Ask (Jan. 6, 2009)


Q: What are the best new TV shows debuting this year?

— Cygnia, New York, NY

A: Over the holiday break, I finally had time to watch screeners
of some of the upcoming series, and there are two shows that stood out for me.

First is The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, co-produced by the BBC
and HBO and debuting in America on HBO as a 13-episode series in March.

Grammy-winning neo-soul singer Jill Scott (Why Did I Get
?) is mesmerizing as the lead, and Anika Noni Rose
(Dreamgirls) is delightful as her quirky secretary. The acting,
writing, and Botswana setting work together seamlessly to create a drama that is serious but playful, and altogether a joy to watch.

Rose, Scott, and Lucian Msamati in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

This is so unique — a series revolving around a black woman? who isn’t super-thin? set in Africa? — that I can’t quite believe it’s actually going to be airing in America.

Speaking of shows that might be too good to be on U.S. television — my
second favorite upcoming show is Better Off Ted, the ABC workplace
comedy that has yet to be scheduled,
but is slated for sometime in the Spring.

A whimsical comedy about an ethically challenged American company that makes
everything from weaponized pumpkins to edible steel, it feels like Pushing
-meets-The Office, with an extra dose of black humor.

I didn’t expect to like this comedy based on the title alone, but I laughed
several times watching the pilot, and had to watch it more than once to catch all the clever lines. Jay Harrington (Coupling) is good as in the title role; throw in Portia de Rossi as the boss, and Andrea Anders (The Class) as a creamer-stealing QA chief, and I’m hooked!

One show that doesn’t look so good? The Joss Whedon/Eliza Dushku drama
(Fox), which I suspect won’t even last a full season. Good idea, bad execution. Such a

Q: I was wondering if you had anything about Shiri Appleby’s To
Love and Die
movie/series. I just saw the pilot/TV movie on USA, but found
nothing of substance about it on the web, even on the official website.
The movie was entertaining and has potential … It has a character called Eddie, portrayed by Christine Adams as a sort
of James Bond’s "Q" with gadgets (I know, stereotypical name and profession,
but she is gorgeous and has a killer accent).

— AG, Houston, Texas

Shiri Appleby, left, and Christine Adams

A: I DVR’d one of USA’s middle-of-the-night showings of this TV movie/pilot episode after getting your email, and found it — and Christine Adams’s bi character — as enjoyable as you did.

USA Networks announced in 2007 that they had ordered 12
episodes of this series about a woman (Roswell‘s Shiri Appleby) who
discovers the father she never knew is an assassin, and decides to join the family
trade. Shortly after the episodes began filming, the writer’s strike happened and production was halted.

USA subsequently turned the pilot for To Love and Die into a TV
movie, and aired it on Dec. 30 with almost no advance promotion. That doesn’t
bode well, and neither does the fact that the show’s
official page
is listed in the "movies" section on USA’s site,
and doesn’t mention anything about subsequent episodes. Requests to USA Network’s PR
department by various press outlets (including this one) have gone

So unfortunately, it seems unlikely we’ll see the rest of the episodes
anytime soon, but I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if anything changes. (If any readers know more about the show’s fate, let us know via email or in the comments!)

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