This week is a special time for fans of television as each of the major networks roll out their fall schedules, announce what current series are being cancelled, reveal what new shows their picking up. So basically it’s Christmas morning, complete with the excitement of beautifully gift wrapped new toys, and the disappointment of said new toys once unwrapped and revealed to actually be a stack of tube socks. Thankfully this year few beloved series have been cancelled, albeit a handful will return with fewer episodes (most notably Community) and one had to jump networks (Cougar Town). But now that we know what shows are returning it’s time to change the focus to what new shows will be out come next season. The following are my first impressions from the short one to four minute previews the networks have made available online. There will be a handful of series I won’t cover as I no interest in spending any time on shows like Mob Doctor (she’s a doctor that has to work for the mob) and the majority of the discussion will focus around sitcoms as that’s my main area of interest. Without further ado here’s my thoughts on what FOX and NBC have to offer.
Solid three new comedies that’ll work well with New Girl and Raising Hope. Two are hangout based comedies, while the third features a distinctive central concept. On the drama side there’s one potential to fill the gap for an action/suspense series that 24‘s ending has left on the channel.
Ben & Kate (single camera comedy)
The trailer makes it seem a little more melodramatic than I’m assuming it’s suppose to (music and titles make it seem too swelling and almost romantically based), but it contains a few chuckles. Though those chuckles are pretty much all from Ben’s mouth, with Kate mostly being exposition and the supporting cast getting no laughs from me. The British female friend in particular annoyed me slightly, but that may just be residual dislike as I could easily imagine that bit being used by Catherine Tate over on The Office (a character I truly dislike). But you won’t find the best part of the show featured in the trailer, as former Community executive producers Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman have only been hired this week as its showrunners. This means the series is good hands and has nothing but potential. The name is fairly generic, but I suppose it’s better than the previous title, “Ben Fox Is My Manny”.
The Goodwin Games (single camera comedy)
From the creators of How I Met Your Mother is a fully loaded title that comes with a lot of baggage (like in that episode of HIMYM where Ted talks about how everyone has baggage!). The trailer uses to conjure up a feeling of ease and familiarity, but with the state that show currently is in it’s more of a death sentience. But while it’s hard to remember now as HIMYM finishes a disastrous seventh season, the show once was refreshingly fantastic. It was an exciting blend of multi-camera comedy with single-camera cleverness. And while Goodwin Games is purely single camera in it’s ascetics, the show also uses a clearly defined narrative structure. The Ted tells his kids about how he met their mother angle had a strong appeal in HIMYM early run, and there’s no reason they can’t work their magic once again here with Goodwin. Let’s hope rather than become a late blooming ratings success, it dies after a few good seasons before the framing angle strangles any life it has. And for those of you wondering how those fascists Carter Bays and Craig Thomas plan to run two shows at once, odds are Goodwin’s third creator, Chris Harris, will focus on showrunning duties (Harris wrote my all time favorite HIMYM episode “Arrivederci, Fiero”, which is perhaps my favorite filler episode of all time). Also let’s note that Goodwin stars the wonderfully likable Scott Foley, whose had extensive guest roles on both Scrubs and Cougar Town.
The Mindy Project (single camera comedy)
My biggest laugh comes sadly not from the content of the pilot, but rather from the forced, lame use of the show’s original title “It’s Messy”. Considering the title change only occurred a day or two before the video was released, there’s a good chance the voice over was recorded before the change, meaning it was a case of FOX attempting to be clever. I chuckled a few times at Mindy Kaling, and I hope the show turns out well for her. She’s been a good writer on The Office, having written perhaps my favorite episode of show “The Injury”, despite also having worked on some (it’s) messier episodes in the series’ later run. I like Mindy Kaling herself, but typically her characters are fairly one note and get annoying with increased focus. I’m assuming that with her in full control with this one she’ll have changed that, and if that’s true I look forward to seeing her voice here.
The Following (drama)
Don’t have a lot to say about this one other than it has the potential to be good serial killer series. The show’s being saved till midseason so it can air its 15 episodes uninterrupted, which sounds like the best way to go about this type of show. If it were set to have a full 22 episode season I’d be worried how they could keep the suspense angle up, but knowing right away they’ll have a reduced number means less filler and more meat…or rather bacon (get it? Cause Kevin Bacon is the star….). Sounds good to me.
