WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU THE WB, 8-8:30 PM DEBUTS SEPT. 20
CONCEPT Teen sis (Nickelodeon multitalent Amanda Bynes) moves in with older sis (90210’s Jennie Garth) in the big city — all this, plus Simon Rex! THE SCOOP The former Beverly Hills perennial innocent Kelly, trying to stretch her image, says this sitcom ”is about two sisters and how they have to make their lives work together. Coming from a drama background, I needed to be rooted in some sort of realism. The producers [agree] that at the end of every episode it’s going to be about these two sisters: Can they live together and not kill each other?” Gee, sounds heavier than the slapsticky pilot. (Regarding her pregnancy, which she discovered after shooting the pilot, Garth notes, ”I’m going to be carrying a lot of things [in front of my stomach]. A lot of light things.”) BOTTOM LINE Back up — did Garth say she came ”from a drama background”? Aw, we’re just bustin’ yer chops, Jennie. Garth’s no slouch in both the charm and physical-humor departments, and kid-idol Bynes radiates young-Lucille Ball wackiness. As for Rex — well, he’s better here than he was in Jack & Jill.
THAT WAS THEN ABC, 9-10 PM DEBUTS SEPT. 27
CONCEPT A comedy-drama hour in which Travis (James Bulliard) goes back to his youth in the ’80s to redo key moments in his life. THE SCOOP Says cocreator Dan Cohn, ”Everyone, no matter what age you are, says, ‘Oh! I would have done that when I was 7.’ It’s about wish fulfillment and about being careful what you wish for, because he does get his wish and it’s the greatest thing ever, [but] now every week, he’s going to pay for the havoc he causes.” BOTTOM LINE This same concept is played for pure sitcom laffs in The WB’s Do Over; That Was Then’s earnestness — plus nuanced performances from the parents, Jeffrey Tambor and Bess Armstrong — gives the premise poignance.
HACK CBS, 9-10 PM DEBUTS SEPT. 27
CONCEPT A disgraced Philadelphia cop-turned-cabbie (St. Elsewhere’s David Morse) helps folks who climb into his ride. As created by Spider-Man scripter David Koepp, it’s semisuperhero-meets-Taxicab Confessions. Homicide’s Andre Braugher costars as Morse’s cop pal. THE SCOOP Says exec producer David Shore: ”Sometimes he’ll help the wrong people. Sometimes he’ll refuse to help someone, and in some episodes he’ll help but fail. [Sometimes] he’s helping a person who is dead already.” We hope he doesn’t mean Morse is dumb enough to pick up a corpse and expect a fare. BOTTOM LINE Sorry, not buyin’ it — when was the last time a cabbie volunteered to help you out of a life-threatening situation?
JOHN DOE FOX, 9-10 PM DEBUTS SEPT. 20
CONCEPT Naked guy (Dominic Purcell) emerges from the ocean knowing everything — except who he is. Solves crimes. (Don’t you have days when you wish they’d stopped making crime shows after The Rockford Files went off the air?) THE SCOOP So who’s John Doe? Cocreator Mike Thompson is coy: ”Is he an alien? An angel? An android? A guy who fell off a boat and hit his head? We’d rather leave viewers in the dark [and] reveal it on the last episode.” BOTTOM LINE Jim Rockford — now there’s a guy who knew who he was.