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Fall Geek TV Preview

While other networks chose to post brief trailers for their upcoming series, NBC went for the jugular via Comcast Cable's OnDemand service and provided the full pilot episodes for a number of their new shows. So, you get reviews of the new "Bionic Woman", nerd-goes-spy series "Chuck", and time travel series "Journeyman" before their official airing.
Since NBC was "kind" enough to provide full pilot episodes of several of their upcoming series via Comcast Cable's OnDemand feature, I'm passing on brief reviews of the ones with "geek appeal". As for the other networks, I will also be checking out (and you may want to):

ABC's Pushing Daisies (premiering Wed. Oct 3 @ 8/7 , from Bryan Fuller (Heroes and Wonderfalls) x Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), and starring Lee Pace (Wonderfalls).

CW's Reaper, premiering Tuesday, September 25 @ 9/8c. For me, I watched Brimstone and Good vs. Evil/G vs. E, not to mention Dead Like Me - sorry, guys, you're getting on the Good But Cancelled "comedy/drama shows about rounding up lost souls" wagon. I wish you luck, but at least you'll have lots of company (probably also including the above Pushing Daisies). Not that I'm pessimistic about how quirky shows fare on networks.

If you're paying attention, you may notice that Chuck and Journeyman are running on the same night. The show airing in the "sandwich slot" between them? Heroes. Heroes was the surprise hit of last season - and definitely the reason networks are willing to try courting geekdom.

CHUCK
Premieres: NBC, Monday (Sept. 24), @ 8/7c
Series website
Basic plot: Uber-geek Chuck gets national intelligence accidentally downloaded into his brain and has to balance working for the "Nerd Herd" (read: Geek Squad) with a new career as a super-spy. Okay, so it's a bit far-fetched; they make up for it with fast pacing and a sense of humor aimed straight at the hearts and minds of 20-something nerds.

Choice line: "Don't puke on the C4."

Worth watching?: Chuck was being promoted at Comic-con and apparently got a pretty good reception. NBC is banking on "the Heroes effect", and they know that the alpha-geek Comic-con attendee is dead on for their target audience for this series. Aside from his "Nerd Herd" employment, Chuck's room has a Tron poster, and a major plot point involves the text-based adventure "Chork" (read: Zork). Nerd guys will also appreciate some pretty hardcore fan service in the pilot from a very hot spy co-star. In short: the show is clever, well-crafted, and a lot of fun, and hopefully will not suffer too much from its rather targeted appeal. With luck, an unexpectedly large portion of the TV audience can appreciate James Bond being relocated to their familiar world of suburban chain retail.

JOURNEYMAN
Premieres: NBC, Monday (Sept. 24) @ 10/9c
Series website
Basic Plot: Newspaper writer finds himself abruptly jumping back and forth in time, with some obscure purpose to fulfill in the past while his life in the present is falling apart. As a bonus, he's confronted in the past with the lover he lost in a plane crash.

Worth watching?:This series is sort of like Quantum Leap crossed with the BBC's (short-lived but excellent) Life On Mars. Given the fact that we've already tried "to put right what once went wrong", it's very much to this series' credit that the first episode actually has two completely unpredictable twists (or, I didn't see them coming, and I usually do). It has potential, and Kevin McKidd has an earnest intensity that might well carry it whether the territory becomes more familiar or not. Being a good match with Heroes may help keep it on the air long enough to find out.

BIONIC WOMAN
Premieres: NBC, Wednesday (Sept. 26) @ 9/8c
Series website
Basic Plot: Bartender gets in terrible car accident and her BF rebuilds her with military nanotechnology. She's not necessarily inclined to play nice with his military bosses' agenda, and the rogue "other" Bionic Woman isn't inclined to play nice with anyone at all. For dramatic fun, there's also a troubled younger sister to take care of.

Choice line: "... heads you lose, tails you die. Welcome to the game."

Worth watching?: Everyone's going to watch it anyway and you probably don't want to feel left out. But, of the three, I found this series the weakest. It felt like an amateur La Femme Nikita to me, with less compelling intrigue and Iess style. The action sequences play like Hong Kong kung-fu, but seem strangely lackluster (I think the soundtrack may be the guilty party). The characterization was not there; the random emo moments that are apparently foreshadowing felt awkward, and the lead character's change from "what the hell" to "I think I'll become a badass" was difficult to believe, and unless they can pull that out, I don't see how the series will work. I never really watched the original Bionic Woman, so I can't compare it. But sorry, I'm not sold.

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