Archive | September, 2012

Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: Fox

18 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

Fox, loaded with terrible competition shows, which kill scripted tv, and with an hour less of programming than CBS, ABC and NBC, only features three new shows this fall, coming off a fairly successful season.  Let’s take a look.

The Mindy Project – 9/25

Mindy Kaling, The Office’s Kelly Kapur plays a gynecologist just over 30 who is only now realizing that her life is not a romantic comedy and trying to put it together.  If I created some sort of buzzometer based on internet chatter, this would go up near the top.  She’s basically a slightly more fleshed out, less extreme, and more competent version of Kelly, and co-stars include Groundhog’s Day Ned Ryerson, Stephen Tobolowsky, recurring character actor Chris Messina (The Newsroom, Six Feet Under, Ruby Sparks), True Blood anti-vampire crusader Anna Camp, and some British dude named Ed Weeks.  I’ve seen it, and while it’s not great off the bat, I have hope.

Verdict:  Renewal – I think Fox will be all behind The Mindy Project and looking to make it a success in any way possible, and pairing it with New Girl is a fantastic idea.  If it opens even okay, I think it’ll cruise towards renewal and hopefully develop into part of the new answer to the dying NBC Thursday night comedy block.

Ben and Kate – 9/25

Academy Award-winning writer Nat Faxon takes on the titular role as Ben, a mid-30s happy screw up who moves back home to live with his mores responsible and serious sister Kate, and help watch over Kate’s young daughter.  The premise does not sound particularly good, and the previews didn’t look great, but I’ve seen it, and it’s definitely promising.

Verdict: Renewal – I would never have given it this review if I hadn’t watched it already, and I honestly shouldn’t be giving it this review now, since it’s more of a vote based on my personal thoughts than on it’s objectively likelihood which always leads one to trouble (see:  picking 2 Broke Girls to fail quickly).  That said, it looks pretty good, and it’s on what could shape up to be a nice little Fox tuesday comedy block, so maybe if it gets caught up in that with New Girl and Mindy Project it’ll get just enough love.

The Mob Doctor – 9/17

My Boys’ own Jordana Spiro is a doctor with old famiy mob connections.  Somehow or other she gets pulled into managing some combination of regular doctoring and doctoring for the mob, and well, I’m not really sure.  I guess it was only a matter of time before we figured out a way to merge doctor show and gangster show.  I’m glad we did in theory, but probably not in practice.  It also co-stars fantastic that guy William Forsythe (He already has gangster experience as Manny Horvitz on Boardwalk Empire), former Dillon High QB Zach Gilford, and my all-time favorite TV recurring character actor Zeljko Ivanek.

Verdict:  13-  On my confidence meter, I think I’d be put this one up as fairly likely to be cancelled.  Looks bad, not supposed to be good, not a whole lot of advertising, and I’m just not feeling it, in my arbitrary “feel” method of prediction.

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Fall 2012 Review: The Mindy Project

17 Sep

The Mindy Project had the blogs and entertainment sites a buzzing, probably moreso than any other comedy this season.  Mindy Kaling who was best known for both acting, as Kelly Kapur, and writing for The Office for many seasons, has become a star on the grow at least since she published her memoir, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me ?(And Other Concerns)” last year, if not earlier.  In the show, Mindy plays a gynecologist, honoring her mom who was an actual gynecology.  Let’s take a look at the first episode.

In one of my least favorite plot devices, we see a craaazy point in time where Mindy is now and then are shown, via flashback, the events that preceded.  Mindy’s in her pretty dress sitting down cuffed after being arrested by the police for a drunk and disorderly.  HOW DID SHE GET THERE!  I MUST KNOW.

