OUT IN LEFT FIELD
Some shows don't quite fit into an easy category, as is the case with the following two debuts.
With executive producer and guest star Hugh Jackman, Viva Laughlin
(CBS) could be this season's dark-horse contender. I find casinos gaudy and boring and reeking of desperation, but I got involved in this tale, which is about a budding casino owner who wants to take on the Vegas kings by opening his own place in Laughlin, Nevada. When his main backer pulls out and winds up dead in his office, he's got a load of woes. The idea of a drama with musical numbers didn't fly well when it was Cop Rock,
but Jackman could pull it off. Seeing his sly, sleazy character swagger through a casino singing "Sympathy for the Devil" is pretty hip.
An even quirkier series is Pushing Daisies
(ABC), from director Barry Sonnenfeld (The Addams Family
) and writer-producer Bryan Fuller (Heroes
), which plays like a colorful Tim Burton fairy tale. Piemaker Ned can bring the dead back to life with one touch, but if he touches them again, they'll die permanently. And if they're alive for more than a minute, someone else must take their place. (Stay with me here.) Ned has a good racket with a PI - he briefly reanimates corpses in morgues in order to find out who killed them, and then he and the PI collect reward money. When he resurrects his childhood sweetheart, he wants her around, but naturally they can never be intimate in any way. This show looks cool, and the premise is enjoyably weird, but I don't know what the point is. Stay tuned.
So there you have it, boob-tube addicts — the beginnings of the 2007–08 TV season. I like to think that I have a good knack for identifying hits, since I knew Desperate Housewives, Lost, My Name Is Earl, and Heroes were special. Then again, when I worked in Hollywood, I skimmed through a script for Beverly Hills High, which later became 90210, and I thought, No one will watch this.