As promised, The ‘Tastic is proud to present the first-look trailers for all of The NBC’s new shows what little there are. Yes, we are aware that we are late to the party on this, but NBC released their schedule last Sunday, and they didn’t include any trailers on YouTube. Along with synopses and videos, in true TV-Tastic-style we’ll give you a preview assessment of each of the new series (in other words, we plan to pretty much rip most of them apart) letting you know what we think about them and if it’s worth your time to check them out this Fall and just to give everyone a heads up: it looks really good for NBC.
Also, since we didn’t do it initially, here are some programming notes:
- Comcast has sunk an extra $200 million into NBC’s programming for this season. Whether or not this means that the quality of the programming will increase remains to be seen.
- NBC is doing a lot of rebooting of other shows or carbon copying other networks’ programming this Fall in their dramas and comedy. It’s kind of weird but it actually looks like it may work.
- These new shows are all very diverse in content and should attract a very wide audience.
- Without a doubt, overall, (amazingly enough) NBC has the best-looking new programs on network TV. We sincerely hope that the new shows will be watched.
2011-12 NEW SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
Prime Suspect: Based on the critically acclaimed British television series of the same name, “Prime Suspect” has been redeveloped for American audiences by writer Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives,” “NYPD Blue”), director Peter Berg (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”) — and stars Maria Bello (“A History of Violence”) as tough-as-nails Detective Jane Timoney. Timoney finds that being a homicide detective in New York City is tough enough and having to contend with a male-dominated police department to get respect makes it that much tougher. She’s an outsider who has just transferred to a new precinct dominated by an impenetrable clique of a boys’ club. Timoney has her own vices too — with a questionable past — and she tends to be forceful, rude and reckless. But she’s also a brilliant cop who keeps her eye on one thing: the prime suspect.
The ‘Tastic says: We really liked the British version of this show and the big difference between the two is that this version is trying to be a lot more cool and fast-paced and there seems to be a very heavy office-politics angle that wasn’t present as much before. However, it does look pretty decent, all things considering for a show that at its heart is a vanilla cop-procedural.
The Playboy Club: From Academy Award-winning executive producer Brian Grazer, “The Playboy Club” is a provocative new drama about a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary entrepreneur created an empire and an icon changed American culture. It’s the early ‘60s, and the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago is the door to all of your fantasies — and the key is the most sought-after status symbol of its kind. Inside the seductive world of the bunny, the epitome of beauty and service, the clientele rubs shoulders with the decade’s biggest mobsters, politicos and entertainers. Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian, “CSI: Miami”) is one of the city’s top attorneys and the ultimate playboy, rubbing elbows with everyone in the city’s power structure. With mysterious ties to the mob, Nick comes to the aid of Maureen (Amber Heard, “Zombieland”), the stunning and innocent new bunny who accidentally kills the leader of the Bianchi crime family. Dating Nick is Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti, “Take the Lead”), a bombshell and established star at the club who knows her days as a bunny are numbered and finds herself continually at odds with Billy (David Krumholtz, ”Numb3rs”), the club’s general manager. Adding to the charm of the Playboy club is Janie (Jenna Dewan Tatum, “American Virgin”), the carefree life of the party who is dating Max (Wes Ramsey, “CSI: Miami”), an overly protective bartender. Also starring are Naturi Naughton (“Fame”) and Leah Renee (“True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet”).
The ‘Tastic says: So, it seems that since ABC jumped on the Madmen 1960’s-hip bandwagon with Pan Am everyone wants to get in on this action (NOTE: this isn’t the only time this season that NBC will follow ABC’s lead). Heck, they even have a Sinatra song in the opening of the trailer. TPC does look pretty interesting, though, and it seems like the kind of show that Mrs. ‘Tastic would enjoy as well. That will increase the number to three that we share in common. Keep it up, NBC. You’re two for two.
Smash: “Smash” is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire — to be a “Smash.” The series centers on a desire to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe — written by the successful songwriting duo of Tom (Tony Award nominee Christian Borle, “Legally Blonde: The Musical”) and Julia (Emmy Award winner Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”). Julia recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. A rivalry soon forms for the lead role between a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty (Katharine McPhee, “American Idol”) — who is trying to find fame in the big city against all odds — and stage veteran (Megan Hilty, “9 to 5: The Musical”), who’s determined to leave the chorus line and finally get her big break. A tenacious producer Eileen (Oscar winner, Anjelica Huston, “Prizzi’s Honor”) discovers the “Marilyn” project and jumps on board with a brilliant director (Jack Davenport, “Pirates of the Caribbean” films) — whose talent is matched by his cunning and egocentric amorality.
