“Whitney” (NBC, September 22, 9:30 p.m.)
Plot: It doesn’t matter.
Is It for You? NO.
Drinking Game Idea: Take a shot every time a sex joke falls flat (for instance, after being told it’s healthy for couples to have sex four or five times a week, Whitney responds, “Five times a week? Who has time for that?”), and our apologies if you’re wasted within five minutes.
“Prime Suspect” (NBC, September 22, 10 p.m.)
Plot: Based on the U.K. series of the same name, “Prime Suspect” replaces Helen Mirren and Scotland Yard with Maria Bello and the New York Police Department. The show’s plot — about a female cop trying to make it in a man’s world — remains the same.
Is It for You? The original three-hour miniseries with Mirren is FANTASTIC (it was listed as one of the best TV shows of all time by Time) and incredibly compact, but the remake is going to be 22 episodes, because it’s on American TV, and composed largely of standalone episodes, because it’s on American TV. (She also won’t be a chain-smoker anymore, because it’s on American TV.) If “Prime Suspect” resembles the original, in that it does what “The Killing” never did, it would be low-rated and people like us would love it; but it’s likely to go the procedural route to receive boffo ratings and little critical love. At least we’ll always have A History of Violence.
Drinking Game Idea: Take a shot every time you see Bello’s sweet hat. [Editor's note: Bello wears the hat through most of every episode. Do not listen to Josh.]
“A Gifted Man” (CBS, September 23, 8 p.m.)
Plot: It’s science vs. religion when A-hole neurosurgeon Patrick Wilson sees the ghost of his dead ex-wife, and rather than flipping the f**k out, like any non-TV character would do, he instead follows her advice and helps run the free clinic she directed. Plus: Margo Martindale plays his assistant. Mags Bennett!
Is It for You? They should have just called it “Touched By an Angel…Again,” but CBS had bigger plans: they’re already thinking ahead to the inevitable “2 Broke Girls”/”How to Be a Gentleman”/”A Gifted Man” crossover episode, where gender roles are thrown into question and dead Brooklyn-dwelling wives learn to act more like their husbands, thanks to Johnny Drama. And “Ghost Whisperer” Jennifer Love Hewitt is there, too, and she brings Matt Dillon with her, and they reenact the scene from “Wild Things” with Kat Dennings, while Patrick Wilson continues to stare off into the distance.
Drinking Game Idea: Take a shot every time Patrick Wilson stares wistfully off in the distance.
“Pan Am” (ABC, September 25, 10 p.m.)
Plot: “Passion, jealousy, and espionage. They do it all — and they do it at 30,000 feet.” It’s about the pilots and flight attendants who worked for Pan Am during the Jet Age, before the company ceased to exist and people hated to fly.
Is It for You? “Pan Am” appears to be the lighthearted opposite of “Mad Men,” which is good; there’s nothing wrong with TV escapism, if that’s your thing, particularly when it’s paired with bubbly music and beautiful people — as long as the ENTIRE episode remains lighthearted. There’s an espionage plot that sneaks into the pilot that could be troubling, and the entire episode’s also really busy without a strong focus on the show’s supposed main character, played by Christina Ricci. “Pan Am” deserves a few episodes to see if it can find its footing, but please, no season one of “Mad Men” winking nods to “look at the pregnant woman smoking!”
Drinking Game Idea: Take a shot every time a character on the show says something like, “Pan Am will never go out of business!”
“Terra Nova” (Fox, September 26, 8 p.m.)
Plot: It’s the year 2149, and Earth is totally f**ked. Scientists develop a time machine, so thousands of people, including the Shannon family (led by Jason O’Mara and Shelley Conn), can go back in time — to when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
Is It for You? God I hope so. The word “dinosaurs” should make anyone tune in for at least the pilot, but it’s tough not to be at least a little worried that the characters on “Terra Nova” will be little more than mouthpieces to spew out dialogue like, “You’re supposed to be a solider!” It also looks like there’s going to be more than one Cute Kid, and one’s already too many. Plus, the show was originally supposed to air in Winter 2010, suggesting a rocky start. My advice: less father-son-”You just don’t get it, do you?” problems, and more dinosaurs eating people. Who wouldn’t watch that every week?
Drinking Game Idea: Take a shot for every flesh-eating dinosaur seen in the pilot, and if the number’s less than three, think twice before tuning in the following week.
I want more like this!
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