It’s Upfronts season. Unfamiliar? Each network gets their own Upfront where they introduce the shows they have picked up and ordered for their upcoming fall season line up. This is where many find out which shows will return and which pilots got the execs excited enough to ask for a few episodes to test the waters with ratings. Receive a poor showing and your show can join the ranks of some other fallen soldiers.
NBC has just released their list and a lot of new shows are joining the the peacock. The network had a rough year when it came to TV series getting the boot. Most of the newcomers they introduced last year didn’t survive the rating game and found themselves without a life vest. These shows include Undercovers, Outlaw, my late comer favorite The Cape and thriller Chase. And with popular series Friday Night Lights coming to its final close, NBC needs some heavy hitters to prove they have what it takes to take them beyond their heavy comedy Thursday night line-up.
So let’s take a look and what we can expect from NBC this fall and then we will all vote on what shows will think will survive the early ratings ax. Let’s begin.
AWAKE – MIDSEASON TBA
On the wake of Inception’s popularity, creator Kyle Killen is ready to twist your mind in the world of parallel universes. The story follows Mark Britten (played by Jason Isaacs), a police detective whose family was involved in a horrific car accident. In one reality, his wife (played by Laura Allen) dies. However, in an alternate reality, his teenage son (played by Dylan Minnette) dies. In both realities, Mark has shrinks that both try and convince him that the others realities are nothing but a dream. However, when Mark’s worlds begin to bleed into each other, he cannot decide when he is truly awake and when he is asleep. This show sounds absolutely amazing but I’m not sure if the intricate concept will read to a network audience. If NBC gives the show time to have the audience invest in the story lines, I think this little gem could be a hit.
THE PLAYBOY CLUB – MONDAYS at 10 P.M.
Set in the 1960’s, this soapy drama features the lives of Playboy bunnies who work at the Chicago branch of the famed nightclubs. The series features some heavy hitting players such as Eddie Cibrian, Naturi Naughton and Sean Maher but is this show just another sexy workplace drama which hasn’t proved to fair well on many networks. Well, those behind the show seem to say that Playboy is much more than that stereotype. The show is seen through the eyes of the bunnies and customers of the club while also commenting on the shifting political and social undercurrents of the times. We’re also being told it has a little bit of a thrilling element. How so? When a Maureen (played by Amber Heard) accidentally kills a mobster who hits on her, it falls to suave and connected Nick (played by Eddie Cibrian) to help cover up the crime. Is this going to be NBC’s answer to AMC’s Mad Men? Who knows. That all depends on the peacocks way to market the show properly.
GRIMM – FRIDAYS at 9 P.M.
Creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf and executive producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner are joining forces to bring an interesting dark and twisted fantasy to the small screen this fall. Think intense crime scene investigation drama mixed in the fairy tales of Brother’s Grimm. The series opens with a cop who thinks he is going crazy when he believe he sees people turn into monsters right before his eyes. However, he learns that he isn’t crazy when his mystical grandmother explains to him that is actually a Grimm brother and has the ability to see the true form of creatures written about in fairy tales. It is then his mission to protect humanity from the evil creatures. One of them is killing women in red hoodies. Sound familiar? I love that this concept sounds completely unique yet still stays true to the proven success of a great crime drama. Will people dive into the added element of fantasy? Who knows.
SMASH – MIDSEASON, MONDAYS at 10 P.M.
This show has already created a lot of buzz as NBC’s version of Glee for adults. It also doesn’t hurt when you have the ever successful Steven Spielberg on your side. His idea for a one hour musical drama based on the trials and tribulations of putting on a Broadway musical. The musical’s content? The life and death of Marilyn Monroe. Genius. The show will feature the lives of many involved in the creation of a show like actors, producers, chorus and ensemble members, directors and the like. Having been in many a musical, I can tell you that the stress and drama that goes into putting a show together will make for some amazing content to follow along throughout the season. Through in some original music written for the show and you have a proven hit. It also helps that NBC veteran Debra Messing is helping anchor the series as well as American Idol contestant Katherine McPhee. I think this may be a good hit for NBC if they don’t eff it up. I’m also just a sucker for a good song and dance number.
UP ALL NIGHT – WEDNESDAYS at 8 P.M.
One thing that NBC has been doing right for a few years is comedy. Their current Thursday night line-up has proven to be a winner so with the addition of this new comedy to the fall and including another SNL alumni, they’re sure to soar. But to make a good comedy, you must have great writing. Will this show make the grade? The show features Will Arnet, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph. I love it already. Not to mention, 30 Rock and SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels has his hands all over it so there should be no reason why this show doesn’t turn into comedy gold. The series tells the story of parenthood from the perspective of your everyday suspects. You have your bitter working mom who never thought she’d have kids, the stay-at-home husband and of course the parents who don’t want to offer any advice. The title of the show doesn’t catch as much as the key players and concept does but hopefully the show will speak for itself. To be honest, I love it already.
WHITNEY – THURSDAY at 9:30 P.M.
