Upfronts Week — New Shows to get excited about
We made it through Upfronts Week, a time when the networks roll out their schedules for the fall, including the new series they hope will hit. NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and the CW rolled out their schedules, offering a combined 20 new shows for the Fall.
I have been doing this for more than a decade, and this is about the least inspiring crop of new shows I've seen. This fall includes TV versions of movies — "The Exorcist," "Lethal Weapon," "Frequency" — and some dubious re-makes — "MacGyver" anyone? It also gives new sitcoms to Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc, as well as some other head scratchers.
But that doesn't mean there's no reason for optimism. Below I take a look at five I'm excited about and three I see as potential bombs. This is based solely on the show description and initial trailer. We'll see in September/October how it all pans out.
Five I'm Pumped For:
Designated Survivor, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC
About: This was easily the most interesting looking show of fall for me. The idea is simple — a low level cabinet member (Kiefer Sutherland) on his way out of his post is left behind during the State of the Union Address when the unthinkable happens. That immediately elevates him to the Presidency, and leaves him to pick up the pieces with our government in shambles. That is an exciting premise for a series, and I like the choice of Sutherland in the lead role. I like the cast, too, which includes Kal Penn, Italia Ricci, Maggie Q, and Natasha McElhone. This was one of the trailers that really popped for me.
Conviction, Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC
About: This series stars Hayley Atwell as the former first daughter who has let her life spiral out of control. When she's popped for cocaine possession she's offered a choice — head up a special unit in the prosecutor's office or go to jail and shame her family, which will ruin her mother's Senate run. She chooses the job, and hijinks ensue. Atwell is a good performer, and she's joined here by Shawn Ashmore, Emily Kinney, Merrin Dungey, and Eddie Cahill. The trailer looked interesting, and I see some potential here for this series to add some personality to the case-of-the-week format.
Notorious, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC
About: What can I say, ABC appeared to have easily the best crop of new shows. This new drama — which gets the "Scandal" time slot in the fall — stars Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata as a news producer and famous defense attorney who shine a light on injustice through their nightly program. It's based on a real life duo, and it looks like it will have some slick styling and intrigue. It is getting a great slot between two Shondaland dramas, and it has a strong cast.
Timeless, Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC
About: They can't all be ABC shows, right? NBC is launching this new drama behind "The Voice" on Monday nights. It's about an unorthodox team — a soldier (Matt Lanter), a scientist (Malcolm Barrett), and a history professor (Abigail Spencer) — have to travel back in time to stop a man (Goran Visnjic) from re-writing history and changing the future. This has the potential to bomb depending on how it goes, but I'm looking at it optimistically. I liked the trailer and I like the concept in general. During the winter "D.C.'s Legends of Tomorrow" proved that time travel shows can have problems. But this looks a little more fun and a little more creative. It also looks different that what else is on TV, which could be a good thing.
Frequency, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW
About: I wasn't the biggest fan of the movie "Frequency," and I'm not sure how it works as a weekly series. So I was skeptical about this idea. However, when I watched the trailer I got instantly hooked on the action. The basic premise is a female police officer whose father was also a cop connects with a familiar voice via Hamm radio. It turns out to be her father 20 years earlier, and they're connected through time over their radio. Together they can right wrongs, but in the process it changes her future in unexpected ways. Will this work long-term? Perhaps not. But it looked interesting and I was surprised by how drawn into the story I was during the five-minute trailer. Given the state of TV this fall, that might be as good as we're gonna get.
Three to Avoid:
Son of Zorn, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX
About: If ABC was the winner during Upfronts week, FOX was scrapping the bottom of the barrel. This series is a hybrid of animation and live action. It features a guy named Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudekis), who looks a lot like He-Man, that comes to suburbia to connect with his ex-wife (Cheryl Hines) and teenage son. The trailer was awful. The concept is awful. I don't see how this fits with the night — wedged between "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" — or why this was made. This is just a hard no from me.
The Exorcist, Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX
About: Again, not sure what FOX is doing here. This a TV show version of the classic 1973 film, this time starring Geena Davis as a woman whose daughter appears to have some issues. Now a pair of priests must try to come up with a solution. At this point we've seen plenty of demon possession films. They're good for 90 minutes to two hours of entertainment, then you move on. Who wants to invest 13 hours (more if it gets multiple seasons) on this kind of story?
MacGyver, Fridays at 8 p.m. on CBS
About: That's right, this is a re-make of the Richard Dean Anderson series that ran from 1985 to 1992 about a guy who used his wit and home made solutions to battle crime and get out of sticky situations. This newest version features Lucas Till as a young prodigy recruited by the CIA to use his wit and guile to help foil terrorists. Why? Why is CBS intent on ruining our child hood? Who is watching this series on Friday nights at 8 p.m.? I am not sure the answer to either of those questions, but I am sure that I was beyond stunned when this was announced as an actual show ordered to series by the network who has been No. 1 in total viewers for a decade. CBS, aren't you better than this?