It that time of year again, folks; the time of year when the networks introduce to us all of the new shows they picked up for the upcoming television season and we guess which two will actually remain on the schedule by this same time the following year.
The first victim this year is NBC if only for the reason that they were the first ones that showed up in the TV-Tastic inbox. All things considered surprisingly with the exception of a couple of new series (one of which doesn’t look horrible, just… redundant), it looks pretty good. Below is the skinny on all of the shows that will premiere in the fall. We’ll be doing another piece to cover the mid-season shows tomorrow.
Go On — Misery loves company. Unless you’re sportscaster Ryan King (Matthew Perry, “Friends,” “Mr. Sunshine”) who thinks misery should just be left alone. After taking some time off, Ryan – who recently lost his wife in a car accident – is now ready to get back to work. And while he seems like his same old charming, cocky self, his boss won’t set him back on the air until he seeks counseling. So, Ryan reluctantly joins a support group with one goal in mind: get in, get out and get back on the radio as quickly as possible. Played by the fast-talking, sarcastic, and charismatic Perry, Ryan gives grief a real run for its money. Within one day of group therapy, he hijacks the meeting and suddenly the downtrodden are cajoled into playing a game of “who’s got the best sob story?” And in no time all of them are battling it out, trying to one-up each other’s despair. Now, this is fun! Ryan’s total lack of interest in healing might be just what this group needs – and maybe, exactly what he needs to move on with his life. Also starring are Tony winner Laura Benanti (“The Playboy Club”), Julie White (“Transformers”), Suzy Nakamura (“Dodgeball”), Khary Payton (“General Hospital”) and Allison Miller (“Terra Nova”). From the Emmy-winning writer and executive producer Scott Silveri (“Perfect Couples,” “Friends”) comes a new series that proves grief can be good. Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”) and Karey Burke (“Free Agents,” “Miss/Guided”) also serve as executive producers. The pilot was directed by Holland. “Go On” is a production of Universal Television, Dark Toy Entertainment and Silver & Gold Productions.
Our Take: Art imitates life apparently, because, as we suggested the last time we had to review a Matthew Perry vehicle (Mr. Sunshine), his projects are simply an acting-out of his own issues with depression and other related mental illnesses (and addiction). Go On appears to be his therapy and unlike Mr. Sunshine, it actually looks quite promising despite that even in its trailer there are some cringe-worthy moments for anyone who actually has ever had any involvement in actual therapy. It looks like this is what you call your “dramedy” and Perry actually looks quite comfortable in this new role which is something he wasn’t with Mr. Sunshine.
Chance of Renewal: Tough to call. Audiences could either become very attached to this show or dismiss it after the first episode. We’ve noted before that Perry is very milquetoast and doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table as far as being a draw is concerned so it’s going to be up to him win audiences over.
The New Normal – These days, families come in all forms – single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors… It’s 2012 and anything goes. Bryan (Andrew Rannells, “Girls,” “The Book of Mormon”) and David (Justin Bartha, “The Hangover”) are a Beverly Hills couple and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed and loving partnership, the one thing missing is a baby. And just when they think the stars will never align, enter Goldie (Georgia King, “One Day”), an extraordinary young woman with a checkered past. A Midwestern waitress and single mother looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother (Ellen Barkin, “Ocean’s Thirteen”), Goldie decides to change everything and move to L.A. with her precocious 8-year-old daughter. Desperate and broke – but also fertile – Goldie quickly becomes the guys’ surrogate and quite possibly the girl of their dreams. Surrogate mother, surrogate family. “The New Normal” is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Ryan Murphy Productions. Murphy serves as creator/executive producer and director along with executive producer/creator/writer Ali Adler (“Glee,” “Chuck”) and executive producer Dante Di Loreto (“Glee,” “American Horror Story”).
Our Take: Remember how we said all but a couple shows look great? Well this is the first one that looks horrible. Ryan Murphy is simply not content with having a show without a a political agenda that serves to mock and insult middle-America. The problem we have with this obvious and vulgar attempt of one-upping the brilliant Modern Family is that even in the trailer it’s done with such a sense of mean-spiritedness and political preachiness that it puts David E. Kelley’s crap to shame. Don’t believe us, simply watch the trailer. Three times they made a point to focus on the Ohio license plates on the car (perhaps this is a not so subtle attempt by the producers to make Ohio voters feel guilty and remind them they are in a battleground state this November?) and then they made the point to portray the main character’s grandmother’s as a small-minded white bigot and homophobe… because, of course, all white people from the Midwest over 30 are bigoted homophobes. And the loudmouth stereotypical black woman (who admits that she’s a thief, thereby promoting yet another stereotype) bawling out the grandmother and making a reference to Calista Gingrich (a name for when 95% of the audiences hear it they will collectively say, “who?”) was a nice touch, as well. So, the bottom line is that people from Ohio are small-minded bigots and homophobes and will do anything for money and that Calista Gingrich is one as well because of her haircut. Fantastic. Oh, did we mention that all the agenda advancing aside, the show looks like an absolute disjointed mess filled with nothing but bad sitcom clichés. So, yeah, it’s got that going for it, as well.
