With the fall TV season just around the corner, Daily TV/New Media Editor Punit Mattoo and Managing Arts Editor Adam Rottenberg debate everything from the highlights to the lowlights and the phenomenon of “The O.C.” in between.

Angela Cesere
Courtesy of ABC
Angela Cesere
Courtesy of FOX

 

What’s the best new series?

Punit Mattoo: “Everybody Hates Chris.” Not so much because I think it’ll be funny – I just want to see if the same network that made “Homeboys From Outerspace” can make a good show and also if Chris Rock can do something funny outside of his standup.

Adam Rottenberg: “Everybody Hates Chris” looks good, but I know I won’t be watching it on Thursdays. It’s a toss-up for me between “My Name is Earl” and “Kitchen Confidential.” I have a soft spot for unconventional sitcoms, and both of these seem to be in that vein.

 

Which new series will be cancelled first?

AR: It has to be “Reunion.” Sure, the initial ratings are good, but look at the past history of the time slot after “The O.C.”: “North Shore,” “Point Pleasant.” It turns out that viewers don’t really want to see more pretty people with problems after watching Seth and the gang.

PM: Yeah, Fox manages to rip off one of its own shows for “Reunion.” The whole premise – each episode as a year in the character’s lives – isn’t really interesting or new at all. But I’m going with Jennifer Love Hewitt’s new show, “Ghost Whisperer,” as the worst show. Friday night on Fox is where shows go to die, and this one already has a foot in the grave. A fully-clothed JLH can’t attract viewers with her awful acting, and characters who can speak to the dead are so overdone.

 

Is “Lost” going anywhere?

AR: I see a big repeat of “The X-Files” here – all build-up, no answers. Despite what the producers say, I don’t think they have anything planned out for the long term. J.J. Abrams’ other show, “Alias,” has already run out of steam with the guessing games, and I don’t see this one being any different. There were 24 episodes of “Lost” last season, yet we still know nothing about the hatch, the “others” or the monster.

PM: It’s only a matter of time before we all get tired of cliffhanger endings and cryptic messages that never get explained. How long can people watch a show where the writers are basically trying to make us angry?

 

Speaking of “Lost,” what’s in the hatch?

PM: Lots of heroin for Charlie. I think everyone will turn to drugs to pass the time and the show changes into one giant trip to make way for even more “mysterious” stuff happening. And with ABC in high definition, hallucinations have never been more realistic!

AR: While drugs may be an interesting creative decision, it will probably end up being nothing. They’ll go down that staircase and find another door. And guess what? That door will be locked, and the characters will spend the entire next season trying to open that.

 

Even so, “Lost” may be the best sophomore series. But what’s the worst?

AR: I know you’re going to say “Rodney,” but I’m going to name a show I’ve at least seen. I watched “Joey” a few times, and I wish I hadn’t. Honestly, he was a one-note character on “Friends,” and I have no idea how they were planning on stretching it out for a full series. The premise just doesn’t work.

PM: “Joey” is horrible and should have never been created, but I didn’t even realize that “Rodney” existed until I read some magazine’s fall TV Preview. And after watching a few episodes recently (thank God for the Internet), I’m glad I missed out. So-called “star” Rodney Carrington has to be the blandest leading character on television and confirmed my hunch that ABC honestly believes “According to Jim” is a model for all family sitcoms. And that is not a good thing.

 

What to watch on Thursdays at 8 p.m.?

PM: I want to say “Everybody Hates Chris,” especially because I named it the best new show this fall, but I know “The O.C.” is going to get all my attention. Crazy plotlines, hot girls and water-cooler talk all keep me addicted. Hopefully, “Everybody Hates Chris” will be funny during the eight minutes I’ll watch while “The O.C.” has commercials.

AR: This timeslot has become the new battlezone, especially since the era of “Must-See TV” is over. Thankfully, TiVo will cover “The O.C.” for me so I can watch one of the best shows on television, “Alias.” Who cares if she’s been Afflecked and will now be preggers all season? It’s still the best thrill ride on TV – sorry to all you “24” fans.

 

So if you stick with “The O.C.” in that time slot, why do you watch it?

AR: I don’t know about you, but I like to watch 30-year olds pretend they’re in high school – damn, Ryan looks old with that new haircut. Plus, Sandy Cohen might be the best TV attorney of all time. Ryan gets arrested for attempted murder; Sandy’s there. Julie’s being blackmailed for a porn tape; Sandy’s got it covered. Is there any type of law he can’t practice?

PM: Sandy Cohen is the man. He should completely sell out and start working for tobacco companies so that he becomes this slightly villainous character. The show’s writers would make the moral dilemmas so over-the-top and set it to some horrible Death Cab song that I couldn’t help but watch.

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