They're trotting out the big guns Monday night for the start of the 2010-11 TV season, not just five new shows in one night, but the most highly promoted series of the season on three of the four big networks.
NBC has been pounding the drums so hard about The Event (9 p.m.) that the skins have holes in them. That's OK. So does the show. After all those promos, people have the feeling they've seen the whole first episode, which they probably have.
Fox is countering with Lone Star, the one about the Texas con man who decides to go straight - into the world of bigamy. Relying more on character than loud noise, the serial has more promise than its NBC action-sci-fi competitor.
At 10 p.m. CBS introduces its major new effort, Hawaii Five-0. It's set in Hawaii. People chase each other a lot. McGarrett says, "Book 'im, Danno." And, aside from a few bars of the famous theme song, that's about all this overheated police show has in common with its famous predecessor.
If you're going to do a lot of chasing, why not call your show Chase? That's what NBC does at 10 p.m. The series about a tough but fetching U.S. marshal has the satisfying, but not terribly original, cops-and-robbers stamp of CSI impresario Jerry Bruckheimer.
Then there's the really big show on CBS at 9:30. Mike & Molly follows the comedic adventures of more than 500 pounds of cute couple who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. It's much sweeter and funnier than it sounds.
Ten years ago, CBS came out with a ballyhooed remake of The Fugitive, the classic '60s series in which a wrongly accused physician scrambled to stay ahead of his dogged pursuer. Few people paid much attention to the other show that premiered that night.
It was Bruckheimer's first network show, a little thing called CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It "has more hooks than a tuna boat," wrote one of the critics (me) who noticed, relegating The Fugitive and all its hoo and bally to a distant second place: "Too contrived."
Bruckheimer wins again. The unheralded show this time is Chase, about not one, but many, chases, and it has the hooks. It faces off at 10 p.m. against Hawaii Five-0 the remake, and as remakes usually are, Five-0 is too contrived.
CBS pulls Alex O'Loughlin out of mothballs to play Steve McGarrett after the failure of Moonlight and Three Rivers. He's still handsome, but no longer a vampire, nor a doctor. Now he's the world's greatest Navy action hero (hey, it works for NCIS), who returns to his home state of Hawaii, where Jean Smart has segued from interior decorator (Designing Women) and first lady (24) to governor.
She gives him carte blanche to round up the villains. But first he rounds up the new cop - after they meet cute, pointing guns at each other. Danny Williams is just in from Jersey so he can be closer to his daughter, who called him "Danno" because she couldn't pronounce "Daddy." See what I mean by "contrived"? James Caan's son Scott, also handsome, plays the part.
They bicker incessantly, even after Lost's Daniel Dae Kim and his hot cousin, Grace Park from Battlestar Galactica, join the squad to give it a little local color, even if they both have Korean ancestry, and there are about as many Koreans in Hawaii as Puerto Ricans.
The only new guy in the Chase squad of Texas-based U.S. marshals is another East Coast kid, all buttoned down, D.C.-style. But he soon learns to untuck his shirt and run with the rest of 'em: the appealing mixed bag of types that populates most Bruckheimer projects.
With a strong woman at the forefront, this one is slightly reminiscent of Cold Case, though Kathryn Morris was much more of a china doll than tough gal Kelli Giddish.
She plays the cowboy-booted Annie Frost and does most of her own stunts, which, though they don't carry the highfalutin, techno-savvy baggage of ex-Navy action heroes, are exciting and fun.
Sure, they'll run and run and run some more in every show and catch the fugitives at the end. This is meat-and-potatoes television. But if the baddies are as well-drawn as Travis Fimmel's murderous character in the pilot, there's also a tasty order of creamed spinach on the side.
Mike Biggs and Molly Flynn would pile it high and add a huge dessert, if they weren't always trying to shed some of their poundage on CBS's Mike & Molly.
They get no help from their supporting characters: her pothead sister and clueless mother (Swoosie Kurtz, back on series TV), his cop-shop partner, and the Senegalese waiter at the diner. He's played by the classically trained Nyambi Nyambi, who was in Athol Fugard's Coming Home at the Wilma Theater last fall and was born not in Senegal but in Norman, Okla.
Gilmore Girls' Melissa McCarthy plays Molly. Stand-up Billy Gardell plays Mike. The show from Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) is way more about the bumpy road of romance than the characters' rolling mounds of fat, and it would be a shame if its generally kindhearted humor got lost in the time slot behind the crass Men.
With all the hoopla, it's hard to imagine either The Event or Lone Star getting lost in the TV landscape, at least for starters.
Network execs are always talking about "event" television - Super Bowl, Oscars, etc. - so maybe NBC figured it could score monster ratings by calling its show The Event. Good luck, especially since nobody has a clue what the actual event in The Event is supposed to be.
Will the viewers, or the network, stick with the astonishingly convoluted serial long enough to find out? Do you really want to go through that Heroes thing again?
There's a huge conspiracy, of course. It seems like half the actors who played smarmy political advisers in the eight years of 24 are in President Blair Underwood's cabinet hiding stuff from him. And there are illegal aliens, apparently, from way farther away than Mexico.
If I were choosing at 9 p.m., I'd go with Lone Star, whose star (the relatively unknown James Wolk, whom you might have seen in last year's Hallmark Hall of Fame about Tourette's syndrome) might be adorable enough to make his sophisticated Houston wife and his aw-shucks cutie Midland wife (both also gorgeous) both think he really loves them.
Which he does. The real problem might be keeping his con-man dad and his ruthless, hard-driving father-in-law from spoiling his fun.
They're played by David Keith and Jon Voight respectively. To have two such great actors in supporting roles on TV really is an event.
Mondays at 9 p.m. on NBC10
Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox29
Mike & Molly
Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS3
Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS3
Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC10
Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or email@example.com. Read
his blog, "Eye of the Storm," at