Today is the first day of network upfronts, the week when the networks trot out the stars of their shows and do a little dog and pony show for advertisers and TV critics alike. Both NBC and FOX went today, unveiling their fall schedules and releasing trailers for the new shows. Let's take a gander at what NBC will be offering and, since it's NBC, speculate on which show will be first to go.
Timeslot: Monday 10 pm
Synopsis: The lights go out, literally. In this post-apocalyptic yarn from JJ Abrams, electricity stops working and humanity is plunged into a scary time full of militias and crossbows and Giancarlo Esposito riding a horse. But wait! Tim Guinee, who knew what was about to happen, has some sort of device that still works and everyone is looking for it! It's like the Road with a different distaster or the Walking Dead without zombies and hopefully more consistent characters.
Over/Under for Cancellation: 13 episodes. Every network has tried and failed to create a sci-fi tent pole (Terra Nova, Flash Forward) and now it's NBC's turn. This show has three big problems immediately: 1) viewers will likely be wary of throwing themselves into a JJ Abrams-created mystery world, 2) it has not one but two petulant teenage characters and 3) it's been a long time since NBC successfully launched a drama pilot, the exceptions being Grimm, which does well on the island of Friday night, and Smash, which people hate. If NBC has hopes of staying out of the cellar in a year when they won't get the Super Bowl bump, they're gonna need successful dramas. Is this the ticket? Doubtful.
Timeslot: Tuesday 9 pm.
Synopsis: Matthew Perry plays a widower coping with the loss of his wife with the help of a wacky support group. This is the first of two NBC sitcoms where the leads work at radio stations, the other stars Dane Cook so hold your breath for that one to bow midseason.
Over/Under for Cancellation: 6 episodes. Perry's last sitcom venture, ABC's Mr. Sunshine, had a similar feel of general weariness and couldn't catch on and we already know that this will be going head to head with New Girl. But then again, maybe all the talk about dead loved ones will pull in the viewers.
The New Normal
Timeslot: Tuesday 9.30 pm
Synopsis: A woman looking for a better life for herself and her daughter decides to be the surrogate for a gay couple eager to start a family. The show was created by Ryan Murphy so it's clearly very of the moment with tons of fertility-related buzzwords.
Over/Under for Cancellation: 6 episodes. The thing about Ryan Murphy is that he is able to keep shows on the air that barely have any right to be, which bodes well for this one. On the other hand, the trailer doesn't make it seem as though this show can pull off balancing funny and emotional without becoming one eye roll after another. Also, more NeNe Leakes, Ryan? Come on.
Timeslot: Wednesday 8 pm
Synopsis: Justin Kirk plays a brilliant doctor whose skills are matched only by his desire to bed beautiful women and not care about them. The twist? He's a vet and his best friend is a monkey.
Over/Under for Cancellation: 6 episodes. Apparently, the monkey is the character who resonated most with viewers. Which couldn't be less surprising.
Guys With Kids
Timeslot: Wednesday 8.30 pm
Synopsis: The show is about guys who have kids. And they have to deal with those kids. Because raising kids is tough and full of comedic potential. Especially when you have one guy who is single, one who works and one is a full time dad. Oh the hi-jinx that will ensue!
Over/Under for Cancellation: 3 episodes. The show has a big name attached in producer Jimmy Fallon but there's no way this is a success for NBC. After the 2011 season that saw a plethora of sitcoms about men taking back their manhood, almost all of which failed terribly, it's really hard to believe that a similar sounding show on a network that already has a show about (relatively) new parents is going to take off. But then again, people just loved when Zach Galifianakis wore a Baby Bjorn in the Hangover and this is three times the baby carriers so maybe it will be a huge hit. Or not.
Timeslot: Wednesday 10 pm
Synopsis: Centered around a firehouse in Chicago, the show follows the lives and travails of firefighters and a paramedic or two. Kinda like Third Watch or Trauma or Backdraft.
Over/Under for Cancellation: 22 episodes. This is the kind of drama pilot that NBC used to do really well and it comes from Law and Order creator Dick Wolf who is surely not looking to recreate the non-starter that was L & O: LA. The only question is whether the show can deliver some interesting characters who are neither stock types nor wrapped up in crazy subplots from the start. The trailer has some really evocative imagery and if the show can execute properly, it might be something NBC can build around.