TV Upfronts debuted a couple weeks ago, and finally we all got a much-anticipated glimpse of the fall shows we’ll never actually watch. The emergence and continued success of streaming services like Netflix and HBOGO has relegated the traditional pilot structure archaic, yet every year the networks trot out $100 million worth of new programs for the slaughter. The best showrunners can get green lit for entire seasons; they don’t need the figurative tryout that comes with a network show. But it’s still fun to speculate how long these shows will last based solely on two minute trailers from a forty minute episode that might change drastically in the next few months. Who am I to decide how long these shows will last? That’s a fair question, and I promise you I put as much time into my decisions as the networks did in these trailers.
A couple weeks ago on Veep, Amy Chlumsky gave one of the greatest “I quit” speeches in the history of television. A staffer for President Julie Louis-Dryfes during the show’s first few seasons, Amy berated President Elaine, finishing with “The fact that you are a woman means we will have no more women presidents because we tried one and she fucking sucked.” That’s the general feeling regarding Supergirl. With Black Widow stuck cleaning up after the Avengers and Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman still a ways away we’re stuck with this. Sure she could kill us all, but she really just wants a cute skirt and help on her first date. If this bombs as spectacularly as it should, it could be the end of vaginal crusaders.
Yet somehow, Supergirl was the clear winner of the network upfronts. Despite the backlash, the trailer has already received more than 11 million views, more than twice as many as any other show. The knock on CBS for years has been its audience’s older age; most of them voted for Mitt in 2012 and won’t be around in four years. But if they’re able to pedal out the same crap, repackaged for a younger demo then we could left with shows like this until we’re voting Republican too.
Verdict: She’ll get the bad guy, the boy, and the ratings.
How do you turn a 90-minute movie into 22 hours of television? Make it a procedural of course! Basically one long Adderall commercial, Limitless became a sleeper hit in 2011 behind Bradley Cooper’s rising star power. Now NZT makes its network television debut, in what will likely be a PG version of a PG-13 movie that could’ve been much better if it were R. I don’t know how much CBS is paying Cooper to appear in the pilot (and some future episodes) but it is likely more than any of us will make in our lifetimes. The film’s fun because as Cooper’s mind expands so do his ambitions; he rises from struggling sci-fi author to United States Senator in a matter of months. I’ve never been high on NZT, but I imagine no one in their right mind would spend their enlightenment solving crimes. Coming up with Coke ads, sure. But this is just ridiculous.
Verdict: Limitless will run until Cooper has a beach house for his beach house.
The fourth installment in the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) franchise, NCIS: Akron chronicles the adventures of the top counterintelligence agency for all water related crimes on the high seas of Northeast Ohio. In his first role since the conclusion of Mad Men, Jon Hamm makes the switch to network TV as Supervisory Special Agent Cribbs. Joining him is his partner-Senior Special Agent Josh Duhamel (CBS already had him under contract for the short lived Battle Creek). They’re joined by young/untested Junior Special Agent (Rosario Dawson) nerdy forensics specialist (ASAP Rocky), and an old as dirt medical examiner (JK Simmons).
Last year there were 66 hours of navy related crimes on CBS. I don’t think there have been 66 naval crimes in the history of this country. NCIS is the highest rated television show currently on air, and it has been for the better part of the last decade. Their audience isn’t getting any younger, and CBS will continue to take advantage while it still can.
Verdict: I made this one up, but it would run for a least a decade.
While NBC has abandoned their single-camera comedy stalwarts of the late 2000s (in their ongoing effort to become CBS) ABC has doubled down. They’ve carved out a winning combination on their Comedy Wednesdays, with ratings/awards juggernaut Modern Family leading the way, followed by sophomore favorites Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat. So if you think Dr. Ken, starring the Hangover’s Ken Jeong, looks a bit out of place, you’re not alone. There’s only one night the schedule for a campy, hackneyed multi-cam show about an out-of-date dad; Friday nights after the Tim Allen show you had no idea existed. Dr. Ken will have zero cultural impact, but you’ll see promos during NBA commercial breaks for the next five years.
