Thursday, September 23, 2010

TV's Oldies Are Back --Again

Who says the weekly grind of series TV is for youngsters?
Let those young' sprouts on Gossip Girl and 90210 step aside because this fall belongs to TV's oldsters.
Take the example of Bill Shatner who starts yet another series (actually his sixthg) on CBS Thursday night with S#*! My Dad Says.
Based on the strong best seller and Twitter feed created by Justin Halpern, this one has been turned into a shakey sitcom. Already Shatner's original co-star has been replaced with another young actor now popped into the role of a son returning to visit a father he never really knew.
Then there's Tom Selleck who'll return to series TV Friday night in a new police drama from The Sopranos team titled Blue Blood. Also in the cast is 70-year old Len Carious as his father.
Other golden oldies on the small screen this fall include Jon Voight , 73, in the new Fox TV series Lone Star.
And 79-years young Dabney Coleman has a choice part on the new cable series Boardwalk Empire.
And I guess Gerald McRaney at 64 also qualifies for golden years stardom in NBC's Undercovers.
But back to Shatner, a guy who never ceases to fascinate me.
I first interviewed him in 1973 when I was a very young TV critic at the Hamilton Spectator and he was guesting on CHCH's Party Game.
How low the might have fallen was how I thought about that strange gig --Star Trek had ceased but was not yet a cult hit and Shatner candidly said he had to pay the bills so there he was on the couch acting out words with Billy Van and Jack Duffy and Dinah Christie.
I guess I next interviewed him for the police drama T.J.Hooker in L.A.
And I spent a day with him on the Toronto set of a series Tek War that he actually wrote (but did not act in).
And decades later he had a huge TV comeback on Boston Legal.
So what to make of $#*! My Dad Says?
Well, I actually thought the original pilot was far funnier.
Shatner plays a reclusive, retired doctor who has had a strained long distant relationship with his younger son (played winningly by Jonathan Sadowski.
Also cast: Will Sasso as the older son and Nicole Sullivan as Vince's wife Bonnie.
Sorry,but there are precious few laughs. The show is shot in the old sitcom style, meaning it's one main set and played before a live audience. Old fashioned, yes, but even the studio audience sounds bored.
Incredibly enough Will & Grace's David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are listed as co-creators along with David Kohan and Patrick Schumaker.
Look, Shatner's Denny Crane on Boston Legal was funnier. This character is so far at least merely nasty and why would his very nice son want to be around such a basically depressing guy?
The real dad apparently was a scream with his twittering but none of that comes across so far.
But Shatner has The Big Bang Theory as his lead in and riding the coat tails of TV's best sitcom isn't such a bad thing after all.
In other years the terrible A Different World lasted for seasons behind top rated Cosby and later on Caroline In The City hitched a ratings ride behind top rated Seinfeld.
MY RATING: ** 1/2.

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