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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!
BONUS FIRST LOOK: MR. & MRS. SMITH (ABC)
(pilot not ordered to series)
The network's description: "In an exciting first for network television the original creators of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Swingers) and Simon Kirnberg (X-Men: The Last Stand), personally transform their hit film into a hotly anticipated TV series. Continuing the success of the worldwide blockbuster, this sexy, fun, escapist series is highlighted by witty banter, amazing stunts and stunning special effects. It is six months later. John and Jane Smith are living undercover as an ordinary professional couple in the suburbs, where no one suspects that they each work as gadget-wielding super-spies for top secret intelligence firms. For security reasons, John and Jane can never truly confide in one another. But what their relationship lacks in communication, it makes up for in intensity. Because when you're not sure if your partner will survive the next day, each moment is that much more passionate... Jordana Brewster (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) and Martin Henderson (The Ring) make the roles their own as they defy death each week on new global missions. Audiences everywhere will fall for this dazzling duo all over again, as John and Jane prove that the pursuit of love is the most dangerous mission of all."
What did they leave out: Just keep reading, keeping in mind that director Doug Liman and writer Simon Kinberg were behind both the movie and the TV show.
The plot in a nutshell: It's been almost a year since the events of the film as married spies John (Martin Henderson) and Jane (Jordana Brewster) Smith once again are finding their passion for each other fading. Making matters worse, John's just been let go by "The Agency" and quickly becomes the de facto househusband, reduced to grocery shopping and watching "Dr. Phil." Jane on the other hand continues to be swept up by work, canceling their date nights and subsequent rainchecks. After all, as her number two (Rebecca Mader, complete with her original accent) reminds her - what's more important than stopping a thermonuclear device? It's not long then before the local cougar (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) sets her sights on John, inviting him over to play cards with the girls and planting doubts about Jane's faithfulness in his ear. John then decides to take matters in his own hands and begins following Jane. Not surprisingly, he becomes the bull in Jane's current mission's china shop in the process, putting them both in grave danger (i.e. handcuffed to a speeding car heading into a river). Will they stop bickering long enough to figure out that together they make even better spies? As if I have to tell you.
What works: You know how sometimes something is so bad, you almost become impressed by how bad it is? Well...
What doesn't: ...I'm impressed. I don't even know where to begin. Let's start with the casting. Even if you were a die hard fan of the original, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie by no means created iconic characters that no mere mortal dare try to fill the shoes of. So it's almost mind-boggling how poorly up to the challenge Martin Henderson and Jordana Brewster are. I honestly can't remember the last time a pilot took such a nose dive in the first few minutes - you can literally feel the chill of "this is really it?" before the teaser even finishes. Henderson and Brewster don't even appear like they're acting in the same TV show half the time the chemistry is so bad. Behind the camera isn't much better as we're treated to only a handful of "action" sequences, including an ill-advised rehash of the much-ballyhooed dance sequence from the film. And who's bright idea was it to scratch the Eddie character (played by Vince Vaughn in the film) from being in the TV show? If there ever was a show in desperate need of some sort of comic relief - this is it. Furthermore, there's little attempt to mythologize any of the film's elements, save for a brief appearance by Julia Ormond as the previously unseen "Mother" (the head of Jane's company) for purposes too silly to recount here. Overall, wow... just wow.
The bottom line: While there's always a few gems that get locked away in the networks' vaults each year, this decidedly isn't one of them.