BONES and 90210: Are Two Episodes Better Than One?

On Tuesday night, I was scuttling around packing canned meat and candles into a backpack and racing for a fenced wilderness fortress. Not because yet more hurricanes are headed for the coast, but because the seventh sign of the apocalypse had appeared.

I was enjoying the new 90210.

And this is coming from someone who absoultely could not stomach the original (and has trouble in general with soap operas about the traumas of the rich and pampered–I could only make it as far as the mint green suit in this week’s Gossip Girl before I gave up in despair). But the dialogue was bouncy and the situations kitschy (drugs in a hollowed-out book! Dum dum duuuuuuum!) and the nods to the original hilariously cheesy. And watching Tristan Wilds, I could squint and almost believe that the saddest kids on The Wire made it out of the slums. It extended past my bedtime, leading me to put off watching the second half until the next day, but I was happily interested in finishing and therefore pretty surprised that the show was almost universally panned the next day.

When I saw the second half–which is really a second episode tacked to the first to create a super-sized premiere–I understood the critical roast. The zest brought by Rob Thomas and Mark Piznarski (the team behind the brilliant Veronica Mars pilot) left the zip code with them, leaving both characters and plot lines thinner than the actresses.

Curiously, the same thing happened during Wednesday’s season premiere of Bones. Setting a lot of the action in the UK livened up a pedestrian mystery (with Torchwood‘s much-killed Suzie, Indira Varma, and Doctor Who‘s lesser medical student, Oliver Morgenstern, in the person of Ben Righton to entertain the BBC junkies among us), and the long-awaited arrival of Angela’s husband provided some intrigue back at the Jeffersonian. The novelty wore off across two hours, however, with the shift to a new mystery feeling very much like a…second episode tacked to the first to create a super-sized premiere.

In both cases, we thought we were getting a treat–extra ice cream for being good kids. But in both cases, slowing down the pacing quickly deflated the excitement. If we’d seen only the first episode of 90210, would the CW have gotten a week of cheese-filled buzz instead of bad reviews? Would Bones fans be talking about whether Brennan’s new flirtation would come between her and Booth rather than the fast and inexplicable breakup between Hodgins and Angela if we’d seen only the first half? On the other hand, we fondly remember the one-two punch of seeing both parts of The West Wing‘s “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen” on the same night. Maybe all that means is that neither 90210 nor Bones (as much as we like it) is as good as The West Wing. But is there anything more to be gleaned here as to when to go for the two-hour premiere and when not to? Because we’d like to think we deserve extra ice cream sometimes.

Guide to September 2008 Series Premieres

September is nearly upon us and that can mean only one thing–the busiest month of the year for new television programming. Well, it’s not quite as busy as usual thanks to the writers strike, but we’ve still got a good number of new shows debuting in the coming weeks. So many, in fact, that’s it’s hard to keep them all straight. So to help you navigate the maze we’ve prepared a guide to all the new shows premiering this month.

RAISING THE BAR (TNT)
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 1 at 10 p.m.
Time slot: Mondays at 10 p.m.
This series from Steven Bochco follows the lives and cases of young lawyers who have been friends since law school but now work on opposing sides. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue), Gloria Reuben (ER), and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) star, along with Teddy Sears (Ugly Betty), Melissa Sagemiller (Sleeper Cell), Currie Graham (Boston Legal), J. August Richards (Angel) and Jonathan Scarfe (Into the West). Created by Bochco and lawyer/writer David Feige (author of the book Indefensible).

90210 (The CW)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 8 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
Freaks and Geeks‘ Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah are exec producing this contemporary spin-off of the ’90s-era teen drama. The new incarnation centers on Annie Mills (Shenae Grimes, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and her adopted brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Wire), who’ve moved from Kansas to attend West Beverly Hills High. Co-starring Lori Loughlin (Summerland), Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), AnnaLynne McCord (Nip/Tuck), Dustin Milligan (Runaway), Michael Steger (The Winner), Jessica Stroup (Reaper), and Ryan Eggold (Dirt). 90210: Original Flavor alums Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty guest star.

SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 10 p.m.
Time slot: Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
This darkly comedic drama from executive producer Kurt Sutter (The Shield) focuses on an outlaw motorcycle club intent on protecting their sheltered town from advancing drug dealers and local corporate developers, and equally determined to preserve their thriving illegal arms business. Starring Charlie Hunnam (Children of Men), Katey Sagal (8 Simple Rules), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos) and Maggie Siff (Mad Men).

HOLE IN THE WALL (Fox)
Premieres:
Sunday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.
Time slot: Thursdays at 8 p.m.
This game show is based on the popular Japanese show where two teams face various barrier walls speeding toward them with weird and wacky cut-out shapes. Team members must contort their bodies to fit through these cut-outs or they will be swept away into the pool below. Described as one of the trickiest, fastest, funniest and wettest half-hours on the planet, versions of the show have already been produced in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia and Sweden.

TRUE BLOOD (HBO)
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m.
Time slot: Sundays at 9 p.m.
The latest offering from Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) is a new twist on the vampire genre based on Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries books. The series centers on a psychic small-town waitress (Anna Paquin, X-Men) and the mysterious gentleman vampire (Stephen Moyer, NY-LON) who catches her fancy. This comedic drama is set in an alternate-universe Louisiana in which vampires are real and have “come out of the coffin” only recently with the advent of a synthetic blood beverage–“Tru Blood”–that removes their need to feed on live humans. Or does it? Ryan Kwanten (Summerland), Nelsan Ellis (The Inside), Rutina Wesley, and Sam Trammell co-star.

FRINGE (Fox)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
When the passengers on an international flight turn up dead under unusual and grisly circumstances, an up-and-coming FBI agent (newcomer Anna Torv) teams up with an eccentric scientist (John Noble, The Lord of the Rings) and his estranged genius son (Joshua Jackson, Dawson’s Creek) to unravel the mystery. Mark Valley (Boston Legal), Blair Brown (Altered States), Lance Reddick (The Wire), Kirk Acevedo (Oz), and Jasika Nicole (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) costar in this thriller from executive producers J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, (Mission: Impossible III, Alias).

PRIVILEGED (The CW)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m.
Based on Zoey Dean’s young adult book, How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls, this show centers on a Yale-educated young woman (JoAnna Garcia, Reba) hired to be the live-in tutor/life coach to two rich heiresses (Ashley Newbrough, The Best Years, and Lucy Kate Hale, Bionic Woman) in Palm Beach. Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction), Allan Louis (Stomp the Yard), Kristina Apgar (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Michael Cassidy (Smallville), and Brian Hallisay costar. From executive producers Rina Mimoun (Gilmore Girls, Everwood), Bob Levy (Gossip Girl) and Leslie Morgenstein (Gossip Girl, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).

SOMEBODIES (BET)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 10 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
BET’s first original sitcom, based on the 2006 Sundance film by series star Hadjii, tells the story of Scottie, an everyday, party-hopping, church-going, African-American undergraduate student looking for a good time with his friends and a little luck with the ladies. Kaira Akita, Quante Strickland, Corey Redding, Anthony K. Hyatt, Tyler Craig, Eric L. Register, Pat Brown, and Carlos Davis round out the ensemble cast.

THE RACHEL ZOE PROJECT (Bravo)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 11 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, along with her husband Rodger and fashion team, Taylor and Brad, are featured in this docu-drama as they endeavor to take Zoe’s business to the next level. In the series, the perfectly styled, go-to force among “it” starlets, fashion houses, beauty firms and magazine editors will give viewers a fly on the wall look at how she juggles constant deadlines, fashion shows and celebrity clients.

DO NOT DISTURB (Fox)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept 10 at 9:30 p.m.
Time slot: Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.
This workplace comedy from Abraham Higginbotham (Back to You) centers on the upstairs/downstairs dynamic at a hip New York City hotel. The series stars Jerry O’Connell (Carpoolers) as the hotel’s image-conscious general manager and Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) as the head of human resources who looks after the staff and tries to keep everyone out of trouble. Molly Stanton (Twins), Brando Eaton (Zoey 101), Jolene Purdy (Donnie Darko), and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The Class) also star.