Chance of Renewal: Slim to none, in fact we wouldn’t be surprised if this gets canceled mid-season or sooner. First, audiences, are sick of tired of being preached to and they particularly don’t like it when the producers are intentionally trying to alienate them. Second, as noted, this looks like a typically bad sitcom and audiences are going to quickly figure out that it’s a cheap copy of Modern Family.
Animal Practice – Meet Dr. George Coleman (Justin Kirk, “Weeds”), a top-dog New York veterinarian. With an unorthodox style of operating, George’s success comes from his undeniable gift with animals of all kinds. That is, all but the human kind. Dorothy Crane once held the key to George’s heart, but today she also holds the key to the family business as she takes over Crane Animal Hospital. Not only is she George’s new boss, but her romantic history with him and her lack of experience with animals is seriously cramping his style. Dorothy is whip-smart and ambitious, and she’s going to make George pay for the past. Needless to say, he’s determined not to make any changes in his (animal) kingdom — which includes poker games with a resident capuchin monkey. Also starring are Tyler Labine (“Reaper,” “Sons of Tucson”) as Dr. Doug Jackson, a vet who’s great with animals but hapless in matters of the heart, Bobby Lee (“Harold & Kumar”) as Dr. Yamamoto, and newcomer Betsy Sodaro as Angela. “Animal Practice” is a production of Universal Television and American Work Inc. The executive producers are Scot Armstrong (“The Hangover Part II,” “Old School”) and Ravi Nandan (“Best Friends Forever”) of American Work Inc. (“Best Friends Forever”) along with Emmy Award winners Joe & Anthony Russo (“Community,” “Arrested Development”). “Animal Practice” was written by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka (“The Sitter”), who also serve as executive producers. Gail Lerner (“Happy Endings”) also is an executive producer. Directed by the Emmy-winning Russo brothers, “Animal Practice” is a comedy where the animals are running the asylum.
Our Take: OK… we really hate to admit this, but this show looks insanely funny. It’s certainly a new take on the standard comedy. It’s ridiculously irrelevant and sarcastic and it seems quite brilliant. Without even looking at the show description, it was pretty obvious that there was involvement from the folks at Community because it definitely has that kind of vibe to it. Honestly, the funniest moment in any television trailer ever is in this clip at the end with the turtle races. Not going to spoil it, but you’ll know why when you see it.
Chance of Renewal: If this show is as funny as it looks, 100%. For crap’s sake they renewed Whitney over there at the Peacock, didn’t they?
Guys with Kids – From Emmy winner and executive producer Jimmy Fallon comes a new comedy about three thirty-something dads trying to hold on to their youth, while holding onto their new babies’ hands. Easy, right? Thankfully, Chris (Jesse Bradford, “The West Wing”), Nick (Zach Cregger, “Friends with Benefits”) and Gary (Anthony Anderson, “Law & Order”) have each other to help navigate their survival as new dads, while still trying desperately to remain dudes. Balancing work or staying at home, painfully married or happily divorced, they know that taking care of the little ones while maintaining a social life is a daily challenge. Whether it’s hosing the little squirt down in the kitchen sink or hitting the bar strapped with a baby björn, these guys are on a roller-coaster adventure – parenting like you (and they) have never seen before. Also starring are Jamie Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”) and Tempestt Bledsoe (“The Cosby Show”). Someone once said it is much easier to become a father than to be one. These three guys are about to find out just how true that is. “Guys with Kids” is produced by Universal Television and Holiday Road. Fallon (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) serves as executive producer/creator along with executive producer/creator/writer Charlie Grandy (NBC’s “The Office”) and executive producer/creator Amy Ozols (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) as well as executive producers Rick Wiener and Kenny Schwartz (“Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” “American Dad”). Emmy-nominated director Scott Ellis (“Modern Family,” “30 Rock”) is the director.
Our Take: As far as standard, multi-camera sitcoms go, this really doesn’t look bad. We actually found ourselves laughing four or five times during the trailer which is far more than we did during any episode of Whitney or $#*! My Dad Says. That, in and of itself gives it some hope despite the fact that we also face-palmed it several times because of the typical sitcom crap that we hate.
Chance of Renewal: 50/50 on this one. This could be decent or this trailer could be the only thing entertaining about it. Plenty of shows have done that to us (see The Playboy Club and Pan Am for examples of this). We should know by episode three.
