Aus­tralian net­works are ex­pect­ing a rat­ings boost from Amer­i­can shows that have yet to prove them­selves in their home mar­ket, writes Michael Gadd

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

SEXY and ir­rev­er­ent dra­mas, comedic science fiction thrillers and lawyers in many forms, usu­ally young and ide­al­is­tic. All of th­ese and more will fea­ture among the new US pro­grams added to television sched­ules in the com­ing year. Aus­tralia’s com­mer­cial net­works, Seven, Nine and Ten, have un­veiled the shows they have picked up af­ter the pilot sea­son in the US.

All three net­works will be pray­ing for rat­ings win­ners from their deals with Amer­i­can net­works and pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies.

Seven has the strong­est ex­ist­ing cat­a­logue of over­seas pro­grams, with shows such as Des­per­ate House­wives and Grey’s Anatomy tak­ing them to the top of the rat­ings.

It has also picked up some of the com­ing year’s most promis­ing shows. Seven’s pro­gram­ming and pro­duc­tion di­rec­tor Tim Worner says Grey’s Anatomy off­shoot Private Prac­tice is the most ‘‘ im­me­di­ately bank­able’’ new pro­gram his net­work has landed.

But he says the tongue- in- cheek dra­mas Dirty Sex Money ( star­ring Peter Krause, from Six Feet Un­der), Eli Stone and Reaper , about a young man who has sold his soul to the devil, are also ‘‘ new weapons which fit the Seven Net­work arse­nal’’. Seven will also get first pick from the highly re­garded drama Lip­stick Jun­gle , based on the writ­ings of Can­dace Bush­nell ( whose news­pa­per col­umn in­spired Sex and the City ), po­lice drama Life and the re­make of The Bionic Wo­man.

As part of a split deal for NBC con­tent with Net­work Ten, Seven has first re­fusal on two of th­ese three pro­grams.

Ten pro­gram­ming chief David Mott has cred­ited a new ar­range­ment with CBS and an ex­ist­ing deal with 20th Cen­tury Fox for putting the net­work in its ‘‘ strong­est po­si­tion ever in terms of US con­tent’’. Fox has de­liv­ered the only sit­coms to meet with any hype this sea­son, in­clud­ing the news­room com­edy Back to You star­ring

Kelsey Gram­mer, and at least three well­cre­den­tialled dra­mas, in­clud­ing projects for Jimmy Smits ( NYPD Blue ) and David Du­chovny ( The X Files ).

Nine was dealt a se­ries of dud over­seas shows last year, but the net­work’s af­fil­i­ates, Warner Bros and Sony, could be set to make amends, with pos­i­tive re­ports for their mid- sea­son pi­lots.

Some of Nine’s strong new ma­te­rial fea­tures Aus­tralian tal­ent.

There is sig­nif­i­cant buzz sur­round­ing Cash­mere Mafia , star­ring Aus­tralia’s Mi­randa Otto and Frances O’Con­nor, along with Lucy Liu. Hugh Jack­man joins Me­lanie Grif­fith in Viva Laughlin , while Rose Byrne stars along­side Glenn Close in the law thriller Dam­ages .

Nine has also picked out shows that could draw a more youth­ful au­di­ence to the net­work. Th­ese in­clude Gos­sip Girl , a drama about rich New York teenagers; Chuck , a sci- fi drama fea­tur­ing young Aus­tralian Yvonne Strze­chowski ( Head­land ); and Moon­light , which fea­tures Aus­tralian ris­ing star Alex O’Lough­lin as a vam­pire private in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

‘‘ Gen­er­a­tion X and Y will get a big run with Nine next year,’’ Nine pro­gram­ming di­rec­tor Michael Healey says.

He says the new pro­grams will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove Nine’s in­ter­na­tional line- up, which has been car­ried for sev­eral years by its CSI fran­chise. Most of th­ese new shows won’t air in Aus­tralia un­til next year and some won’t air at all, but those that do are ex­pected to make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on how each net­work fares in the year’s rat­ings.

‘‘ There’s still a lot of wa­ter to go un­der the bridge af­ter pi­lots: th­ese shows still have to prove them­selves in the US sched­ules, but there’s some good stuff out there this year,’’ Worner says.

Also in the wings, but not nec­es­sar­ily bound for th­ese shores:

Hid­den Palms : Kevin Wil­liamson ( Daw­son’s Creek ) is still do­ing the teen soap thing with this drama that fol­lows a trou­bled young­ster ( Tay­lor Han­d­ley, for­merly the much- de­spised Oliver on The O. C. ) who moves to Palm Springs af­ter

see­ing his fa­ther com­mit sui­cide. Once there, he meets all sorts of quirky peo­ple, some of whom are hid­ing dark se­crets.

Pi­rate Mas­ter: It’s days of plun­der as Jack Spar­row meets Sur­vivor in this latest of­fer­ing from re­al­ity TV tsar Mark Bur­nett. The show has 16 con­tes­tants go­ing on a high- seas ad­ven­ture aboard a vin­tage square- rig­ger, where they live as buc­ca­neers and travel around a Caribbean is­land in search of hid­den trea­sure worth $ 1 mil­lion.

Army Wives : Kim De­laney ( NYPD Blue ) stars in this ensem­ble drama about the strug­gles, dreams and friend­ships of a di­verse group of women, and one man, who form an un­likely bond based on a com­mon theme: they all love a sol­dier who could be gone at any mo­ment.

Filmed on lo­ca­tion in Charleston, South Carolina, the show also fea­tures Sally Press­man, Brigid Bran­nagh and Brian McNa­mara.

‘‘ The thing I love about Clau­dia Joy,’’ says De­laney of her char­ac­ter ‘‘ is that her hus­band is the one with the po­si­tion. But she also has a po­si­tion, and that’s tak­ing care of the women back home.’’

Clau­dia Joy is first among equals by virtue of her hus­band’s job. Thrown to­gether un­ex­pect­edly with the wives of en­listed men, in­clud­ing a bar­tender named Roxy ( Press­man) who’s mar­ried to a man she’s known only a few weeks, Clau­dia Joy quickly puts the cop­ing skills she’s learned as an army wife to good use.

Tyler Perry’s House of Payne : This new com­edy dab­bles in the lives of a multi­gen­er­a­tional work­ing- class fam­ily forced by cir­cum­stances to live un­der one roof. Life gets a whole lot more com­pli­cated when it’s dis­cov­ered that one fam­ily mem­ber, a mother to two chil­dren, is ad­dicted to crack. Cre­ated by Perry, the show stars Allen Payne, La­Van Davis and Cassi Davis.

Mead­ow­lands : This fol­lows the Bro­gan fam­ily who, as part of a wit­ness- pro­tec­tion pro­gram, move into a bu­colic neigh­bour­hood to be­gin a new life. Pic­turesque and crime- free, Mead­ow­lands ap­pears to be a sub­ur­ban par­adise, but the Bro­gans soon re­alise it’s not so easy to es­cape their past. David Mor­ris­sey and Lucy Cohu star.

Age of Love : A re­al­ity dat­ing se­ries that at­tempts to an­swer the ques­tion: Does age re­ally mat­ter when it comes to mat­ters of the heart? Aus­tralian ten­nis pro­fes­sional Mark Philip­pous­sis, 31, is given a full house of women to choose from. But what sep­a­rates this show from The Bach­e­lor is that the women are di­vided into two groups: those in their 20s and those in their 40s. Mark Con­sue­los hosts what looks to be an in­trigu­ing so­cial ex­per­i­ment.

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing AAP

Live­lier fare: Peter Krause stars in Dirty Sex Money

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