Oh, Upfront Week. All last week, the five major U.S. networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW—announced their new, fall primetime shows. (As well as those shows that were renewed for another season.) I love and hate Upfront week. Every year I eagerly watch the promo videos for new shows, hoping there is another Mad Men or Lost amongst them. And each year, I am often disappointed with the less-than-inspired choices.
Here are a few of the upcoming shows that have piqued my interest—and made me cringe…
Not enthused with any of the new comedies, save for perhaps Up All Night. Will Arnett was hysterical in Arrested Development, and Maya Rudolph is pure fun to watch. As for dramas: Grimm looks as though it could be quite fresh and thrilling or a complete dud. I really enjoy reinterpretations of old fairy tales, and Grimm sets itself out to be one…sort of. Apparently there are creepy monster-like beings that exist in normal human bodies, and only a ‘Grimm’ (yes, a descendant from the famous brothers themselves) can spot them. From the trailer, however, the plot looks unsure of itself. Is this a horror story? A crime show? I’m afraid Grimm might shut down due to an identity crisis. Also premiering on NBC is Prime Suspect. Now I did not watch the original with Helen Mirren, so I’m not upset—as some are—of the new version with Maria Bello. I do know that Bello is a dynamic actress, and I love to watch her on screen. I’m hopeful for this one. It looks like The Playboy Club is NBC’s answer to Mad Men. This one is set in 1960’s Chicago…about playboy bunnies, their customers, and some murder thrown in for good measure. I love the look of the show—glossy, highly stylized a la Mad Men, but the plot probably won’t hold. Smash is being called ‘the adult’s Glee’. I was confused by the trailer. Is this a show about producing a Broadway musical? Or the drama between two competing divas? The fact that one of these aspiring actresses is the doe-eyed, girl-next-door Katharine McPhee…excuse me as I retrieve my eyeballs from the floor. Seriously, NBC? Where is the originality?
Looks like Fox is relying on the UK-import ‘The X Factor’ to rake in the ratings. They only have seven new shows—most of which sound lackluster. Zooey Deschanel is following her big sister’s footsteps into television with The New Girl…but her character is a young woman who can’t keep a boyfriend. Um, it’s Zooey Deschanel. Really?! Jonah Hill created a new animated show, Allen Gregory. I’m not a fan of Hill’s humor, but for those who are, knock yourselves out. Even though Terra Nova was advertised last year—and then never aired—I’m still interested in it. It has dinosaurs. Heck. Yes.
Tim Allen is back with a new comedy Last Man Standing. It would be great to see him with a comeback television show, but it looks and feels too conventional. I shuddered at the rest of their comedies: Apartment 23, Man Up, Suburgatory and Work It. There is another version of Charlie’s Angels in case the original series and two full-length movies weren’t enough. More fairy tales with Once Upon a Time. The title alone annoys me. Obviously ABC did not want to be left out of the 1960s club; they’re offering Pan Am, which follows the lives and tribulations of the blue-frocked stewardesses in the 60s. The entire time I was watching the preview, I felt as though I had seen this before. Pam Am…the 60s…oh right, Catch Me If You Can.
Oh…CBS. One show looked vaguely appealing: Person of Interest stars Jim Caviezel and the fantastic Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from Lost) in this drama produced by J.J. Abrams. It has enough mystery and intrigue to hook my attention—and it addresses a very real issue from today: Constant video and audio surveillance. You’d like to think this show was a futuristic or conspiracy thriller. But surveillance is becoming all too commonplace. Perhaps that’s what makes this story so creepy. The other shows—Unforgettable (in which Poppy Montgomery spends a lot of time staring concernedly into the distance), A Gifted Man (a story about a man who sees the spirit of his dead wife), How to Be a Gentleman (ugh, no comment), and 2 Broke Girls (poor girl meets fallen heiress at work…at a diner…and they become friends…the voice in my head is begging for it all to stop) fail to impress. And will most likely fail renewal.
What does the teen-oriented network have in store for 2011? Hart of Dixie: essentially big city doctor goes to small-town Alabama and rediscovers herself. It’s like Doc Hollywood meets The O.C. (Though I will say it’s nice to see Rachel Bilson again.) Sarah Michelle Gellar is back in Ringer, which includes twin sisters, assumed identities and murder. I have a smidge of interest…just a smidge. And if vampires were not enough with The Vampire Diaries, you’ve now got witches to cozy up with on your Thursday evenings. The Inner Circle appears to be about a bunch of young, overly attractive witches who want to create a new witch circle and play magic…or something to that effect. I’ll stick to Harry Potter, thanks.
These are just my initial thoughts—mostly from trailers. I’m sure my opinions will change as the shows get started in the fall.
What shows are you looking forward to this fall season?