With the 40th anniversary of the first space mission to the moon recently being celebrated, ABC (locally WKRN-2) is trying something definitely different in what's been otherwise a very routine and forgettable network television summer season. Sunday (8 p.m.) marks the launch of Defying Gravity, a show that blends science and romance while also chronicling the rigors of the nation's space program.
The show features a multinational bunch of astronauts currently in the middle of a six-year mission where they visit some seven planets. But that's only the bare thematic foundation. It was developed by Michael Edelstein and James Parriott, whose previous show associations are Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy respectively. Thus, they are injecting plenty of soap opera drama and intrigue into the ongoing narrative, including a conspiratorial element involving the real reason for their mission that won't be immediately clear and develops over several episodes.
Ron Livingston is the main star of this drama, and there will also be flashbacks each week that reveal how various astronauts were chosen five years ago. The producer told TV Guide that they weren't going to make the show a standard sci-fi work, and would make certain that larger themes such as friendship, loyalty and love would be the focus, and that there will be nothing linking it to a show like Star Trek.
But at least it's something fresh from ABC, and definitely an improvement conceptually from the other things that have been running this summer.
Meanwhile, Fox got excellent ratings (in terms of summer figures) for last week's return of <i>Hell's Kitchen</i> (Tuesdays, 7 p.m.), which topped NBC's America's Got Talent. Now they begin another unscripted series that looks like a merger of ABC's The Bachelor and NBC's The Biggest Loser. More to Love (8 p.m. Tuesdays, WZTV-17) features a new twist: Everyone involved in the show is a big individual weight-wise.
The male subject will select his potential mate from a group of what's being called "plus-size" women. This is following Hell's Kitchen as Fox devotes the entire evening to this format for at least the next month or so, depending on audience reaction.
More reality launches, wraps
Another season of TV Land's She's Got the Look ends on Thursday (8 p.m.) when the winner of this competition for model over 35 is selected. P. Diddy is a veteran of various reality programs, so there will probably not be a lot of surprises when his latest enterprise <i>Making His Band</i> debuts Monday at 9 p.m. This time he's seeking musicians to back him up on his forthcoming tour.
More than any other locale, it seems that The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which returns to Bravo Thursday night at 9 p.m., generates more controversy, discussion and online reaction. There's one new cast member, plus plenty of lingering storms from last season (for those who watched it) to resolve. Perhaps the biggest breakout star from the show has been former Xscape member and current single mom Kandi, whose controversial romance with a man that already has six children and clashes with cast member Nene were the talk of last season among the show's rabid fan base.
One of the great actor Jimmy Stewart's finest films was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The Hallmark Channel does a little play on words with a new film that stars Cybill Shepherd. Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith on Saturday night (8 p.m.) spotlights Shepherd as a college dropout who, many years later, returns to school and tries to relive her youth, only to discover that things have changed considerably over the years.