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Fall 2007 TV Review, Part One (“The Big Bang Theory”, “Chuck” and “Journeyman”)

With this first part, begins my quick look of the new fall TV shows.

First up are tonights series premieres of The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Chuck (NBC) and Journeyman (NBC).

The Big Bang Theory

When and Where:
Monday’s at 8:30 p.m. on CBS after How I Met Your Mother

The Cast:
Kaley Cuoco as Penny
Johnny Galecki as Leonard
Simon Helberg as Wolowitz
Kunal Nayyar as Koothrappal
Jim Parsons as Sheldon

What’s it About:
Meet two brainiacs with a lot to learn. Leonard and Sheldon can tell their quarks from their quantum physics, but have no clue how women add up. Leave it to their pretty new neighbor, just off a messy breakup, to teach them a thing or two in THE BIG BANG THEORY.

One of the very few sitcoms this season, The Big Bang Theory is a great compliment to CBS’s Monday night lineup of comedies. Though many networks have completely abandoned the sitcom, a breed that is unfortunately dying off in popularity, CBS still seems intent on giving the medium a shot, most likely due to their stronger ratio in terms of younger to older audience.

The Big Bang Theory is a solid comedy, with a fair amount of funny moments in the pilot, and the makings of what seems to be a strong core cast. Last season CBS premiered the comedy The Class, which wasn’t able to garner a large enough audience to stick around for another year. Perhaps they’ll have better luck with ‘Big Bang’ which has an interesting premise, and is sprinkled throughout with a good dose of comedic elements.

Don’t expect a brand new approach to the sitcom, as ‘Big Bang’ mostly sticks to the tried and true formula of what has worked in the past. However, that’s not really a knock on the show, because there really is only so much you can do with a series of this type.

What I enjoyed most from the pilot was how well the main three worked off each other. The difference in character between the three (two geeks/geniuses, one babe) was effectively displayed, and I appreciated that the two characters Leonard and Sheldon are quite different from each other, despite the fact that their both incredibly smart. Really, one seems to be more in step with his surroundings, while the other treats the outside world as something too strange to comprehend. I also enjoyed seeing some segments of the friends of Leonard and Sheldon.

Some negatives. At times the acting seems a bit off. What I mean to say is that there are moments where the cast seems to pause, get off mark, or otherwise seem as if they are acting against an audience, instead of playing to them. Another problem is that some of the jokes are on the silly side.

There’s enough here in the pilot for me to want to stick it out. I just hope improvement is made and it attracts a large enough audience to last for more than one season. I’m not much of a fan of comedies/sitcoms of this nature, but there’s a lot here to like.
Grade: 4/5


When and Where:
Monday’s at 8:00 p.m. on NBC

The Cast:
Adam Baldwin as Major John Casey
Joshua Gomez as Morgan Grimes
Sarah Lancaster as Ellie Bartowski
Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski
Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker

What’s it About:
From executive producer, Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.”) and executive producer-director McG (“Charlie’s Angels,” “We Are Marshall”) comes a one-hour, action-comedy series about Chuck Bartowski — a computer geek who is catapulted into a new career as the government’s most vital secret agent. When Chuck opens an e-mail subliminally encoded with government secrets, he unwittingly downloads an entire server of sensitive data into his brain. Now, the fate of the world lies in the unlikely hands of a guy who works at a Buy More Electronics store. Instead of fighting computer viruses, he must now confront assassins and international terrorists.

With the government’s most precious secrets in Chuck’s head, Major John Casey of the National Security Agency assumes the responsibility of protecting him. His partner is the CIA’s top agent (and Chuck’s first date in years), Sarah Walker. They’ll try to keep him safe by trading in his pocket protector for a bulletproof vest.

With no new sitcoms on their fall lineup, a definite rarity for a network which basically lived off the sitcom for so many years, NBC is relying more on a different kind of comedy for ratings: the dramedy.

Basically part comedy, part drama (I’m still not sure which part will win out) in a nutshell Chuck is a solid series.

First off, this an interesting series to use as a lead-in to Heroes and I’m very much interested in finding out whether or not the scheduling move turns out to be a positive for the network.

Getting into the episode, what stuck out most for me was that the character development on the show is actually done quite well. By the end of the pilot/first episode, all the characters are very effectively developed.

As a comedy/drama, there are plenty of moments of action and comedy (the comedy mostly comes from the dialog between the lead character Chuck and his best friend) and all are pulled off effectively and work well.  Though there really isn’t anything in the pilot that stands out, that’s not really an issue because overall this is a solid series, which is very nicely well-cast. I’d love to say that’s enough for a show to succeed, but you really can never tell anymore.

An enjoyable hour of television.
Grade: 4/5


When and Where:
Monday’s at 10:00 p.m. on NBC

The Cast:
Moon Bloodgood as Livia Beale
Reed Diamond as Jack Vasser
Gretchen Egolf as Katie Vasser
Brian Howe as Hugh Skillen
Kevin McKidd as Dan Vasser

What’s it About:
From Emmy Award-winning writer-producer Kevin Falls (“The West Wing”) and Emmy Award-winning director-producer Alex Graves (“The West Wing”) comes “Journeyman” a romantic mystery-drama about San Francisco newspaper reporter and family man, Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd, “Rome”), who inexplicably begins to travel through time and change the course of people’s lives. Along the way, he must also deal with the difficulties and stress at work and home brought on by his sudden disappearances.

However, his freewheeling travels through the years reunite him with his long-lost fiancée, Livia (Moon Bloodgood, “Day Break”) — which complicates his blissful, present-day life with his vivacious wife, Katie (Gretchen Egolf, “Martial Law”) and adorable son, Zach (Charles Henry Wyson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Reed Diamond (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) stars as Jack, Dan’s cop brother who once dated Katie.

This was a toughie for me to review. First off, the program starts off quite slow and I’m already reading from multiple outlets that those who’ve seen the show aren’t finding much to enjoy. I’m not going to be too harsh on it though because though I wasn’t necessarily loving the program, I was completely engaged and by the end mostly satisfied.

Really, the show struggles a bit and begins to hit its stride at around the half-way mark. With parallels to Quantum Leap, there is potential here. You’re not really aware of why this is happening to Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd), and that could irritate some viewers. But I found that the ending, in which Dan reveals to his wife proof that his disappearances aren’t his doing, keeps this show from drifting into the unwatchable territory.

I’m intrigued by the premise of the show, and the potential for this to become an interesting and engaging series.
Grade: 3.5/5

That’s it for today, be sure to check back tomorrow for my quick reviews of The CW’s Reaper and CBS’s Cane.

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  • monster7of9

    Quick comment on the Chuck pilot. I was surprised how well it was done with lots of humor through out. This is a good lead in to Heroes.

  • monster7of9

    Quick comment on the Chuck pilot. I was surprised how well it was done with lots of humor through out. This is a good lead in to Heroes.

  • Black Square

    I LOVED Journeyman!!!!! I hope the next episode is as good!

  • Black Square

    I LOVED Journeyman!!!!! I hope the next episode is as good!

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