What’s new on the tube tonight:
The Whispers (ABC) Series Debut: Kiddies’ imaginary friends turn out to be an alien force bent on “world domination”—I’ve been saying this for years, and now it’s an ABC sci-fi series (based on a 1951 Ray Bradbury short story, Zero Hour). The Whispers is dumb summer-escapism filler that’s convinced itself that it’s something Far More Important (likely due to Steven Spielberg’s name in the producer credits), and wastes actors who deserve better (like American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe and Revenge’s Barry Sloane), but it’s still not the worst thing ABC is serving up in the warm months (see: The Bachelorette, Celebrity Wife Swap, Mistresses, etc.). Don’t think too hard about it, and don’t be surprised if The Whispers suddenly disappears from the schedule in a few weeks.
UnReal (Lifetime) Series Debut: Marti Noxon has contributed to some classic TV series (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mad Men) and created at least one winner (last year’s Girlfriends’Guide to Divorce), but her new UnReal probably won’t be listed among them. A drama set behind the scenes of a reality-dating show, UnReal pits a ruthless producer who’s not above putting (or manipulating) anything on the screen for ratings (Constance Zimmer, in her usual Constance Zimmer role) against a young co-producer with an actual conscience (Shiri Appleby—not exactly “young,” but whatever). What ensues isn’t any more outrageous than what happens on a non-fictitious dating show, but at least there’s a winking acknowledgement that this brand of “reality” is complete bullshit. So, is UnReal for Bachelor/Bachelorette lovers or haters? And why schedule it against The Bachelorette? So many questions, so little interest.