a surgeon? I wouldn’t hire you to slice my baloney!”
Supernatural themes are big this season, especially:
• “Buddy,” in which a middle-aged, overweight werewolf moves back in with his elderly werewolf parents, and “Gloom,” about the inner conflict of a vegan vampire.
There are several other in-depth character studies, like:
• “Power Ball.” A gas station attendant wins $600 million in the lottery and spends it all on cocaine. A very fast-moving show. “Wasted” is about a germophobic trash man who has to get drunk every day in order to do his job. In “Purvis Shmedlap, Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge,” he’s the law, but he’s also a crook. In episode one, he arrests himself, but escapes.
• There’s a new game show called “Name That Dead Guy” where contestants try to identify coroner’s photos of famous corpses. And a new sitcom, “Sluts.” Like “Friends” but with lots more nudity.
And so, after a stultifying summer of reruns (these TV writers get more time off than Congress!), we can look forward to a new season of sex, violence, death and depravity. Shows for every taste but good taste. The amazing thing is that every time you think it can’t get any worse, it does.