Snap Judgments: CBS Upfronts

15 May

We’re ranking the shows at each of the upfronts here.  CBS is next, check here for NBC and a fuller intro.  Watching a new TV show is like meeting a new person.  You usually know within the first minute whether you’re going to like them or not.  Maybe 20% of the time, they deserve a second look, or you just get a misleadingly awful first impression, but that’s the exception.  These were actually all fairly close to one another, and I doubt I’ll be watching a second episode of any of them, but so it goes.

6.  The Crazy Ones

Star power is left and right in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar starring as father/daughter advertising executives in this comedy from David E. Kelley.  Mad Man this is not.  It’s really hard for Robin Williams not to be a caricature of himself (at least without going dark, a la One Hour Photo), and he doesn’t really break out of it here.  If you like Robin Williams, you’ll probably love it.  If you don’t think Robin Williams has been particularly funny since at least the Mrs. Doubtfire/Aladdin early ’90s twosome (again giving leeway for his surprisingly awesome dramatic takes), well, you pretty much know what you’re in for here.  Also, Kelly Clarkson’s in the pilot, though that’s neither here nor there I suppose.  A lot of interviewing people in the trailer talking about how funny and what a legend Robin Williams is.  Williams is already on my nerves within 3 minutes.

5.  We Are Men

I’m not going to lie.  I already have a negative opinion of this before I even started based on the title.  It’s about four divorced dudes who live at a kind of singles apartment complex together, navigating the post-divorce waters.  I would have guessed it was airing on TBS as kind of a ten years later to Men at Work if it wasn’t already on CBS.  They all help each score with the ladies, while being men together and bromancing it up.  The recurring joke in the trailer is about how none of them know any of the other members of the cast and all think they’re the star.  Hilarious.  I forgot, you can’t necessarily tell that’s sarcasm in writing.  They are indeed men.

4.  Mom

Laugh track alert!  It’s a Chuck Lorre special starring Anna Faris and Alison Janney as daughter-mother recovering alcoholics. The two of them try to keep it together for the benefit of Faris’ teen daughter and younger son.  Badger from Breaking Bad shows up for a second, which is cool and Nate Corddry and French Stewart play Faris’ coworkers at a high end restaurant.  I suppose it looks better than some other Chuck Lorre comedies (e.g. Two and a Half Men), though that’s an extremely relative statement.  This is a CBS overview, so it’s not like I’m likely to actually enjoy any of these shows.  Some of these cast members have merit and that’s more or less as far as I’m willing to go.

3.  Intelligence

Josh Holloway (aka Sawyer from Lost) is a superhero CIA agent who enhances his awesome fighting and stealth skills with a microchip implanted in him, which allows to control all sorts of electronic shit.  He can scan things and do research and open doors and so forth.  Marg Helgenberger (CSI) who appears in the show as some sort of higher ranking agent describes it as James Bond meets Frankenstein meets Mission Impossible. Certainly no examples of hyperbole here. It’s like Person of Interest, except endorsed by the government and with superpowers.  Dramas have an inherent ranking advantage here, as even mediocre dramas are unlikely, on average, to be as bad as awful comedies.

2.  The Millers

Kids cursing is always a high brow way to start off a trailer. Will Arnett gets yet another comedy pilot (Running Wilde, Up All Night) with an absolutely loaded cast (Note:  Arnett has gotten pilots from Fox, NBC, and now CBS – he’s an ABC pilot away from all four networks).  Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges are Ma and Pa, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Waitress Mary Elizabeth Ellis is his sis (though some research tells me she’s no longer in the cast), and  JB Smoove is his coworker (cameraman, Arnett is a reporter).  The laugh track is again out in full force.  I think the laughs were louder than the words in the most dramatic scene from the trailer when, inspired by Arnett’s recent divorce, Bridges leaves Martindale, and talks about masterbating and their lack of sex, disgusting their son.  Dysfunctional families who really love each other and all that.  The cast is good but the show probably won’t be.  Still, good enough for second here.

1.  Hostages

There is absolutely no fucking around with the CBS drama pilots this year. Both mention the president within 30 seconds. In Hostages, top surgeon Toni Collette is supposed to operate on the president, until she’s and her family are taken hostage by Dylan McDermott.  McDermott demands that she kill the president during the surgery or her family (including husband Tate Donovan) will all be killed.  I have no idea what the time span is for the show; whether one season leads up to the surgery, or far afterwards, and where the show goes for multiple seasons if it gets there, but I at least respect the super high concept premise.  I find it doubtful it will actually be good, but at least it’s trying though, and that’s something.  The top position is a very relative term in a CBS upfronts ranking, but someone has to take it.


One Response to “Snap Judgments: CBS Upfronts”


  1. Snap Judgments: Fox Upfronts | Television, the Drug of the Nation - May 28, 2013

    […] each network’s upfronts.  NBC was first, with a longer intro, because it was first, and CBS came next.  Now it’s Fox’s turn.  There are the most yet here, nine shows, to rank, […]

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