Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NBC’s 2013-14 Season

NBC_logoNBC was the first network to announce their new schedule on Sunday, following a precedent that they had set last year (and which I completely forgot about). The network, which was once the premiere broadcast network has had significant troubles this season, and indeed in previous seasons. Based on initial impressions, while there may be some good shows in the mix here, this isn’t a line-up that is going to vault NBC back into first place… or second, or maybe even third.

30 Rock, Animal Practice, Do No Harm, The Office, Deception, Up All Night, 1600 Penn, Guys With Kids, Whitney, Go On, New Normal, Smash, Rock Center

Chicago Fire, Grimm, Law & Order: SVU, The Voice, Parks And Recreation, Community,

Biggest Loser, Revolution, Parenthood 

Fate To Be Determined
Hannibal, Betty White's Off Their Rockers, Fashion Star 

New Shows
The Blacklist, Ironside, Welcome To The Family, Sean Saves The World, The Michael J. Fox Show, Dracula 

Held Until Mid-Season
The Family Guide, About A Boy, Crossbones, American Dream Builders, Believe, Crisis, Celebrity Apprentice, Chicago P.D., The Night Shift, Undateable, Food Fighters, The Million Second Quiz, Sing-Off

Complete Schedule (All times Eastern, New Shows in Capitals)

8:00-10:00 p.m.: The Voice
10:00-11:00 p.m.: THE BLACKLIST

8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Biggest Loser
9:00-10:00 p.m.: The Voice (results) (New Time)
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Chicago Fire (New Day & Time)

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Revolution (New Day & Time)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Law & Order: SVU
10:00-11:00 p.m.: IRONSIDE

8:00-8:30 p.m.: Parks & Recreation (New Time)
8:30-9:00 p.m.: WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
9:00-9:30 p.m.: SEAN SAVES THE WORLD
9:30-10:00 p.m.: MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Parenthood

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Dateline NBC
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Grimm
10:00-11:00 p.m.: DRACULA

7:00-8:15 p.m.: Football Night In America
8:15 p.m.-11:00 p.m.: Sunday Night Football 

At Mid-Season 

8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Voice (results) (New Time)
9:00-9:30 p.m.: ABOUT A BOY
9:30-10:00 p.m.: FAMILY GUIDE
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Chicago Fire (New Day & Time) 

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Dateline NBC
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Grimm
10:00-11:00 p.m.: CROSSBONES 

7:00-8:00 p.m.: Dateline NBC
9:00-10:00 p.m.: BELIEVE
10:00-11:00 p.m.: CRISIS

The Blacklist doesn’t look back at the McCarthy era blacklisting in the entertainment industry. Instead it is about former Government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader). For years Red has been on the FBI’s most wanted list for his shadowy dealings with criminals that has led him to be called “The Concierge of Crime.” Suddenly he surrenders to the FBI with an explosive offer: he will help the Government to capture an infamous terrorist. His only condition is that he’ll only speak to Liz Keene (Megan Boone), a profiler who has just graduated from Quantico. He has a complete blacklist of people he’s willing to help bring down, but only if he continues to work with Liz. Why is this woman, with whom he apparently has no connection, so important for Red?

NYPD detective Robert Ironside (Blair Underwood) is a fearless cop who is determined to bring the guilty to justice and isn’t going to let the fact that a bullet shattered his spine two years ago and put him in a wheelchair slow him down. Supported by his team of specialists – Virgil (Pablo Schreiber), Holly (Spencer Grammer), and Teddy (Neal Bledsoe) – as well as his former partner Gary (Brent Sexton) and boss Detective Ed Rollins (Kenneth Choi), Iroonside is determined not to let being in a wheelchair slow him down. 

Welcome To The Family explores what happens when two very different families become in-laws. Dan (Mike O’Malley) and Karina (Mary McCormack) Yoder discover that their college-bound daughter Molly (Ella Rae Peck) is pregnant, and that she plans to marry the baby’s father. He’s Junior Hernandez (Joseph Haro) from East LA, and his parents Miguel (Ricardo Chavira) and Lisette (Justina Machado) are upset by (according to the show’s press release) the prospect of having “Caucasians in the family.” Once they realise that their kids are serious about marrying the two families start to come to terms with their new circumstances. 

Sean Saves The World stars Sean Hayes as a divorced gay dad who has a lot to juggle including work, the employees who are under him, his pushy mother (Linda Lavin) and weekends with his teenaged daughter Ellie (Sami Isler). When Ellie moves in permanently with him, he is determined to be the best father ever. Unfortunately the new owners of the company where he works want Sean and his team to work longer hours destroying his carefully planned efforts with Ellie. which is actually fine with her, since he’s obviously going overboard. 

