by Matthew Thomspon
The 2014 Network Upfronts took place this week which is kind of like the E3 of TV. In the week leading up to it, we typically hear about which current shows will be renewed and which will be canned. The Upfronts are where the networks announce which pilots they will be ordering to series and give us our first look at their 2014 Fall Schedules. There are a lot of interesting things to take away from these meetings, but the most exciting is seeing a slew of new trailers for upcoming shows. With that in mind, I have chosen the nine shows (I couldn’t decide on another to make it a nice round ten) I am most excited to check next network season. To choose these I factored in what I’ve seen of the show (in the form of trailers and clips), what I’ve heard about the show (via interviews and buzz) and the talent involved (from writers to actors). Here they are (in alphabetical order):
Battle Creek (CBS)
The Premise: An old-school crime procedural from creators Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and David Shore (House).
My Thoughts: Well I love Vince Gilligan, not just from his work on Breaking Bad, but also from another fave of mine, The X-Files. So I will give this a shot. It seems his involvement after the pilot (which was originally written about a decade ago) might not be huge though. And in concept it seems like a fairly standard cop procedural with a pair of detectives with different views. On the bright side, it stars Dean Winters, who I have wanted to see get a starring gig for years now (I hope he gets to show his comedic side in this role). And while it is easy to write off CBS procedurals, they have the two best procedurals going right now in Person of Interest and The Good Wife. So hopefully with the talent involved, this can rise above what may seem to be an otherwise run of the mill endeavor. This one’s premiere hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it should start up some time in the 2014-2015 season.
The Premise: A Batman prequel focused on a young rookie Detective Jim Gordon that explores the city and criminal landscape of Gotham before Bruce Wayne donned the cape and cowl.
My Thoughts: I think I am more attracted to the talent involved here at the moment than the premise. I love the leads. Ben McKenzie has managed to be the lead in two of my all-time favorite dramas (The O.C. and Southland) and Donal Logue is great in just about everything he pops up in (especially Terriers). The showrunner is Bruno Heller and having just watched his excellent HBO drama Rome, he has to be another positive for Gotham. And on its most basic level, I think there is definitely some great potential stories to tell with this setup and setting. I do have concerns. The trailer seemed more focused on shoehorning as many young Batman villains as it could (and interviews suggest they are just the tip of the iceberg) and having three young actors in the main cast is always a dicey proposition. But I am excited to see how this one pans out. It will debut this Fall on FOX at 8 PM on Monday nights.
The Premise: A new action/adventure series set in Ancient Egypt where a notorious thief is freed from prison to help the Pharaoh.
My Thoughts: More than anything else, I really want this to be good because an adventure series set in Egypt sounds like a lot of fun. I get kind of a Prince of Persia vibe from what I have seen and it fits in with some other older time period dramas I have been digging lately (Spartacus and Rome). I’m not really familiar with many of the people involved on the show’s work, so I really don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping for the best because it is the kind of show I’d love to have in my lineup. This will be a midseason show for FOX set to air sometime in 2015.
iZombie (The CW)
The Premise: When medical student Liv is turned into a zombie, she takes a job at the coroner’s office for access to the brains she needs to keep her humanity. The added side effects of retaining some of the victims’ memories allows her to help solve the crimes that landed them in the morgue.
My Thoughts: I have never read the comics (something I might do this summer if I get the chance), but the premise sounds ridiculous in the best ways. And it just so happens that Rob Thomas, one of my favorite writers for his work on Veronica Mars and Party Down, will be running the show. David Anders being in it is another plus. Like a lot of shows on this list, it is being held until midseason, but it is probably the new drama I am most looking forward from this year’s list of new network recruits.
The Premise: Loving couple Annie and Jake continue their relationship despite a couple of failed proposal attempts keeping them from being engaged in this single-camera comedy.
My Thoughts: As a big fan of Happy Endings, I was watching closely to see what creator David Caspe was up to next. So Marry Me was an easy sell for me. The fact that it stars his fiance, the very funny Casey Wilson, and the always hilarious Ken Marino, means he isn’t the only reason to watch. The trailer has a certain charm to it as well (it was one of my favorites of the week). The premise doesn’t really standout much. Even just this year a lot of comedies seemed to be going in a similar romantic-comedy direction. But Caspe was able to elevate Happy Endings above its rather generic concept (I recall about six similar Friends-like pilots from its debut season) through great writing and a spectacular cast, so I’m hoping the same will happen with Marry Me. It will air on Tuesdays at 9 PM this Fall on NBC.
The Premise: Based on the Spanish television series Polseres vermelles, this show follows the lives of a group of teenagers living in the pediactric ward of a hospital.
My Thoughts: Everyone who has read the script has raved about it which probably would be enough for me to give it a shot. But I also like that one of the big four networks is taking a shot at a teen drama of sorts again which seem to be relegated to The CW and some cable spots like ABC Family these days. The trailer linked above helped to sell me on it as well. The comparisons to The Breakfast Club seem apt and I like the way they say it can bounce between drama and dark comedy. It does feel a little overly saccharine, but I like this as a unique take on the teen drama. The show is set to bow this Fall at 9PM on Wednesdays on FOX.
The Premise: A spinoff of Arrow that focuses on Barry Allen, a forensic scientist who after being struck by lightning gains the ability to move at super speeds and becomes The Flash.
My Thoughts: I was rather underwhelmed by The Flash‘s main character’s introduction on Arrow this past season. He came off as a bit too much of a wimp. So at that point, I was pretty much just going to tune in since this was an Arrow spinoff in hopes that I might end up enjoying it close to as much as that series. This week’s trailer was pretty awesome though and totally won me over. I also dig how the show will be dealing with superpowers which will help give it a different vibe than Arrow. The Flash will begin this Fall on The CW, Tuesdays at 8 PM.
The Premise: A single-camera comedy about Phil Miller and his life as the seeming last man on Earth.
My Thoughts: The trailer is pretty hilarious and I love the concept. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of legs though. Based on the little information out there, I’m guessing he will meet another person (probably a woman), but even then the concept is a bit limited. I’m not sure how sustainable the whole idea of this show is, but I am really looking forward to finding out how they plan to keep things interesting when it begins airing on FOX sometime next season.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (NBC | Website)
The Premise: After being rescued from a cult, the titular Kimmy Schmidt moves to New York City looking to reclaim her life
My Thoughts: It’s from the showrunners of 30 Rock (Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) which was the best comedy on TV in recent years, so I’m in. I’m not sure the premise lends itself to the great comedic ideas that 30 Rock‘s did (like its lampooning of NBC), but I’m sure they will make the most of this. There isn’t a load of information out on this one so far and as of this writing, I have not seen the trailer, but I expect it to be one of the best new upcoming comedies based on the talent involved. It’s another midseason show which will air sometime next season on NBC.
That will do it for this blog. I will have a few more thoughts about cancellations and some other news that came out of the Upfronts soon. Which shows caught your eye this week? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!