Small Screen Bytes

Salt Lake City Weekly | September 8, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands

Thursday, Sept. 14 (CBS)

Season Premiere: This year, the competition has been divided into Asian, black, Hispanic and white tribes, inciting much racial “controversy” and causing long-time Survivor sponsors to bail in droves. And yet I still couldn’t give a rat’s ass. The only gimmick—sorry, social experiment—that could get me to tune in would be tribes made up of the corporate weasels who’ve propped up this show until now and made billions off it. And host Jeff Probst being mauled by bears or whatever indigenous wildlife is available.

Talk Show With Spike Feresten

Saturday, Sept. 16 (Fox)

Series Debut: Assuming the post-Mad TV timeslot previously held by Stargate SG-1 reruns and/or paid programming, Spike Feresten (a former Seinfeld and Letterman writer) hosts Fox’s new talk show that will have everyone at the Monday water cooler buzzing, “What the fuck happened to my Stargate rerun and rubber-ball workout infomercial?” Talk Show wasn’t available for preview, but if it’s designed to keep audiences from flipping over to the usually filler-laden final half-hour of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, it should at least be … in color.

The Class, How I Met Your Mother

Monday, Sept. 18 (CBS)

Series Debut/Season Premiere: Last season, How I Met Your Mother broke out of a potentially lame-o premise (future flashback dad narrates to the kids about all the girls he banged en route to mom) to become one of the funniest, sharpest network sitcoms in years; a viable answer to Britain’s Coupling. The Class, about eight third-grade friends reunited not just because of their genetically-engineered hotness and one-liner skills, could follow suit: The pilot episode limps slightly, but the solid cast (especially Andrea Anders, fresh from the smoldering tire-fire of Joey) might save the series. Or, The Class gets canceled and CBS plugs in double eps of How I Met Your Mother. Win-win.

Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip

Monday, Sept. 18 (NBC)

Series Debut: Not to be confused with Tina Fey’s hysterically goofy 30 Rock, Aaron Sorkin’s gravitas-booted Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip is his former West Wing relocated to Hollywood—both are set behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live-styled shows, but they couldn’t be more different. Studio 60 is Pure Drama (lightened with dark laughs) and Grand Statement (never lightened) about the hackneyed state of network television, dumbed-down America and one mod squad’s (Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet) quest to restore their show to its smart, cutting-edge glory. Can they, uh, git ‘r’ done? The fun is in watching them slap around TV while on TV; when Studio 60 is clicking—which is most of the time—it’s as good as classic Wing. Best part of the premiere: Studio 60’s thinly-veiled version of SNL deadweight Horatio Sanz getting dressed down as a talentless slob. Oh, sweet reality-as-fantasy justice!


Tuesday, Sept. 19 (CBS)

Series Debut: Ray Liotta as a smooth master criminal out to pull that a few Last Heists before finally settling into his dull suburban cover-life with Virginia Madsen—but will he be able to stay ahead of the law and, even more daunting, leave the action behind after the last Big Score? Have you never watched a TNT movie at 3 a.m.? Smith is slick and star-powered, but if this thief so damned good, shouldn’t he be able to retire in a couple of weeks?

America’s Next Top Model

Wednesday, Sept. 20 (The CW)

Season Premiere/Network Debut: It’s the first season premiere of the new CW network! Yeah, I was hoping the honor would go to Veronica Mars, too …

Jericho, Kidnapped

Wednesday, Sept. 20 (CBS, NBC)

Series Debuts: On Jericho, America is nuked and one family from Jericho, Kan. struggles to survive and keep love alive … OK, this was either an old Family Guy episode or a Sci-Fi Channel movie of the week, but neither would explain the presence of Skeet Ulrich. Meanwhile, we already know what Kidnapped is about—but at least it’s better than Fox’s Vanished and The CW’s midseason replacement series Dude, Where’s My Estranged Relative?


Grey’s Anatomy: Season 2

Don’t get the big deal about Grey’s Anatomy? These 27 episodes might sway you. Or not. To rabid fans (none are casual), GA is more than just sexy doctors having sex, and Season 2 established a contender. Plus, this set is so loaded with extras you won’t see your real friends for weeks. (

Las Vegas: Season 3

From casino-surveillance procedural to 21st-century Love Boat in just three years—not that there’s anything wrong with that. The more ridiculous the better for Las Vegas, and Season 3 camped it up from beginning (new “boss” Lara Flynn Boyle) to end (more implausible Crossing Jordan crossovers). (

The Office: Season 2

The season where the American Office surpassed the British original in quantity and quality—maybe the USA does have a sense of humor. This 22-ep set would be worth it for “Christmas Party” alone, and all the NBC PSAs (score) and online Webisodes (eeehhh) are here, too. And the Dundie goes to … (

Stella: Season 1

Then again, some comedies are too bizarre for the masses. Stella was idiotic and intelligent, chronicling the stunningly silly misadventures of three suit-clad dudes who never learn their lesson—just like real people, but similarities end there. A worthy heir to Monty Python and Mr. Show. (

More New DVD Releases (Sept. 12)

Black White: Season 1, I Am a Sex Addict, Lucky Number Slevin, Smallville: Season 5, Too Hot Not to Handle, Trailer Park Boys: Season 5


Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance

Picking up months into the Cylon occupation of New Caprica, these 10 weekly Webisodes represent that rare combo of pure marketing and cool art: high-quality content (built around minor characters, natch) dovetailing into the hotly-anticipated third season in October. But if you’re not in the BG know, don’t bother. (

Bill Frost

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