Friday, May 20, 2016

CBS Upfronts 2016-17

cbslogo200Well hopefully this will post properly without devestating the FOX upfronts post or destroying the multiverse.

CBS is the most viewed TV network in the United States, although there are those who say that that doesn’t matter since their appeal to the lower part of the 18-49 demographic isn’t great. Unlike last year, when CBS introduced Supergirl to appeal to that part of the demographic (since superheroes and comic book based shows are doing well on The CW), the network doesn’t really seem to be making a huge effort to latch on to the Millennials. In fact they’ve even exiled last year’s “great young hope” to The CW. Yes, Supergirl, which did decent but not spectacular ratings number has gone to play with The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow at The CW (and in Vancouver). Also missing but not yet dead is Limitless which CBS is hoping to relocate to some other network. Coincidentally I liked both of these shows. Oh well.

Angel From Hell, CSI: Cyber, The Good Wife, Mike & Molly, Person Of Interest, Rush Hour

2 Broke Girls, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Code Black, Criminal Minds, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Elementary, Hawaii Five-0, Life In Pieces, Madam Secretary, Mom, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, The Odd Couple, Scorpion, Survivor, Thursday Night Football, Undercover Boss

New Shows
Bull, Doubt, The Great Indoors, Kevin Can Wait, MacGyver, Man With A Plan, Pure Genius, Training Day

Fall Schedule By Day (New Series in Caps)

8-8:30 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (until mid-October) KEVIN CAN WAIT
8:30-9 p.m. KEVIN CAN WAIT (until mid-October) MAN WITH A PLAN
9-9:30 p.m. 2 Broke Girls (new day and time)
9:30-10 p.m. The Odd Couple (new day and time)
10-11 p.m. Scorpion (new time)

8-9 p.m. NCIS
9-10 p.m. BULL
10-11 p.m. NCIS: New Orleans

8-9 p.m. Survivor
9-10 p.m. Criminal Minds
10-11 p.m. Code Black

Thursday (Starting October 27)
8-8:30 p.m. The Big Bang Theory
9-9:30 p.m. Mom
9:30-10 p.m. Life In Pieces
10-11 p.m. PURE GENIUS

8-9 p.m. MACGYVER
9-10 p.m. Hawaii Five 0
10-11 p.m. Blue Bloods

7-8 p.m. 60 Minutes
8-9 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles (new day and time)
9-10 p.m. Madam Secretary (new time)
10-11 p.m. Elementary

Kevin Can Wait stars Kevin James as a newly retired NYPD Sergeant (named Kevin)who has big plans for his retirement including chilling with his family and having epic adventures with his friends and fellow retirees (like combining go karts and paintball). The problem is that Kevin’s wife Donna (Erinn Hayes) has withheld certain key information from him, meaning that the challenges he’s going to have to face at home are going to be greater than those he faced on the job (like keeping himself from killing his eldest daughter’s fiance).

Man With A Plan marks Matt LeBlanc’s return to American broadcast network TV. He plays Adam, a contractor who decides to become a stay at home dad while his wife Andi (Jessica Chaffin) goes back to work. He doesn’t know what he’s in for. He – and his kids – expects that he can get away with being “daddy fun times” but he soon discovers that in their own ways his kids are maniacs. He needs to learn the tricks of getting control of his brood from other parents who’ve been there.

Bull is Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) is one of the top jury consultants in the country. He and his team use psychological analysis, intuition and high tech data to learn what makes lawyers, witnesses, and especially jurors tick. Weatherly’s character is based on Dr. Phil McGraw who, before he became a TV psychologist, was the founder of one of the top trial consulting firms ever. McGraw is one of the show’s executive producers, along with Steven Spielberg.

In The Great Indoors, Kevin McHale plays Jack a renowned outdoor adventure writer who suddenly finds himself supervising a collection of millennial online journalists when Roland (Stephen Fry), the founder of the magazine he works for, decides to take the magazine “all-digital.”  Complicating matters even more is the fact that he report has to report to Roland’s daughter Brooke (Susannah Fielding). If Jack can manage to decipher his co-workers he might be able to get them to realize that the outside world something more that an image on the screen.

Pure Genius is a medical drama with a focus on the marriage of high technology and medicine. Young Silicon Valley tech billionaire James Bell (Augustus Pew) has built Bunker Hill Hospital to revolutionize health care and take on the rarest and most challenging medical mysteries, all free of charge. Bell persuade Dr. Walter Wallace (Dermot Mulroney), a maverick neurosurgeon who believes medicine is a human rather than a technological endeavour, to be the hospital’s chief of staff. Bell has assembled a group of trailblazing young doctors to pursue his goals.

