I hope you guys appreciate the sacrifices I make for you. For the past few weeks, I have been watching five mid-season replacement shows. All in an effort to help you spend your valuable TV-watching time wisely. Here is my report (from worst to best):
"In Justice" -- Fridays at 9 on ABC. This show seems to have gone off the air, and deservedly so. Listen, I like seeing criminals go free as much as the next person, especially if they're innocent, but this show -- which is supposed to be loosely based on the Innocence Project -- sucks. It has that special Friday Night brand of earnestness that is completely unmoored by reality. The bad guys are totally bad and the good guys are totally good and everything works out in the end. Which is strange for a show that is based on the premise that innocent people go to prison all of the time.
"The Unit" -- Tuesdays at 9 on CBS. This show should be good. It was created by David Mamet, and it stars Dennis Haysbert (and Scott Foley). It's about a unit of special forces soldiers who go on top secret missions to rescue people, or alternatively assassinate foreign leaders. But the twist is that it also follows their wives, who stay home and, um, don't do anything remotely interesting. I'm puzzled about how this show could be so bad. So far, it is completely episodic -- there are no story lines that extend from episode-to-episode. And the missions are totally unrealistic and lacking in suspense. At the same time, it lacks the fantastical quality that make shows like Alias and 24 fun to watch.
"Heist" -- Wednesdays at 9 on NBC. This show follows a group of thieves planning to steal diamonds from jewelry stores on Rodeo Drive. It has a light tone, and has its enjoyable moments, but it's completely forgettable. It is also in the unenviable position of sharing a time slot with Lost and the American Idol results show. I predict that it is not long for this world.
"The Evidence" -- Wednesdays at 10 on ABC. Orlando Jones and Rob Estes are San Francisco cops. The gimmick is that, at the beginning of each episode, they (specifically Martin Landau! the medical examiner) show viewers the key pieces of evidence that will solve the case. I can see this show lasting. Jones and Estes have good chemistry, and there's an interesting overarching story line, which is that Estes' wife was murdered and he's trying to solve her murder and deal with her death. But so far the mysteries are not very compelling, and the gimmick is pointless.
"Thief" -- Tuesdays at 10, on FX. I've only seen one episde -- but what a promising start. Andre Braugher is a thief, who lives in post-Katrina New Orleans with his wife and step-daughter (played by Mae Whitman -- George Michael's girlfriend on "Arrested Development"). The first episode sets off several story lines -- his latest job has put him and his crew on the wrong side of a Chinese mob boss, forcing him to return some of the money and come up with a new, potentially risky job to keep his team together; there are also interesting developments on the home front, which I will not ruin for you. As usual, Braugher is excellent. I can't wait to watch more. Be warned though: it is very dark and emotionally brutal.