The ROUSH REVIEW
Who's Got the Buzz?
Underdog networks raise the bar for fall
By Matt Roush
On TV, everything is cyclical: sitcoms (currently cold), dramas (hot), perhaps even reality (red hot). Same goes for networks.
When a network hits rock bottom, that's when it's most likely to take risks and give us something to talk about. That's certainly the case with ABC this fall — as well as, of all places, UPN, perennially under the critical radar. This season, both have stepped up with some of the new season's most intriguing shows. In keeping with this issue's theme, here's a sneak peek.
ABC's Desperate Housewives (Sundays, 9 pm/ET) is a darkly funny soap opera/mystery hybrid, a suburban psychodrama with a wild cast: Sports Night's Felicity Huffman, Lois & Clark's Teri Hatcher, and soap vets Marcia Cross (Melrose Place) and Nicollette Sheridan (Knots Landing). It's a hoot.
On paper, ABC's Lost (Wednesdays, 8 pm/ET) sounds even crazier, a Gilligan-in-Jurassic Park suspense adventure about plane-crash survivors stranded on a remote island that harbors deadly secrets. The pilot is a knockout.
At UPN, the real eye-opener is Kevin Hill (Wednesdays, 9 pm/ET), with the charismatic Taye Diggs as a Jerry Maguire-style hotshot lawyer humbled by fate when he inherits an infant child, quits his job and goes to work at an all-female firm. It's endearing and sexy — eye candy that won't rot the mind.
UPN's Veronica Mars (Tuesdays, 9 pm/ET) is a moody teen drama with elements of film noir, introducing Kristen Bell as a social outcast who helps her private-eye father solve cases that often hit close to home.
What sets these shows apart is they're like nothing else on TV. In any season, that's worth celebrating.