MacGyver is a re-imagining of the 1980’s series starring Lucas Till as Angus “Mac” MacGyver who uses his vast scientific knowledge and talent for improvisational problem solving to save lives while on missions for a clandestine organization that he created within the US government. Among those working with him is Lincoln (George Eads) a maverick former CIA agent.

Debuting at mid-season, Training Day is a sequel to the movie of the same name. Bill Paxton plays morally ambiguous Detective Frank Rourke who heads up the LAPD’s Special Investigation Section. Frank has built a team that is devoted to him, but his tendency to operate in the grey areas has led Deputy Chief Joy Lockhart (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) to assign untarnished rookie Kyle Craig (Justin Cornwell) as Frank’s new trainee so that he can report on Frank and the SIS’s methods. However as Frank introduces Justin to the ways of the streets they form an uneasy alliance that could change both of them.

Doubt is another series debuting at mid-season. Sadie Ellis (Katherine Heigl) is a brilliant attorney with a boutique law firm who falls in love with her client Bill Brennan (Steven Pasquale), an altruistic pediatric surgeon accused of the murder of his girlfriend 24 years before. Sadie conceals her feelings towards Bill from everyone including her best friend and colleague Albert Cobb (Dule Hill) who thingks he knows everything about her. Among the other lawyers at the firm are its revered founder Isaiah Roth (Elliott Gould) and Cameron Wirth, a transgender Ivy League graduate who fights passionately for her clients (Lavern Cox, who plays Cameron, is the frst transgender performer to play a transgender character as a series regular in a broadcast network series).

I am not very enthusiastic about most of the new CBS lineup. And it’s not just because my favourite show, The Amazing Race, is being held for mid-season (although that’s part of it). The new comedy series really don’t inspire much confidence from me. Certainly Kevin Can Wait and Man With A Plan seem like rehashes of concepts we have seen so many times before just with “big names.” The don’t inspire me and I can’t help but feeling that by the end of the 2016-17 season (if not before) CBS will regret sending Supergirl off to The CW (and keeping Limitless in limbo). The Great Indoors might be okay; on the other hand it might turn into just another workplace comedy, a type that CBS frankly doesn’t do well. I’m betting (metaphorically speaking) on the latter.

MacGyver follows a trend that I mentioned in the FOX post, reviving a show that had a perfectly good send-off for no other reason than name recognition. I haven’t seen the trailer for the series (CBS has region-blocked their trailers this year, and while I was able to track down trailers for some of he network’s shows, I didn’try to get them all) so I can’t comment on what they’re putting on the screen, but somehow it just doesn’t feel like a good idea.

Bull has a potentially interesting concept, a popular lead actor in Michael Weatherly and gives it an excellent time slot between two big CBS powerhouses (with ties to Weatherly) in NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans I can see this show doing well in the ratings while being totally ignored by the critics because it isn’t exciting or controversial. As for Pure Genius, the concept sounds a bit out there; a gimmicky medical show that isn’t the background for romantic entanglements like Grey’s Anatomy, never know what happens next cases like Code Black, and whatever it was they’re doing on Chicago Medical (a show I confess I don’t watch). Of course, since it was one of the trailers that I wasn’t able to see, it could be the greatest medical show ever, but I’m getting more of a feel of Chicago Hope than ER. Mid-season series Doubt leaves me cold. There are elements like the presence of Lavern Cox, and the description of her character’s passion that could be interesting, but given that the description gives so much attention to the relationship between the characters played by Katherine Heigl and Stephen Pasquale sends up red flags for me. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be the next Good Wife and I’m worried that the main plot line could be the least interesting thing in this show.

The show that sounds like it could be the next big thing for CBS could be the Training Day. If the network makes this show as harsh and gritty as the movie that it was based on I think there are intriguing directions that it could go in. It could very well be something of a critical darling if it’s done right, and if it can capture an audience. The midseason start doesn’t necessarily bode well for the latter.

Looking at the completed CBS lineup I can’t help feeling disappointed. CBS has tended to produce a workman-like if not necessarily spectacularly good or noteworthy list of shows that mesh together well and leave the network with hard choices when the end of the season comes around. This lineup doesn’t feel like that; it feels like there are more big problems lying in wait than lasting successes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Well That Was Embarassing

So last night I posted my evaluation of the new FOX network shows to go along with my NBC evaluation. I THOUGHT! What actually happened was that my NBC evaluation vanished.
I think I know what happened. When I started writing the FOX material I decided to use the NBC post as a template. Using Open Writer I opened the posted NBC material, changed the title, removed all of the text that I didn’t want and then wrote in the new material. Simple. I’ve done it before although maybe not with Live Writer, the Microsoft product that Open Writer is a continuation of.

