I want to start off by saying that I have nothing but the deepest respect for TV reporters/journalists who actually have to follow all the renewals/cancellations/pilot pick-up shenanigans that come with broadcast network Upfronts. As a TV fan following all this news and writing about here, my head is spinning trying to keep track of all the new shows the networks have ordered. But of course, I don’t have to do this, I just choose to. So to all those who make a living out of doing this, I feel you.
With that being said, Upfronts are here again and NBC is up first, releasing their schedule today, ahead of its presentation to advertisers tomorrow. It’s been a rough year for the network, starting off the season as the #1 network with the aid of the fall cycle of The Voice, to going down to 4th after February sweeps. After a nearly clean sweep of its comedies and its new dramas (save for Revolution) not delivering as they had hope, NBC is hoping its pilot pick-ups for the new season will bring them back to #1. All in all, NBC has picked up 6 comedies and 5 dramas. Below, a look at the new shows, where they land on the schedule, and my initial thoughts.
ABOUT A BOY [Comedy – Midseason]: Based on the novel and movie of the same name, this new comedy brought to us by executive producer Jason Katims and Jon Favreau follows the bond formed between a bachelor man-child and the young boy and his mother who move in next door to him. The show stars David Walton, looking to finally score a TV hit, and Minnie Driver. Katims has proven himself on dramas Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and though this is being dubbed as a comedy, I have the sense that this will veer towards dramedy. With Katims involved, there definitely isn’t anything wrong with that.
THE FAMILY GUIDE [Comedy – Midseason]: A son (whose future self is voiced by Jason Bateman, also an executive producer on the show) recounts how his family grew closer after his parents divorce. It would certainly seem as though NBC is getting back with a more family-oriented comedy line-up. J.K. Simmons is the father whom the son idolizes for not letting his blindness hinder his ability to anything. The role of the mother who post-divorce, suddenly finds her chance at a second adolescence, was originally played by Parker Posey in the pilot, but soon after news of the show getting picked-up, Posey left the show. So now the show is looking to recast the role. For me, I think I’ll have to wait and see how it looks and feel before committing to it.
UNDATEABLE [Comedy – Midseason]: Bill Lawrence brings a new show to NBC about a guy who thinks he’s a professional when picking up girls and finds himself teaching his roommate and his friends (the “undateables”) the way to the dating world. Though I appreciate some of the other shows Bill Lawrence has done (Cougar Town, Scrubs), I’m not entirely sold on this show. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched 8 seasons of How I Met Your Mother and this just reminds me of Barney teaching Ted the ways of picking up girls.
THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW [Comedy – Thursdays @ 9:30]: Michael J. Fox’s return as lead on this show based loosely on his life (he previously appeared as a guest star on The Good Wife). Of note, this show has already been given a full 22-episode order, so obviously there is a lot of faith in it. I mean it’s Michael J. Fox’s big return! This is a big deal and is a sign of NBC trying to revive their “Must See TV.”
SEAN SAVES THE WORLD [Comedy – Thursdays @ 9]: Another big return is that of Sean Hayes, best known as Jack from Will & Grace. His new show centers around Sean, a divorced gay dad, who suddenly finds himself trying to parent his 14-year old daughter, who has moved in full-time with him. Sean Hayes was always one of the funniest parts of Will & Grace, so I’m quite excited to see how he does as lead of his own show. Over the years, he’s been doing shows on Broadway, as well as serving as an executive producer on Grimm, so it’s nice to see him back on TV.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY [Comedy – Thursdays @ 8:30]: Mike O’Malley (here to forth known as Burt Hummel, the best TV dad ever) stars in this show about two families, one Caucasian + one Latino, who bond over their children falling in love and expecting a child. I feel like it’ll be easy for them to make jokes about culture clashes, but if they can somehow move beyond the stereotypes, there might be hope for them yet.
NIGHT SHIFT [Drama – Midseason]: A medical show that follows the doctors and nurses who work the graveyard shift at a San Antonio hospital. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know how I tend to feel about medical/law/cop shows – meaning I’m not particularly fond of them – unless you give me something else to hook me in because this is nowhere near enough to get me to watch.
THE BLACKLIST [Drama – Mondays @ 10]: James Spader stars as one of the most wanted criminals in the world, who suspiciously turns himself in and is willing to give up the names of all the people he’s ever worked with – but he’s only willing to work with a new FBI agent, who has no connection to him whatsoever. I’ve never been a fan of Spader, and while I know plot should trump cast, I think both play a part in hooking in viewers for the first time. Honestly, my first reaction to this is that it reminds me a little bit of White Collar, without the lightness of that show, mixed in with a little bit of The Following.
CRISIS [Drama – Midseason]: A conspiracy action thriller set in the world of Washington, D.C., follows a Secret Service agent who finds himself in the middle of an international crisis situation. The show’s cast includes Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, Rachael Taylor, and James Lafferty among others. Conspiracy theories AND Scully? Count me in!
IRONSIDE [Drama – Wednesdays @ 10]: Based on the 60s cop drama of the same name, Blair Underwood is the lead of this show about an acerbic police detective, who after a shooting, is now relegated to a wheelchair. He has assembled a strong team of other detectives to help him solve the most difficult of cases. On first glance, it’s almost like the cop-version of House. The strength of the storytelling, the writing, and character development will really make all the difference because the show has assembled a really good cast.
BELIEVE [Drama – Midseason]: The team at Bad Robot are back with this show that pairs up a young girl with a recently released man from prison, who is tasked with protecting her from evil forces hunting her powers. I know, I know, another season, another J.J. Abrams produced show. As with all shows, the writing is what will make or break it and I am very hopeful.
CHICAGO P.D. [Drama – Midseason]: The spin-off that one year ago, no one expected to happen. Dick Wolf successfully turned Chicago Fire into a franchise with this spin-off, focusing on the cops of Chicago. And just like that, I don’t care.
DRACULA [Drama – Fridays @ 10]: This series was actually ordered some time ago, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers starring as the titular vampire. Dracula is prepared to destroy the Victorian society that ruined his life, until he falls for a woman who looks exactly like his long-deceased wife. It should be noted that the series is set for 10-episodes, meaning this is NBC’s attempt at cable-style/limited series events. Sure, Fridays aren’t exactly the best day to premiere a show, but with a solid lead-in in Grimm (which does go back to its Fridays @ 9 timeslot next season), we can at least look forward to a solid 2 hour Friday night.
Notable changes to the schedule for next season (seeing as there is a lot of movement over at NBC):
- Parks and Recreation now anchors the Thursday night comedy block at 8 p.m.
- Following the Thursday night comedies at 10 p.m., will be ratings underdog and critical favourite Parenthood. It certainly makes more sense to put an established show in the timeslot, as opposed to testing out a new series, where it will most likely to compete against ABC’s red-hot Scandal.
- The Biggest Loser returns to its Tuesday at 8 slot, acting as lead-in to the second night of The Voice, with Chicago Fire following at 10.
- Revolution shifts to Wednesdays at 8. It’ll be interesting to see how the show does in its second season without the cushion of The Voice lead-in, that it enjoyed its entire run this season.
- Community, which surprisingly earned a 5th season, is being held off to midseason.
That is all from NBC. For complete description of all the new pilots, head on over to Deadline.com.