This network has been a mess for awhile and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get much better with these shows. A ton of new comedies that don’t sound or look too promising. They’re concept heavy and seem to be too quirky for mainstream audiences, but not clever enough for fans of NBC’s current comedies. Though there is a drama that looks genuinely unique and interesting, so hopefully that turns out well.
Go On (single camera comedy)
It’s got Matthew Perry and I kind of like Matthew Perry (Chandler was my favorite of the Friends). That’s really all I’ve got on this one. As friend of the blog Cory Barker has mentioned before on twitter, there appears to be little difference between this show and his previous effort Mr. Sunshine. Nothing in the trailer made me laugh much, but I did watch most of Mr. Sunshine for some reason so I imagine I’ll test this one out still just as well.
The New Normal (single camera comedy)
Ugh. Ryan Murphy why do you continue to do things on TV? The fast paced zany nature of Glee seems to carry over here with the lawyer cutaway joke (is The Good Wife really that known to be referenced in a pilot?). Glee’s obvious discussion of themes and messages seem to be in place as well with one of the characters literally saying “do you really like it’s a good idea to bring a baby into such a non-traditional family”. Including the title card “from the imagination of Ryan Murphy” makes it all even worse. It also ignores the fact that there’s a co-creator, Ali Adler, who once upon a time was one of the best writers on Chuck (she co-wrote the pitch perfect season two finale “Chuck Vs The Ring”).
Guys With Kids (multi-camera comedy)
I think the title should actually be “Guys Who Yell With Kids” as most of the trailer involves the male actors yelling over the rampant laughter from the studio audience. NBC hasn’t had luck in recent years in creating successful multi-camera shows, and this doesn’t seem like the one that’ll break that trend. The actors don’t seem that charismatic and the baby bjorn bit is just annoying to look at. The poor babies that have to do this. Just ugh. Why Jimmy Fallon wanted his name attached to this confuses me.
Animal Practice (single camera comedy)
I know I’ve been ragging on all of NBC’s new sitcoms so far, but this one is in a league of it’s own. I cannot believe this exists and that people spent money on it. It’s just so bizarre and weird. I mean the co-star is a monkey (the very same monkey, Crystal, who plays Annie’s Boobs over on Community). I can’t imagine this is going to succeed or be any good, but I’ll be endlessly amused by the executives that picked it up. It’s not secret that NBC has been in bad shape in sometime and if animal doctor comedy doesn’t scream desperate, I’m not sure what does. It seems almost like Children’s Hospital, only nobody is in on the joke.
Next Caller (single camera comedy)
This time in Jeffery Tambor’s seemingly endless search to find a series that wont get cancelled he’s saddled himself up with the Dane Cook sitcom. Look I’ll be honest here and say that was a brief summer when I thought he was funny (I was ten years old and my brother liked him, cut me some slack), but even at my young age my enjoyment of him was extremely short lived. The entire premise of the show doesn’t quite make sense to me (in 2012 a series about a radio show host being upset by the hiring of a female co-worker seems pretty dated), but I’ve heard surprisingly good things about the script and I did smirk at the reference of cult TV show fans sending in key items to executives in protest of the series potential cancellation, so maybe it has potential. But then I remember the lead is Dane Cook so odds are his muggy attitude will destroy any chance it has. I will note that all this is going off a shorter trailer compared to the rest out there, as it’s being hold for a later date than fall.
1600 Penn (single camera comedy)
Not really much to go off for this one considering the trailer is only a minute or so long and it only features one of the cast members. Said cast member seems pretty irritating already, but there’s no way to make any call on this show yet. But on the plus side Mike Royce, who previously ran Men of a Certain Age (a show I’ve only watched a few episodes of but enjoyed), so at least they have someone with talent running the ship. Besides it can’t be worse than the previous White House sitcom, Cory In The House.
A highly ambitious drama from writer Eric Kripke (of Supernatural fame, though I’ve never seen the show I’ve heard good things from when he was in charge) and producer J.J. Abrams (though he gets that title on so many shows that it basically means he thinks its a cool idea), with Jon Favreau directing the pilot and Giancarlo Esposito co-starring. Sign me up. Who knows where the show will go or how it’ll do, but it’s got a great team behind it and an interesting concept (what if all the world’s power sources stopped working).