Monday, May 27, 2013

Upfronts Round-up 2013: Our Top Picks

It’s one of our favorite times of year here at MTVP. Earlier this month was Upfronts week, where all the networks debut their new shows and schedule for advertisers. We TV junkies eagerly await the new show sizzle reels to discover our new obsessions for the next year. Here’s the low-down on new shows we think look especially promising for the 2013-2014 season.

Almost Human (late fall Mondays at 8:00 on FOX)

“Almost Human” is one of two pilots from J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, to be ordered to series this season. 35 years in the future, LAPD cops are required to be partnered with androids. Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) rebels against this and is paired with an older model, Dorian (Michael Ealy) who has more life-like emotions.

The main draw for “Almost Human” is the creative talent involved. J.H. Wyman, co-showrunner of “Fringe” is the creator, and Karl Urban (“Lord of the Rings,” “Star Trek”) stars. Urban’s dry comedic timing, which serves him well as “Star Trek’s” Doctor McCoy, is on display for sure as he verbally spars with Ealy’s Dorian. “Almost Human” looks to be a good mix of robot humor and intense drama, and given the creative team behind it, we wouldn’t expect anything less.

Sleepy Hollow (Mondays at 9:00 on FOX)

This is a new twist on an old tale. Ichabod Crane wakes in 2013 in a world he doesn’t recognize, brought forth to hunt the Headless Horseman again. But this time he’s got some help from the local constabulary and there’s some other dire consequences at work, given who the Horseman really is.

Sarah’s not that familiar with the original version of this story but this trailer made her giddy with the comedic beats amongst all the scary beheading and craziness. It looks to be definite sci-fi with a mythology that ties back to the war for Independence. Besides, what show isn’t complete without an impending apocalypse? Of the new clearly gene fare, this one is high on our list of must-see TV.

The Blacklist (Mondays at 10:00 on NBC)

The world’s most wanted criminal walks into FBI headquarters and turns himself in on the promise of revealing all of his associates (even the ones the Bureau isn’t aware of) but there’s a catch: he’ll only do so if he works with a newly minted Profiler.

This is going to be a heavily procedural show for sure but it definitely seems like a good one. From the trailer it looks very gritty and the relationship that will undoubtedly develop between the new agent and this criminal mastermind will be explosive for sure. We are left to wonder why he chose her and hopefully we don’t have to wait too long to learn the answer. Even with all the crime drama elements, there appears to be some underlying character work driving this piece. With the name power associated with it, this has the potential to survive at least for a full season.

Intelligence (midseason Mondays at 10:00 on CBS)

The US’s cyber-terrorism unit has a secret weapon up its sleeve – a super-agent with a microchip in his head. But as he goes out on assignment (including trying to rescue the head of the project), he has a plucky female secret service agent who is just as stubborn as he is about doing her job.

There are many reasons this show calls to us. It’s got action, sure. But the people involved are what really drew us to it. Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory, Marg Helgenberger. It is truly exciting to see Meghan get to have a more central and physical role on a show. Plus it’s tech-y enough to be a little bit sci-fi but still grounded enough to have procedural elements. This is one we hope makes it past its initial season run. And right off the bat, it seems Josh and Meghan’s characters have something of a sibling banter that we hope stays that way. As pretty as they both are, we don’t need another show where the leads have romantic tension (think more Pete and Myka, less Booth and Brennan).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesdays at 8:00 on ABC)

Joss Whedon is back on television, people! And even better, he’s not on FOX! If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, you know that as part of the deal Whedon signed for Avengers 2, he’d be developing a pilot for ABC about S.H.I.E.L.D., the shadowy organization that often works with the Marvel superheroes. The show stars Clark Gregg, as a somehow resurrected (sorry…spoiler alert) Agent Coulson.

If you’ve read MTVP at all, you know there’s no way we wouldn’t be excited about something new from Joss Whedon, and television is where he truly excels. He has a slow burn style of storytelling that is just a good fit with the medium. Whedon hasn’t cast heavily from his usual stable of actors for this one, but if “Dollhouse” was any indication, Whedon has an eye for talent. Whedon’s brother and sister-in-law, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, will be taking the helm on this one, and their growth as writers on “Dollhouse” gives us confidence that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” will be in good hands.

The Goldbergs (Tuesdays at 9:00 on ABC)

“The Goldbergs” is a comedy set in the 1980’s that centers around, you guessed it, the Goldberg family. There’s the Goldberg parents, a crazy grandpa, oldest daughter Erica, middle child Barry, and youngest son Adam, an aspiring director who videotapes all the family antics on one of those giant camcorders. You know, the kind that used full-size VHS tapes? Those were the days.

In the universe of new comedies that debuted at Upfronts this year, “The Goldbergs” looked better than most. It seems to be trying to evoke a “Wonder Years for the 1980’s” feel, which has a lot of potential, since “The Wonder Years” is a classic. The trailer seemed to rely more on 80’s pop culture jokes and genuine heart as opposed to juvenile humor, which is always appreciated. We’re definitely interested to see how this mash-up of 80’s pop culture and costuming with 2010’s comedy structure works in the execution.

Trophy Wife (Tuesdays at 9:30 on ABC)

“Trophy Wife” stars Bradley Whitford and Malin Akerman as a newlywed couple in a blended family. Ackerman is Whitford’s third wife, and Whitford has children from each of his previous two marriages. Ackerman’s character is seen as the “child bride” by Whitford’s exes, one of which is played by Marcia Gay Harden. Wacky hijinks ensue as Akerman adjusts to being an instant mother of sorts.

The cast of “Trophy Wife” looks to be stellar. Whitford and Akerman both bring serious comedic chops to the table. Whitford portrays his thrice married character seemingly (from the trailer, at least) without skeevyness, and Akerman brings an earnestness to her portrayal of his third wife. The premise for the show seems to provide ample opportunity for both nuanced humor and heart, which is a combination that is found in all the best comedies.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Thursdays at 8:00 on ABC)

“Wonderland” follows Alice’s journey as a young woman who falls through the rabbit hole, falls in love and gets booted back to this world and stuck in a mental institution on the verge of undergoing some very painful memory wipes (see how well that worked for one Carrie Matheson). It’s a tie in to “Once Upon a Time” and it appears Alice’s adventures may lead her to cross paths with some of our known entities outside of the crazy world of Cheshire cats and overweight caterpillars.

This is an obvious one on the list since it ties in to an already existing show. Even though it was supposed to air midseason to bridge the hiatus for the mother ship, we’re glad it’s bowing early so it won’t have to compete with the Olympics and the plethora of awards shows. It looks well done production wise and we may even get a visit from some beloved (or hated) characters. It at least deserves a shot.

As you can see, we here at More TV Please! have a mix of interests that spans almost every network (The CW’s offerings just didn’t look good this year). We are excited to see how these shows hold up against current fare and to see if they make the cut to full season and beyond. Oh, and don’t be surprised to see some of these shows on the blog come September.

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