WORST WEEK (CBS)
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 22 at 9:30 p.m.
Time slot: Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
A half-hour comedy about an unwed couple with a baby on the way (Kyle Bornheimer, Jericho, and Erinn Hayes, Kitchen Confidential), who must break the news to her conservative parents (Kurtwood Smith, That ’70s Show, and Nancy Lenehan, My Name is Earl). From exec producers Matt Tarses (Scrubs) and Jimmy Mulville (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), based on the BBC comedy The Worst Week of My Life.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS (ABC)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
A mobile game show that travels to different neighborhoods and selects a family from each to play for money and prizes. Host J.D. Roth poses trivia questions to family members based directly on their lives, each other and articles found in and around their home. Produced by Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke (Beauty and the Geek), J.D. Roth and Todd A. Nelson.

THE MENTALIST (CBS)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.
Time slot: Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
Simon Baker (The Devil Wears Prada) stars as Patrick Jane, an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation and former charlatan TV medium, who uses his razor-sharp skills of observation to solve crimes. Co-starring Robin Tunney (Prison Break), Tim Kang (Rambo), Owain Yeoman (The Nine), and Amanda Righetti, (The O.C.). Bruno Heller (creator of Rome) is creator/executive producer, and David Nutter (Band of Brothers) is the executive producer.

KNIGHT RIDER (NBC)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.
Time slot: Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
An update of the ’80s television series, following on the heels of last year’s TV movie. The new, customized KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) is now a Ford Mustang powered by nanotechnology, with Michael Knight’s son (Justin Bruening, Cold Case) behind the wheel. Deanna Russo (NCIS), Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Veronica Mars), and Bruce Davison (Kingdom Hospital, X-Men) co-star. David Bartis (Heist, The O.C.), Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity) and Gary Scott Thompson (Las Vegas, The Fast and The Furious) are executive producers.

GARY UNMARRIED (CBS)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m.
Time slot: Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
Jay Mohr (Ghost Whisperer) and Paula Marshall (Nip/Tuck) star in this comedy about Gary Barnes, a recently single painting contractor, and his controlling ex-wife, Allison, who face post-divorce mayhem after 15 years of marriage as they each juggle parenthood and embark on new relationships. Jaime King (Kitchen Confidential), Ed Begley Jr. (Recount), Al Madrigal (Welcome to the Captain), Kathryn Newton, and Ryan Malgarini (How to Eat Fried Worms) co-star. From exec producers Ed Yeager (Still Standing) and Ric Swartzlander (8 Simple Rules).

LITTLE BRITAIN (HBO)
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 28 at 10:30 p.m.
Time slot: Sundays at 10:30
Matt Lucas and David Walliams, the stars of the smash-hit BBC comedy Little Britain, bring their surreal, edgy sketch comedy to the U.S., featuring an outrageous look at the quirkiest inhabitants of the country from coast to coast.

THE LIFE & TIMES OF TIM (HBO)
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 28 at 11 p.m.
Time slot: Sundays a 11 p.m.
An animated show about a guy who just can’t seem to catch a break. Tim (Steve Dildarian, co-creator of the Budweiser “Lizards” TV campaign) is 25 years old and lives in New York City with his girlfriend Amy (MJ Otto), who’s patiently putting up with his antics while he gets his life in order. Rounding out the voice cast are Bob Morrow, Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live), Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show), Matt Johnson (Passions), and Nick Kroll (Cavemen, Best Week Ever). Created by Dildarian and executive-produced by Tom Werner (That 70s Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun), Jimmy Miller (Talladega Nights, Borat) and Mike Clements.

Bacon Bits: VERONICA MARS Movie, Emmys, and More

- EW’s Michael Ausiello says Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell are talking about a Veronica Mars movie. Don’t dust off that Neptune Pirates letter jacket just yet, though. Between the two pilots already on Thomas’ plate and the chances of any studio greelighting a feature film version of a TV show that averaged only 2.5 million viewers, we’re more likely to get a Serenity sequel than to see this baby get off the ground.

- The Emmys want you to help choose TV’s most memorable moments. Watch clips and vote online at emmys.abc.com until Sept. 15. Just don’t ask me why the M*A*S*H where Henry dies is part of the “comedy” category.

- Can’t figure out what all the 90210 fuss is about? SoapNet will be airing a 24-hour marathon of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 on Sept. 1st to ring in the premiere of the CW’s spinoff the following night.

- The Bad News: Sci Fi Channel has canceled Stargate Atlantis (the series will finish out its fifth and final season in January). The Good News: the network has greenlit a two-hour movie based on the series.