The ‘Tastic says: NBC’s answer to Glee with a whole lot of Fame thrown in for good measure. Not our cup of tea by any stretch of the imagination but it seems again like it’s right up Mrs. Tastic’s alley so we’ll probably wind up watching it. With Steven Spielberg’s name behind it, it looks like this could be a hit, but then again, it is on NBC. But hey, Three for Three!
Grimm: “Grimm” is a new drama series inspired by the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Remember the fairy tales your parents used to tell you before bedtime? Those weren’t stories — they were warnings. Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli “Turn The Beat Around”) thought he prepared himself for the realities of working as a homicide detective until he started seeing things he couldn’t quite explain. When his ailing Aunt Marie (guest star Kate Burton, “Grey’s Anatomy”) arrives, Nick’s life turns upside down when she reveals they are descendants of an elite group of hunters, also known as “Grimms,” who fight to keep the balance of humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. As Nick digs deeper into her past, he realizes that he will have to shoulder the responsibility of his ancestors — and contend with a larger-than-life mythology of the Brothers Grimm that is now all too real.
The ‘Tastic says: NBC’s answer to both ABC’s Once Upon a Time and FOX’s Fringe. Actually, NBC is trying to put this up against Fringe on Friday nights and that may be a very big miscalculation, going for a genre audience that is already very loyal to another series. We think it looks like a good guilty pleasure (not sure about great, yet), but we are very concerned about this questionable scheduling. No matter to us as we have a DVR and aren’t a Nielsen Household. Four for Four, though in the quality department.
Awake: “Awake” is an intriguing drama about a detective (Jason Issacs, “Harry Potter,” “Brotherhood”) who finds he is leading an arduous double life that defies reality. When Detective Michael Britten (Issacs) regains consciousness following his family’s car accident, he is told that his wife Hannah (Laura Allen, “Terriers”) perished but that his teen son, Rex (Dylan Minnette, “Saving Grace”), has survived. As he tries to put the pieces of his life back together, he awakens again in a parallel reality in which his wife is very much alive — but his son Rex died in the accident. In order to keep both of his loved ones alive at one time, he begins living two dueling realities in parallel worlds, which churns up confusion — in one moment, Michael and his wife debate about having another child to replace their son, while in the other reality, he is attracted to his son’s tennis coach, Tara (Michaela McManus, “The Vampire Diaries”), to fill the void from the loss of his wife. Trying to regain some normalcy, Michael returns to police work and solves crimes in both worlds with the help of two different partners — Detective Isaiah “Bird” Freeman (Steve Harris, “The Practice”) and Detective Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama, “That ’70s Show”).
The ‘Tastic says: This show is one of the best-looking new shows on the entire Big-5 network primetime schedule and is by far the best looking show on NBC this season. This is what we mean when we use the phrase, “high-concept,” not this, ABC! It’s a bit like CBS’s new drama, A Gifted Man, in which a self-centered physician is conversing with his dead ex-wife, the only woman he ever loved, who is guiding him through his life. In both cases, as the audience, part of the mystery is whether or not our leads are really experiencing what they claim to see or if these visions are all brought on by some sort of mental/emotional instability… or worse, if all of this is just in the imagination of a little boy with autism who stares into a snowglobe all day that has a little replica of a hospital in it. Awake simply has so much going for it. It stars Jason Isaacs who we think is great in everything he does plus it’s a compelling detective drama with a SciFi, metaphysical twist and it’s one of those shows like Lost where audiences will already be invested in it before they even realize it’s a SciFi show. We can’t express how excited for this show we are. We hope NBC is smart enough to promote the crap out of it. A resounding five for five, NBC.
The Firm: Based on the blockbuster feature film and best-selling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham (“The Pelican Brief,” “The Client”), “The Firm” continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel. As a young associate, McDeere brought down the prestigious Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, which operated as a front for the Chicago mob — and his life was never the same. After a difficult decade, which included a stay in the Federal Witness Protection program, Mitch and his family now emerge from isolation to reclaim their lives and their future — only to find that past dangers are still lurking and new threats are everywhere.