The Michael J. Fox Show stars Fox in a story that parallels his own life to a degree. Five years ago New York’s most beloved TV news anchors, Mike Henry (Fox) put his career on hold to focus on his health and spending time with his family after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Now, with the kids growing up and Mike feeling restless it might be time to get him back to work. His old boss Harris Green (Wendell Pierce) never wanted to let him go in the first place so he’ll jump to get him back. The trick is – as it always was with Mike – to make him think it was his own idea.

Set in the late 19th century Dracula features Jonathon Rhys Myers as the mysterious Dracula. Posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian London, Dracula is particularly interested in electricity and the promise of the electric light as a way to lighten the darkness. He has a deeper mission however; to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries before. All seems to be going according to plan, right up until he meets a woman who appears to be the reincarnation of his long dead wife. 

About A Boy is an adaptation of the movie that starred Hugh Grant. Will Freeman (David Walton) wrote a hit song which allows him to enjoy a life of “free time, free love and freedom from financial woes.” When needy single mom Fiona (Minnie Driver) and her 11 year-old son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) move in next door it is disruptive to his lifestyle, particularly when Marcus starts dropping in unannounced. Will isn’t sure he’s too keen on being the kid’s new best friend…until he discovers that women find single fathers irresistible. The strike an arrangement where Marcus gets to chill at Will’s place in return for pretending to be his son. In time Will finds himself looking forward to those visits and looking out for the kid. 

Family Guide is a comedy about how a divorce can draw a family together. Mel Fisher (J.K. Simmons) has never let his blindness slow him down, be it chopping down trees, teaching his daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley) how to drive or tossing the football around with his son Henry (Eli Baker). When Mel shows up with Elvis, his new guide dog, Henry feels displaced; he’s always been his dad’s eyes ears and wingman. That’s how he finds out that Mel and his pip-smoking wife Joyce (Parker Posey) are getting a divorce. The adult Henry (voice-over provided by series Executive Producer Jason Bateman) tells us that the split would “allow all of us to finally discover who we needed to be.”

The year is 1715 and the Bahamian island of New Providence is the location for Crossbones. New Providence is “the first functioning democracy in the New World,” The island is part shantytown, part marauders’ paradise ruled over by Edward Teach aka the pirate Blackbeard (John Malkovich).  Undercover assassin Tom Lowe is sent to take the brilliant and charismatic Blackbeard down, but the more he’s exposed to the man and the place the more he comes to admire Blackbeard’s political idealism. But Lowe is not the only threat; Blackbeard has many villainous enemies and a weakness for a passionately driven woman.

American Dream Builders is a reality competition in which America’s leading designers, builders, architects, and landscapers will be challenged to complete extreme home renovations. Each week host Nate Berkus and a panel of experts will determine which team achieved the best results. The losing team will send one member home until the final two compete. The will each design and renovate a home after which the viewing audience will vote for the winner. Two viewers will win the houses that were renovated in the final challenge.

In Believe 10 year-old orphan Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) has amazing gifts that she doesn’t understand or fully no how to control; gifts like levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature and the ability to predict the future. She has been protected by a group called the True Believers against those who would use her for their own gain, but as she’s aged her powers and the threat have grown stronger. The group decide that Bo needs a permanent protector and break wrongly convicted death row inmate Tate (Jake McLaughlin) out of prison to fill that role. Together Tate and Bo travel from city to city changing both the places they visit and the people they meet. Kyle MacLachlan and Delroy Lindo also star.

Crisis is sparked when a school field trip from the elite Ballard School in Washington D.C. is ambushed and the students and teachers are taken hostage by a vengeful mastermind. The teens are the children of industry CEOs, political movers and shakers, international diplomats and even the son of the President of the United States. The question arises of what you would be willing to do or to become in order to save your child’s life. The very power of the people involved results in the unthinkable scenario grows to become a national crisis. Stars include Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, Lance Gross and Rachel Taylor.

Chicago PD is a spin-off from the popular Chicago Fire and looks at the two two distinct groups within Chicago’s Police District 21; the uniformed cops who deal with day to day crimes, and the Intelligence Unit which deals with major offences including organized crime, drug dealing and high-profile murders. The Intelligence Unit is commanded by Sgt. Hank Voight, a man who is not above skirt the law in pursuit of justice. Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) has a troubled history with his demanding boss, but he harbours ambitions of commanding the unit someday so he’s prepared to persevere.

The Night Shift is a medical drama that pits the need to save lives against the economic realities of running a hospital. T.C. Callahan (Eoin Mackin) is a former military doctor who has returned from a deployment in the Middle East and is about to find that the toughest battles are the ones at home. He works the late shift at San Antonio Memorial Hospital along with his military colleagues Topher (Ken Leung) and Drew (Brendan Fehr). They are confronted with the new night shift boss Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez), a bureaucrat who is more interested in cutting costs than saving lives, and his second in command Jordan Santos, who just happens to be T.C.’s former fiancee, who has to try to keep him in line, not the easiest task around.

