Our week of new TV wouldn’t be complete without sizing up some of Fox and NBC’s new prime time offerings. Both networks cleaned house aplenty this spring, with Fox firing the first salvo when Lie To Me, Chicago Code, Breaking In, Human Target and good old America’s Most Wanted hit the road. Fox also holds the keys to the ultimate castle with American Idol, unless of course something remarkably similar better comes along that changes everything. That’s reality show talk, however, and today we’ll focus on the scripted stuff.
By the way, it’s worth noting that all the networks seem eager to embrace more lady-friendly viewing in the comedy realm, and with the dramas it looks like more than a few writers decided to watch Inception a lot before developing their programs.
Right out of the gate we need to check out/acknowledge/take into account Fox’s long-anticipated TV monster, Terra Nova. It’s being called a “family adventure 85 million years in the making” and if the amount of money being spent on the (genuinely stunning) special effects is any indicator, Fox is pretty sure this show will impact TV much like Avatar impacted movies. And just to drive that point home, Stephen Lang stars in both epics. Here Jason O’Mara (a recent graduate of the Alex O’Lauglin Underutilized Hunky TV Stars Academy, who may very well find his Big Wings here) heads up a family of headstrong kids who must find their way amidst modern weaponry, every sci-fi convention in the book, and some pretty astonishing dinosaurs. No matter what happens, Steven Spielberg’s behind this, so here’s predicting an instantaneous fanbase and at least a healthy run on the tube. Until it wins awards or they run out of money.
My fave new Fox offering is absolutely positively New Girl, whose preview continues to make me cry (which may say more about me than the show). Zooey Deschanel (High Priestess of Alternative Quirky Cute & star of 500 Days Of Summer) is a bereft and newly single gal who finds herself living with three guys who just don’t get her at all until, well, apparently they do. She also sings a lot, but not too earnestly. It looks funny as all get-out. I initially assumed this would be tailor-made for that audience avidly following the ups and downs of a certain show choir in Lima, Ohio – and this was before I read that New Girl is literally preceded by Glee on Tuesdays.
NBC’s made some myriad changes for fall too, having bid adieu to The Cape, The Event, Perfect Couples and Outsourced. First on my list of their new dramas is Awake – starring Jason Isaacs (look him up and you’ll think Oh right, That Guy). This is NBC’s parallel universe drama, and it’s a tricky concept but if they get it right and we can follow, this may prove a winner. Awake’s about a detective involved in a tragic car crash that claims the life of both his wife and his son. Moving forward however, we discover that he’s actually leading two alternate lives – one with his son who has miraculously survived, and the other with his wife – who’s done same. It’s a great idea and this will either be a standout or too confounding.
Meanwhile, hoping to capitalize on the style (and whopping success) of Mad Men, NBC’s got a newbie set in the 1960’s called The Playboy Club. It stars Eddie Cibrian as a smooth operator who’s also a mob “fixer” at the infamous Chicago gentlemen’s club. He’s gotta contend with cocktails, bunnies and the insane amount of trouble wrought by both. It certainly looks slick, and now we’ll have to see if viewers can handle not one but two 60’s period pieces on regular old TV (don’t forget, ABC’s already launching Pan Am, which is about the fabled airlines and the ladies who manned the drink carts long before anyone had to call them flight attendants). For anyone lamenting the absence of Don Draper til who-knows-when, there’ll be plenty of boozy, smoky , womaniz-y viewing on network TV this fall. Plenty of time before any of these shows hit the airwaves, but the networks are all running more than enough previews and clips to whet everyone’s whistle. Check them out and let us know your thoughts.
2) New Girl
3) The Playboy Club
4) Terra Nova