The ‘Tastic says: In principle we hate this concept even worse than we hate the concept of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series and for all of the exact same reasons, just ten-fold. Seriously this movie came out in 1993 when we were seniors in High School for goodness sake and the novel was released in 1991. This reeks of recycling dated material. That being said, the show description above and the John Grisham’s own video statement about the series, here, make a compelling case for The Firm as a suspenseful series. As long as Grisham is as heavily involved as he seems to be, this should be pretty good. Six for Six, NBC.
(Since this is a midseason replacement, NBC has not released a trailer for it yet.)
Whitney: A hilarious look at modern love, “Whitney” is a new multi-camera comedy series about Whitney (Whitney Cummings, “Chelsea Lately”) and Alex (Chris D’Elia, “Glory Daze”), a happily unmarried couple. Together for five years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched. However, after attending yet another one of their friends’ weddings, Whitney realizes that she and Alex are dangerously close to relationship boredom. Determined not to let that happen, Whitney consults her close circle of opinionated girlfriends — including Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones, “The Other Guys”) and Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn, “The Starter Wife”) — and then snaps into action. A few awkward sexy costumes and one botched seductive evening later, the couple ends up in the emergency room. Even so, Whitney and Alex realize that while their relationship might not be perfect on paper, they really do love each other — and that works for them.
The ‘Tastic says: Just when we were ready to claim that NBC had a flawless score on new pick-ups for the Big-5 networks, they hit us with this piece of crap. Besides the fact that it’s obviously just a typically horrible sitcom using all of the standard clichés, canned laughter and plot-devices, the overall premise is simply offensive. We don’t normally get excited about the variety of political and social messages that permeate primetime television programming but we have to draw a line here. Where the Hell do they get off creating a series with the general premise of disparaging and minimizing the value of marriage as if it’s “no big deal.” We hate to be the ones to break this to the producers, but marriage is far more than “just a piece of paper” and no, unmarried couples living together for five years should not be afforded the same stature in society as married couples. Regardless of this, though, it seriously looks almost as bad as $#*! My Dad Says. All of these characters are clones of Friends characters. Seriously, that guy, Alex… he’s effing Chandler except he looks like he needs a bath and rehab. The only joke we laughed at in the trailer was when they were role-playing and she gave him the new patient information forms to fill-out and the only reason that we paid attention to that is that we were completely distracted by her ass in the red panties so unless they intend to dress her in those every week, expect this show to die a quick death. Total Fail.
Up All Night: From Emily Spivey (NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”) and legendary Emmy Award-winning producer Lorne Michaels, comes “Up All Night,” a modern take on Parenthood that shows the challenges of balancing a career, marriage and a new baby. Christina Applegate (“Samantha Who?”) stars as Reagan, a successful public relations executive, and Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) plays Chris, Reagan’s supportive, stay-at-home husband. The two have just become parents – a surprise that has set their lives on a new path as responsible adults — for the most part.
The ‘Tastic says: Well, at least they made up for Whitney with this. This is one of the few sitcoms that we’ve seen trailers for that actually make the show worth watching. Anyone who is a parent can relate to pretty much everything in this show. It’s the golden rule of first time parents: no matter how much you think you know, no matter how much you think you’ve prepared, and no matter how much advice other parents have given you, you have NO IDEA what you’re in for. Christina Applegate is always charming and it’s good to see Will Arnett in a role that he’s actually likable and endearing in as opposed to most of his roles where he’s usually known for being – and we’ll say it – a complete prick. One of the few sitcoms we’ve ever actually looked forward to seeing.
Free Agents: “Free Agents” is a crooked workplace/romantic new comedy from creator John Enbom (“Party Down”) and Emmy Award-winning director Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”) based on the cult U.K. series of the same name that explores the trials and tribulations of two public relations executives on the rebound. Alex (Hank Azaria, “The Simpsons,” “Huff”) is newly divorced and can barely keep himself together while his co-worker Helen (Kathryn Hahn, “Hung”) thinks she has it together but is obsessed with her deceased fiancé and actually is falling apart. Then a drunken Alex and Helen end up in bed together, and in the resulting sober confusion, Helen decides that they should only be friends. Meanwhile Alex’s co-workers, Dan (Mo Mandel, “Love Bites,” “Modern Family”) and Gregg (Al Madrigal, “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Gary, Unmarried”), and Stephen (Anthony Head, “Merlin,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) fail in their attempts to help him get back out on the dating scene. When Alex finally agrees to a date, Helen gets a little jealous, and he gets cold feet, so they end up back where they started — in a casual, intimate and beautifully awkward relationship.
The ‘Tastic says: Yet another series from the U.K. rebooted for NBC. We’re not familiar with the U.K. version and we’re not particularly interested in this, either. It doesn’t look horrible, it just doesn’t look original (obviously it’s not if it’s a reboot of a U.K. series) or worth investing a whole lot of time in. Seriously… middle-aged guy, recently divorced, going through mid-life crisis? C’mon, now. What is this really bringing to the table? Also, it’s kinda hard for us to take Moe Szyslak seriously as the recently divorced stud.
Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea: Inspired by the best-selling book from comedienne/talk show host Chelsea Handler (“Chelsea Lately”), the new comedy “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” follows the exploits of twentysomething bartender Chelsea (Laura Prepon, “That ’70s Show”) a strong-willed force of nature who is determined to live life to the fullest and make no apologies. Her friends are along for the ride but they all know it is Chelsea’s way or the highway. Mark (Jo Koy, “Chelsea Lately”) is a charming bartender whose wit makes him the perfect foil for Chelsea while Shoniqua (Angel Laketa Moore, “ER”) is a smart and sassy fellow waitress who looks out for Chelsea’s best interests. Close friend and fellow bartender Todd (Mark Povinelli, “Water for Elephants”) has a wry sense of humor that keeps her in check.
The ‘Tastic says: Without a doubt, this is this season’s $#*! My Dad Says. New comedy series loosely based on an observational humor book, so yep, there it is. It looks like they may have gotten it right this time by having it be written by Chelsea Handler and her staff as opposed to $MDS in which the creator had zero experience in television writing and wasn’t responsible for the actual writing. We shouldn’t want to like this show because it does contain all of the sitcom clichés that we always complain about, however, just from the little bit that we saw, there is no question that this show has Handler’s unique sense of humor and therefore we’ll begrudgingly watch this and see what happens.
Best Friends Forever: “Best Friends Forever” is a single-camera comedy that takes a look at what happens when best friends promise to support each other — no matter what the cost or circumstances. When Jessica’s (Jessica St. Clair, “In the Motherhood”) husband files for divorce, she immediately seeks comfort and flies across the country to move back in with her best friend, Lennon (Lennon Parham, “Accidentally on Purpose”). Unfortunately, Lennon’s boyfriend, Joe (Adam Pally, “Happy Endings”), has just moved into the apartment and has turned Jessica’s old room into his perfect home office. As Lennon and Jessica fall into their old routines — beloved traditions, Steel Magnolia marathons and epic girl-talk sessions — Joe begins to feel as if he’s the odd man out. While Lennon struggles to find balance between her previous life with Jessica and her new life with Joe, Jessica’s reentry to single life is complicated by the unresolved feelings that an old friend, Rav (Stephen Schneider, “The Funniest Movie Ever…Just Kidding”), has for her and the fact that pleated khakis aren’t the most flattering single girl look.
The ‘Tastic says: It’s difficult to judge this show without a little more context than the video below. Although what can be said is that the setup for the joke at the end was very good and for that alone we’ll check it out. No promises, though. This goes into the column of “Maybe.”
Bent: “Bent” is a new romantic comedy about two people who suddenly find themselves attracted to the qualities that typically repel them. On the surface, Alex (Amanda Peet, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) and Pete (David Walton, “Perfect Couples”) could not be more different. The recently divorced Alex is a resilient and tough lawyer who now is raising her eight-year-old daughter, Charlie (Joey King, “Ramona and Beezus”), as a single mom. Unwilling to let anything get in her way, she downsizes into a smaller house, and she hires Pete, a recovering gambling addict and unapologetic womanizer, as the contractor to re-do her kitchen. The remodeling job is Pete’s last chance to prove that he is no longer a screw-up — but he doesn’t know what’s about to hit him when he encounters the force of nature that is Alex — nor does she realize that she’s met her match in Pete, a man unafraid to call out her flaws. Jeffrey Tambor (“Arrested Development”) also stars as Pete’s father, Walt, an out-of-work actor, while Margo Harshman (“Sorority Row”) stars as Alex’s wild younger sister Screwsie. This romantic comedy from writer and executive producer Tad Quill (“Scrubs,” “Spin City”) and director Craig Zisk (“Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds”) will prove that these resilient characters are “bent, not broken.” The series is produced by Universal Media Studios.
The ‘Tastic says: Well, hot damn, yet another comedy on NBC that we think actually looks really enjoyable. Bent has an excellent cast and some really quick and sharp comedy timing as well as characters who actually – God forbid – seem well-written and likable. Surprisingly enough, this is looks like another winner for NBC.