Okay, that’s a bit much.  Anyway, it turns out that Mindy, and this won’t be a surprise for anyone who has read anything about or by Mindy Kaling, grew up obsessed with romantic comedies and obessed with the idea that her life would be one.  We see quick flashbacks of her obsession through high school and college and all the way up to being a doctor, when all of a sudden she has the perfect meet cute situation.  She runs into her perfect guy on an elevator, and all of a sudden, the elevator malfunctions, after the guy accidentally dropped his papers and she helped pick them up.  (Pause: Bill Hader is her dream guy?  Seriously?  Was Will Forte not available?)  They’re dating, and everything’s going well until he dumps her for someone else, and flash forward she’s at the wedding, getting wasted and giving a vindictive speech, and then running away, and into a pool where she has a conversation with a doll about how life is not a rom com and she needs to shape up.  She drunkenly bikes away and then gets arrested.

Boom, Mindy’s gone through a traumatic experience and it’s time to change her life.  She’s going to settle down, drink less, and earn more.  She meets with best friend Gwen (played by Anna Camp, Reverend Newlin’s wife in True Blood and some recurring character in The Good Wife).  Gwen, who is married with a young daughter, sets her up with a nice guy, which turns out to be Ed Helms, and the date is going more or less just fine until she’s interrupted when she has to attend to the birth of a poor mother she took on out of sympathy.  Frustrated by the way the date ended, Kaling wavers on her resolution and decides to have meaningless sex with vapid Brit doctor Jeremy.  In terms of other characters, we also have arrogant but honest doctor Danny (classic that guy Chris Messina, who recurred on The Newsroom and the last season of Six Feet Under) who will be a constant thorn in Mindy’s side and possibly a hate-turns-to-love interest?  We also have two clerical assistants for Mindy, whose names I don’t remember, one of whom seems like they’re supposed to be Erin from The Office type stupid, and also amazing that guy Stephen Tobolowsky as Mindy’s boss.

So, on the whole I’d say the project isn’t a complete success so far, but there are elements that work or will work with some fine tuning.  Honestly, this was my most eagerly anticipated new comedy and I was a little bit disappointed, relative to expectations.  It had a number of funny parts but definitely didn’t all come together (few comedies do in the first episode; for every Community with a hilarious debut, there’s a 30 Rock and a Parks and Recreation that take a few episodes to gel).  Mindy Kaling may still be finding herself.  Her character unsurprisngly shared some aspects with Kelly from The Office – over-talkative and overdramatic, but she’ll have to develop fuller as the star of the show rather than a side character.

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I will.  I like Kaling overall, and I like Chris Messina, and though I actually thought Ben and Kate was better, I think there’s enough combination of potential and pedigree here.  I think I’d try it again without having the preconception of this being a good show doing to the people involved, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Fall 2012 Review: Ben and Kate

16 Sep

I didn’t really have any thoughts  one way or the other about Ben and Kate originally except excitement at seeing Nat Faxon, who plays Ben as is best known by me as one episode Party Down character Garland Greenbush (he’s the annual all around winner at the Party Down company picnic; Casey calls him an “unemployed wizard”) and Academy Award winner for co-writing The Descendants.  All I knew was that it was about brother and sister, and, well you can tell from the picture, Faxon plays kind of an idiot.  It’s also kind of rare to see a successful comedy based around siblings, and it’s an obvious arrangement that honestly I’m really surprised isn’t used more often.

Every since they were little, Ben, the older brother, was sort of a happy-go-lucky dingbat who makes other people laugh but has no sense of responsibility whatsoever while younger sister Kate got pregnant young (a la Goldie from The New Normal, regular blog readers note) and has had a heightened sense of responsibility since she was younger, due to I’m sure many things, but certainly largely due to having a kid.  Ben blows in and out of town on a whim, stopping by Kate’s for a day or a weekend and then leaving again to his home apparently in Sacramento.

Ben blows into town once again in the current day.  He’s here this time because the only woman he ever loved is apparently getting married, and he’s planning to crash the wedding with his one friend, Tommy.

Kate, meanwhile has had trouble with men ever since the birth of her daughter, and Ben is always there to make a bad situation worse.  This time, she’s dating George (a guy she really really likes, people) and Ben is already making things awkward when he barges in when they’re about to make out on the couch.

