TV critics were perplexed by a lot they saw and heard at Summer TV Press Tour 2007. How, for instance, does a guy who gets sacked from his job running programming at the No. 4-rated network wind up getting hired to run programming at the No. 1-rated network? How, to mention another, do broadcast networks wind up with shows as similar as NBC's "Chuck" and CW's "Reaper"? How did CW wind up with this season's best new-series development on a percentage of total new program basis? And why does someone as successful as "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino insist on making herself look ridiculous in Cat-in-the-Hat headgear when she presents herself to a room full of TV critics to pitch her new sitcom "The Return of Jezebel James"? These are just a few of the head-scratchers that kept critics tossing and turning in their featherbeds at the Beverly Hills hotel in which they toiled for the three-week tour.
But perhaps most confounding thing they came up against was the premise for NBC drama "Journeyman."
"Journeyman" is about a newspaper journalist who gets a nasty shock one day when, turining a corner in '07, he finds himself in a different decade. Among the inconveniences, in '07 he's married to an attractive, if slightly horsey and humorless, woman who's the mother of his child. A few years back, however, he was engaged to a woman with the face of a Boticelli angel who was the love of his life -- and a pal of his current wife. These sudden excursions to the highlights of his past continue to oppress him without warning. And whenever our hero returns from one of his blasts to the past, the little woman is understandably annoyed, two or three days having gone by without hubby having put in an appearance. Our hero seems to have been signed up for one of those low-budget time-travel plans in which three days is three days no matter what decade he's inhabiting. First-class time travel, we've learned from shows like "Heroes" can take you there and back in the blink of an eye, leaving the marriage on solid ground.
What had the critics scratching their heads, however, was, as one critic queried show creator Kevin Falls during a Q&A session, "Why in the world a journalist who could go back in time ever return? to the present?"
He was of course, referring longingly to the old state of the newspaper industry which, compared to the current so-interesting-and-challenging state of the newspaper industry, was like printing not only newspapers but also money.
Falls, who flirted with a career in the press, majoring in journalism in college and working briefly as a sportswriter before someone smacked some sense into him, said he has a "great fondness for that business."
"But, you're right, it's a whole different ball game for you guys," Falls said sympathetically. "And we're actually going to get into a young journalist who is a blogger in episode two."
Sensing a chill in the room, he quickly added "I loved 'Lou Grant'."
Editor's note: The Summer TV Press tour has ended, but Lisa will share some of her favorite moments in the blog this week.
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