- Scott Foley and Elizabeth Banks will each be returning to Scrubs this season, for one- and two-episode guest spots, respectively.

Bacon Bits: OFFICE Spin-off, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and More

- NBC boss Ben Silverman says Office producers Greg Daniels and Mike Schur are creating a new show for Saturday Night Live star Amy Poehler, but they’re also still pursuing the Office spin-off.

- The “final, final” season of Battlestar Galactica will start in January. Meanwhile, Ron Moore dishes on the Caprica back-door pilot.

- In other BSG news, Jamie Bamber is hopping back across the pond to star in ITV’s Law & Order: UK.

- NBC’s fall comedy Kath & Kim is apparently so bad it’s undergoing a major overhaul.

- It’s official: Shannen Doherty will be joining 90210 alums Tori Spelling, Jennie Garth and Joe E. Tata on the CW spin-off.

- The 100th episode of Monk (to air Sept. 5) will be jam-packed with guest stars, including Eric McCormack, Howie Mandel, Sarah Silverman, Sharon Lawrence, Angela Kinsey, Brooke Adams, Ricardo Chavira, Kathryn Joosten, Jarrad Paul, Tim Bagley, David Koechner, Andy Richter and John Turturro.

- Jimmy Fallon will be testing his new late night show online, six months before its broadcast premiere.

90210 Headlines CW Fall Lineup

The CW network is playing it safe this fall, adding only three new series to its schedule and keeping Monday and Thursday nights intact.

Tuesday night will feature the all-new lineup of 90210 followed by Surviving the Filthy Rich. On Wednesdays, America’s Next Top Model will be joined by Stylista, a new reality show from the creators of ANTM and Project Runway. Comedies Everybody Hates Chris and The Game will relocate from Sundays to Fridays, where CW execs are hoping for a little counterprogramming magic by offering the “only comedy option” of the night (unless you’ve got cable, that is).

Supernatural comedy Reaper won’t return until midseason.

Fall 2008 Schedule

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM GOSSIP GIRL
9:00-10:00 PM ONE TREE HILL

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM 90210 (New Series)
9:00-10:00 PM SURVIVING THE FILTHY RICH (New Series)

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL
9:00-10:00 PM STYLISTA (New Series)

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM SMALLVILLE
9:00-10:00 PM SUPERNATURAL

FRIDAY
8:00-8:30 PM EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS
8:30-9:00 PM THE GAME
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL (Encore Presentation)

New Series

90210
Freaks and Geeks‘ Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah are exec producing this contemporary spin-off of the ’90s teen drama. The series centers on Annie Mills (Shenae Grimes, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and her brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Wire), whose first day at West Beverly Hills High School leaves no doubt they’re not in Kansas anymore. The Mills family, including dad Harry and mom Debbie (Lori Loughlin, Summerland), has relocated to Beverly Hills to keep an eye on Harry’s mother Tabitha (Jessica Walter, Arrested Development), a feisty-but-faded former television star and a charter member of the Betty Ford Clinic.

SURVIVING THE FILTHY RICH (A.K.A. HOW TO TEACH FILTHY RICH GIRLS)
Bob Levy, Leslie Morgenstein and creator Rina Mimoun are exec producing this series based on Zoey Dean’s young adult book series. The story centers on a Yale-educated young woman (Joanna Garcia) hired to be the live-in tutor/life coach to two rich heiresses (Ashley Newbrough and Lucy Kate Hale) in Palm Beach. Marsha Mason and Michael Cassidy costar.

STYLISTA
America’s Next Top Model’s Tyra Banks and Ken Mok are exec producing this new reality series in which aspiring assistants compete to become assistant editors at a fashion magazine.

Returning Series

· AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL
· EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS
· THE GAME
· GOSSIP GIRL
· ONE TREE HILL
· REAPER
· SMALLVILLE
· SUPERNATURAL

Canceled Series

· ALIENS IN AMERICA
· BEAUTY AND THE GEEK
· CROWNED: THE MOTHER OF ALL PAGEANTS
· CW NOW
· GIRLFRIENDS
· LIFE IS WILD
· ONLINE NATION
· PUSSYCAT DOLLS PRESENT: GIRLICIOUS