Networks Unveil Fall Lineup
Joel McHale leads the cast of NBC's new comedy "Community." (NBC Universal)
This week, the big five networks commenced for the television upfronts in New York to unveil their new fall lineups for the 2009-2010 season.
Some shows were obviously renewed like "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Two and a Half Men," while a few series were awesomely renewed despite appearing hopelessly dead (Yay "Chuck" and $5 foot longs!) and some were finally given the boot ("My Name is Earl"). "One Tree Hill" continues to have the staying power of an energizer bunny.
The upfronts, however, are mainly used to excite the media, advertisers, and viewers on the new fall shows before officially revealing the whole enchilada at the press tour this summer.
Here are a few bright and shiny series that I hope have potential this upcoming season. I gathered my opinion based on preview clips (linked throughout), online research, casting choices, and the official synopsis. So don't blame me if the shows suck. I'm allowed to rescind my opinion when full episodes air. It's only fair.
While ABC green lighted a number of dramas, including the legal drama "The Deep End," about L.A's most prestigious law firm; "Happy Town," which revolves around unsolved murders and kidnappings and "Flash Forward," a thriller where billions of people black out long enough to see the disastrous apocalyptic future (it stars the scrumptious Joseph Fiennes, so I'll suspend belief), the comedies stand out in the pack.
"The Middle" starring Neil Flynn ("Scrubs") and Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") is a comedy about a married couple living in a small town with their three children. The series will explore life in the "middle of nowhere." Kelsey Grammer stars in "Hank," which follows a Wall Street exec who loses his job and is forced to go back to his hometown with his family. Sounds like the higher class version of "The Middle."
"Friends" alumna Courteney Cox-Arquette is back with "Cougar Town," where she plays a divorced mother who begins dating a younger man. Of course, hilarity ensues in predictable ways while Cox-Arquette's character explores the wacky ways of aging.
But "Modern Family" starring "Married with Children's" Ed O'Neill is the one to watch. This sitcom follows three very different families: A man who's married to a younger woman, a gay couple who have adopted a baby and a married couple with kids.
Each family, crazy in their own way, agrees to be interviewed by documentary crew, bringing the "mockumentary" genre to ABC.
"Entertainment Weekly" says "it has crisp knowingness that seems very promising."
NBC's schedule includes two medical-type dramas, "Trauma" and "Mercy," and one "Friends"-esque comedy in "100 Questions.'' While the network finally decided to develop a sitcom, the casting and script makes "Kath & Kim" look award-winning.
"Community," however, is a new comedy starring "The Soup's" Joel McHale as a lawyer who is forced to go to community college when his law degree is found to be invalid. At the school, he begins a study group with a number of social misfits. Chevy Chase plays a horny old man. It's awesome.
It fits with the already established Thursday lineup, but the wit and snark is much sharper than "Parks & Recreation." Look out for a character's rendition of a scene from "The Breakfast Club." It's amazingly hilarious.
The "Family Guy" spinoff "The Cleveland Show" looks addicting, but midseason replacement "Human Target" hits my action-filled heart.
Based on the DC comic book, "Human Target" is about a private contractor who protects his clients by literally acting as a "target" to eliminate threats against them. It stars Mark Valley ("Fringe"), Chi McBride ("Pushing Daisies") and Jackie Earle Haley.
"Human Target" could go either way; it has potential to be a cult hit (much like "Fringe's" success on Fox) or it could fall apart at the seams (ala "Heroes"). This is definitely getting my viewership, especially with Jackie Earle Haley (recently seen as the fabulous Rorschach in "Watchmen") in the cast.
"Glee," the brainchild of Ryan Murphy ("Nip/Tuck" and "Popular"), is a musical comedy that follows a high school teacher who tries to transform and convince the Glee Club, a group of misfits, to compete at Nationals. Using pop songs from the past and present, it's like nothing on television. The pilot aired after "American Idol" on Tuesday, but I'm already listening to "Don't Stop Believin'" on a loop. You can watch the pilot on Hulu.
CBS has a load of new dramas, including "The Good Wife," a legal drama starring Julianna Margulies as a politician's wife who begins a career as an attorney after her husband (played by Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth) is incarcerated for political scandal; "Miami Trauma," Jerry Bruckheimer's new surgical drama; and a comedy, "Accidentally on Purpose," which stars Jenna Elfman as a film critic who gets pregnant after a one night stand.
"Three Rivers" ultimately caught my eye. Not only does it star "Moonlight's" delicious Alex O'Loughlin, but it's described as a medical drama that tells the story of organ transplants through the lives of the organ donors, the recipients, and the surgeons. It's like the Denny Duquette storyline on "Grey's Anatomy" without the ghost sex! Katherine Moennig and Julia Ormond also star.
Click here for previews of the above mentioned shows.
"90210" may have been nostalgic with the return of Jennie Garth, Shannen Doherty, and Tori Spelling, but it never quite hit the epic stride the original did. And if anyone saw the season finale, Annie is crazy, right?!
This will probably apply to the upcoming "Melrose Place" remake, starring Ashlee Simpson Wentz, but Lord knows I'll crumble and watch this with the full-time comeback of Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro), as well as bad girl, back-from-the-dead Sydney (Laura Leighton). It's too bad Marcia Cross is on "Desperate Housewives" because I would give a pinky toe to see Kimberly again.
Also picked up is "The Vampire Diaries" with "Lost's" Ian Somerhalder, but it appears this based-on-a-book series probably garnered excitement due to the popularity of "Twilight." Somerhalder is ridiculously pretty, so I'll give it a chance.
What stands out among the expected "hits" is the Ashton Kutcher produced "The Beautiful Life." "The OC's" Mischa Barton is back, and no, it's not just for tabloid fodder. Barton stars in a drama that shows the realities of modeling, most likely based off of Kutcher's own modeling days. Drugs, sex, alcohol, and, of course, eating disorders, will be among the many plotlines, I'm sure. Added bonus: Designer Zac Posen is in the Pilot! While predictable, I sense a fashion-filled, fluffy entertaining hour that will precede "America's Next Top Model." Model Elle Macpherson and Sara Paxton also star.
I'm still hoping, however, for another "Everwood" or "Veronica Mars." Come on, CW!
What do you think of my picks? Think there's another show worth watching? Should I be reading more books? Pissed Adam Lambert lost "American Idol?"