On the way to crash the wedding with Kate’s daughter (Ben did not approve of the babysitter, so decided to take the daughter along with him), Kate accidentally dials Ben on her phone, and Ben overhears George talking to another woman on his phone, leading him to switch plans mid-gear, prevent Kate from sleeping with the sleazebag George, and miss crashing the wedding in the process.  They all go to the wedding together, where Ben gives a horrendous rendition of the speech he wrote on his hand but can’t read to his great love, only to find out that she was married an hour ago.

Ben, down on life, but getting over it, tells Kate, maybe he’ll stick around this time and help her raise her kid, while she gets a chance to get her life more together (after all, he’s only moving from Sacramento – Sacramento burn);  while he’s admittedly a completely irresponsible dingbat, he knows how to laugh and enjoy himself, something she could use.  Our happy family then, including Ben, Kate, the daughter, Tommy, and Kate’s fellow bartender friend BJ all travel back from the wedding festivities together.

A lot of the charm of the show was purely the humor of Faxon (again, I admit I’m biased from his fantastic Party Down cameo, again, as what Casey calls a “wizard of making woman uncomfortable”).  There’s a scene where he’s making a U-turn in Kate’s huge car and it could easily be mundane and pointless but instead is possibly the funniest scene in the show.  There’s another couple of silly scenes of him making fun of the weakness of George’s high five which made me laugh.  He carefully walked the line between hilarious and lovable and total idiot (the Andy Dwyer line?).  Lucy Punch, the British actress who played BJ, had a couple of funny lines at the bar trying to tell Kate how to seduce a man, and strangely reminding me of Ricky Gervais – I think all British comedy is just the same.

Will I watch it again?  Yeah I think I’m going to.  I’m not 100% sold yet, but I laughed enough and I like Faxon enough to bring me back for at the least another episode.

Summer 2012 Review: Bunheads

15 Sep

I’ve always suspected I would like Gilmore Girls if I ever got around to watching it.  By the time I was ever really aware of the show, it was fairly far along into its existence, and it wasn’t quite so easy to acquire full seasons of shows, and it’s never had the must must watch tag of The Wire or Six Feet Under or The Sopranos, and well, I never did get around to seeing more than 15 minutes at a time of the show. Everything I’ve heard about it though suggests it’d be up my alley; most of all the fast talking and pop culture references for which it’s famous.

So having not previewed cable shows as thoroghly as I did network shows, I came into Bunheads, created by Gilmore Girls’ Amy Sherman-Palladino,  knowing, for me, surprisingly little. I knew it was about dancing, and I suspected, because it was on ABC Family, that somehow kids would be involved, and that there was some sort of controversy about all the main characters being white. I was actually surprised twice during the first episode at events that led to the establishment of the premise of the show.  Honestly, before I knew anything, I thought it was some sort of show about muslims, and that bunheads was a derogatory term.

The show starts with a frustrated vegas dancer, complaining about the essence of her day to day life in the chorus of a Las Vegas revue, and frustrated that her career can’t evolve further. She turns down a coworkers offer to get drunk because she has a big audition the next day, for Chicago, where she could get to be a real dancer again (the musical, not the city). She has a frequent admirer/stalker who comes and visits her in the dressing room every time he’s in town(portrayed by Spin City/Ferris Bueller’s Alan Ruck), buys her flowers and gifts and tries to take her out to dinner. She goes out of her way to avoid and turn him down. The audition is a nightmare when the director takes one look at her and does not even let her show off her routine. Being in such a bad mood, she wants to deal with no one, but lets her guard down and lets her admirer take her out for a meal, where she gets trashed and he proposes to her and tells her about his hometown. Several hours later she wakes up in a car and puts things together and realizes she’s now married to this dude and off to his hometown.

