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 Mistress (she’s a married man’s other and she likes it that way) 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 ABC and CBS have to offer.
While NBC is taking the approach of developing a hundred new random series and FOX is putting all their focus into a small handful of shows, ABC seems to be doing something in the middle of the two. Except with little potential that most of the FOX shows have, and a small amount of the NBC ones have. ABC doesn’t have a unified theme in their pickups and none scream instant success, but maybe there will be a series that will surprise us all, like Suburbgatory last year. On the drama side there’s the same old generic ABC style series, with one singular standout in the form of Shawn Ryan’s Last Resort.
How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) (single camera comedy)
Why this show seems to think it needs to be so edgy I’m not sure. There’s multiple bleep outs and even a block box covering a much unneeded naked Brad Garrett. It seems like an idea that could be simple and relatable, but for some reason the producers felt the need to pump it up with inappropriate words and Brad Garrett almost nudity (seriously why is Brad Garrett almost naked). But the show does bring Sarah Chalk back to television and I do really love Sarah Chalk (Eliot Reed during Scrubs early years holds a special place in my TV heart). Also why does the very end of the trailer include several seconds of clapping? There’s no studio audience so who is doing this and why is it occurring? Is ABC for some reason just that proud of it?
The Neighbors (single camera comedy)
There are some bad comedy pilots this season, but this looks to be among the bottom of the barrel. The concept is plain stupid (those weird new neighbors are actually aliens) and the actors are already grating despite the trailer being barely over two minutes long. This isn’t mildly funny absurd like Animal Practice, which could in some universe work as spoof of serious doctor shows, but rather it’s just lame and dumb. No joke works. Between Work It and this ABC’s president, Paul Lee, just has terrible taste doesn’t he?
The Family Tools (single camera comedy)
I honestly could barely tell you what counts as a joke in this trailer. It’s not offensively dumb like many of the other new comedies, but it’s also not funny. It does star J.K. Simmons, who I greatly enjoy (and is currently doing fantastic voice work over on The Legend of Korra), but the material given to him here seems way below his talent level. Other than Simmons it’s entirely forgettable.
Malibu Country (single camera comedy)
This looks and sounds like a sequel to Hannah Montana once the titular character stops being famous. Which is to say it looks and sounds pretty bad. ABC seems to be under the weird impression that the best way to bring back the TGIF block is with shows starring former sitcom stars what with the pairing of Malibu Country and Last Man Standing. It might just be me but I have the feeling that having shows that center around kids is a better route for that considering that’s what made TGIF successful in the first place.
Last Resort (drama)
And now we come to the big ABC pick up of the season, or at least the big one if you’re a TV fan, as Last Resort is the latest drama from Shawn Ryan (creator of The Shield). Lately Ryan has had trouble getting shows he’s worked on to last as both Terriers (sniff, I still miss it) and The Chicago Code were both cancelled after one season. Having his name attached as me excited alone, and while the trailer is exciting and interesting, I do have some concerns about the series. Namely, it seems almost too ambitious for it’s own good. It’s not doesn’t have an obvious culty feel like NBC’s new show Revolution potentially has, which concerns me as it doesn’t seem to have much mass appeal either. It has no procedural or case of the week device, being purely serial in nature, which rarely does well on network TV. On a less serious note, the worst element of Last Resort is sure to be the awful submarine CGI work that ABC previously employed in the later years of LOST’s run. Regardless of my concerns about how well Last Resort will do and how it’ll maintain it’s storyline past a season, I have total faith in Shawn Ryan to create an excellent drama.
Connie Britton!!!! And she’s doing a southern accent again! Unfortunately so is Hayden Panetierre. I have zero interest in actually watching this, but seeing as I recently finished watching all of Friday Night Lights (I’d say “Texas forever”, but I really don’t want a movie), I feel required to at least mention this seeing as Connie Britton is one of the best female actors out there. Seriously, Mrs. Coach forever.
As the most stable and successful network, CBS is doing little to shake things up, what with only one comedy pick-up (from a tested producing team) and a few dramas. Nothing spectacular to note here; consider it CBS being CBS.
Partners (multi-camera comedy)
In a surprise twist it turns out of this year’s two new sitcoms featuring a gay couple, CBS’ one is the least stereotypical (a shock considering the staggering number of stereotypes on 2 Broke Girls). Granted the show doesn’t come off as funny and feels fairly generic. Max Mutchnick (who I’m suppose to love as he’s one of my college’s biggest alumni and put the wonderfully useful Will & Grace apartment set in the middle of our library, taking up useless space that otherwise would have been filled by you know, actual books) and David Kohan have been developing this idea for awhile and consider it a personal project as it’s based off their life long work relationship, so let’s hope it turns out better than their previous effort, which was a pure cash grab in the form of S#*! My Dad Says.
If you happen to be reading this odds are you have good taste in television (are at least an interest in it), and if so odds are you’ve seen BBC’s brilliant series Sherlock. While Elementary may stem from the same basic idea of the former (what Sherlock Holmes would look/act like if he lived in the 21st century), Elementary is now Sherlock. Rather Elementary appears first and foremost to be the standard CBS procedural series. Rather ironic considering all those CSI and Mentalist style crime shows are decedents of Sherlock Holmes, and now the original material is being regurgitated though the very same system it created. The series looks like a rather harmless take on the classic character with a few changes such as John Watson becoming Joan Watson and the location being moved to New York City. To the audience CBS aims after it has a chance to be fine adaption of the material, but there doesn’t seem to be any big draw to watch if you’re already on board Sherlock. And if you’re not onboard Sherlock yet, watch it as soon as you can because, once again, it’s some fantastic television.
1960s set shows may not have worked well last season for NBC and ABC, but that isn’t stopping CBS from giving it another shot. Rather than piggyback of the style of Mad Men as the former shows did, Vegas is going for it’s own look by throwing in cowboys and images of the fading old west. Besides the generic title and the seemingly over use of the word “law”, Vegas seems to be the rare CBS drama that has potential outside of it’s much older audience. While it very well may eventually settle in as procedural or contain some element of that, it looks to be mostly serialized in the story of cowboy Dennis Quaid and Chicago mobster Michael Chiklis going head to head in the newly thriving city of Las Vegas. The dialogue doesn’t seem the best, but this very well could become the first CBS drama I watch. Though I can’t help but think how much I already miss Justified when I see a lone lawman in a stetson stick out amongst the “modern” crowd.