- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

Bump in the night

The WB doesn’t plan on being left out of the onslaught of otherworldly shows this fall. So the network is countering CBS’ “Threshold,” ABC’s “Invasion” and NBC’s “Surface” with the aptly named “Supernatural,” debuting at 9 tonight.

The spooky series follows two brothers (“Gilmore Girls’” Jared Padalecki and “Smallville’s” Jensen Ackles) who find themselves in the family ghost-busting business. Some nasty poltergeists killed the boys’ mother when they were young — and now their dear old dad, who began chasing ghosts after that attack — has gone missing.

The pair rev up their ‘69 Chevy Impala, set out to find the ghost and rip a few sheets off the undead in the process. Their first assignment? Solving the “woman in white” mystery, about an apparition that lures and kills men by posing as a hitchhiker.

The show’s hourlong time constraint pushes the pair to patch together clues at a rate that would leave Columbo scratching his matted hair. Its fright sequences show a few deft hands behind the scenes, one of them belonging to film director McG (“Charlie’s Angels”). But we’ve seen plenty of these fright-inducing gimmicks in any number of horror movies before, so the familiarity factor vitiates the tension.

Still, that won’t prepare viewers for tonight’s final shock, an unexpected moment that shows off the series’ splashy special effects and also portends bigger scares in weeks to come.

‘Rome’ renewed

HBO’s investment in “Rome,” its opulent period drama, appears to be paying off.

The network yesterday renewed the new series for a second season; a sure sign of confidence in a show with sets that reportedly cost $100 million.

Production on season two is expected to begin in March with the first of 12 new episodes scheduled to debut in 2007.

The series, set in 52 B.C. and seen Sunday evenings at 9, follows two fictionalized soldiers whose lives intersect with the actual history of ancient Rome. The ratings for “Rome” to date don’t show the muscle of HBO’s masterful mob drama “The Sopranos,” but most reviews have been glowing since its Aug. 28 debut.

A very fine ‘House’

Maybe the plot of “House, M.D.” isn’t the most original concept on TV: a team of superdoctors attempting to find a cure to some unknown disease each week. Yet this Fox medical drama, beginning its second season tonight, somehow has found a way to pump new life into a tired genre.

Much of the credit belongs to series star and Emmy nominee Hugh Laurie for his portrayal of the unorthodox Dr. Gregory House, whose brusque bedside manner and often questionable medical ethics belie his skills as a superior physician.

Aiding Dr. House is his team of specialists — Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), neurologist; Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), an immunologist; and Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer), an intensivist — who all look as if they’re fresh out of medical school but somehow have years of experience.

In tonight’s season premiere, airing at 9, rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J stars as a death-row inmate whose baffling illness becomes Dr. House’s latest obsession.

Also back for seven episodes is Emmy winner Sela Ward (NBC’s “Sisters”) as Stacy Warner, Dr. House’s former love interest, who is now the hospital’s general counsel.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Thomas Walter from staff and wire reports.

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