Posts Tagged ‘ chicago fire ’

The Upfronts 2016: NBC

nbc network logoI don’t watch anything from NBC, actually I’m beginning to realise I don’t watch much network TV at all! NBC are rapidly just filling their schedules with cheesy procedurals tied together by being set in Chicago. Their drama line up isn’t particularly inspiring and their comedies have basically all been cancelled, mostly after less than a whole season. It’s not looking particularly good for them, and the lack of trailers for their new shows isn’t really indicating a lot of confidence either.

Cancelled
heroesrebornHow many times can Heroes get cancelled? Well at least twice according to current evidence. I didn’t make it past the first episode of the resurrection, either because it wasn’t very good or because actually Heroes was always smug and not that good and I didn’t notice at the time. Mysteries of Laura starred Deborah Messing in some of the worst casting I’ve ever seen, but surprisingly made it through the second season before being bumped off. Sitcom Undateable’s third season was apparently entirely live episodes, but that wasn’t exciting enough to get it renewed again.

Cancelled in the middle of their first seasons were: Crowded, a comedy about a re-filled empty nest; Game of Silence a drama I’d never heard of; Heartbeat a medical drama starring Melissa George as the world’s least likely transplant specialist; The Player, action about gambling/crime organisation; and utterly generic sitcom Truth be Told. Comedies You, Me and the Apocalypse, a Sky/NBC joint effort and Telenovela, set behind the scenes of a Spanish soap opera, are winners relatively speaking because they at least made it all the way through their first seasons before being cancelled.

Oh and variety show, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, (based on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway!) was apparently misnamed and won’t be back either.

Renewed
blacklistNBC is basically now powered by Chicago’s emergency services – Fire (renewed for fifth season), PD (third) and Med (second) will all return. The Blacklist got a long way for me just on the watchability of James Spader, but I eventually lost interest. My lack of viewing hasn’t sopped its renewal for season four though. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit continues ever onwards into season 18, one of the few procedurals that I’ve never actually watched. Every year when it’s renewed, this time for a sixth season, I think I should have a look at Grimm again, and every year I forget 5 minutes after posting the article.

Only three of the freshman shows got pick-ups for a second series, which with the six cancellations doesn’t make a terribly good year for NBC. Blindspot was a ratings hit, I did watch the pilot but was utterly uninspired by it. Shades of Blue is the Jennifer Lopez cop drama which doesn’t seem to be getting much press but is picked up anyway, and the above mentioned Chicago Med makes the third

nightshiftSummer shows are out of sync on renewals so their upcoming seasons were actually all announced last year. The Night Shift is a somewhat mediocre medical drama that I rather liked the first season for the actors in it and the occasional quirkiness, but I no longer get the channel it airs on and I’ve not seen the second season; the third season starts in June. The first season Aquarius wasn’t quite what it could have been, but with David Duchovny leading, it’s very watchable and the second season starts soon.

New/Resurrected
The Good Place – Kristen Bell is accidentally sent to heaven where she doesn’t quite fit in with the no swearing, no drinking, always nice crowd. I love Kristen Bell, and Ted Danson back in comedy land is something to be celebrated, but the trailer didn’t make me want to watch any more.

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This is Us – a dramedy about people born on the same day. It looks like a collection of made for TV movies. Nothing interesting at all.

Timeless – a time travelling criminal is trying to destroy America and a historian, a scientist and a soldier are trying to stop him. Created by Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural) I had high hopes for this, but the trailer didn’t do much for me.

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Chicago Justice – We’ve run out of emergency services (I don’t think the landscape necessstates Coast Guard or Mountain Rescue) so this is set in the State’s Attorney office. Presumably in 2020 I’ll be making snide remarks about Chicago Refuse Collection or Chicago Tax Auditors.

The Blacklist: Redemption – Given that the only reason to watch the original was James Spader a spin-off doesn’t seem like a particularly inspiring idea, one centred around Liz’s annoying pretend-husband Tom seems even less ideal.

Emerald City – NBC attempting to muscle in on the ‘magic’ of Once Upon a Time with a character list including Dorothy, The Wizard (Vincent D’Onofrio – now that’s good casting!), Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the East. Doesn’t seem to be much more information on how it fits in with the books, but there’s plenty of material.

Trial and Error – “fish out of water” comedy with a New York lawyer in a small town in the South. There’s lots of “quirky” characters and the press release genuinely says “Making a Murderer can be funny”.

Marlon – “loosely inspired by the real life of star Marlon Wayans”, who I’ve never heard of. Usual blather about a bloke trying to be a father despite being the biggest kid of all. Because that stereotype never gets old.

Midnight, Texas – Base on the book series by Charlene Harris (True Blood), it seems to be a murder mystery set in a tiny Texas town full of paranormal people – witches, psychics. Sounds interesting enough.

Powerless – set in the DC Comic Universe, but based in a normal office of an insurance company who have to deal with life in a world of superheroes. It’s a fun idea, and stars Danny Pudi (Community) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) which has potential, but it could just be a painful Office wannabe.

Taken – oh god, it’s a prequel series to the Liam Neeson film series. As if those weren’t repetitive and awful enough by themselves!

The Wall – oh my god, is this the same as the Hole in the Wall that was on the BBC? If it is, apparently Chris Hardwick (The Talking Dead) is the new Dale Winton!