Pause here – I thought for sure something bad was going to happen. Maybe I’ve learned to be inclined that way from years of television, but I assumed this guy was super creepy for real and she was going to end up dead in a ditch, or, well, I didn’t really know what bad, but I assumed something bad would happen. Something bad does not at all happen, or at least nothing epically bad like that.

She arrives in his sleepy coastal town of Paradise, California, where it turns out that his description of living right on the water was correct, but that he omitted that he lives with his mother. The mother just happens to be a ballet teacher to a class of kids, but in particular to four teen friends, who hang out and all have different personalities, which I’m sure we’re going to learn more about as the show goes on. From what I can gather, one is super talented but cynical and unmotivated, one is really into it but doesn’t have the body type to be a great dancer and is insecure about that, one keeps talking about how her boobs are getting bigger, and then there’s a fourth who I think is maybe a follower of the first. Anyway, it turns out the guy is actually a super duper nice guy if actually a little creepy, and, yes, he realizes she doesn’t love him, but that’s okay, because he loves her and she might reciprocate some day. She is touched, they have sex, and then she gets into a fight with his mom at a party she’s throwing for the newly married couple. She wanders into the dance studio where the teens are drinking some beer and teaches them about auditions and shows them some dance moves. The mom walks in, sees how good she is with the girls, and the two of them go to the bar and talk. They have some heart to heart moments about lost promise and potential and dance, when all of a sudden her husband’s ex walks in with some terrible news.

Okay, so they don’t actually say straight out what it is but I happen to know (second episode spoiler?), the guy died in an auto accident all of a sudden, which since I knew nothing about the show I found quite surprising. So, without knowing the premise, that’s two pretty crazy turns – that our main character gets married to a stalker after a drunken night in Vegas and that the guy then died like literally the next night in an auto wreck. I like Sherman-Palladino’s (boy that name is a mouthful) style.  The dialogue was snappy and well executed for the most part.  It veered a little dangerously Glee-y when everyone started to break out in dance at the bar after our main character and her new mother-in-law had their heart to heart, but aside from that seen the potential schmatz was low.  It’s unfortunate that dance is definitely pretty low on things-I’m-interested-in but a great show transcends its subject.  This wasn’t a great show from its first episode, but it was actually pretty good.

Will I watch it again?  It’s at least maybe. This was definitely better than shows I’ve said maybe to in the past.  I’m going to be swamped with new shows over the next month, but as for candidates that I swing back around towards like I did Boss this summer, depending on how many good shows pop up in the fall, I wouldn’t rule it out.  Honestly though, what will most likely happen is that I’ll forget all about it entirely until unless the next season starts because it’s on ABC Family, and who remembers that ABC Family has shows.

Fall 2012 Review: The New Normal

14 Sep

Maybe I had this preconception going in, so it’s unfair, but The New Normal felt like it definitely oozed a lot of the Glee Ryan Muprhy sensibility (probably not as much American Horror Story).  Not so much songs, but very slickly and cleanly produced and very quirkly, while also wearing social and racial issues on its sleeve, without a trace of subtlety.  This is exemplified by the grandmother character played by Ellen Barkin whose one note is calling everybody racist or homophobic names, and who comes off as a very poor man’s Jessica Walter in Arrested Development.

Let’s start with our premise.  An otherwise contented and career-wise successful gay couple decides they want a child.  The more flamboyant of the couple does something or other in an office where he has a sassy black female assistant who he lavishes with gifts that she buys with his dime, while the sport-loving more masculine member (played by Doug, the groom from the Hangover’s Justin Bartha) is a gynecologist.  The two find an egg donor they love (she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow) but the original surrogate for their baby attempts to blackmail them, threatening to smoke and drink unless they cater to her expensive needs.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Midwest, Goldie is working as a waitress/bartender (guessing based on uniform) and regretting her past mistakes, having a kid at 15 (her greatest mistake, in both senses of the word, etc, etc) which never let her live out her dream of going to law school.  She’s on her way to work with her aforementioned homophobic, racist, grandmother, and her daughter, when she has to stop back at home after forgetting something.  She finds her douchebaggy husband having sex with another woman, and sees this as a moment to leave everything behind and drive straight to the west coast.  Although she is originally consigned to coming back, having no money, she decides to attempt to stay, forge a new life out west, and make a go of it.

