Spring 2015 Previews and Predictions: NBC

21 Jan

NBC

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (edit: spring, now) 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 (spring, again)(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

Additional note: Since more and more series on network TV are following cable models with set orders for shorter seasons, and mid-season replacements tend to have shorter seasons in particular, I’ll note any planned limited runs in my prediction section for each show)

Allegiance – 2/5/2015

Allegiance

The first thing I wondered while watching this trailer was whether this show was made due to the success of The Americans, or whether it was made incidentally and someone watched The Americans later, only to realize that The Americans was vastly superior to their show. The protagonist is a super brilliant CIA agent who has some personal problems as a side effect of his brilliance, one of which is that it turns out, unbeknownst to him, that his parents are actually spies for Russia, the very nation who he’s working to dig up intel on day after day at his job. His parents’ superiors want them to turn their son into a Russian spy, while they’re afraid of what their son would do if he ever found out what they are. Uh oh! Family drama mixed with CIA espionage action. There’s no better quick way of describing Allegiance than that it looks like a shitty network version of The Americans that thinks it gets what makes The Americans works, but doesn’t quite. Could I be wrong about Allegiance? Maybe. Is it likely? No.

Prediction: 12- The Americans barely survives on cable television, and it’s great. If this was on CBS, I’d have a more favorable view, because almost any show can survive on CBS, but while this actually seems sensibly placed next to NBC hit The Blacklist, I’ll err on the default guess for all midseason shows, which is failure.

The Slap – 2/12/2015

The Slap

The titular event happens at a family and friends get together consisting primarily of a bunch of hip thirty-something parents. After one incredibly annoying child continues to instigate, an adult, who is not the child’s parent, slaps the child. The singular slap sparks a series of events that turns the previously friendly couples against one another, as everyone reacts differently. Some want to see the slapper punished severely for his actions, while others think his behavior was, if not justified, at least less egregious in the heat of the moment. High drama ensues. The Slap, which is a ridiculous title, and almost makes the show difficult to take seriously by itself, is based on an Australian series of the same name.

Prediction: It’s a limited eight-episode event, which wouldn’t obviously lead itself to a sequel, so it seems likely to be one and done.

One Big Happy – 3/17/2015

One Big Happy

One Big Family, produced by Ellen DeGeneres, is a comedy in the Modern Family mode of unorthodox-yet-functional families. This time, here’s the high concept. Relationship-phobic straight man and lesbian best friend decide to raise a baby together. All of a sudden, he, out of nowhere, meets the perfect woman and gets married on a whim in Vegas. Now, his best friend is pregnant with his child, while he’s now married to someone else. Hijinks ensue, and yet the three, despite constant tricky situations, seem to mostly make the unorthodox arrangement work. I doubt it will be particularly good, and it’s from a writer for 2 Broke Girls, which is definitely not a good sign.

Prediction: 12- Midseason comedies that get picked up are a rare breed indeed. Ellen’s name behind it certainly will help, but it’s just tough to break in in March when no one knows that you’re on.

A.D. – 4/5/15

A.D. A.D.

A.D. is subtitled “The Bible Continues.” That’s right. NBC is quite literally making a sequel to The Bible. To be fair, the bible in question is the History Channel miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett that produced mega-ratings for the network. A.D. starts with the crucifixion of Jesus, moves through his resurrection, and then on to early church leaders who fight for the survival and eventual triumph of Christianity against the pagan Romans. It’s a religious epic, and I have confidence it will be rapturously received by the Christian masses who watched every episode of the first Bible miniseries. At the same time, I sincerely question its value to just about anyone else. While religion offers plenty of interesting angles for storytelling, everything I know about the original Bible miniseries makes me imagine this will not offer any of those.

Prediction: Another mini-series, so there’s no renewal to be had, though since it has a huge built in audience, I’d imagine it will do well enough to earn another sequel if someone can put together an A.D. II.

Odyssey – 4/5/15

Odyssey

I cannot find a trailer for Odyssey. This may be a testament to my Google skills, or lack thereof, but searching the usual keywords on Google and on YouTube didn’t produce a trailer at the least. Here’s what I gather about the show. A troop of soldiers fighting Islamic extremists in northern Africa stumbles upon some super top secret info that an American company is actually funding the jihadists. Before they can return with this valuable information, all but one of the soldiers is killed by private contractors. There’s a massive conspiracy and it goes pretty far up. The story is, so says NBC.com, told Traffic-like, from many different perspectives, including that of a corporate litigator, a political activist, and a hacker. It sounds rather ambitious, like a cable show, maybe on Showtime, although it’s hard to get a great sense of its scale and production value without a trailer. Maybe less is more, because this sounds far and away like the most promising of the NBC midseason shows.

Prediction: Renewal – honestly, I wouldn’t place money on this, but these midseason shows are so impossible to pick anyway, much more so than fall shows, that I figured I’d have hope that the most interesting-seeming show might be good and succeed, which is probably too much to ask.

A.D.

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