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The WORST new TV edition

Early fall is an exciting, disappointing time to be a TV fan. The best new shows won’t show their true luster for weeks, but the worst are already totally obvious in their horribleness. Here are the early losers, in no order other than the level of bile they stir within me.

Cavemen (ABC, Tuesdays, 8 p.m.)

Cavemen sucks. Not because it’s the spawn of an advertising campaign, but because the commercials are better than the show can ever be. Where the ads were clever, lithe satires on institutionalized bigotry and otherness, the series sculpts the cavemen as symbols for vapid, oversexed youth. The shift in metaphor allows the
series to feel hot and blandly amusing, but robs the conceit of its teeth.

Private Practice (ABC, Wednesdays, 8 p.m.)

For a couple years, Grey’s Anatomy had redeemable qualities. It was sappy, and wrung the doctors-in-a-hospital paradigm for all the schmaltz and tears it could manage, but there was insanity afoot, and pathos. Then everything went away but the schmaltz. Private Practice, which spun off at the end of last season, is the worst of Grey’s Anatomy with a pervasive “Why can’t we successful women find love?” angle. If I was a woman, the show would piss me off. I’m not, so it just bores me.

Big Bang Theory (CBS, Mondays, 8:30 p.m.)

It’s difficult to mock subgroups in a funny way. Especially when that group is geeks of the ultra-wired, hyper-literate sort. You wanna make a physics joke, you either go over everyone’s head or you name drop someone blasé like Marie Curie, something no self-respecting nerd would do. It ain’t smart. It ain’t funny. Add to that a brainy-guy-wants-hot-dumb-woman plot, and you’ve got a fish out of water comedy that doesn’t even appeal to the fish.

Bionic Woman (NBC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m.)

I never thought I’d see anything as sad as watching poor, hot Lindsey Wagner run and jump and punch in super-slow motion in the original Bionic Woman. Then I saw the squashed, cartoony CG of the new Bionic Woman.

Bad FX, cloying relationship contrivances (she’s raising her sister; the dude who gives her bionics is her fiancé), a whack bionic nemesis (Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff, who deserves better), and some truly horrible dialogue (“That ‘saving the world thing’? I’d like to try that.”) makes this the worst of a new bad bunch. I won’t even get into the Isaiah Washington thing. •

Don’t see also

Kitchen Nightmares Why is Fox trying to humanize Gordon Ramsay? He’s a dick. That’s why I watch Hell’s Kitchen. Don’t ruin it for me. (Fox, Thursdays, 9 pm)

Back To You Kelsey Grammer is fairly the Frasier Crane-like (except not funny) Chuck Darling, a news anchor who’s long on hubris but short on career options. (Fox, Wednesdays, 8 pm)

Journeyman No one knows why reporter Dan Vassar is randomly hopping back in time. After 30 minutes, no one cares. Kevin McKidd’s centurion saved Rome for me. His Vassar can’t do the same. (NBC, Mondays, 10 pm)


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