Eventually our two halves are matched up as David and Bryan (the gay couple) get matched up with Goldie who has decided to be a surrogate and as it turned out specifically requested a gay couple.  Everything’s going swimmingly as Goldie and her daughter and David and Bryan get along famously, until her grandmother storms implores her not to carry a gay couple’s baby (using more choice language, I assure you).  Goldie goes through with it, and she’s back with the couple and her daughter and we’re right about to see whether the baby took or not when the show ends (I’ve got a sneaking feeling it did).

It’s kind of Modern Family light.  There’s a big all families are different but loving message and although unorthodox totally the opposite of dysfunctional (well, grandmother aside, maybe).  It’s probably warmer and sweeter than it is funny, and generally quirky without being over the top ridiculous.  It’s not bad at all.  I felt glad for the couple too, and for Goldie to start her new life, in just that episode.  It’s not that good either though.  There’s nothing, after watching it that really pulls me back.  With comedies, it’s not really about seeing a finished product as much as it is seeing signs that can improve into something you want to watch every week.  To its credit, the show seems to come out fully formed.  Unfortunately fully formed, while not bad, is not good enough.  I have a hard time seeing this turn into a show I eagerly anticipate the next episode of .

Will I watch again?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think it’s bad, but there’s nothing compelling enough to come back for a second episode with so many other choices out there.  Even Modern Family, which had strong moments was never really my favorite kind of show.

Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: ABC

13 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

ABC next.  The network sits pretty and in the middle of the pack, and has five new shows on offer this fall.

666 Park Avenue – 9/30 

An evil apartment building.  Yes, that is what the show seems to be about.  Already, the season grows less exciting.  Lost veteran Terry O’Quinn (John Locke) portrays the evil owner of the building, married to Vanessa Williams.  The series premise is set when a couple, not  presumably knowing the evil nature of this building, moves in and takes over roles as co-managers of the building.  The building is filled with a bunch of supernatural shit, and it’s goal is probably to be something like Lost meets Revenge (high class trashy soapy fun of Revenge with the supernatural aspects of Lost).

Verdict:  13- Revenge against some odds worked both critically and commercially, but I’m taking the under on lightning striking twice.  I have no idea what to expect in terms of the quality of this program, but but I don’t have a lot of faith; while hardly a crazy obvious cancellation (where are you, Allen Gregory?) some shows have got to go.

Last Resort – 9/27

The Shield’s Shawn Ryan (yes, I know I need to go back and watch The Shield – it and Dr. Who are my top 2 long term big TV projects that hopefully will happen one day) brings us this kind of cool set up about a US Navy submarine which gets an order to set off a nuclear bomb, and defies it, setting up at an island until they can figure out how to get back home without being considered traitors.  I’m calling this Crimson Tide meets Lost (yes, nearly every new ABC hour long program can be described as something meets Lost).  It starts the estimable Andre Braugher of Homicide and Men of a Certain Age and Scott Speedman of many Underworld films as the top two in command of the sub.

Verdict:  14+  I almost put renewal.  I really wanted to, but  these high concept shows have so much going against them that lower their chances of success.  Without quickly picking up both a huge amount of critical buzz (which is enough to initially give concepts juice on premium cable, but not so much on networks) and a minimum of commercial interest, grand high concept serial series (which I think this is?) have a difficult go of it (Lonestar, anybody).  I’m only picking 14+ over 13- now because of the Shawn Ryan name.  I hope it will be good though.

