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January 1, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 1, 2007 |

The only real good news out of TV world this week is that the SciFi Channel finally picked up “Battlestar Galactica” for a fourth season. They’ve only ordered 13 episodes at this point, but considering that there was a question whether we’d get any fourth season at all, I guess we take what we can get. Of course, I understand why there was a question about picking up a fourth season: The show — though a critical darling — doesn’t do much ratings-wise. But at the same time, I still don’t quite get why it was actually a question — even if it’s not doing much in the ratings, SciFi is still barely considered a “real” network by anyone, so are they really going to kill the only piece of original programming that has ever received high praise? (The few other popular SciFi shows tend to either be not of their own creation, like “Dr. Who,” or shows largely unloved by the reviewing world, despite fan-love, like the “Stargate” claptrap.)

And with that out of the way, we turn back to Pilot Watch 2007. There’s been an absolute flurry of pilot-related news over the last week, so there’s a bunch to talk about here. CBS starts things off by giving us yet another goddamn lawyer show, and I’m a bit perplexed about this one. It’s an untitled pilot about L.A. public defenders, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Janeane Garofalo. First of all, Gosselaar will be playing a well-off lawyer who decides to become a public defender, which sounds just a touch like James Woods’ “Shark” character. And while I guess Gosselaar has outgrown his “Saved by the Bell” days (although I never saw him on “NYPD Blue,” so I’m just going off what I read), I can’t imagine he can hold a candle to Woods, even when Woods is playing an overblown caricature of himself. But more perplexing about this show is: Janeane Garofalo? I mean, seriously, is it 1993 again?

CBS also has several other pilots in the works, only one of which sounds like it even has the potential to be worth a damn. There’s “Skip Tracer,” starring the generally laughable Stephen Dorff as someone who hunts down missing people. But I’m sure it’ll be very different than the identically themed CBS show “Without a Trace.” Certainly. Then there’s “The Man,” featuring LL Cool J (maybe it is 1993 again) as an L.A. cop who finds himself becoming a father figure to a boy who has been orphaned following a drug bust. The only thing I’m interested in seeing LL Cool J appear in is Deep Blue Sea 2: Sharks Smarter. “Viva Laughlin,” meanwhile, is the one that could potentially be worth a damn, not because I care that Hugh Jackman is producing it, but because the plot (about a dude who wants to open a new casino in Laughlin, Nevada) is at least something different. And sure, CBS’ final pilot of the week, “Demons,” is kind of about something different too. It will focus on a guy who performs exorcisms. But I predict this show will bite. Hard. I mean, I love the mystical shit, and I love Harold Perrineau (Michael from “Lost”), who will play a priest, but the show’s lead will be played by Ron Eldard. Of the utterly retarded “Blind Justice.” And between that show and “Men Behaving Badly,” I’m convinced that Eldard is television poison.

Fox, meanwhile, has the other side of the holy war with “The Minister of Divine.” This is a show which makes me realize that it absolutely is 1993 again, as it may give us Kirstie Alley’s return to network TV. Based on a BBC show (“The Vicar of Dibley”), Alley will play a former wild child who moves back to her small hometown to become the local preacher. And presumably cures the town of its evil ways by eating everyone’s sin.

Finally, Fox also has the distinguished claim of being the first network to give an actual episode order to a new show, meaning “Action News” is the first program with a presumed guaranteed slot on network television this fall. Fox is putting its faith on the show’s talent, both in the form of its creators (Christopher Lloyd, a writer and co-exec producer for “Frasier,” and Steve Levitan, creator of “Just Shoot Me”) and, more importantly, its stars, Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. It’s a multi-camera sitcom about a local news shows, and while it’s rare anymore to get a good multi-camera sitcom, there’s certainly enough talent here to warrant Fox’s enthusiasm. But given Fox’s sitcom track record of late, there’s a little voice in the back of my head telling me everyone may be sorely disappointed. Although I guess it could be worse — it could have Ron Eldard as the weatherman.

And I’ll leave you with this fantastic quote. At Sunday night’s Writers Guild Awards in New York, Tina Fey said this about the low-cut dress she was wearing: “I hear Aaron Sorkin is in Los Angeles wearing the same dress — but longer, and not funny.”


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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