Upfront and Personal

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The network TV “upfront” presentations were held in New York this week and I had the pleasure of checking out the new slate of programming from the Big Four.  (Sorry to exclude you, CW, but you didn’t send me an invitation.  Is it because I abandoned 90210 when ABC’s Private Practice moved to Tuesdays?  All apologies, little buddy!)  The upfronts are a time honored tradition in which the network bigwigs court their potential advertisers by announcing their fall schedules, showing clips from new shows, trotting out their stars and tossing out words like “content” and “multi-screen” and “synergy.”

Based on the brief clips I saw, I’ve identified several shows for which I’ll set the DVR this September.  Whether they remain one-offs or earn season pass status remains to be seen.  I’ll highlight here one show per network that tickled my fancy; let’s revisit the lot once we’ve all had the chance to see entire episodes.  Remember, these are my personal choices and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other People’s Choice Awards staff members and their affiliates.

NBC kicked off upfront week on Monday morning at Radio City Music Hall.  Among the new dramas and comedies they unveiled was a little gem called The New Normal.  It stars Andrew Rannells (known to Broadway fans as the Tony-nominated Elder Price in The Book of Mormon and to HBO fans as Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend on Girls) and Justin Bartha (known to movie fans as the groom-to-be who got left on the hotel casino roof in The Hangover.)  They play a gay couple who want a baby and meet their surrogate in a midwestern waitress played by Georgia King (who’s cute as a bug and has been in some stuff but was unknown to me.)  Ellen Barkin plays Georgia’s character’s grandmother who’s not exactly thrilled with this post-modern arrangement. The show will air on Tuesdays at 9 between Go On (the new comedy starring Matthew Perry as a sportscaster) and Parenthood.  I’ve got high hopes for this one.

FOX followed up on Monday afternoon with their dog and pony show at The Beacon Theater.  The new show that really caught my eye in the FOX slate is The Mindy Project starring Mindy Kaling.  Now, I was never a fan of The Office (I know, I know), but I thought she was really funny in The 40 Year Old Virgin.  Mindy plays a doctor with a less-than-desirable social life.  Since Mindy herself has a built-in fan base and the show will follow last year’s break out hit, New Girl, on Tuesdays at 9:30, I’m thinking this one should do quite well for FOX.

ABC made their presentation at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center on Tuesday afternoon.  They’re moving Revenge to Sunday nights (scan-DAL!) and will follow it up with 666 Park Avenue.  Let’s just say I’m a huge Revenge fan and I definitely won’t change the channel when the episode ends.  666 Park Avenue is a new drama that centers on the residents of a fancy apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side who seemed to have made a deal with devil.  A naive midwestern couple played by Rachael Taylor (the blonde from last year’s short-lived Charlie’s Angels reboot) and Dave Annable (dreamy Justin on Brothers & Sisters) become the managers of the building and scariness ensues.  It looks like Gossip Girl meets American Horror Story.  In a good way.  With Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams thrown in for good measure, I smell a potential hit on their hands.

The CBS presentation was held on Wednesday afternoon at Carnegie Hall.  They have three new dramas and one new comedy premiering this fall; my pick is Made In Jersey, which will air on Friday nights between CSI:NY and Blue Bloods.  I haven’t watched Friday night TV since the beloved one-two punch of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family in the early ’70s, so this is new territory for me.  Nor am I particularly drawn to anything with “Jersey” in the title.  But this tale of a street smart Jersey girl –  who sees things that her snooty New York law firm colleagues don’t — looks really charming.  Newcomer (to me, anyway) Janet Montgomery plays the lead and has real star power.  I’m in.

Remember, these are just one fan’s opinions after having seen a mere handful of clips from the new fall shows. You’ll be able to decide for yourself when they premiere this fall, and you’ll be able to vote for your Favorite New TV Comedy and Favorite New TV Drama, as always, for the People’s Choice Awards 2013.

POLL

Which of these actresses’ return to network TV are you most excited about?

Ellen Barkin in The New Normal (NBC)
Connie Britton in Nashville (ABC)
Lucy Liu in Elementary (CBS)
Becki Newton in The Goodwin Games (FOX)

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