The Neighbors – 9/26

Classic that-guy (and Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame member) Lenny Venito and ‘80s semi-brat pack actress Jami Gertz are a couple who move into a New Jersey housing complex, and find out their neighbors are aliens who name themselves after American sports legends and have weird Conehead-like alien tendencies.  I’m honestly not sure what to think; it sounds ridiculous and cartoonish, but there’s a number of different tones the show could be going for here; out and out silly, corny, absurdist, cheeky and over the top.   It’s easy to lean towards this show being bad, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Verdict:  14+  I have no fucking clue.  This could be a classic 13-, it’s honestly one of the more obviously 13- sounding shows on this list.  However, I’ve briefly come across articles that the show is better than I expected it to be, and there’s this off and unlikely chance it could be a weird quirky success.  I’d still bet against it, but compromising here.

Nashville – 10/10

One of the shows I’m most excited about, it sounds like Country Strong the show (actually that’s not the comparison I should be making right after saying I’m excited about the show) on the surface, about a middle aged female country superstar (played by the great Tammy Taylor FNL actress Connie Britton) and an up and comer who wants the spotlight on her, played by Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere.  Plus, there’s I don’t know, a bunch of country music?  I don’t know what the natural arc of this show is, and maybe that’s a bad thing, but also maybe that’s why it’s interesting.

Verdict:  Renewal – This and Last Resort were probably the two shows that sounded most promising to me from the basic descriptions.  Last Resort, well, I’m a sucker for at least being interested in all shows like that, but few are better than mediocre, and most fail.  Nashville, however doesn’t fit that pattern.  I don’t care all that much about country music, so it’s not that angle, and I’m not sure what my good reason for interest aside the fact that it stars Connie Britton and it sounds, well, different.  I think we’ll know within a few episodes whether this show is sticking around.

Malibu Country – 11/2

Reba is back, baby.  You knew TV couldn’t be without her for too long.  Reba, a Nashville resident, naturally, and playing a character named Reba, finds her husband cheating and moves from Nashville to, you guessed it, Malibu, California.  Her mom is played by Lily Tomlin, which tells you how old Lily Tomlin is.  Oh, shocker, Reba plays a one-time country music singer, who is now trying to reignite her career.

Verdict:  13- This looks like the type of predictable utterly forgettable sitcom Then again, Reba ran for six seasons (wow, is the right answer), so who am I to say it can’t happen again.  I’ll say it though.  It’s probably not going to happen again.  This would be high up for me on the most likely 13 or less choices this year, though the relative success of Last Man Standing proves that I know nothing.

Fall 2012 Preview and Predictions: NBC

11 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (now spring!) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  14+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  13- – the show is cancelled before 13)

NBC

NBC has the first debuts this year so we’ll start there.  The last place network, which is coming off a super popular Olympics high, has six new shows initially scheduled to air this fall.  Let’s take a look.

Go On – 9/11

Go On aired a special pilot sneak preview in August, as NBC tried to take advantage of the one time people were actually watching, during the Olympics to promote a couple of its new shows.  You can read my full review of the pilot here, but here’s the basic premise.  Friends veteran Matthew Perry is an egomaniacal sports talk radio shock jock who is forced by his employers to attend grief therapy while dealing with the death of his wife.  He helps out the other members of the therapy group, while also learning from them, etc, etc.

Verdict:  14+ I don’t see it going that far – it’s just not that good, and while obviously that means little to nothing in what happens to shows on network television, I don’t think audiences will connect – I don’t really see it’s audience – not Community enough for that crowd, or Whitney enough for that crowd (I hope that’s not really a crowd).  Perry’s name will get it the full season pick up though.  Also, it’s better than Mr. Sunshine, which is worth something I suppose.

Animal Practice – 9/26

The other NBC show which got a shot at airing during the Olympics, a full review can be found here.  It’s about a veterinarian who loves animals, but not so much their owners.  He’s now forced to work with the new owner of his animal hospital, who is an old flame, who is returning after having not seen him for a couple of years.  Also a couple of wacky sidekicks and a monkey that does human stuff.  So that’s cool.