Have you ever seen Whitney Cummings Chelsea Lately or Punk’d? She is absolutely hysterical. Now, NBC is taking a chance on her comedic stylings by giving her her own show. Brilliant. The show’s concept is based upon a couple in a long-term relationship who decide to forgo marriage despite the fact that all of their friends around them are getting married, engaged or divorced. The show features a hilarious ensemble including Beverly D’Angelo, Chris D’Elia, Zoe Lister-Jones, Daniel G. O’Brien, Maulik Pancholy and Rhea Seehorn. The entire project will be overseen by Betsy Thomas. A little slice from the pilot script has been leaked where in Whitney’s wedding party, someone is wearing a hoodie over her dress. How is it described? As “Helena Bonham Carter at Trader Joe’s.” Outstanding. I give this comedy a gold star already for its concept, key actors and of course, Whitney Cummings. Let’s hope that the crude humor lasts on NBC’s network.
PRIME SUSPECT – THURSDAYS at 10 P.M.
Think you may have heard of this show before? Well, you aren’t wrong. NBC has been trying to work on this project for quite some time now which originates in Britain. It took a lot of logistics and regimes to get through the red tape of bringing the crime drama to US soil. Now, Maria Bello will jump into the shoes of Helen Mirren as the hard edged, female detective who is constantly fighting the rough waters of a predominantly male police force. Constantly undermined by her coworkers and supervisors she continuously tries to break the mold. However, when Jane (Bello) lands her first murder investigation, she learns that even being in a leadership position may not help her become an equal to her colleagues. Jane also lives with her boyfriend and wants his child from a previous marriage to spend more time with them at their place. Every once and a while, a show adapted from the UK does well. Will this be one of them or will its concept be lost in translation? I am interested to check it out even though I’m really over cop and crime dramas. Yawn.
THE FIRM – MIDSEASON, SUNDAYS at 10 P.M.
This thrilling new drama is based on the novel written by John Grisham. Looking into the plot of this story, I feel like you may have to read the novel (or watch the 1993 film with Tom Cruise) to get a real grip on what is going on with these characters as the the story is a continuation of where the novel left off. Mitchell McDeere and his family are attempting to live relatively normal lives after McDeere took down the mob controlled Memphis law firm Bendini, Lambert and Locke. Him and his family are currently in the witness protection program. So what will happen? Little is known. There have been no casting announcements for the project and many are wondering if the show will find success so many years after the feature film based on the original novel hit the big screen.
FREE AGENTS – WEDNESDAYS at 8:30 P.M.
Hank Azaria returns to TV in this half-hour romantic comedy about two co-workers who are both looking for rebounds after both being “released” from their previous relationships. Helen’s (played by Kathryn Hahn) fiancé has recently passed but her home is strewn with photos of him. One night, her and Hank Azaria’s character have a one night stand, they debate whether or not they should take their relationship to the next level. If you follow shows in the UK, you may recognize the title and the concept. That’s because it is another import for NBC for the fall season. Director Jon Enbom could bring the cult following this show needs to stay afloat from his short lived but critically acclaimed Starz series “Party Down.” If the network does a good job, this show should fly easily.
ARE YOU THERE VODKA? IT’S ME, CHELSEA – MIDSEASON TBA
If you felt like Chelsea Handler wasn’t invading your TV experience enough, her comes the comic in the another medium. Based on her best selling memoir of the same name, this comedy stars That 70’s Show’s Laura Prepon whom Chelsea hand selected to play the role of her. Chelsea will also start in the comedy as Sloan, Handler’s super-religious older sister. The show focuses on a group of twentysomethings who all work and live together. Behind this comedy masterpiece are the creators of Dharma and Greg and The Drew Carey Show. Both shows proved to be winners in the rating game for multiple seasons and with the humor that is Chelsea Handler’s life, this show is sure to be a winner. One of the best lines from the pilot script are as follows: “If my baby gets chlamydia from the toilet I just peed in, which she probably will, you’re paying for the shots.”
BENT – MIDSEASON TBA
Amanda Peet joins NBC for this comedy based on a type-A personality divorced single mother who is trying to resist the sexiness of her charming contractor (played by David Walton). But of course, the contractor also has a quip; he’s a recovering gambling addict. The two try their hardest to maintain a professional relationship as the two work on the kitchen renovations but the fun and comedy comes in the will-they-won’t-they aspect throughout the show. But what happens when the kitchen is complete? You can’t tell me that the renovation will last a whole season. Maybe her bathroom will need retiling. But honestly, she obviously needs her plumbing checked… get it? This series was written by Tad Quill who wrote the very short run of Perfect Couples for the network. Hopefully this writing style will stick with the network and find more success the previous.
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER – MIDSEASON TBA
What happens when you and your boyfriend move in together but end up sharing your new love nest with your best friend? You get this new comedy from NBC titled Best Friends Forever. Starring Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, these two test the patience of their friendship with one being a new budding and loving romance while the other is going through a messy divorce. What’s more is that the three find themselves caught up in an awkward triangle of a relationship as they try and sort out their new living arrangement. While this show sounds like it needs multiple cameras, it is sticking with the proven single camera format that has seemed to work for NBC’s Thursday night comedy line up. I’m interested to see how this show will separate itself from the pack to stay relevant in the ratings game.