What I think happened is that when I posted the draft FOX article to Blogger to do a final edit, either OpenWriter or Blogger thought I was posting a revision of the NBC post rather than a new post. And since I was kind of tired last night I didn’t pick up on the warning signs that I wasn’t posting something new, like the little orange box saying "Update" instead of "Publish".

I’ll rewrite the NBC article later in the week and make sure it goes up as a new post. Now you’ll excuse me, I have to go spread some sheep manure.

Monday, May 16, 2016

FOX Upfronts 2016-17

FOX logo(Writer’s Note: I’m falling behind on doing these upfront reports. A big part of it is that I seem to have limited time to do the actual writing during the daytime – it’s may and among other things I garden – which means that I write when I’m able to find time. To catch up I’m probably going to hold off on the ABC shows until CBS and The CW do their announcements. Which in some ways is a bit of a pity because ABC actually has some shows I’m quite interested in this year.)

Fox is traditionally the second network to present its line-up for the new season. They also have a different programming philosophy. Unlike NBC they have carefully laid out plans of when midseason shows will appear and plan to use hiatuses to air all of the shows that they pick up for the year. Thus, FOX will have the same number of new series debuting in the Fall as NBC (but because they don’t offer nighttime football they have one extra night to play with) but probably more new series overall.

FOX really seems to be pushing two things with their new shows: remakes of older shows (24 Legacy, Prison Break) and movies (Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist), and big name stars (Oscar winners Geena Davis, Richard Dreyfuss and Helen Hunt, and Oscar nominee Queen Latifah

American Idol, Bordertown, Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life, Grandfathered, The Grinder, Minority Report, Second Chance

Bob’s Burgers, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Empire, Family Guy, Gotham, Hell’s Kitchen, The Last Man On Earth, Lucifer, New Girl, Rosewood, Scream Queens, Sleepy Hollow, The Simpsons 

New Shows
24: Legacy, A.P.B., The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon, Making History, The Mick, Pitch, Shots Fired, Son of Zorn, Star, Prison Break

Fall Schedule By Day (New Series in Caps)

8-9 p.m. Gotham / 24 LEGACY / Gotham
9-10 p.m. Lucifer / A.P.B. / Lucifer

8-8:30 p.m. Brooklyn Nine-Nine / New Girl/ Brooklyn Nine-Nine
8:30-9 p.m. New Girl / THE MICK
9-10 p.m. Scream Queens / KICKING AND SCREAMING / PITCH

9-10 p.m. Empire / STAR / Empire

8-9 p.m. Rosewood (new day and time)
9-10 p.m. Bones (new time) / PRISON BREAK

8-9 p.m. Hell’s Kitchen / Master Chef Junior
9-10 p.m. THE EXORCIST / Sleepy Hollow

7-7:30 p.m. NFL On Fox
7:30-8 p.m. The OT / Bob’s Burgers
8-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons
9-9:30 p.m. Family Guy
9:30-10 p.m. Last Man on Earth

24: Legacy is 24 without Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland has a show on ABC but is serving as an Executive Producer on this version of the show). Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) is an ex-Army Ranger who has returned to America from a mission for a revived CTU. Trouble follows him and he has to reach out to former CTU head Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) to help him prevent what might be the biggest terrorist attack on US soil.

A.P.B.: When a the mentor and best friend of tech billionaire Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) is murdered and the precinct where the killing happened is too hit by budget cuts to investigate the crime, he effectively buys the precinct. Equipping the precinct with the latest in high-tech gadgetry, including a phone app called A.P.B., Reeves sets out to show what can be done with a privatized police force.

In The Exorcist Geena Davis plays Angela Rance, a woman who is convinced that her home is housing a demon since her eldest daughter returned home from college. Alonso Herrera plays Father Tomas, her parish priest to whom she turns for help, and Ben Daniels is Father Marcus, the priest to whom he turns for help.

Lethal Weapon is based on the movies of the same name, starring Damon Wayans as Roger Murtagh and Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs. I think that’s all that really needs to be said.

The premise of the new comedy Making History is that a nerdy college science professor (Adam Pally) develops a time machine (in a large gym bag) that allows them to travel back in time to 1775. Unfortuntely his presence there (where he’s dating Paul Revere’s daughter) seems to be interfering with the events leading to the American Revolution. In order to set things right, he gets one of the university’s history professors (Yassir Lester) to help set things right. Hilarity – and ham – ensues, (the latter part of that is a sample of what the writers find funny in this).