Undateable is the name that slacker Danny Beeman (Chris D’Elia) gives to his new roommate Justin (Brent Morin) and his romantically challenged friends. Seeing himself as “the ultimate player,” Danny decides to teach them everything he knows about “the game of love.” According to the press release for the show this is, “a refreshing comedy about the ‘dos’ ‘don’ts’ and ‘duhs’ of dating.”

The best way for me to explain The Million Second Quiz is to pull straight from the network press release: “’The Million Second Quiz’ is a state-of-the-art, electrifying new live competition where contestants test the limits of their knowledge, endurance and will to win as they battle each other in intense bouts of trivia for 12 consecutive days and nights. Live from a gigantic hourglass shaped structure in the heart of Manhattan, this setting will also serve as the living quarters of the reigning champions - the four players who have remained in the game the longest. The show will be the first fully convergent television experience, where viewers will be able to play along at home in real time and sync to the live primetime broadcast. When the million seconds draw to a close, the champions will battle it out and the ultimate winner could claim an unprecedented cash prize of up to $10 million.”

Food Fighters pits home cooks against five professional chefs. The amateur cooks will produce their signature dishes which the professionals will not only try to make but will try to improve them as judged by a dinner party made up of the American public. Each victory by the amateurs will increase the amount of the prize money.

Comments: If you were keeping track you would notice that NBC cancelled all but two of the series that they announced last year at this time. Some lingered long enough to build a bit of an audience, others died so quick that you might not have noticed, and I think at least one might never have seen the light of day. All of the comedies that the network thought would take over from low rated but critically successful shows like The Office, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and Community have fallen by the wayside. Of the two shows that survived I think it can be argued that NBC squandered the success of Revolution by interrupting the series for a substantial period in the winter when Deception ran and failed to win an audience. I have to wonder if Revolution might be the next Heroes; a show that started hot but quickly fell apart.

There is nothing in the new comedy line-up that is as egregiously and obviously bad as last year’s first cancellation, Animal Practice although my enthusiasm for both Welcome To The Family and Sean Saves The World are limited. In the case of the latter it may be just because my tolerance for Sean Hayes as he was in Will & Grace is very low. Welcome to the Family reminds me of a Canadian show from the ‘70s that  I’ve mentioned here in the past Pardon My French, but that show set up the premise without going with the teen pregnancy route. And I didn’t like the line in the press release about “Caucasians in the family.” Perhaps the gem of the Fall comedies is the Michael J. Fox Show (because who doesn’t like Michael J. Fox) but much depends on what they give him to work with.Turning to the mid-season comedies, About A Boy takes the premise from a good movie so we’re going to want to see how NBC manages to screw it up (which I fully expect them to do, sadly). And I don’t know what to think about Family Guide. There are a few elements that remind me of the premise of The Wonder Years but in all honesty I just don’t have much of a feel for it.

The dramas are a really mixed bag. The two shows slated for Friday night – Dracula and Crossbones – have me shaking my head in amazement. They remind me of Pan Am and The Playboy Club (or maybe even Kings) in how far away from what American network television does they are. Shows like these might work on cable – indeed the History Channel has had some success with Vikings – but I don’t see it working here. Then again the shows are following Grimm on Friday night so they might develop a following. I think you could include Believe in that list as well except that there’s something about it that that could resonate with the public in the same way that Highway to Heaven or Touched By An Angel did years ago.

NBC has a number of procedurals on tap which might help to improve their lot over the season. The one that holds a lot of interest for me is The Blacklist. The first meeting of Reddington with Liz Keene has a strong resemblance to the first time that Clarice Starling encounters Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs. Reviving Ironside is an interesting idea, but I don’t really know that we need a new version of the classic, particularly when they strip away one of the show’s best elements: San Francisco.Certainly Blair Underwood is no Raymond Burr. As for Chicago PD, the cynical side of me sees the show as Dick Wolf getting back to what he`s most comfortable with after briefly going off in another direction with Chicago Fire. I’ll hazard a guess and suggest that the Chicago PD cops will have no more of a life outside their precinct than the cops on Law & Order did.

I want to tackle Crisis on it’s own. The obvious question to ask about this show is, “what do they do for an encore.” Or is this a big 22 (or however many) episode mini-series masquerading as a regular series with the potential to be renewed if it catches the attention of the audience. Oh well, anything to get Gillian Anderson back on TV in North America.

Special note: This should have been out much sooner than it was. My Internet and Cable TV were down for four hours on Monday which means that I wasn’t able to get the information I needed to complete this article. To get back on track I will be holding the FOX upfront material back until after The CW presents on Thursday.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Nice to see you blogging again.

Sean Saves the World could be interesting because Hayes' character has more adult responsibilities here. Technically he was a fater on Will & Grace too, but they'd generally forget that on any episode where Michael Angarano didn't appear.

Anyway, NBC had better hope they have a winning comedy this year. By their own lights last year's slate seem to have been a total loss.