- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

Family guys return

You’ll be surprised to see how Springfield looks on watching the 19th season premiere of “The Simpsons” on Fox Sunday night at 7 — unless you’ve heard about that “Simpsons” movie.

The program’s intro, which has been pretty much the same since the series started, now shows a town that’s been turned into a wasteland, in a nod to the show’s big-screen version, which made big bucks over the summer.

There are a few other changes, too. They must have hired some new writers during the past year because this episode is pretty funny. After saving boss Mr. Burns’ life, Homer gets a ride on a private jet, and his life just isn’t the same afterward: “Flying commercial is for losers and terrorists,” he declares.

To help him start earning enough for his own jet, Marge hires a life coach, played to perfection by “Comedy Central” funnyman Stephen Colbert.

“King of the Hill” follows at 7:30, with the family traveling to a college football game.

“American Dad” won’t be returning until a week later, to make room for a special one-hour “Family Guy,” starting at 8.

The series boldly goes where another one has already gone before: “Robot Chicken” already did a great “Star Wars” parody earlier this year. But just as I was thinking of making fun of them, it turns out the minds behind “Family Guy” are, as usual, way ahead of me: They make fun of themselves for being copycats at the end of Sunday’s episode.

While Adult Swim’s animated series “Robot Chicken” did a series of hilarious set pieces inspired by the classic science-fiction film, “Family Guy” does a continuous (and also hilarious) narrative, retelling the movie in the space of the hour.

Darth Vader is played, of course, by the cute and evil baby Stewie, while his mom is a wry Princess Leia.

It’s a can’t-miss episode for fans of both “Star Wars” and “Family Guy.” And “Robot Chicken” fans will probably want to tune in to compare. But keep in mind that prime-time broadcast TV can’t boldly go where late-night cable can.

The starter divorce?

Novelist Gigi Levangie Grazer, whose best-seller “The Starter Wife” was a successful miniseries for USA Network this summer, is venturing into series television with a comedy-drama at NBC, says the Hollywood Reporter.

The project centers on a thirtysomething couple who are going through a divorce but continue to live together (something that was also the subject of a recent column, “Modern Love,” in the New York Times).

“The theme of it can be summed up as, ‘I hate you, hold me,’ ” said Mrs. Grazer, who is in the process of divorcing her second husband, producer Brian Grazer (“A Beautiful Mind”). “It’s taking on the idea that divorce is the new marriage.”

Mrs. Grazer thinks that acrimonious divorces are “so 1990s,” replaced by happily co-existing former couples like Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. She even coined a term for today’s men who remain in their former wives’ lives: “He is a was-husband, not ex-husband.”

In the untitled project, which has received a script commitment from the network, the divorcing couple — a college professor moonlighting as a controversial political blogger and his private-school teacher wife — don’t have enough money to separate right away, so they continue to live under the same roof, along with their two children.

Mrs. Grazer took her first stab at writing a TV series with 2004’s “The Colony,” a pilot script for ABC set at Malibu Colony.

She recently teamed with Lifetime to develop a miniseries based on her novel “Maneater.”

“The Starter Wife,” starring Debra Messing as a woman coming to grips with her new place in Hollywood after being dumped by her studio-executive husband for a younger model, earned 10 Emmy nominations and one award. USA has been mulling turning the miniseries into a full-time series.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff, wire and Web reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide