Tuned In: 2 new Syfy series are headed for scrap heap

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The latest, most popular threat from disgruntled TV fans is that they'll refuse to watch a new show until they know it will not get canceled after its first season.

Unless a series is a breakout hit, most of the time it takes months before we know a show's fate. But that's not the case with two new series this week.

Saturday night Syfy debuts "Sinbad" (9 p.m.) and "Primeval: New World" (10 p.m.). Both shows are foreign acquisitions and, guess what? Both series have been canceled in their respective home countries.

Viewers can approach these two shows knowing neither one will last beyond their first season, allowing them to make up their minds in advance as to whether it's worth investing time in these programs. Here's my contribution to those deliberations:


Syfy is slotting these series in the time period where it usually airs intentionally cheesy movies such as "Jersey Shore Shark Attack" and "Piranhaconda." Putting these shows on Saturday suggests something about their quality and the network's attempts to appeal to connoisseurs of TV cheese. (FYI: Syfy's original movies move to Thursday night with "Independence Daysaster" slated for June 27.)

British import "Sinbad" lives up to its title: It is indeed sinfully bad.

In Basra, street rat Sinbad (Elliot Knight) is pitted against the son of a political leader (Naveen Andrews, "Lost") in a street fight. After Sinbad accidentally kills the son, the father vows revenge, making Sinbad's promise to his brother ("Don't worry, today's gonna be a good day!") ring hollow with foreboding and obvious foreshadowing.

Before long, Sinbad is cursed and sets out on a high sea journey to better his prospects and undo the curse. The ship is attacked by what appears to be a dinosaur made of water (an escapee from "Primeval: New World," perhaps?), and Sinbad finds a new seafaring family of sorts.

The plot is predictable and the acting generally hammy.

'Primeval: New World'

A spinoff from the BBC America series, this Canadian production features one guest star from the original "Primeval" (Andrew Lee Potts) in its first and last episodes. But otherwise, it's more of the same as a new group of scientists hunt down dinosaurs that come to the present day through anomalies that pop up around Vancouver, B.C.

Evan Cross (Niall Matter) leads a team of investigators looking into these dinosaur appearances. Flashbacks suggest he's doing it to get over the death of his girlfriend, who got chomped by a dino.

The CGI dinosaur renderings vary in quality, but the plot is fairly predictable from the get-go. It's better than "Sinbad" but not by much.

'King & Maxwell'

Early next week TNT premieres its latest series, "King & Maxwell" (10 p.m. Monday), based on characters featured in novels by David Baldacci. The series was developed for TNT by Shane Brennan, executive producer of "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

Like those series, "King & Maxwell" is breezy fun. Just don't think about it too much -- especially the ridiculous overly tidy denouement of Monday's premiere that's set at a congressional hearing -- or it won't make a lick of sense.

Monday's pilot opens with one of the better set piece chase scenes to come along in some time: The chase involves a guy, dressed as a beaver, driving a tour bus recklessly through the streets of Washington, D.C., as he's pursued by Michelle Maxwell (Rebecca Romijn, "Ugly Betty"), an impulsive private investigator who works with her plan-prone business partner, Sean King (Jon Tenney, "The Closer").

Naturally they bicker like an old married couple and give off waves of chemistry and sexual tension.

"This is why we could never be married," King says after seeing a mess Maxwell leaves behind. Sure, they could never be married -- at least not until the series finale.

Both King and Maxwell are former Secret Service agents, and their cases often have them interacting with unfriendly FBI agents, including one (Chris Butler) played by an actor who had a similar scolding role as a state's attorney on "The Good Wife."

"King & Maxwell" doesn't have much that's new to offer, but it's fine, forgettable, escapist summer fare.

Fine leaves WPXI

Three years after arriving at Channel 11, general assignment reporter Julie Fine has departed for a job at KXAS, the NBC owned and operated station in Dallas.

WPXI has hired a new reporter, Jennifer Tomazic, formerly a morning anchor in Milwaukee at CBS affiliate WDJT, per Channel 11 news director Mike Oliveira.

Channel surfing

Late last week NBC renewed "Hannibal" for a 13-episode second season that is likely to air in 2014. ... HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" returns for a new season Sept. 8; HBO announced comedy "Eastbound & Down" will end its run after its upcoming fourth season that begins Sept. 29. ... Destination America goes looking for "Mountain Monsters" (10 p.m. June 22) in a new series that explores tales of Appalachian creatures, including West Virginia's Mothman and Devil Dog and Ohio's Grassman. ... Showtime renewed "Nurse Jackie" for a sixth season to air in 2014. ... Showtime has canceled "The Borgias," which will wrap up with its third-season finale on June 16 at 10 p.m. ... FX has canceled "Brand X With Russell Brand" but is working with the actor/comedian on a possible new series. ... Conan O'Brien will host "Carson on TCM" (8 p.m. July 1), a new TCM series featuring memorable Johnny Carson interviews from "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." ... PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will executive produce a three-part series on the history of cancer that's slated to air on PBS in 2015. ... Joan Rivers turns 80 on Saturday and E! will celebrate next week by having the comedian "take over" the network for five days beginning Monday with new "Fashion Police" episodes at 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and a birthday party episode at 10 p.m. next Friday. ... "The Colbert Report" expands to one hour on Wednesday with special guest Paul McCartney. ... Although most CW fall series won't air new episodes until October, "America's Next Top Model" returns early at 8 p.m. Aug. 2 with its first edition to feature female and male models. ... Former Current and MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann will lead TBS's studio post-season coverage of Major League Baseball in October. ... Last week my wires got crossed on CNN's "Stroumboulopoulos," which does premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday but then moves to its regular time slot, 11 p.m. Friday, next week. ... This Sunday's TV Week in the Post-Gazette offers a preview of season two of Pittsburgh-set sitcom "Sullivan & Son." In the piece, series star and former Pittsburgher Steve Byrne says he hopes to get WDVE-FM morning hosts Randy Baumann and Bill Crawford out to Los Angeles to appear in a "Sullivan" episode, and it worked out that they have indeed traveled to the show's Burbank set since my interview with Mr. Byrne last month. Pittsburgh native Billy Gardell ("Sullivan & Son") guest stars in the same episode.

Tuned In online

Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "Castle," "Hawaii Five-0" and the "Masterpiece Mystery!" series "Endeavour." This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on BBC America's "In the Flesh," new reality shows "The Hero," "72 Hours" and "Race to the Scene" and the future of "Arrested Development." Read online-only TV content at www.post-gazette.com/tv.

Tuned In podcast has the week off.

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TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.


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