NBC Fall TV Preview
It’s no secret that when it comes to comedy, NBC leads the broadcast network pack as the comic powerhouse. After all, nothing rivals a Thursday night out on the town like a belly-aching laughter binge of “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Community.” This fall, NBC hopes to keep the hits coming with these new series.
Noticeably absent from the aforementioned comedy block was “Outsourced,” a show that flew under the radar beside NBC’s bigwigs for its single season on the air. Filling its spot on Thursday nights is “Whitney,” the eponymous brainchild of rising stand-up queen Whitney Cummings.
Based on her real-life experiences and comedy routine, Cummings is writing, producing and starring in this multi-camera romp about a long-term couple fighting boredom with their relationship. The format, complete with studio audience, is already drawing criticism; barring CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” multi-cam seems to be one remnant of “Seinfeld” era comedy that no one misses.
Even so, between “Whitney” and CBS’ “2 Broke Girls,” (which she co-created with “Sex and the City” executive producer Michael Patrick King) Cummings is taking fall 2011 with full force. “Whitney” premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9:30 p.m.
"Up All Night"
“30 Rock” will be on hiatus until midseason, but that doesn’t mean “Parks and Recreation’s” Amy Poehler will be the only “SNL” comedy queen holding down the NBC fort this fall. Maya Rudolph stars alongside Christina Applegate and Will Arnett in “Up All Night,” a sitcom that stars Applegate and Arnett as new parents reconciling the clash of parenthood and the 30-something lifestyle.
The crew is actually brimming with “SNL” vets—executive producers Lorne Michaels, Erin David and creator Emily Spivey, to name a few. Rudolph is Ava, an ambitious and demanding talk-show host boss/BFF opposite Applegate’s career-woman/life of the party Reagan, while Arnett plays stay-at-home dad Chris.
Fun fact: all three of the show’s stars are juggling newborns with their shooting schedule. “Up All Night” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m.
Like “The Office,” “Free Agents” is a workplace comedy based on the witty cult U.K. series of the same name. From creator John Enbom, who was also responsible for another cult classic “Party Down,” “Free Agents” is about the trials and tribulations of looking for love—the second time around.
Alex (Hank Azaria) is a new divorcée; Helen (Kathryn Hahn) is still struggling a year after her fiancée’s untimely death. The pilot to this romantic comedy features an awkward morning-after scenario when these two damaged souls find solace in each other, and subsequent discomfort in the boardroom.
Azaria and Hahn are surrounded by a motley crew of stand-up comedians playing the typical office characters. Laughs and heart pangs abound as they struggle to pick up the pieces of their emotionally distressed coworkers. “Free Agents” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10:30 p.m.
Detective drama meets dark fantasy in “Grimm,” an hour-long show that puts a modern spin on the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. The series stars Dave Giuntoli (who got his start on MTV’s “Road Rules: South Pacific” and “The Gauntlet”) as Nick, a detective who discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as "Grimms." The profilers are charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world; Nick’s bigger challenge is keeping the balance between this life and that with his fiancée (Bitsie Tulloch).
“Grimm” will likely have to compete for an audience with ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.” It’s got a similar “modern world colliding with fairy tale world” premise, not to mention a star-studded cast and the promise of executive producers from “Lost.”
“Grimm” premieres Friday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m.
"The Playboy Club"
Myriad controversies surround “The Playboy Club,” both on and off the screen. It’s the story of a lawyer in 1960s Chicago who frequents Hugh Hefner’s infamous Playboy club and gets entangled in a little more than just bushy tails and cocktails. One part sex, one part crime, and one part Oscar-winning executive producer Brian Grazer (“Arrested Development,” “24,” A Beautiful Mind), the show is already under fire from the Parents Television Council for featuring the iconic and polarizing Playboy brand (and all the raunch that goes along with it).
NBC’s entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt defended “The Playboy Club,” saying the show isn’t as revealing as the title may let on. Producer Ian Biederman went so far as to call the club “empowering” to the women who worked there. Greenblatt was also quick to assert that while the time period and setting may be similar, this show is no “Mad Men.”
“The Playboy Club” premieres Monday, Sept. 19 at 10 p.m.
For those who love shows that feature a femme fatale fighting to survive in a man’s world comes NBC’s “Prime Suspect.” Maria Bello stars as a newcomer to an NYPD homicide department squad who is as hard on suspects as her colleagues are on her. The show is a revamp of the British series by the same name, which starred Oscar-winning actor Helen Mirren. The show will offer a taste of drama in its slot immediately following “Whitney.” “Prime Suspect” premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m.
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