In The Mick, Kaitlin Olson plays Mackenzie, known as “Mickey.” She’s a two bit hustler who actively avoids responsibility. She suddenly finds herself forced to take responsibility when her estranged sister and billionaire brother-in-law flee the country to avoid going to prison for tax evasion. They leave Mickey with their three kids. Motherhood was never in her plans but she has to transform these spoiled rich kids into  well-adjusted, hard working, decent members of society. Which is hard since she herself has never been any of these things.

In Pitch Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is suddenly propelled into the spotlight when the San Diego Padres sign her as the first woman to play major league baseball. to make a success of her career she not only has to perform but she has to win over her new team mates, many of whom don’t want to see a woman in professional baseball. She has her supporters, including catcher Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and her agent Amelia Slater (Ali Larter).

Shots Fired takes a look at one of the major issues of our times. When a white college student is shot to death by an apparently racist black police officer, a pair of Justice Department investigators are sent to a small North Carolina town. What Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan) and Preston Terry (Stephan James), both of whom are African-American, discover is the neglected murder of a Black teen, and tensions that are on the verge of igniting. They begin to suspect a cover-up that may go as high as the state’s governor played by Helen Hunt.

Son of Zorn may be the ultimate fish-out-of-water comedy. Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudekis) comes from an island in the South Pacific where everyone is an animated character. He comes to Orange County, California to reconnect with his ex-wife Edie and estranged teenage son Alangulon, who are flesh and blood (Cheryl Hines and Johnny Pemberton respectively). Complicating matters is that Zorn is not only an animated character, he’s also a barbarian warrior. Nevertheless, to reconnect with his son he’s willing to settle down rent an apartment and get a job in the “exciting field of industrial soap sales.”

Star is a new series from the creator of Empire, Lee Daniels. Like Empire it is set in the music industry but is about young artists looking for their big break. Star (Jude Demorest), her sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady), and “Instagram bestie” Alexandra (Ryan Destiny) journey to Atlanta to make it in the music industry as a girl group. They are taken under the wing of beauty salon owner Carlotta (Queen Latifah), who had her own dreams of stardom shattered. She doesn’t approve of the girls’ desire to make it in the music industry, but she’ll stand by them.

Prison Break is back again as a limited series with original stars Wentworth Miller and Domenic Purcell (fresh off their time on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash). When Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callis) discovers that Michael Scofield might still be alive she enlists the help of his brother Lincoln Burrows and several of the Fox River Prison escapees to rescue him from a prison break in another country.

In my opinion, based on watching the trailers tht FOX has put online, there seem to be a few good things in the network’s new season line-up along with some shows that I don’t really understand the need for. And then there are some shows that I can’t understand why anyone would want to watch. Those will probably be big hits.

Does anyone really need to see new versions of Lethal Weapon or The Exorcist? At the end of the 2015-16 season we saw CBS try to do a TV version of Rush Hour. It didn’t work and as far as I can see it didn’t work because there was no demand for seeing the concept revived with a TV budget and without the original stars. I really don’t think the Lethal Weapon remake will be successful and I have my doubts about The Exorcist as well. Of the two TV series revivals, I think 24: Legacy at least has some potential without Kiefer Sutherland. On the other hand I simply don’t see the need for the Prison Break sequel. We had closure with the original series; why revisit it.

I’m dubious about two of FOX’s new comedies, Son Of  Zorn and Making History. The former is a colossal gimmick that I found vaguely funny in the trailer while the latter reminds me of the sort of show that the old UPN network would put on in their Homeboys From Outer Space period. Of the two I think Son of Zorn might find a way to succeed in the ratings (so with my track record that mean’s they’ll both be huge hits). I’m also not sure about A.P.B. The concept is interesting but it might be a touch on the futuristic side and more than a little bit hard to believe. That said I thought the little bit I saw was fun. My problem is that the show might garner the sort of reaction that Almost Human did a few years ago. Or Minority Report did this past season.

The shows that I think have promise (besides 24: Legacy) are Pitch, Shots Fired, Star, and surprisingly The Mick. Pitch want’s to be Jackie Robinson’s story with a woman instead of a minority male, but if it’s done right could be involving even if the premise is hard to swallow. Star is a perfect fit to take over Empire’s time slot and I think that the fact that it is a personal drama rather than the sometimes over the top soap opera tendencies of Empire (come on admit that Empire reminds you just a little of Dallas) is a mark in it’s favour as far as I’m concerned. The strength of Shots Fired should be apparent to anyone watching the trailer. FOX is taking on a serious issue and is doing a serious job with it. Finally, the trailer for The Mick was a genuine surprise for me. I liked the lead character and I thought they got the kids right (and the Hispanic maid was a hoot). Of course, when I think about it I am struck by a superficial resemblance to the concept for The Nanny (minus the romantic entanglement in that show) but then I loved The Nanny.