It’s TV Upfront Week, the week in which the networks reveal their fall lineups, and today kicks off with NBC:
Chuck will lead off the night in its normal 8 pm time slot after finally getting a renewal that didn’t come at the 11th hour. That will be followed by The Event, which stars Jason Ritter and Blair Underwood, which is about “an Everyman (Ritter) who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée, Leila (Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history.” Underwood plays the president, and the show will also feature fine acting/always creepy Željko Ivanek. At 10 will be another new show, Chase, from Jerry Bruckheimer, who will try to work his formulaic C.S.I. magic on NBC. I’ll let the network describe it, since it’s too good not to let them: “Kelli Giddish (“Past Life”) stars as U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, a cowboy boot-wearing deputy whose sharp mind and unique Texas upbringing help her track down the violent criminals on the run.” Here’s hoping she also takes off her sunglasses a lot and says things like “looks like these boots aren’t made for walking anymore.”
Nothing new here, as the night will be filled with The Biggest Loser (presumably for two hours) and Parenthood, a show that has steadily improved since it’s only okay beginning.
Wednesday kicks off with Undercovers, the highly touted show from J.J. Abrams (it’s in fact the first pilot he’s directed since Lost). Undercovers is about two former CIA spies (Steven Bloom and Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who retired when they fell in love and got married, but are thrust back into action when one of their spy friends goes missing. The show has gotten some of the biggest buzz because of Abrams involvement, which unlike with Fringe, has him as a co-writer on the show. Fans mourning the end of Law and Order can rejoice in the knowing the rest of the night will be filled with its spin-offs, starting with Law and Order: SVU and followed at 10 by the new Law and Order: Los Angeles. Wondering who is going to be on LO:LA? So is NBC. Apparently, they picked up the show before a script has even been finished, let alone a pilot. I’m going to guess it has hard nosed cops and lots of helpless wannabe actresses getting killed. Just a hunch.
NBC’s comedy night has had a perfect lineup this year, so naturally, NBC is going to mess with the formula. Kicking off the night again will be Community, which will be followed by 30 Rock, an hour before it’s current air time, with The Office going into its possible final season in its normal 9:00 slot. It will be followed at 9:30 by a new comedy, Outsourced, which is about a guy who has to go to India to train the outsourced workers, and tries to inject a little American life into their working habits. The show is an adaptation of the charming indie film of the same name, though it appears the show will have little to nothing in common with it, other than the the premise of a guy going to India to train the staff of his company. The good news about it is that it’s being produced by Ken Kwapis, who despite a lot of fairly boring movies, has done well with The Office. At 10 will be Love Bites, a show about the last two single girls in a group of friends that are all married. Their story will anchor the show which features different stories each week that feature guest stars as couples. Noticeably missing is Parks and Rec. More on that in a bit.
The least watched night of television will probably stay that way for NBC, who will feature the lame Who Do You Think You Are? returning in the fall, followed by Dateline and a new show, Outlaw, which features Jimmy Smits as a recently-resigned Supreme Court justice that returns to private practice. The fact that NBC has put it at 10 on a Friday indicates to me that it probably doesn’t have high hopes for the show.
Football will once again dominate NBC’s Sunday nights all fall, and in the Spring, Dateline, Minute to Win It, and Celebrity Apprentice will return.
Harry’s Law, the new show from David E. Kelly, features Kathy Bates as a former high powered attorney who (I kid you not) opens up a new law firm in an old shoe store with a wacky former teacher and a former student of his. Perfect Couples is about three couples and the ups and downs of relationships. The show’s only saving grace is that it features the very funny Mary Elizabeth Ellis, better known as The Waitress from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The Paul Reiser Show is a return to TV for the Mad About You star, in which he plays Paul Reiser trying to get back into the game. Friends With Benefits features Party Down‘s Ryan Hansen as a guy trying to find his ideal woman with the help of his friends. Without Hansen and the involvement of producer Brain Grazer, this show would be as boring as they come. The last new show is School Pride, a Cheryl Hines produced reality show where the crew comes in and transforms a run down public school.
First off, there is no Parks and Rec in the fall. It will show up in January, and apparently has nothing to do with Amy Poehler’s pregnancy. NBC has moved their best comedy to the Spring in order to make room for Outsourced. This is incredibly stupid to me, as the show is currently in production for its second season. It was already going to lose creative momentum when Poehler has her baby, but now that it won’t even be on until January has me worried, not to mention that it’s unlikely that the show will gain more viewers in 8 months as opposed to three.
Overall, NBC was pretty ambitious with their fall lineup, but I’m honestly not sure how much of it will be any good. Chances are that NBC is banking on shows like Law and Order: Los Angeles and Chase as a way to just grab viewers, just as CBS did a few years ago with the C.S.I. and NCIS franchises. Undercovers has to me the biggest potential, and The Event could be good if it doesn’t fall into the usual problems that NBC dramas have had in recent years. Overall, the fallout from the Leno Debacle is still effecting programming, and NBC has a lot riding on this next season after spending much more than usual on development. Here’s hoping the Peacock doesn’t disappoint.