The writers’ strike might be over, but we can still feel the afttershocks—just look at what’s gonna be on the tube this spring (i.e., not much). Sure, Lost (ABC, Thursday, 9 p.m.) returned a few weeks back, but it’s still a truncated season (13 episodes instead of 16, boo!). And How I Met Your Mother, the best underwatched sitcom on television (don’t you need more Neil Patrick Harris in your life?), returns on Monday, March 17 (CBS, 8:30). But as for new offerings. Well … you decide.
The Observer has been known to wallow in TV sleaze now and again, but even we somehow overlooked the fact that there’s actually a show dedicated to finding “talented” girls who excel at quasi-stripping at meathead bars. But there you have it: Named for the famed East Village joint, The Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search returns for a third season on CMT. Ten ladies compete to join a troupe departing N.Y.C. to tour “the country singing and dancing on bar tops and impressing crowds.” Hmm. Will this make us feel superior, or fat? We might avoid finding out.
Speaking of fat … the Learning Channel (best known for their pretty good show Little People, Big World, about a couple with dwarfism and their crazy, hyper-athletic kids) debuts I Can Make You Thin (March 7, 10 p.m.). Starring British self-help guru Paul McKenna, the show will be ‘interactive’ and will ‘transform your relationship with food,’ according to Time Warner Cable. Actually, we like our relationship to food just fine, especially when Padma Lakshmi is telling us about pork belly on Top Chef, Bravo’s monster reality hit, which returns on March 12. For the fourth season, the game’s in Chicago, but about half the contestants are from N.Y.C. However, one of them, Spike, points out in his online bio on the Bravo site that he’s from “Williamsburg, NY.” Hipster much? We know who we won’t be rooting for!
Don’t worry. There are a few new scripted shows that might well be worth your viewing. Fox premieres Canterbury’s Law on March 10 at 10 p.m., a new legal drama about renegade defense attorney Elizabeth Canterbury (played by new mommy Julianna Margulies), who’ll bend the rules to do right by folks wrongly accused of crimes. And, of course, her intense focus on work also complicates her personal life. Best part? Aidan Quinn, of whom we don’t see enough these days, co-stars as Canterbury’s husband.
On March 14, Fox will also premiere The Return of Jezebel James, a new sitcom from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. Parker Posey has her prime-time debut as Sarah Tompkins, a successful children’s book editor and writer (her teen novel alter ego is the titular Jezebel) who, due to a medical condition, can’t get pregnant. But she wants a baby, so she asks her sister Coco (Lauren Ambrose) to carry it for her. The combination of these two, plus Dianne Wiest (as their mother) and Scott Cohen (a.k.a. Max Medina from Gilmore Girls) has us clicking feverishly on the DVR. The pilot we saw a year ago was iffy, but we’re crossing our fingers this one has come together.
Samantha Who? isn’t exactly new—nine episodes aired from October to December of last year—but it’s probably new to you. The ABC comedy, which returns on April 7 to complete its first season, deserves a bigger audience than it’s been pulling. The premise is goofy: Samantha (Christina Applegate of Married With Children fame) plays a mid-30’s career gal who just happens to be recovering from a nasty case of amnesia. As she pieces her life together, she realizes that she wasn’t such a nice person before she lost her memory, and sets out to right some of her many wrongs. Barry Watson (big bro from 7th Heaven) co-stars as the good-guy ex-boyfriend who can’t help but help Samantha navigate her new reality. This show is cute, funny and downright good-natured. And what’s wrong with that?
We don’t usually go for comedy for comedy’s sake, but Comedy Central’s got Lewis Black doing a fake courtroom thing with the new show Lewis Black’s the Root of All Evil (March 12, 10:30). The show will have “Judge” Black presiding over imaginary cases (i.e., Paris Hilton v. Dick Cheney) argued by a rotating roster of comedians. Over on Showtime, comedienne Tracey Ullman stages a comeback with State of the Union (March 30, 10 p.m.), doing her best impersonations of American pop cultural and political figures, as well as an array of American characters. Given the election year, this just might be perfect comic timing.