Legions of the Fall

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CBS' new show, Viva Laughlin, is described as a mystery drama with music. Was anybody thinking Cop Rock when that show was first announced.

Of course they were. But I hope a few, like me, were also thinking Pennies From Heaven, the brilliant British series from Dennis Potter, perhaps the finest TV writer ever, particularly since the show is based on a British Import.

The concept may be too high, a la Cop Rock, which was from no less a talent than Steven Bochco, but if it is well done and something off the beaten-to-a-pulp path of procedural dramas, I hope it catches on this time around.

I was thinking something else. I wonder if this choice of a music-filled show was the handiwork of Amy Osler, the former Columbia Record exec who joined CBS last fall to work more music into its prime time lineup

CBS is nothing if not eclectic in its prime time tastes this go-around.

Not only is there a a singing casino owner (Laughlin), but CBS also has Moonlight, which sounds like a Buffy the Nighstalker drama about a Vampire private investigator, a show about the swinging 60's, Swingtown, that already has the Parents Television Council's knickers in a twist, and Kid Nation, a show about kids left to build their own society. "Will they abandon all responsibility," CBS asked, while apparently deflecting suggestions it sounded like an update of Lord of the Flies. Sorry, it sounds like Lord of the Flies.

As I have read the descriptions of all the new shows from various nets–the cavemen in suburbia, the spelling bee/karaoke show, and others, I am reminded of the anticipation in my household back in the mid 1960's when the legions of new TV shows were being previewed and pushed throughout the summer, whetting our appetite for what was the TV equivalent of Christmas Day. 

I would start planning out that first week in September–when it was still all in one week–watch the specials hawking the new season, then sit down with a glass of milk and a box of Nilla wafers and turn on the old Admiral set, the one in the cabinet with the three doors, for the TV, the turntable/radio and the record storage cabinet.

The little light, which looked like a dragon's eye, would glow green to show the set was humming, and I would sit down with my parents to a feast of sometimes terrible TV that I loved anyway. My Mother the Car, Captain Nice, OK Crackerby, But there was also Wild, Wild West and Lost in Space and Please Don't Eat the Daises and I Dream of Jeannie and I don't know what all.

But I digress terribly.

I will try to greet this new season in that same, nonjudgmental, spirit. Though my kids are on the computer playing with Neopets and premiere week has gone the way of that old Admiral, I still get to kick the tires on vampire shows and goofy games and who knows what all. What a country.

By John Eggerton

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