Thursday, May 19, 2011

Upfront Wrap-up: A Sampling of Next Season's New Shows

This week was a very busy one in television. It was Upfronts week, the week when the broadcast TV networks present their schedules for the next season to advertisers in the hopes that advertisers will want to pay a lot of money for ad space on the networks. It’s a big deal to those of us who are simply TV fans and not in the advertising business because it’s when we get official confirmation of what existing shows are cancelled and what new shows the networks intend to premiere either in the fall or at midseason. Unlike last year, I am pretty excited about a bunch of the new shows the networks introduced this week, as you might have been able to guess from the Pilot Season Preview post I did earlier this year. Surprisingly, only one of the pilots I profiled in that post didn’t get picked up to series, and that is Krista Vernoff’s “Grace.” I hope she gets a chance to really show what she can do soon, but for now, I’m going to be showing you previews of a slew of cool looking shows that did actually get picked up. I’m probably not going to watch all of these on a regular basis (I have time for maybe half of them), and I’ll probably only be covering 2-3 of them regularly here on MTVP, but I thought I’d take a chance and just go for broke, collecting anything that at all intrigued me here. Because this is a long post with lots of videos, I'll bring you the details after the jump.


Network: NBC
Timeslot: Fall, Fridays at 9PM

Premise: A cop begins to see that creatures from “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” are real, and he soon finds out that he’s one of the last of the Grimms, who are people tasked with keeping the nastier fairy tale critters under control.

Verdict: This was the show I was most anxious to see picked up because David Greenwalt, who was an executive producer on “Angel” and had significant influence in its earlier seasons, is the showrunner. Unfortunately, the preview didn’t quite live up to my very high expectations. The production values were a bit lacking. The fight scenes look like they could be fun, though, and they definitely make me think of “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I’m a little gun shy of getting too invested in “Grimm,” however, because of its timeslot. Grimm will be competing with fellow genre shows “Fringe” and “Supernatural” on an already hurting-for-viewers Friday night. “Fringe” is incredibly creatively vibrant right now and “Supernatural” has a rather fanatical fan base to put it kindly, so I don’t really see “Grimm” winning this battle. I’ll be watching for sure, but I probably won’t be covering “Grimm” for MTVP.

The Playboy Club

Network: NBC
Timeslot: Fall, Mondays at 10PM

Premise: “The Playboy Club” centers around the lives of Playboy Bunnies in early 1960’s Chicago. There’s a murder mystery thrown in for good measure when a Bunny kills a man with some serious Mob connections.

Verdict: “The Playboy Club” looks like it could be guilty-pleasure type fun without a ton of substance. Current artists are going to be brought on the show to recreate musical acts that played the Playboy Club in the 60’s, which could be entertaining. The Playboy Club setting could provide fodder for some juicy plotlines in addition to the murder, too. I am kind of wary, however, of Eddie Cibrian being cast as the male lead. He doesn’t really seem to bring a lot of gravitas to the role. This is another show that I’ll probably try watching but probably won’t be blogging here at MTVP.


Network: NBC
Timeslot: Midseason

Premise: After a horrible accident, a police officer experiences quite the psychological phenomenon. Every time he goes to sleep, he shifts between two realities, one where his wife died and his son survived, and another where the opposite is true. He’s not interested in figuring out which reality is true any time soon, because as long as he experiences both realities, he still has both his wife and son.

Verdict: “Awake” took me by surprise. I hadn’t really been drawn to it during pilot season, but the clips from the pilot shared by NBC earlier this week drew me in and didn’t let go. Jason Isaacs, aka Mr. Malfoy from the “Harry Potter” movies, gives a riveting performance as the above mentioned cop experiencing two realities. I’m slightly wary of the procedural element of this show (the cop is going to keep solving cases in both realties), and I wonder how long this premise can be sustained, but I’m willing to go along for the ride. I enjoyed creator Kyle Killen’s last pilot, “Lone Star,” even though that show didn’t last long. I will definitely be watching “Awake,” and it is definitely in contention to be covered here on MTVP at midseason.

New Girl

Network: FOX
Timeslot: Fall, Tuesdays at 9PM

Premise: A quirky elementary school teacher discovers her boyfriend has been cheating on her, so she needs to find a new place to live. She moves in with three rowdy, fun-loving guys who try to help her put her life back together.

Verdict: This was the other big surprise for me this Upfronts week. Even though I’m generally a fan of quirkiness and Zooey Deschanel (the two are pretty much mutually exclusive), I hadn’t really paid attention to “New Girl” because it’s a half hour sitcom. I watched the trailer, though, and I felt instant love. I love, love, love the quirk, and I found the trailer to be adorable. I especially love the end when the guys are all singing “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” in the middle of the restaurant. It’s cheesy, but it put a big stupid grin on my face like only “Pushing Daisies” (which was plenty quirky itself) has before. I think I’ve watched it at least four times this week- sad, I know! It appeals to the sap in me who enjoys a good romantic comedy now and then. I will definitely be watching and most likely blogging “New Girl” on MTVP.


Network: FOX
Timeslot: Midseason, Mondays at 9PM

Premise: A mind-bending, wibbly wobbly timey wimey tale. Some of the most dangerous prisoners from the end of the time when Alcatraz was a working prison have found a way to travel forward in time, and people from the present day have to figure out what the heck is going on. That can’t possibly end well.

