(Brief reviews of new fall shows, usually based on only the first episode, which may or may not be a fair way to judge a show. Deal with it.)
“Supernatural,” Tuesdays (WB). Aren’t there about 11 new shows this year that could be called “Supernatural”? How did WB snag the title before anyone else did? It’s like naming a show “Funny” or “Interesting.” Anyway, it’s about two brothers searching for their father, who went missing while searching for the supernatural thing (whatever it may have been) that killed the boys’ mother 22 years ago. The lads have accompanied Dad on “hunting” expeditions over the years, having to fight and destroy many demons, ghosts and creatures that were unrelated to Mom’s death but that needed destroying anyway. And now it’s just them, looking for Dad, solving one mystery at a time along the way. Sound very “X-Files”-ish? Didn’t Mulder have an overarching mission, too, one that colored his day-to-day supernatural investigations? Yeah. Good point. This is no “X-Files,” but the first episode (about a ghost woman who kills unfaithful men) was pretty creepy and entertaining. And I’m interested to see where the deeper mysteries — where Dad is now, what happened to Mom — lead.
“Threshold,” Fridays (CBS). CBS wants to attract younger viewers to replace their old ones (who keep dying), so they launch this show about an alien invasion … and put it on Friday nights, when younger viewers are NOT at home watching TV. You know who’s home on Friday nights? Old people. A foxy “contingency expert” (played by Carla Gugino) leads the team of scientists called in by the government when an alien spacecraft shows up and does some weird stuff. The ideas introduced in the two-hour premiere could keep them busy for years: sound waves that affect people’s behavior, a plan to alter humans’ DNA to turn them into the extra-terrestrials, survivors of the initial attack who now have superhuman strength, the possibility that the foxy expert and her team may be infected, too — yeesh. The mythology they’re creating is pretty complicated, but it’s fun if you like that sort of thing. It’s a smart show, to say the least.
“Twins,” Fridays (WB). One’s plain-looking and brilliant; the other’s beautiful and dumb. And they’re twins! And they’ve just been made CEOs of their father’s lingerie company. And they fight a lot, but they also love each other. Show was created by the team behind “Will & Grace,” but it sure isn’t very funny. Sara Gilbert (the deadpan daughter from “Roseanne”) plays the plain sister, and she made me laugh a few times (“I’m not much of a laugher, but I want you to know that’s really funny,” she told someone). But otherwise, there’s just not much TO the show. We’re a family, we fight, we run a business, we make crude, obvious jokes. Meh.
“Head Cases,” Wednesdays (Fox). One’s a corporate lawyer who just had a nervous breakdown after a lifetime of panic attacks; the other’s a two-bit shyster with a bad temper and no sense of decorum! And now they’re partners! Chris O’Donnell plays the corporate guy, and he’s better than you’d expect Chris O’Donnell to be. The other guy is Adam Goldberg, and he’s a bit too wacky/irritating for my tastes. The focus seems to be on the two men’s mental issues and how they affect their cases, rather than on the cases themselves — that is, it’s not just another show about lawyers and courtrooms. Sorta funny and sorta interesting, but I didn’t feel any compelling reason to watch it again. Plus, it’s on opposite “Lost,” so it’s going to get canceled soon anyway. (Post-script: Sure enough, after only two episodes, Fox canceled it. Seems “Head Cases” was doing so poorly in the ratings, it was actually coming in below whatever was on UPN. That’s bad.)