Fall 2011 TV Preview: TNT Previews and Premiere Schedule
TNT knows drama, alright.
As cable networks that pump out many an original series go, they know drama like USA knows one-hour comedy/dramedy. Not buying that statement? Give the Turner-owned network about two full months between Nov. 27 - the start of the last eight episodes of the fourth season of "Leverage" - and the 18th Annual Screen Actor's Guild Awards simulcast with sister-station TBS on Jan. 29.
That should be enough time to check out the full slate of original dramas.
"The TNT Mystery Movie Night" - Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 9 pm ET/PT
Now here's something that gets me excited: the return of a cable "movie-night" show. These were everywhere when I was growing up, from the Friday and Saturday-night USA Network schlock-fest "USA Up All Night," to the TBS block with the idiot-proofed name, "Movies For Guys Who Like Movies."
TNT's attempt at an appointment-viewing block for their often successful original movies kicks off Nov. 29-30 with the thrillers "Scott Turow's Innocent" on the 29th and "Ricochet" on Nov. 30, then the premiere of "Hide" on Dec. 6. "Silent Witness" will bow on Dec. 7, then "Good Morning, Killer" on Dec. 13 and "Deck The Halls" on Dec. 20. It's good to see an emphasis placed on movies on cable again, even if they are now originals and not forgotten B-movies that were always good for a late-night chuckle when I was in junior high and high school in the mid-to-late '90s.
"Leverage" - Sunday, Nov. 27 at 9 pm ET/PT
"Leverage" should lead off TNT's fall season strong. It already has a fifth season guaranteed, as was learned this past August, but first there's the small matter of wrapping up Season Four, which last concluded with Sterling (Mark A. Shepard) enlisting the team of good guy-ish grifters to liberate a nuclear reactor calibration weight from atop a Dubai skyscraper during an international chess tournament.
Also, mysterious businessman Jack Latimer had offered to cut the team a deal, after profiting from investing in the competitors of every evil corporation the team sinks: intel on the team's targets, in exchange for a heads-up on how and when the team will strike. As great as "White Collar" can be, this is still the best "heist" show on television.
"The Closer" - Monday, Nov. 28 at 9 pm ET/PT
It's been a great run, but the show's surprise 2010 Best Actress Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick has decided the end has come.
After seven seasons, Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Sedgwick) will say "goodbye" and Capt. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) will say "hello" to the spin-off "Major Crimes" that the series' last six episodes will build toward. But here's a fun fact: in addition to her Emmy, Sedgwick also received a 2011 Snubbee nomination for Oustanding (Emmy) Snubbed Lead Actress. Bet that award isn't displayed quite as proudly.
"Rizzoli & Isles" - Monday, Nov. 28 at 10 pm ET/PT
If anything can follow the footsteps of "The Closer" closely, it seems like it may be the crime procedural "Rizzoli & Isles." Five more episodes of the female buddy-cop drama starring "NCIS" alum Sasha Alexander (Boston medical examiner Maura Isles) and "Law & Order" alum Angie Harmon (Boston Det. Jane Rizzoli) start running right after Sedgwick's last season premiere.
The series finale for the show's summer run is this upcoming Monday, but the network will run five more episodes during the late fall and winter.
"Southland" - Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 10 pm ET/PT
Rounding out the fall slate for TNT is the premiere of the fourth season of "SouthLAnd," TNT's ensemble Los Angeles police drama in the vein of FX's "Rescue Me" that the network rescued after its untimely NBC cancellation.
Seeing where the show goes could be interesting: third-season budget cuts meant that only Roxana Brusso, Hedy Burress, Denise Crosby and C. Thomas Howell will be returning out of the series' entire original recurring cast. It's a big shift, but the kind that other ensemble dramas - most notably, "Law & Order" or "ER" - spent years surviving.