Verdict: I was already pretty much on board with “Alcatraz” thanks to the J.J. Abrams name and the timey-wimeyness. I’m a fan of both “Lost” and “Fringe,” and “Alcatraz,” from the trailer at least, seems to have a similar vibe. I don’t know if FOX has actually produced great pilots this year or just has a really kickass promo department, because both this trailer and the trailer for the “New Girl” looked amazing. The “Alcatraz” trailer looked appropriately creepy for any Abrams production. The cast includes very talented actors such as Sam Neill and Jorge Garcia, which only raises it in my estimation. Finally, “Lost” veteran writer Liz Sarnoff will be the showrunner. I will definitely be watching “Alcatraz,” and it is very much in contention (pretty much only in competition with “Awake”) to be added to the MTVP lineup at midseason.


Network: ABC
Timeslot: Midseason

Premise: The show will follow the day-to-day adventures of the staff at a firm of profesional “fixers” in Washington, DC. Of course, these “fixers” can’t fix anything in their personal lives. Sound familiar?

Verdict: I felt a little embarrassed to even include this one in this post, but hear me out! Sure Shonda Rhimes shows are pure cheese and melodrama, and “Scandal” is no exception. The preview felt like a typical Shonda show right down to the bouncy music cues and over-the-top introduction of the main character. Just substitute in “PR flacks who can’t fix themselves” for “doctors who can’t fix themselves,” and you’ve got “Scandal.” I happen to like a bit of Shonda Rhimes fluff now and then as an escape from more serious TV, however. “Off the Map” was a guilty pleasure for me this past season, since I’ve learned to laugh at the over-the-topness of Shondaland. Most importantly, though, the cast includes Henry Ian Cusick, aka Desmond from “Lost.” You all know, if you’ve read more of this blog, that I am an unapologetic massive Desmond fan girl, and I’m afraid the lure of seeing Cusick on my television again will be too much to resist. I got sucked into “Off the Map” in the same way thanks to the casting of Caroline Dhavernas and Zach Gilford. I’ll probably check out at least a few episodes of “Scandal” for my Cusick fix, but you can rest assured I won’t be blogging about it here at MTVP on a regular basis!

Person of Interest

Network: CBS
Timeslot: Fall, Thursdays at 9PM

Premise: A really rich guy has come up with some sort of computer algorithm that will allow him to find people who are going to commit violent crimes. He teams up with a presumed dead ex-CIA agent to prevent these crimes from happening.

Verdict: I generally stay away from CBS dramas because they tend to be much more procedural than I care for. “Person of Interest,” however, has me intrigued for three reasons. First is Michael Emerson, aka Ben from “Lost,” possibly the best villain ever on television. I’d love the chance to see Emerson showcase his talent in such a major role- he’ll be playing the rich guy who hires the ex-CIA agent. Second is that this is another show to which J.J. Abrams has attached his name. That usually means a certain level of quality in the production values, if nothing else. Finally, there’s the timeslot. For the past ten years, Thursday at 9 has belonged to CSI. To boot their (admittedly aging) flagship to Wednesday at 10 (the old CSI:NY timeslot), CBS must have a heck of a lot of confidence in “Person of Interest.” And CBS is pretty much a hit-making factory, so the fact that out of all their shows, they’ve chosen “Person of Interest” for the biggest timeslot in television is quite a daring move. I’m curious to see if it pays off. I will probably check out at least a few episodes of “Person of Interest” to see Emerson work and see if it lives up to the hype, but because of the significant procedural element, I won’t be blogging it here at MTVP.

Hart of Dixie

Network: The CW
Timeslot: Fall, Mondays at 9PM

Premise: A young doctor from New York doesn’t get the fellowship she was hoping for, and she ends up joining a practice in small town Alabama instead. She doesn’t fit in at first, and the locals don’t especially like her, but I’m sure she’ll have lessons to learn and fit in eventually.

Verdict: Never did I ever think I would utter the phrase “The CW” on this blog once let alone profile two of their shows, but here goes. This show seems to have a cute premise, and I do have a love for the Gulf Coast thanks to a trip I took to New Orleans and Biloxi a couple years ago to assist with Katrina-related civil legal matters. “Hart of Dixie” is produced by Josh Schwartz, who, despite being responsible for “The OC” and “Gossip Girl,” is also responsible for a show I love, “Chuck.” It also stars Rachel Bilson, whose performance I have enjoyed both as sandwich-maker Lou on “Chuck” and a short-term girlfriend of Ted’s (and roommate of the Mother) on “How I Met Your Mother.” She brings an endearing sweetness to the roles she portrays. Overall, this show, while still pretty light, seems to have more substance than most CW fare. I think I’ll probably give a few episodes a try, but I won’t be blogging about it here on MTVP.


Network: The CW
Timeslot: Fall, Tuesdays at 9 PM

Premise: Twin sisters Bridget and Siobhan have both faced adversity, but Siobhan has found a way to live an upper class life. When she’s forced to go on the run and believes her sister has committed suicide, Bridget decides to take Siobhan’s place. Then Bridget finds out that Siobhan’s life is a lot more complicated than she thought, and her life is still in danger.

Verdict: “Ringer” was originally produced for CBS before being shipped over to the CW for not being dry and procedural enough, so it’s got a lot more substance than usual CW fare. What initially drew me to “Ringer” was that it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, aka Buffy Summers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Gellar is very talented, but she has not appeared in a regular role on television since “Buffy” finished its seven season run If Gellar thinks “Ringer” is good enough to put her name on it, I’m going to trust her. She’ll have many opportunities to showcase her talent with this show, since she’ll be playing two characters, sometimes acting against herself. As for the show itself, it seems like there could be lots of fun intrigue and suspense to keep viewers wanting to watch week to week. I will definitely be watching “Ringer” and most likely covering it with regular write-ups on MTVP.

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