Monday, May 23, 2016

Upfronts Round-Up 2016

It’s that time of year again when the networks unveil their new schedules for fall and midseason, along with the new shows that have been ordered to series. In trying to decide what we wanted to point out as our top picks this year, we noticed a few trends that we wanted to touch on briefly.

The first of these trends is time travel shows. If you paid attention last year, you’d notice that a horde of comic book shows flooded the scene (and a decent chunk of them made it to season 2). This year, the focus seems to have shifted to time travel. In addition to the three newbies, we have fare like “Sleepy Hollow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” also on air. Another trend (which we don’t like nearly as much, to put it kindly) is billionaire “heroes” taking on things billionaires have no business taking on. The first example is “Pure Genius” from CBS, where a tech billionaire who tested positive for a horrible neurological degenerative disease has his own hospital where he uses the latest tech to cure people of various ailments. Even worse is “APB” from FOX, where a billionaire buys a freaking police precinct. Of all the things government should be doing directly because it is accountable to the public through elections, it’s policing. That’s some post-apocalyptic level horror, for sure, not a benevolent billionaire saving humanity. There are also a bunch of reboots of old properties, from “Lethal Weapon” and “Frequency” to “MacGyver” and “The Exorcist.” Have people really been clamoring to see a “Frequency” TV series? Does anyone even remember “Frequency” the movie?

And now onto the shows we are actually excited to check out!

The Good Place
Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC

“The Good Place” stars Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars!) and Ted Danson and comes from the mind of “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” creator Michael Schur. With that kind of pedigree, it’s going to be difficult to mess this one up. Bell plays a woman named Eleanor who wakes up in the afterlife after being killed by a truck advertising erectile dysfunction medication (the 2016 version of being killed by a space toilet, I believe). She is told that she has entered the “good place” due to work she did as a lawyer saving innocent people from death row. There’s just one tiny problem: it’s another Eleanor who did that. Now Eleanor is going to have to learn to get along in an afterlife where nobody curses, and everyone is nice to each other.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Parks and Recreation” have been critical darlings for quite some time. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” especially does a fantastic job depicting a workplace found family where everybody loves what they do and enjoys spending time with each other. We can hope that “The Good Place,” as another show created by Schur, would be of equally high quality. Plus, we’re big fans of “Veronica Mars” here at MTVP, so we can’t pass up another opportunity to see Kristen Bell on television.

Time after Time
Midseason on ABC

“Time after Time” is one of three new time travel shows being offered by the broadcast networks this upcoming season. It follow H.G. Wells as he races after Jack the Ripper into the future (our present) from 1895. In a foreign city out of time, H.G. must try to stop Jack from picking up where he left off. Along the way, H.G. may find some help from some unexpected places, like his great granddaughter..

After dutifully watching each of the trailers for the three time travel shows, “Time after Time” stuck out as the most intriguing due to the somewhat similar feel to the first season of Sleepy Hollow. It wasn’t that same supernatural bent that lent itself so well to our man Ichabod, but there is a similar sense of wonder at the world as H.G. experiences New York in the future for the first time. The literary sci-fi leaning also made this show one to check out because there aren’t that many literary characters taking a leap into the futuristic unknow. H.G. Wells did write “The Time Machine” after all. There is a strong possibility that the oversaturation of the supernatural procedural may harm “Time after Time”’s chances at succeeding, but it is still worth checking out for a few episodes come midseason.

This is Us
Tuesdays at 9:00 on NBC

“This is Us” is not like any show we’ve seen since the likes of “Parenthood” was on the air. It follows a group of people who all have the same birthday. There is a married couple having triplets, an overweight woman trying to find her motivation to lose the weight, an unhappy actor, and a man who finally tracked down the father that abandoned him. How their lives and journeys intersect is yet to be determined, but if the trailer is any indication, it will be an emotional ride.

While “This is Us” doesn’t have the same pedigree as some of the other shows we’re highlighting, it does have Milo Ventimiglia tackling a different kind of role from Peter Petrelli on “Heroes”. The fact that this is the most-watched trailer of all the new shows makes it a good bet at least the pilot will get a good sampling. The current TV landscape seems to be missing those emotional, real dramas like “Parenthood” that just tell an interesting story about real people. We here at More TV, Please, are all about genre but we can appreciate stepping away from the genre-heavy fare for a good simple, drama. The only hurdle it has to overcome is competing with the female-skewing fare in the timeslot (including “Scream Queens” and CW newbie “No Tomorrow,” see below). But if the trailer and its popularity are any indication, this show may have just what it takes to make it to a second season.

No Tomorrow
Tuesdays at 9:00 on the CW

“No Tomorrow” is another quirky comedy that will fit perfectly aside “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” in the CW lineup. It tells the story of Evie, an extremely risk-averse quality control manager at a shipping company warehouse, who meets the very free-spirited Xavier. Xavier, played by the always charming Joshua Sasse (RIP “Galavant!”), believes that the world is going to end in eight months when an asteroid hits, and he is trying to live his life to the fullest until then. He tries to convince Evie to do the same, taking her out for Karaoke and writing a resignation e-mail to her boss. Together, they decide to start checking items of their bucket lists.

We’re kind of wondering where this show will go when it’s been eight months and the apocalypse hasn’t happened, but it is another show that comes with a good pedigree. It’s from the same creative team as “Jane the Virgin,” and it’s based on the Brazilian property “Grupo Globo.” This particular team has been successful in adapting one telenovela for American audiences, so we hope they can do it again. The quirky tone is very much line with what the CW has been trying to do with its other hour-long comedies. Plus, we get to see more Joshua Sasse on our television screens! Presumably he won’t be doing as much singing as he did on “Galavant,” but we’ll take what we can get.

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