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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2007-2008 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere this season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. While it's still a little early for full reviews (some recasting and reshooting will be done on a good chunk of them), we still want to give you a heads up on what you should - and shouldn't - keep on your radar in the coming months.
And as an added bonus this year, each day we'll also take a look at one of the pilots that didn't make the cut. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
BONUS FIRST LOOK: LIPSHITZ SAVES THE WORLD (NBC)
(pilot not ordered to series)
The network's description: "Think you've got problems? Try having to clean your room, study for a physics exam, and save the world � all before Mom calls you for dinner. That's a typical day in the life for 17-year-old Adam Lipshitz, who's been chosen to rid the world of danger. As part of his mission, this nerd-turned-superhero has to follow the off-the-wall antics of Leslie Nielsen and his team of celebrities, including Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Ruth. Fighting teenage angst and the forces of evil isn't going to be easy, but you know it's going to be a whole lot of fun."
What did they leave out: If Chuck Bartowski had a little brother, it would be Adam Lipshitz.
The plot in a nutshell: Life pretty much sucks for Adam Lipshitz (Jack Carpenter, channeling a young Jay Baruchel). Like most socially awkward teens, Adam is ignored by the most popular girls in school and tormented by the most popular guys in school. Home life isn't much better as an absentee father and a "Jerry Springer" obsessed mom (apologies, as I didn't recognize the actress) leave Adam to his own devices. His only solace comes from his outrageous dreams and wishes, where he beats the snot out of the popular guys and gets the popular girls. That all changes when a tuxedo-clad Leslie Nielsen (literally, Leslie Nielsen) appears in his living room with the revelation that Adam is "he," one of the most important people in the world. Leslie explains that all celebrities work for a higher power called "she" and are regularly called upon to assist "he" in saving the world. Adam's first mission (which Leslie was given during the "Scary Movie 4" press junket) - getting to second base with the most popular girl in school (Brooklyn Decker) and retrieving her bra (which contains a special key in its lining) in the process. Standing in their way: the Man in Red (Ty Burrell), who's obsessed with Applebee's ("it really makes you feel like part of something") and stopping that damn Leslie Nielsen. Oh and he may or may not be Adam's father. (I know, just bear with me.) Anywho, it's because of said mission that Adam begins to find confidence in himself and to his own surprise, starts to believe that he may really be "he." This all leads to a showdown with the Man in Red that involves a rocket launcher, football gear, Jenny McCarthy and a helicopter. Seriously, I'm not making this up.
What works: There's a madcap, zany quality to the proceedings that's downright infectious - from the matter-of-factness of its most outrageous qualities to silly touches like "Next Time On..." at the end. And more importantly, let's take a moment to ask ourselves why doesn't Leslie Nielsen have his own show? His signature deadpan delivery is in full force here. When he's asked by Adam why he's here, he responds - "My father got drunk and had a one night stand with my mother and they didn't use protection. But that's not important." And when prodded if he's really Leslie Nielsen or if he's some cosmic force taking on the form of Leslie Nielsen, he quips - "Good question. Normally people ask me about working with O.J." Between that and his childlike shouting matches with the Man in Red that he literally steals the show. Overall, it's the type of comedy that reminds us to forget about the drumbeats of finding "the next great comedy" and just have some damn fun. Kudos to creator Dan Fogelman and director Chris Koch - this is a real gem.
What doesn't: Only that I wish I didn't write about "Chuck" and "Lipshitz" on the same day as I hope my enthusiasm for one doesn't take away from my enthusiasm for the other.
The bottom line: Why can't NBC run six comedies on Thursday nights?