Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.
Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2007-2008 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere this season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. While it's still a little early for full reviews (some recasting and reshooting will be done on a good chunk of them), we still want to give you a heads up on what you should - and shouldn't - keep on your radar in the coming months.
And as an added bonus this year, each day we'll also take a look at one of the pilots that didn't make the cut. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
BIG SHOTS (ABC)
(Thursdays at 10:00/9:00c this fall)
The network's description: "This is the story of four friends at the top of their game...until the women in their lives enter the room. Lines between boardroom and bedroom blur when these competitive but dysfunctional CEOs take refuge in their friendship, discussing business, confiding secrets, seeking advice and supporting each other through life's surprising twists and turns."
What did they leave out: Prior to "Big Shots," the series ran under several titles including "Bedrooms & Boardrooms" and "Big Dicks."
The plot in a nutshell: Life is good for Duncan Collinsworth (CEO, Reveal Cosmetics), Brody Johns (Founder, Alpha Crisis Management), Karl Mixworthy (CEO, Fidelity Pharmaceuticals) and James Walker (Amerimart Industries). On most days their biggest worries are whether the club has run out of their favorite shrimp. That is, of course, until the women in their lives arrive on the scene. For henpecked Brody (Christopher Titus), it's catering to his Maris Crane-esque wife's every whim. For nebbish Karl (Joshua Malina), it's juggling his saintly-but-cold wife (Amy Sloan) and sultry-but-demanding mistress (the always adorable Jessica Collins). For good guy James (Michael Vartan, sporting the same wounded puppy look he perfected on "Alias"), it's the revelation his loving wife (Wendy Moniz) was having an affair with his recently deceased boss (John Getz). And for their ringleader Duncan (Dylan McDermott), it's a little bit of everything - his rebellious daughter (Peyton List) is every bit the spitting image of him; his ex-wife (Paige Turco) has become far more alluring now that they're divorced; and a reporter is on the trail of a solicitation charge he received after being caught with - unbeknownst to him at the time - a transvestite (Jazzmun). The boys then find themselves rallying to each other's causes in the form of bitch sessions at the club, bitch sessions at the golf course and well... more bitch sessions at the club. (Really, they don't do much else together.) It's here where Duncan doles out his pithy commentary on the opposite sex, which include such sure-to-be-promoted-to-death gems as "'til death do us part, sometimes it sounds like a threat" and "men - we're the new women." Inevitably though - because this is a pilot - the quartet eventually reach new status quos, whether it be Duncan breaking the ice with his daughter, Karl's wife inadvertently befriending his mistress or James finding new strength from his loss (not to mention the promise of a new flame, played by the equally adorable Nia Long).
What works: You probably couldn't ask for a stronger, more interesting cast: I mean, Joshua Malina - "Sports Night," "The West Wing," what more needs to be said. Christopher Titus - "Titus," again, end of story. Michael Vartan - "Alias," done, sold. Dylan McDermott - "The Practice," boom, I'm in. If there was ever a show that was going to be "the show" for me this fall, this was it. So - strong, interesting cast. Check. Strong, interesting characters...
What doesn't: ...not so much. Outside of James and (depending on the scene) Duncan, everybody is played more or less as walking cartoons, which I guess would be fine if the show was actually funny. Aside from Titus's mugging for the camera and Duncan's zingers (both in of themselves acquired tastes), the show at best has a lackluster "wow, isn't this wacky" undercurrent to it. The bulk of the show however is a hodgepodge of different tones - there's the sweet (James telling his wife what he thought when he first met her), the silly (Karl trying to convince his couples therapist to see both his wife and his mistress in separate sessions) and the just plain weird (Duncan describing how convincing the transvestite was only to have him turn out be the least convincing transvestite you could think of) - sometimes even in the same scene - Duncan bonds with his daughter shortly after paying said transvestite to keep quiet thanks to her help. Whaaa??? And to the show's credit, director Charles McDougall does his darndest to plug all of these tones into the "it's 'Desperate Housewives' but with guys" hole (complete with "isn't something wacky happening here" score) but doesn't quite make them all fit. I guess at the end of the day do I really want to watch a show about mostly unfunny guys cheating on their wives and covering it up? Even without the above "hype," I can't help but be underwhelmed by the end product.
The bottom line: With it's post-"Grey's Anatomy" time slot, I have no doubt "Big Shots" will get a huge push. But will it live up to the hype?