Revolution — Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it? On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman’s life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously – and unbeknownst to her – had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future. From director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”) and the fertile imaginations of J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Person of Interest”) and Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”), comes a surprising “what if” action-adventure series, where an unlikely hero will lead the world out of the dark. Literally. The series stars Billy Burke (“The Twilight Saga”), Tracy Spiridakos (“Being Human”), Anna Lise Phillips (“Terra Nova”), Zak Orth (“Romeo + Juliet“), Graham Rogers (“Memphis Beat”), J.D. Pardo (“A Cinderella Story”), Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”), David Lyons (“The Cape”), Maria Howell (“The Blind Side”), Tim Guinee (“Iron Man”) and Andrea Roth (“Rescue Me”). Kripke, Abrams, Favreau and Bryan Burk (“Lost,” “Star Trek”) serve as executive producers. “Revolution” is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Bad Robot Productions, Kripke Enterprises and Warner Bros. Television. The pilot was directed by Favreau.
Our Take: Fact: we like everything with J.J. Abrams’ name attached to it so we’re ridiculously biased about this, however… c’mon, now! This looks awesome… despite the fact the fact that it looks a whole lot like Terra Nova. Let’s be honest: this is post-apocalyptic/new-earth stuff going on here, so, even though the basic concept is novel, the overall premise is pretty recycled… but that’s OK. As we’ve noted, all Science Fiction today is recycled, it’s how it’s packaged that counts. This is feature film quality all the way around with Abrams, John Favreau and Bryan Burk attached to it and it is great to see Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring) getting a regular gig, again. We can only imagine how much this costs to produce and props to NBC for picking it up.
Chance of Renewal: Honestly, very iffy, and that’s generous. We really don’t doubt that this show is going to be fantastic, but the problem is that Science Fiction as a genre (epsecially big-budget epic Science Fiction) continues to struggle on major network television and NBC is a struggling network to begin with. Let’s hope we’re wrong, but if recent history (Terra Nova, The Event, FlashForward… to name a few) is any indication of what’s to come, it’s unlikely that Revolution will last more than a season.
Chicago Fire – No job is more stressful, dangerous or exhilarating than those of the Firefighters, Rescue Squad and Paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. These are America’s everyday heroes — the courageous men and women who forge headfirst into danger when everyone else is running the other way. But the enormous responsibilities of the job also take a personal toll. Big reputations and hefty egos, coupled with the pressure to perform and make split-second decisions, are bound to put squad members at odds. When a tragedy claims one of their own, there’s plenty of guilt and blame to go around. In the middle of a divorce, Lt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer, “House M.D.”) tries to go about business as usual but can’t help butting heads with the brash Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney, “The Vampire Diaries”) of the Rescue Squad – and each blames the other for their fallen team member. When it’s “go-time” though, they put aside their differences and put everything on the line for each other. “Chicago Fire” is a look inside one of America’s noblest professions. Also starring are Eamonn Walker (“The Messenger”), Charlie Barnett, (“Law & Order: SVU”), David Eigenberg (“Sex and the City”), Monica Raymund (“The Good Wife”), Lauren German (“Hawaii Five-O”), Teri Reeves (“Three Rivers”) and Merle Dandridge (“Sons of Anarchy”). “Chicago Fire” is produced by Universal Television and Wolf Films. Emmy Award-winning creator/ producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order” brand), Derek Haas (“3:10 to Yuma”), Michael Brandt (“3:10 to Yuma”), Peter Jankowski (“Law & Order” brand) and Danielle Gelber serve as executive producers. Haas and Brandt wrote the pilot, which was directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (“Homeland”). From renowned Emmy-winning producer Dick Wolf and the writing team behind “3:10 to Yuma” comes an edge-of-your-seat view of a dirty job that often means the difference between life and death.
Our Take: As much as we admit our bias in favor of J.J. Abrams, we are as equally honest about our bias against Dick Wolf who really hasn’t done anything creative in over twenty years. But our biases aside, we would have the same opinon of Chicago Fire regardless of who developed it because anyone could have developed this cookie-cutter series. It doesn’t really seem much different from anything that’s come before. It’s simply a bland procedural with generic characters thrown in and an attempt to portray some kind of personal drama between the characters. Sorry, Dick, but we’ve seen all of this before, we’re not impressed. It’s not awful it’s just nothing new.
Chance of Renewal: Tough to call. Audiences generally lap up this crap because it’s simplistic and easy for the masses to get into week to week but lately, Dick Wolf’s projects have been so completely lazy that they have have seen right through them and stopped watching mid-season (see: Law & Order: Los Angeles, Law & Order: Trial By Jury).