Saturday, February 06, 2010
TV NEWS: Sarah Chalke in ABC's "Freshman," Shonda Rhimes' new ABC medical drama, NBC's "Merlin" moves to Syfy, and more
• If you told me that "Scrubs" alum (and sporadic guest star) Sarah Chalke was going to get her own series last Spring, I would've just made a mental note to watch the promo. But after seeing her Lifetime miniseries "Maneater" and getting to see a side of her that wasn't just neurotic and insane, I'm now genuinely interested in her next project. ABC offered her the comedy pilot "Freshman," where she'll play Jane, "a smart and funny Congresswoman who was the VP at a multi-billion dollar company when she was just 28, and who won her district with the largest margin of any candidate since 1977. However, when it comes to men, Jane is a disaster waiting to happen." So the two main concerns that immediately popped into my head were: 1) Can she carry a series on her own? and 2) Will it be funny? There's good news for both of those concerns. The series actually focuses on three rookie D.C. politicians, not one, and it's being co-produced and written by Greg Malins ("How I Met Your Mother"). So aside from the fact that it sounds like they stole the concept from The CW's canned series "Body Politic," which was about a bunch of young politicians, I think it might be worth viewing at least a couple of times. I'll decide officially after they cast the other two male roles.
• Shonda Rhimes, creator and writer of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," is producing a new ABC medical drama called "Off the Map." Much like USA's "Royal Pains" it'll focus on a lighter side of medicine, following three doctors who decide to work in an isolated tropical clinic. They're eager to break away from their past, and sign up for exotic and unusual medical challenges. Enrique Murciano ("Without a Trace") has already signed on to play a plastic surgeon, and Martin Henderson (The Ring) will play a doctor who runs the clinic. If the pilot succeeds in at least getting on TV that'll be a first for Henderson, who normally signs on for pilots ("Inside the Box" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith") that get the boot before they even air. "Inside the Box" was actually another Rhimes pilot that was canned, and it seems like she's recycling some of its cast. She added Kim Raver (Teddy), Jason Winston George (new anesthesiologist who will woo Bailey), and Sarah Drew (Derek just rehired her the fired resident) to "Grey's Anatomy." Hopefully, she'll also find a place for Navi Rawat (left, "Numb3rs" and "The O.C."). She'd make an awesome love interest for Alex. Perhaps, she could be a new hands-on board representative who is sent to make sure Derek doesn't make the same mistakes the Chief did.
• Last summer, USA's "Royal Pains" ended with a cliffhanger. The boys were headed to NYC to confront their con artist dad, but we had no idea who their mystery dad was…until now. Henry Winkler has signed on to play the a-hole, who bankrupted Evan and Hank's freelance medical company.
• For those of you who miss the goofy heroism of Bret Harrison on "Reaper," you might be happy to know that he scored a new series on FOX playing a computer genius in Adam Goldberg's ("Still Standing" and "Aliens in America") new comedy.
• I was really worried that NBC got me hooked on the U.K.-produced mythological series "Merlin" last summer only to shelve it before the next. But luckily Syfy is on a mission to beef up their series content and has decided to not only re-air the first season, but premiere the second season this April. And if that wasn't awesome enough, the BBC has greenlit a third season that we can look forward to next year. Can't wait to see even more dragons, witches, and sorcery.
• Rob Riggle ("Daily Show") must've impressed CBS so much with his goofy tough-guy schtick on "Gary Unmarried" that they gave him his own pilot. He'll be playing a high school football coach in the new comedy "Team Spitz." Somehow I imagine it'll be a little less "Friday Night Lights" and a little more like HBO's "Eastbound & Down."
• Most TBS shows are about unorthodox families, from the dysfunctional on "Meet the Browns" to the imperfect on "The Bill Engvall Show" to the extended on "My Boys." Now they're tapping into a different genre, the buddy cop comedy, with "Uncle Nigel." It still focuses on a family, except this one is made up of two guys, an uncle (Gary Cole from "Entourage") and a nephew. Cole will play "a veteran Philadelphia homicide detective who takes on his inexperienced, incompetent nephew as a partner." So it's a little like "Psych," if Sean were working with his dad instead of Gus.
• There was an episode of "Fringe" where they discovered a small town where the people only looked normal if they stayed near the forest. If they tried to leave town, they would appear deformed. Syfy has picked up the new supernatural drama "Haven" that has a similar concept. Starring Emily Rose ("ER" and "Brothers & Sisters") and based on Stephen King's novella The Colorado Kid, it follows "a shrewd FBI agent with a lost past who arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine, to solve the murder of a local ex-con only to discover that the curious enclave is a longtime refuge for people with supernatural powers that holds a lot of secrets, including to her own past." Hmm, "Supernatural" meets "Eureka"?