Top TV Picks Have ABC Headed Towards the Right Direction

Well, fall is here and the new shows are up and running! If you want to fire the Apprentice and have grown weary of which Survivor is rescued, then there are a couple of shows that are the top of the line that do entertain!

I missed the original airing of the first one, but, thankfully, ABC reran the two-hour opener of Lost. This stellar show by J.J. Abrams, the creator of Alias, has more twists and turns than the vines in the forest that cast members traipse through on the show. The plot, oddly enough, is pretty simple: a plane crashes on an island and now, stripped of everything, the 48 survivors scavenge what they can from the plane for their survival. Some panic. Some pin their hopes on rescue. A few find inner strength they never knew they had. The cement passenger is Jack (Matthew Fox, Party of Five), a doctor whose fears of anything don't last past the count of five. It seems like every show must have a love affair, or at least the hint of one, and such is the case with Lost. Jack's feelings towards Kate (Evangeline Lilly) blow in the wind from strong passion to torn emotions of deceit. Lost has several other intriguing characters and, at first glance, it may seem that Abrams has put too many survivors on this island. But as the show went on, each held a distinct character trait that soon gave each of them enough independence to not muddy the waters of a story line, but instead add to the elements that keep you on the edge of your seat. The band of friends, family, enemies and strangers must work together against the cruel weather and harsh terrain if they want to stay alive. The island holds many secrets, including the intense howls of the mysterious creatures stalking the jungle, which fill them all with fear. Fortunately, thanks to the calm leadership of quick-thinking Jack and level-headed Kate, they have hope. But even heroes have secrets, as the survivors will come to learn. This show is shot on epic proportions making each episode look like a feature film. Until Alias returns after the first of the year, Lost will keep you guessing and entertained. With Abrams at the helm it will for quite some time.

The other show in the forefront is Boston Legal, also on ABC. This is a spin-off of The Practice with Emmy winners James Spader and William Shatner. But don't expect The Practice exactly. In fact, the major flaw in the show will be if people tune in expecting to see The Practice, as admittedly I did. At first, I was pleased to see my old pal from my stand-up days Larry Miller making an entrance at the top of the show as a lawyer suffering from a nervous breakdown. In fact, I saw more of him than I wanted too. As he enters the conference room, he does so without his boxers or briefs. After that chuckle was over, I was a bit dismayed with the directorial style which was much quicker and flashier than The Practice, and the constant musical underscoring was a bit hard to take at first. But then came Spader and Shatner! Who would have thought that this unlikely team would be so grand together? With these two at the helm, and the continued creative eye of David Kelley, soon the story line had my focus instead of the fact that this was no longer The Practice. Once one accepts that this is an entirely new show, the better it is to watch. Spader's portrayal of Alan Shore is one of the best characters on TV today with his Robin Hood techniques in the courtroom and his quick-witted comments in the office. Shatner's portrayal of Denny Crane is probably one of the biggest surprises on TV today. At first, we were lead to believe that the head of this Boston law firm was simply nuts. Now, thanks to a well written pilot that allowed expansion of Shatner's character, we see that there is quite a lot more to him, although we aren't quite sure what. Hence the anticipation of future episodes. I do know that I can't remember the last time a character in a TV program has said his own name throughout the series subliminally leading to a firm new fan base that any former Treckie would be proud of. The main thing to watch out for is that if the new characters in the show can hold their own with these two seasoned veterans.

Finally, I am not a huge fan of reality TV, and I'm not sure if this really is one, but its successful first season garnered an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Program, so I guess it is. I AM sure that it is one of the best things on TV right now and it's called Makeover: Home Edition. The show's premise is super! A needy family sends in a tape of why their home needs a touch up (or a complete overhaul) and then the design team pulls up in its rock-star-like bus and begins its magic. The family is sent on a vacation while the design team, a squadron of builders, helpful neighbors and occasional guest stars go to work on their house. The show is hosted by design team leader and recent Sears sex symbol Ty Pennington. Many thought the down to earth Pennington was performing career suicide when he left his gig at Trading Spaces, but, in reality, his stardom has shot up quicker than a three-story house. Pennington's now-famous “Good morning!” wake-up call when he, along with the other designers, surprises the unsuspecting family, is quickly becoming a familiar phrase on Sunday nights. The show leaves the audience in awe as each home is retrofitted to fulfill the particular needs of each family and stockpiled with state-of-the-art electronics and wallet-emptying furniture. The brilliance of the show is that we all cheer for the designers to get things done in seven days while at the same time we marvel at the shows humanity to help those who need it. Something TV could use more of. Sure, we are smart enough to see the strategic product placements and that the families are most often sent to Disney World for their seven-day vacation. After all, the Mouse owns the ABC house. All of that us okay because, in the end, one watches the finished product with tear filled eyes and a smile all at the same time. That isn't often the case with other so-called reality shows.

Admittedly, it is a bit of a surprise to me that the top three shows that I enjoy are all on ABC, as the network itself has ebbed and flowed the past several years. For the record, I am the entertainment reporter for KLKN-TV, but I am also a viewer in need of quality programming. With Raymond now declaring this his last year, it's nice to find some unique shows that will now keep me entertained until (and during) the return of Jennifer Garner in Alias…..also one of my favorites….and yes, on ABC. If you're looking for some good TV try a “Makeover” as you get “Lost” on your way to “Boston”!