Verdict: Five seasons of Tim the Tool Man’s sloppy seconds
I’m really upset about some of the changes made to the upcoming Uncle Buck TV show. Why do they keep changing perfectly good things? I’m irate right now; I just cannot believe they would make such a drastic change. John Hughes is rolling over in his grave as we speak. I…I just…I cannot believe they moved the show to Los Angeles. Like all of his films, Hughes set and filmed Uncle Buck on the North Shore. He shot Buck in Evanston, the Breakfast Club in Des Plaines, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in Chicago at a parade I’m not totally sure exists. Hollywood’s self-obsession is at times nauseating (did anyone actually like Birdman), and this is just another example of incessant negligence and inability to acknowledge the rest of the country. Other than that there’s nothing to complain about here; Mike Epps will make a great Uncle Buck.
Verdict: The trolls will last much longer than the show.
Of Kings and Prophets
Some producer at ABC really needed a hit, saw an episode of Game of Thrones, and went to Network President Ben Sherwood with an idea. Here’s how that conversation unfolded.
Embattled producer: What if we made a Game of Thrones type show, but without all of the boobs and graphic violence?
Sherwood: I think the nipples and disembowelment are everyone’s favorite part.
Embattled Producer: But, also the Bible.
Verdict: Scrapped and absorbed into ShondaLand.
It’s a tad disconcerting that the folks in charge of horror films are so incredibly infatuated with brutally murdering college kids. You can’t kill little kids, dogs and old people are usually off limits, but everyone’s ok with butchering sorority girls. “I’m gonna be honest,” Jamie Lee Curtis laments, “I hate sororities and I hate you.” My guess is the writers didn’t get laid much during undergrad.
The OG meta-slasher flick, Scream debuted in 1996 to widespread acclaim and commercial success. While the film is getting its own spinoff (premiering on MTV later this summer) Scream Queens appears the better adaption. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk must be out of ideas because Queens seems like a mashup of their previous two projects, Glee and American Horror Story.
Verdict: Ariana Grande will escape the show alive, but get murdered on Big Sean’s next album.
Fox executives found the Bordertown script in Seth Macfarlane’s office with a sign that said, “In Case Ted 2 Sucks, Break Glass.”
Verdict: Bordertown will wish for American Dad Ratings.
People like shows about cops; they live exciting and dangerous lives. People like shows about doctors, they make a lot of money and your mom might love you more if you’d become one. But why in the world do people like shows about medical examiners? They volunteered to look at dead bodies for a living, there’s no chance any of them are as cool as Morris Chestnut
Verdict: Cancelled and replaced with Empire reruns. (This will likely happen to every Fox show)
I think there may be some very disappointed gentlemen that tune into the Grinder series premiere. Apparently no one told Rob Lowe about the app. Fox has struggled with their single-camera comedies the last couple years. The network’s preeminent comedy, New Girl, may be a critical success, but the show draws just 10% of the audience of CBS’s the Big Bang Theory. Even grading on such a steep curve, Fox still canned the Mindy Project after just two seasons, resulting in their switch to Hulu Plus. The Grinder looks pretty good, but its fighting an uphill battle if it wants to survive in the barren wasteland that is the Fox network on nights Empire isn’t airing.
Verdict: After Eight Seasons, The Grinder Series Finale…will be on Vimeo.
Neil Patrick Harris Variety Show
To his credit, Neil Patrick Harris has reinvented himself as well as anyone the last few decades. But NBC would’ve been better off if they’d snagged the NPH from five years ago. Fresh off his heralded cameo in the Harold and Kumar frnchise, Harris won multiple Emmys as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother and for his performance hosting the Tony awards. But Harris bombed spectacularly at the Oscars, and Barney went from amusing to stale with every excessive HIMYM season. The track record for variety shows isn’t great, and NPH may need a third Smurfs movie after all.
Verdict: Octavia Spencer has my verdict in a briefcase.
So it turns out the Expendable 3 was not the career kickstarter Wesley Snipes hoped it would be. So he’s back on TV, in what looks like a poor man’s Person of Interest. A very, very poor man. Homeless actually.
Verdict: Just watch Demolition Man again
People are Talking
Verdict: The Next Friends…if Friends was cancelled before the pilot.