Monday, May 17, 2010

Network Upfronts 2010: NBC, Better Get Used To 4th Place.

Today I watched the NBC upfront at my office. It made me want to bash my head on the table, and not just because it ate into my lunch hour.

The new shows (and there are 13 of them) mostly ranged from bland to blander to OMG ARE THERE NO CREATIVE MINDS LEFT IN HOLLYWOOD?

Only one show made it onto my "maybe" list: The new Kathy Bates lawyer drama, Harry's Law (coming midseason). Kathy Bates plays a spunky patent lawyer named Harry (Harriet) who hates her job. So she starts up her own firm inside a former shoe warehouse. Or something. And she becomes a trial lawyer...a really good one. It doesn't sound like much, but it was the only show that didn't make me want to put a bullet through my eye.

The other new shows:

Undercovers (Wednesdays at 8PM)--Remember how I said I might check it out based on the casting alone? Well, the casting is still great (wow, black people who aren't just sidekicks!), but the show itself...meh. The trailer spent a LOT of time on the boring marriage of the lead couple, and how the marriage gets spiced up once they start going on spy adventures and killing people and running from explosions. It's like Chuck with married people, and not as funny. Grade: C.

Law & Order: Los Angeles (Wednesdays at 10PM)--Out with the old [L&O], in with the new. NBC didn't tell us much about the show. We don't even know who's going to be in it. Grade: TBD.

Outsourced (Thursdays at 930PM)--It has the most potential to be funny, and indeed, the clips we saw were pretty funny. Then I started thinking that it was offensive-funny, or at least dangerously close to being so. A whole sitcom poking fun at Indian accents and Indians trying (and failing) to act American? And it's one thing for Indians to poke fun at themselves; it's another thing to have a couple of white actors leading the show and the Indians are just there for comic relief (at least, that's what it seemed like). It made me uncomfortable. I'm hoping I'm completely wrong and reading WAY too much into this. Which I sometimes do. But I'm just sayin'. Grade: C.

Love Bites (Thursdays at 10PM)--NBC showed us a very long clip of this hourlong comedy. They called it a "vignette." I call it 15 minutes of not laughing. Basically it featured Greg Grunberg as this dude, and Craig Robinson from The Office as, what else, his sidekick. They're about to get on an airplane when they meet Jennifer Love Hewitt, who is on Greg's celebrity cheating exemption list. Long story short, it was entertaining for what it was, but not anything more than that. I like Greg Grunberg, though. Grade: C-.

Outlaw (Fridays at 10PM)--Jimmy Smits is back. He plays a Supreme Court justice who leaves the bench to become a lawyer. My coworkers seemed to like this one, but I was just bored. Grade: C.

Perfect Couples (Midseason, TBA)--I hate the concept of this show. It's about three couples (all white and hetero, of course) who hang out and play Charades and have awkward sex. I'm BORED just typing this. Grade: F.

Friends with Benefits (Midseason, TBA)--Another winner. This time, instead of COUPLES, it's a bunch of twenty/thirtysomething SINGLES. And the title is self-explanatory. Don't bother with this one, even though Riley from Melrose Place is in it. Grade: F.

The Cape (Midseason, TBA)--It's about a dad who reads comic books featuring a superhero called The Cape with his son at bedtime. Then the dad (a cop) gets framed for murder and is presumed dead and he goes into hiding and becomes The Cape and fights bad guys and abandons his son. But don't worry, he still finds ways to visit his son (incognito, of course) and share fatherly advice with him, like "Study math." This show looks less promising than Heroes, and that one died a most unceremonious death. I have no hopes for this one to save NBC. Grade: C-.

The Paul Reiser Show (Midseason, TBA)--I never watched Mad About You. So I don't know who Paul Reiser is other than his name, which occasionally appears in crossword puzzles. He has a new comedy which may/may not be based on his life (it was hard to tell based on the trailer, and also, I didn't care enough to pay attention). Grade: C.

Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to view the trailers for The Event and Chase, the two shows following Chuck on Monday nights. So I can't comment on how they look, only their descriptions. Also, NBC didn't talk about its new Friday night reality show, School Pride, so I won't comment on that either.

All in all, a most disappointing crop of new shows for NBC. Looks like it's a return trip to fourth place, Peacock!

(Pictured: An ad for the new "comedy", Friends with Benefits. "Hoho, let's stand on a rooftop drinking beers and gaze off into the distance/check our PDAs!" Meh.)

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