Coming Soon: The 2012-2013 Television Season – NBCPosted: September 10, 2012
NBC’s mad as hell, and they’re not gonna take it anymore.
Gone are the days of Seinfeld and Friends and the network’s dominance in the ratings wars. For years the question hasn’t been whether or not NBC would come in behind the other networks, only by how far. Yet oddly enough, in a few cases, those horrible ratings have kind of worked in the audience’s favor. Shows like 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Community probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have on another network. NBC’s been forced to keep them around because what the hell would they have replaced them with?
Enter Fall 2012. NBC chose to give several of its returning shows reduced orders (30 Rock and Community both got 13-episode pickups. Parenthood got fifteen) while greenlighting a veritable gaggle of new shows, mostly comedies. The thinking behind this is, throw enough up on the wall and something’s got to stick, right? Well, we’ll let you be the judge.
You should know most of these shows already. If you caught any one commercial break during the Olympics you had them all shoved down your throat. And in a few weeks we’ll see how all that advertising paid off.
Uhhhggggg. Really? I mean, NBC has come out with some clunkers in the past, but they gave us 30 Rock! For that reason alone I’d give anything they set in front of me a shot. And what do they squander that goodwill on? A show starring the monkey from Community. Alright, let’s get real folks. I mean, shows like these are easy to make fun of, but there are legitimate reasons why you should hate them. One is that, as the promos have made clear, the show is really planning on getting some mileage out of that monkey. This is setting a dangerous precedent in a television landscape where the rule for networks like NBC is to make a show with as broad appeal as possible. Have we completely forgotten the last 30 years? We left movies like Turner & Hooch, Every Which Way But Loose, and Air Bud? We left those behind for a reason. Another reason is Betsy Sodaro’s character, the nurse Angela. There was something about that joke you’ve seen in the promos where she gets up and starts singing, “Dancing! Dancing like a human!” that just kind of made my soul sad. We should be reaching a little farther for our jokes, and this show just doesn’t. Expect it to be renewed for nine seasons.
My thoughts on Chicago Fire are a little split. What I worry about is that network television is so dependent on the lawyer/cop/doctor trifecta, that it has trouble breaking out of that mold when it’s presented with a show that, while still tangentially related to that world, has a chance to break out and do something different. We see Merle Dandridge as the no-nonsense chief setting her guys straight. And that aspect of the whole thing has a very well-tread feel to it. But, a fire department is not a police department, so there’s an opportunity to explore some new things, or things we don’t see very often on TV, in any case. One thing the show definitely has going for it is Eamonn Walker, who you may remember as Kareem Said on Oz. Walker’s the kind of actor who elevates everything around him, regardless of whether or not the show is great. So I’m interested to see what he does here.
Go On is NBC’s way of telling us that Matthew Perry’s going to be a star, and we’re going to effing like it, because the universe will be damned if Matt LeBlanc is getting more steady work. As you can tell from the promo above, NBC’s trying to infuse Go On with a hefty dose of emotion to show us all that, even though he puts up a tough front, Matt Perry is still a REAL GUY with REAL FEELINGS. The problem is, Matt Perry has been a more or less regular guest in our living rooms for almost two decades, and we know what a smug bastard he can be. Right now, Go On is struggling to find that balance between emotion and waaacky comedy, and I give it maybe a little better than 50/50 odds that it’ll figure it out. The show does co-star Brett Gelman and Seth Morris, which fans of Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang Bang podcast (which I can’t recommend enough) will love. Watch for them if nothing else.
Guys With Kids
You know, Guys With Kids is… Wait. Guys With Kids is kind of funny… The thing about Guys With Kids is… Forget it. I can’t defend this show.
Maybe you guys saw the Emmys a couple of years back when Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst and some other reality TV hosts came out on stage and chuckled for three hours over how they hadn’t prepared any material. It was a train wreck. Guys With Kids is going to be the same thing, except you’ll have Anthony Anderson, Zach Cregger, and Jesse Bradford slapping each other on the back, holding up their baby bjorns and saying, “Can you imagine us at the club, with these, FOR SIX SEASONS?!?” This show will not last, and honestly, I’ll be surprised if it isn’t the first one canceled. You guys saw Outsourced, right? The one people called racist? That was a better show than this.
The New Normal
The New Normal comes to us from the mind of Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and American Horror Story. So right off the bat you know the show’s going to be all over the place. What’s funny to me is that, as much as this show purports to be about everything that is “different” about the typical American family – or what was different before but is now the “new normal” – the characters are the exact same ones we’ve been seeing on TV for years now. Georgia King is the heart of the show, because she’s blonde and has nice skin. Andrew Rannells is the flamboyant gay guy. Bebe Wood is Lisa Simpson, a young girl much smarter (she’s got GLASSES!) than those around her and so hopelessly out of place. And Ellen Barkin is the borderline racist grandma who gets in all the digs at Democrats and gays (I have this perpetual picture in my head of Ellen Barkin, injecting collagen into her lips and pouring over legends of Juan Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth).
Ryan Murphy seems to be the new JJ Abrams. And I expect that a year or two from now, a majority of the shows on television will be touted as being “created by” or “from the mind of” Ryan Murphy. But, while JJ Abrams gave the world Alias, Lost, and Fringe before Undercovers and Alcatraz, Ryan Murphy looks to have peaked after the first season of Glee.
Did you guys like The Event? Hopefully your favorite part was when it got cancelled after its first season, because I don’t see Revolution turning out any other way. The show takes place in a DYSTOPIAN future, fifteen years after all electronic devices have stopped working for some reason. You shouldn’t spend too much time trying to decipher the whys and wherefores of the show. Just remember that everyone’s really hot, they’re able to keep their clothes clean for some reason, and the main chick fights with arrows and stuff, because The Hunger Games. We’re sorry, Giancarlo Esposito. You deserve better.
I’m actually really looking forward to this one, if for no other reason than it’s the only show this Fall that I’ve actually laughed out loud (a “LOL,” for the internet-savvy) at. I know, the premise is a little hokey. “They’re just a normal family… LIVING IN THE WHITE HOUSE!” But I have seen all five seasons of Highway to Heaven, so I guess I can’t complain. You guys will of course recognize Bill Pullman as the President of the United States (still waiting on confirmation if 1600 Penn is a direct continuation of Independence Day) and Jenna Elfman as the First Lady (makes sense, since Mary McDonnell died in ID4), but it’s probably Josh Gad who you’ll get most excited for. You may have seen Gad during his short run on The Daily Show, but you probably know him now that The Book of Mormon is a thing now. Anyway, aside from the Hannibal Lecter show NBC is premiering early next year, 1600 Penn gets my highest marks.
Coming up next is ABC.