(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.)
“Surface,” Mondays (NBC). So far, this is the weakest of the many new sci-fi/thriller series. An oceanographer finds a huge sea monster; other characters encounter it too; the government finds a submarine with a huge bite mark in it; blah blah blah. I found the pilot downright boring: too many characters and none of them memorable; too little action and what there is isn’t very engaging.
“Everybody Hates Chris,” Thursdays (UPN). Another laugh-track-free comedy delight! This one’s based on the life of Chris Rock as a 13-year-old, with Rock narrating, a la “The Wonder Years.” (That’s two news shows this year with that device.) And it’s funny! The young Chris, growing up in Brooklyn in the early ’80s, is bused to a mostly white junior high school where bullies pick on him; at home he’s the oldest of three latchkey kids, his dad working two jobs and mom working one. Mom has some of the best lines, threatening how she’ll beat the kids if they screw up: “I will knock you into last night” is one; my favorite is: “I will slap your name out of the phone book, and call Ma Bell and tell her I did it!” But kidding aside, the family loves each other, and the humor, while sharp and incisive, is also sweet. I recommend it.
“Love, Inc.,” Thursdays (UPN). If you watch “Everybody Hates Chris” and then accidentally leave the TV on UPN afterward, you’ll have to see this show, which I only managed to watch 15 minutes of before I had to turn it off. It’s about a dating service, and in the pilot episode, the big story is that the ex-boyfriend of one of the dating advisers comes in to hire their services! So she has to help her ex find a new girlfriend! Ha! There’s also a Latina character in the office who is focused only on finding a single American man to marry her so she can get a green card. And when I say she’s “focused,” I mean that LITERALLY every single one of her lines has to do with that. There’s also a stoner guy in the office who says spacey things. Busy Phillips is the star, and she tries too hard to be funny/wacky. This show reeks.