Verdict:  13-  Honestly, a quick look over the fall shows (and maybe I’ll regret this when I get to CBS or Fox) tells me there are far fewer crazy obvious instant cancellations like The Playboy Club and I Hate My Teenage Daughter (and Last Man Standing…oh, wait).  Something’s got to get cancelled.  Probably quite a few somethings.  This utterly forgettable show will likely be one of them.

Chicago Fire – 10/10

Too soon for a reference to a disaster that killed hundreds and destroyed over three square miles of downtown Chicago?  House’s Jesse Spencer is the lead in an ensemble show focusing on the exciting and fast-paced lives of firefighters and paramedics in Chicago (the non-police two thirds of Third Watch).  It’s less overused than cops for sure, so small amount of credit there, but it offhanded screams out generic procedural (I really think the logic was um, cops, been there – how about firefighters?), maybe with some personal life business to get you all attached to those characters.  We’ll see though.

Verdict:  Renewed – crapshoot 101.  NBC has not been a big home to procedurals of late, but they’ve got new management and probably want to follow the CBS model to success, with at least one.  Prime Suspect did fail miserably last year, but boy, NBC would take almost anything right now.  Oh, and it’s produced by a guy named Dick Wolf who used to have some pull around NBC.   Dick Wolf claims he chose Chicago over Law & Order’s NYC to be different but if you don’t think it’s because of the name you’re kidding yourself (future overseas spin off The Great London Fire?  Think about it).

Guys With Kids – 9/26

Jimmy Fallon co-created this sitcom which stars Law & Order verteran Anthony Anderson, Whitest Kid U Know Zach Cregger, and general actor who is in a bunch of things but no one super notable role Jesse Bradford as three dads with young kids, “desperately trying to remain dudes” as the official NBC web site tells us.  Two are married, one is divorced.  Anderson is married to Cosby Show daughter Tempest Bledsoe and Cregger is married to Sopranos daughter Jamie-Lynn Sigler.  Can they remain “cool” with little kiddies by their side?  Only time will tell.  It seems incredibly uninspired but who knows these days.

Verdict – 13- – it’s got the Jimmy Fallon backing and early reports say that it might be better than I instinctively thought (any show about dudes trying to remain dudes just reeks off the bat but comedies are less premise dependent than dramas) But again, it’s NBC so I have to assume that a fair amount of their shows will get cancelled.

The New Normal – 9/11

Ryan Murphy kind of owns television these days.  Glee is still going str…well, going.  American Horror Story made some splashes last fall and will be back.  And this year he’s got a more traditional comedy featuring a less traditional group of folks.  A career oriented gay couple decides they want a kid, and hire a surrogate mother from the Midwest who has an 8 year old kid of her own who comes out west where they live.  She’s accompanied by her racist, homophobic grandmother (I’m kind of guessing about the racist, homophobic part).  And now, they’re THE NEW NORMAL.  It smells a lot like Modern Family, for better or worse.

Verdict:  Renewal – Ryan Murphy’s on something of a role these days, and what network wouldn’t kill for even a shot at the next Modern Family, which will be winning Best Comedy Emmys like Rafael Nadal wins French Opens (Congrats Andy Murray by the way!).

Revolution – 9/17

JJ Abrams 101.  A post-apocalyptic future where the power is out, for good.  Without electricity, the world descends into chaos with militias and warlords and what not ruling their own patches of earth.  Is the supernatural involved?  Who knows.  Our own roving band of misfits is being pursued by a particular militia.  Actors included Twilight grad Billy Burke, Lost grad Elizabeth Mitchell (and a star of V, cementing her sci-fi TV cred), Gustavo Fring himself, Giancarlo Esposito, and a bunch of relative newbies.  After failure after failure (see:  Terra Nova, The Event, V., Flashforward), hope for the next Lost remains.

Verdict: Renewal – I know this is wrong, I just know it, I’m making the exact same mistake I made with Terra Nova, but man, one of these shows has to succeed eventually, right, or they’d stop making them?  Plus the JJ Abrams imprimatuer could buy it a couple of extra episodes at least?  Maybe?