The media world was abuzz with this summer’s announcement that a new network would be on the scene. The Minnesota Broadcast Network (MBN) promised that their fall lineup of shows were sure to challenge what you thought you knew about quality TV.
Now that premiere week has ended, it’s time to review their offerings.
First, the Winners:
The Bankers: Destined to be the breakout comedy of the new MBN season, this hilarious yet poignant story showcases a group of rural Minnesota bankers as they turn down loans, foreclose on family farms, create onerous fees and attempt to make profits in spite of current economic trends. Mondays at 8.
The Real Hockey Moms of West St. Paul: Minivans and mayhem are central to this reality program that follows the exploits of 5 mothers who share two attributes: an almost fanatical devotion to their Squirt hockey players and appliqué sweaters. In the pilot, Babs Bingleman decides that the new coach isn’t giving her son enough playing time. She tries to rally support to replace the coach, but gets serious resistance from Monica Lutz. Wednesdays at 9.
Worthington Week In Review: You might not think the weekly meeting with the mayor, police chief, a newspaper reporter, Irene from the town cafe and a local Communist Party official from this southwestern Minnesota town would be interesting. But if the pilot is any indication, you should think again. The sparks really fly as the panel discusses the proposed change to diagonal parking on 10th Street. Tuesdays at 7.
Tar Wars: Each week this show features a different Minneapolis street scheduled for re-paving. The first show brings the action on the 5200 block of Xerxes Avenue South. The temperature and humidity match homeowners’ anger when their street is blocked for an extra day. Paving expert Rob De la Marina provides weekly evaluations. Fridays at 9.
Next, the Up In The Air shows:
Going Up With Debby Spooner: The trials and tribulations of small-town girl Debby Spooner as she starts the slow, tedious climb up the show-biz ladder are featured in this sometimes comic, sometimes dramatic show. Debby thinks she’s getting her big break when a Sleepy Eye supper club hires her for a weekend gig. But things are not what they seem. Not sure the series will have legs, but newcomer Jessica Jorgensen shines as Debby. Thursdays at 7.
The Garbágers: A team of household waste investigators digs into the lives of people in fashionable Burnsville through their trash. In the first episode, The Garbágers get to know the Italians after an evening of pasta and Chianti. It’s questionable whether this show can maintain its quality over time, but could be a sleeper. Mondays at 7.
MBN Reports: A noble effort at a hard-hitting news program, but it faces stiff competition from the glut of similar programs on other networks. Though the pilot topics (“Roller Disco: Threat or Menace?”; “White Bread & The International Communist Conspiracy”; “Why Drugs Are Bad”) are worthy of study, it’s unlikely this one can be different enough to stand out. Sundays at 6.
Sports on MBN: The MBN sports lineup features an interesting mix of packaged programs and live coverage of obscure sports. Can Shotguns of the Stars, Tuesday Night Jai Alai, and The National Dog Polo League’s 2012-13 season capture enough eyeballs to pay for itself? Stay tuned. Various days and times.
Now, the Duds:
Where’s My Dinner?: From the same team that produced The Fungus Game, this one never matches that show’s sense of fun and downright zaniness. Host Biff Nouveau does his best to lead three married couples down the matrimonial gangplank as they compete for hundreds of dollars in prizes, but the results are fairly pedestrian. Fridays at 7:30
Deadbeats On Parade: Not sure how this one made it to the small screen. Fred Fosgate stars as a big-city bum searching for the meaning of life among the rats and refuse of a thriving metropolis. Based on actual case histories from the St. Paul Welfare Department, it isn’t as interesting as it sounds. Wednesdays at 8.
The Boneheads: What happens to a typical American neighborhood when the stupidest family in the world buys a house there? Who cares? The antics of Art Bonehead, his wife Maxine, and the three little Boneheads quickly move from humorous to annoying. In the pilot episode, Art decides to save energy by building his own backyard reactor. Obviously a funny premise, but it never really hits the mark. Saturdays at 9.
Following the first week, MBN announced the immediate cancellation of the following shows:
I$LAND!: Tough Dan Tuna, Bird Island private eye, finds danger and excitement in the streets and lounges of wide-open Bird Island, Minnesota.
The Strip Is My Beat: Host Vic Schwartz travels in and out of the 24-hour, never-take-a-break nightlife of the notorious Bloomington Strip.
Youth For Satan:In the pilot, Tabitha and her friends exorcise the spirit out of an old man by submersion at Lake Harriet.
Looking Around For…: Each week hosts Norm Olsen and Betsy Sardahl travel the globe to find things to do a program about. The first episode had guest Norm Coleman looking around for his career.
Blix: When a man quits the accounting game after 23 years, what does he do to fill his time? Elmer Blixto cruises the neighborhood in search of folks who need helping, things that need doing and trouble that needs remedying.
The first VCR–made in 1956–was about the size of piano.