There’s one thing that can be said for the efforts networks make every season: they all promise big. What I find most interesting are the best new shows are the ones that are least publicized. The biggest disappointments are the ones that are hyped months in advance, only to deliver what was not advertised. And by the way – I’ve about had a bellyful of these abbreviated seasons. There was a time in TV land when a season ran 7 or 8 months, reruns in the summer with a new season about the time kids returned to school. Note to the networks: it wasn’t broke, so why’d you fix it? I know things have changed. Back then, we typically had three networks to choose from. These days, we have hundreds, which to me, would seem like most networks would try to keep viewers for as long as they can. But what do I know, right?
Let’s take a look at some of the true “must-see” series and those that only disappoint big.
Showing the love first…
There’s a lot to be excited about – two words, y’all: Mema. Chrisley.
Hollywood Hillbillies: I love Mema in one of those “get a protection order” kind of ways. If you’ve not seen this Reelz Channel hit, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. On the surface, it seems like this might be another “I’m going to Hollywood to make it big” story, but it so not that. If you’re a YouTube junkie (and really, who isn’t?), odds are, you’ve seen The Angry Ginger. Michael is a sweet kid, from Georgia, who’s everything kids today aren’t. He’s close to his family, he’s smart, trusting and hilarious as all get-out. The best part? It comes natural. He travels to Hollywood after a Hollywood heavy-hitter, David Weintraub, sees his YouTube videos and thinks there just might be a bit of magic there. My guess is he thought he and Michael would take Hollywood by storm. What he wasn’t counting on (or so it seems as the season unfolds) is the whole family coming along to ensure Michael’s not been being taken advantage of. Mema is Michael’s grandmother and I swear, she is my own Maw Maw Nellie’s long lost sister. The things she says are unexpected, hilarious and trust me – there’s no way to rehearse that kind of southern wisdom. You either have it or you don’t. Maw Maw Nellie…er….I mean…Mema has it in spades. The family’s rounded out splendidly with Aunt DeeDee, Uncle Big John and Patsy, who shares an ex-husband with Mema. Side note: DeeDee is the one to watch. She’s a genuinely warm and likeable person. You can’t not see her honest kindness and think, “I need to be nicer to people”.
Get your Hillbilly on via Twitter: @hwdhillbillies @coppercab @hillbillydeedee @hillbillymema
Hollywood Hillbillies: Tuesdays at 8 p.m. CT Reelz Channel
Chrisley Knows Best: I know what you’re thinking – I’m from the south, so I’m drawn to shows about southerners. That might hold water, except for the fact that these two families are as different as Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush (two more southerners,
I’ll have you know). I know I like someone when I instantly dislike and adore them at the same time. Todd Chrisley succeeds in that. His family? God love them, you just want to plan their escape for them. I’ve already done it my mind- I’ll lock the family patriarch in his closet, which by the way, is about the size of my house and tell each of his beautifully coifed children and sweet wife – “Run! Run now and don’t look back!” But they’d not only look back, but they’d come back as soon as Todd escaped, probably through some secret door. He’d check his GPS on all of their cars, (any of which cost more than my house), cut their credit cards and dare them to make it on their own. Somehow, though, it just doesn’t feel dysfunctional to me. It’s just funny and at times, really sweet. I know….sounds contradictory, but this is one show USA’s pegged beautifully.
Follow the folks on Twitter: @chrisley_usa @toddchrisley @juliechrisley
Chrisley Knows Best: Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CT USA Network
Resurrection: This has been one I’ve really looked forward to seeing. I should mention that I was hooked on the first season of The Returned on Sundance Channel. I’m going to just put it out there: a network has far more to do with the success or failure of a series than we realize. In The Returned, we get the whole shebang. The disturbing story lines, the hokey human nature that we all have and because it has fewer limitations than a national network, it allows the viewer to really explore the topics of coming back after death. The fact that it’s in French (with subtitles) really adds to the beautiful presentation. I think, too, that Americans who’ve never been to France are able to peek into this spectacular country (it was filmed in Annecy). The sets are truly spectacular – with the center focused on the huge dam (which plays a significant role in how the first season played out). The music is haunting and for me, the “gave me goose bumps” moment came when Camille, who died at 15 and returned, thought back to the day she died. The viewer is standing in the kitchen, with what we think is Camille’s back to us, looking out the window. As soon as her parents and sister come into view, you realize it’s Camille who is being watched. The girl standing in the window turns around after watching her family leave and once again, you see Camille. And then it hits you: they’re twins. Camille returned as the same 15 year old she was when she died, but her “big sister” aged, as normal.
OK, so enter Resurrection. Omar Epps is a strong actor and ideal for the role he’s playing. So far, we know of two “returned” – an adorable kid named Jacob and a young father, whose story we don’t know yet, but who’s returned to adult children. The second episode aired last night and the ratings are pretty strong. Its downfall, and I hope writers avoid this, is some other silly “monster” show. They’d do well to follow The Returned’s qualities: keep it believable for adults. Your audience isn’t a group of 12 year old kids. If they can keep the rich story line going without falling into a ridiculous theme that steals the “what if” factor from an adult audience, they may have a homerun.
Resurrect your fear via Twitter: @resurrection @tahitismith @omarepps
Resurrection: Sundays 8 p.m. ABC
OK – so up next, the “go away for the love of all that’s good and right in this world” TV shows and a look at a few familiar shows that have just begun their new seasons – can they keep up the momentum?
Here’s a hint: There were two new series, both about Nashville, both now cancelled, but one that really had a great momentum going. Crazy Hearts Nashville, airing on AETV, to me, offered a strong foundation that could have been built upon. Viewers just weren’t tuning in. On the other hand, that ridiculous follow to the new season of Dallas on TNT: Private Lives of Nashville Wives was embarrassing to watch. Christ Almighty, we already have too many pompous, arrogant and narcissistic housewives who fake being wealthy. TNT usually pegs it, this time, they failed. Miserably.