Sunday, 14 July 2024

More drama on hand for restless Fox TV network

For its fall schedule, the FOX network is going for a heavy slate of new dramas. Coincidentally, this seems merely symbolic for the manner in which top executive Kevin Reilly, new president of FOX Entertainment, came on board to his post.

Not long ago he left a similar position at NBC, where his departure was written up in the usual euphemisms, such as “I want to spend more time with my family” or “This is a chance to explore other opportunities.” Well, opportunity came knocking quickly when he was hired by FOX.

Speaking to a gathering of TV critics, Reilly appeared ecstatic for his new assignment, calling FOX “a restless company” where you never “rest on your laurels,” because the network is “entrepreneurial.”

It’s too early to tell what kind of mark Reilly will leave on the network, but his track record speaks well for the future. Meanwhile, let’s hope he likes drama shows, because the network is loaded with new ones.

But first, we should look at the lone new comedy series, considering that it looks like a real winner.

A great cast with seasoned comedy veterans should make “Back to You” an obvious choice for the fall. Kelsey Grammer stars as egotistical TV anchorman Chuck Darling, returning to his former Pittsburgh station after a fall from grace.

A self-centered womanizer, Chuck thought he could make the big time when he left Steeltown. After an embarrassing on-air tirade causes his career to tank, Chuck returns to his old station, where he is reunited with his newscast partner Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton).

Another familiar face is Fred Willard as Marsh McGinley, the affable, endlessly inappropriate sports anchor. What’s a newsroom without a perky, sexy, somewhat inept weather anchor? That role is filled by Ayda Field as Montana Diaz Herrera.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans remains a city battling an upsurge of crime and violence while the police force is understaffed. Truth be told, the Crescent City had these problems even before the natural disaster. Still, it is very topical that a police drama is set and filmed in New Orleans.

“K-Ville” stars Anthony Anderson as Marlin Boulet, a brash, wry, in-your-face veteran of the NOPD’s Felony Action Squad, the specialized unit that targets the most wanted criminals. Boulet’s new partner, Trevor Cobb (Cole Hauser), was a soldier in Afghanistan before joining the force. He’s tough and committed, but if he’s less than comfortable with Boulet’s methods, it’s because he’s harboring a dark secret. Through its hardboiled crime stories, “K-Ville” takes viewers from the Victorian mansions of the Garden District to the rubble of the Lower 9th Ward.

From the creative minds behind the series “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” comes “Nashville,” a high-stakes drama which plays out like a documentary soap opera in the music scene of “the biggest small town in America.” The show focuses on the dreamers and dream-makers in the music industry, as well as those trying to make their mark on Nashville’s big business and high society.

“Nashville” stars a diverse and vibrant group of real-life young people trying to achieve success. Rachel Bradshaw, the daughter of legendary NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw, pursues a dream of becoming the next great country singer. Rachel’s best friend, Sarah Gunsolus, is determined to use Nashville’s social scene to help her get connected to the music scene.

He’s not another vampire detective, but he is immortal. We speak of John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a New York homicide detective unlike any other in the series “New Amsterdam.”

Back in 1642, as a Dutch solider in the colony of New Amsterdam, John stepped in front of a sword to save the life of a Native American girl during a massacre of her indigenous tribe. The girl in turn rescued Amsterdam, weaving an ancient spell that conferred immortality on him. The catch is that he won’t age until he finds his one true love. Amsterdam has found immortality to be a mixed blessing over the course of more than three centuries.

Having witnessed its entire history from a colonial outpost, John Amsterdam is the living embodiment of New York City. He’s also one of the NYPD’s best homicide detectives, sparring with his vibrant partner Eva Marquez (Zuleikha Robinson) as they solve difficult murder cases.

But when Amsterdam suffers and then recovers from what appears to be a massive heart attack while chasing a suspect, he realizes that the prophecy may have come true. His soulmate must have been nearby. Life would be less complicated if he was just another restless vampire.

An unscripted series, “Kitchen Nightmares” may as well be a drama, as it stars Gordon Ramsay, the volatile master chef of “Hell’s Kitchen,” a culinary boot camp known for slicing and dicing its contestants.

Ramsay is taking off his apron and stepping out of his own kitchen to rescue restaurant owners in crisis. Chef Ramsay hits the road, exposing restaurants that are barely staying afloat. Whether it’s due to lazy chefs, temperamental wait staff or unsanitary kitchens, the owners of these restaurants are losing business.

Each week, the chef will try to turn one uninviting, deserted eatery into the hippest, most-sought-after venue in town. With his reputation on the line, Ramsay wastes no time in getting down to business, and he will certainly remain prone to the explosive outbursts and spectacular confrontations familiar to fans of “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Not that you need any reminding, but election year is just around the corner. Of course, one of the best things to ring in a new year will be the return of “24” next January. Without the inconvenience of a full-blown campaign, FOX has already elected Tony Award-winning actress Cherry Jones to serve as President Allison Taylor for Season Seven.


Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


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