The Upfronts 2015: NBC

nbc network logoOuch, 11 cancellations at NBC, with renewals of only 7 series (well, 8 if you count the resurrection of Heroes. Their new offerings almost universally tanked, the only one picked up was Mysteries of Laura which isn’t exactly topping anyone’s “must-watch” list. I don’t have a great deal of enthusiasm for their upcoming things either and NBC, like Fox are putting a lot of hope in resurrecting old series.

What’s Finished or Cancelled
Woohoo – nothing I watch at NBC was cancelled.
Parks and Recreation has been on my to-watch list for a long time and I’m gradually making my way through season 1 having been promised it gets better. Parenthood was one I also wanted to see but never managed to catch it. Both series at least were aware that these would be their last seasons (7 and 6 respectively) so got to wrap up properly.
New series that were cancelled were Marry Me, One Big Happy, Allegiance, State of Affairs, Constantine, The Slap, A to Z and Bad Judge (after 5 episodes), so relatively speaking About a Boy was a big success given it got to season 2.

What’s Returning
blacklistThe Blacklist season 2 is currently backing up on my Sky Box, even the overwhelming charm of James Spader isn’t drawing me into the plodding conspiracy stories. Chicago Fire is renewed for a fourth season; season 1 was a guilty pleasure, but not pleasurable enough for me to bother with season 2, or the spin off Chicago PD, (renewed for season 3) and Chicago Med will add to the family (I guess next year we’ll get Chicago Coast Guard? Mountain Rescue?). I’m more likely to catch up on The Night Shift, which is a little more fun and gets renewed for season 3. Also renewed: Law and Order: SVU will be back for season 17, The Mysteries of Laura (2), Grimm (5). Undateable is renewed for an all live third season.
Hannibal season 3 starts in June, as does the Charles Manson drama Aquarias so they are out of sync with upfront announcements.

New this Autumn

Blindspot: a woman is found naked in Times Square, covered in tattoos and missing her memories. One of the tattoos names an FBI agent who is equally clueless about what’s going on. They investigate and I would imagine things continue to be complicated. Interesting idea, but I got a bit tired thinking about how it would play out with continual one-step-forward-cliffhanger-one-step-back regularity.


Heartbreaker: Based on the real life heart transplant surgeon Dr Kathy Maliato (Melissa George), she’s a fantastic doctor with a “racy” personal life. Good grief NBC who wrote this crap? Anyway, yet another attempt to make a new Grey’s Anatomy, but utterly lacking the talent of Shonda Rhimes.


The Player: A former military operative is a security expert drawn into a game where people gamble on whether he can stop crimes. He tries to fight them from the inside, and there’s also a dead wife to be avenged. The trailer is well put together and has some nicely shot action, but I didn’t get a great deal of personality coming through. I’ll give it a try.


People are Talking: two sets of couples, both neighbours and friends are a “wildly outspoken foursome”. Heaven help us all. The laugh track on the trailer alone is reason to never go near this.

Heroes: Reborn, like X-Files at Fox this isn’t exactly new and didn’t exactly go out on a critical high. Unlike X-Files it’s mostly a new cast, but nostalgia will likely drag me back for a bit.

New Midseason

Chicago Med: Chicago Fire and Chicago PD worked, so apply the same recipe to medicine and you’ve got a solid but utterly unremarkable procedural I’d imagine. Oh hang on, Oliver Platt is in it!

Coach: Coach was a sitcom that ran from 1989-1997 about a college football team, it’s now being resurrected, focussing on the original Coach’s son. Craig T. Nelson will return to his Emmy winning role and I guess if it worked then, it will probably work now.

Crowded: Having briefly emptying their nest, Mike and Martine are not thrilled when their two daughters and Mike’s parents all decide to move in with them. It stars Carrie Preston, who is hilarious in The Good Wife (Elspeth!), but sitcoms rarely work out well for either me or NBC as a whole.

Game of Silence: A successful attorney is suddenly confronted with secrets from his childhood he thought were buried. Sounds awful.

Hot and Bothered: Behind the scenes at a latino soap opera. Stars Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) but sounds awful.

Shades of Blue: Jennifer Lopez is a “sexy New York detective (and single mother)” who “fell in” with dirty cops, got caught by the FBI and now has to secretly work for them to catch the others. Really Mr NBC press release writer, we really had to know that she’s “sexy”, is that a core element of the plot. For pities sake.

Superstore: a family of employees at a super-sized megastore have hi-larious hijinks. Stars America Ferrara (Ugly Betty) who deserves better than this sounds.

You, Me and the End of the World: a one-hour comedy drama with a great cast It’s got a great sounding cast (Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer and Megan Mullally) but the blurb makes me want to root for the end of the world:
“The news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course with Earth sets in motion the most hilariously unexpected chain of events imaginable.. the story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways. When we say eclectic, we mean a rebellious priest, an unhinged white supremacist, a mild-mannered bank manager, a germ-phobic cyber-terrorist and an American five-star general. Some of these misfits are destined to make it to a bunker deep beneath the English suburbs of Slough and, as a result, will become the hugely unlikely (and totally unsuitable) future of mankind. Wouldn’t that be a disaster!”.
Still, not every day you see Slough referenced in an American television series.

Chicago Fire: Season 1

Chicago FireThis series is aiming firmly for the guilty pleasure window, but frankly it is much further towards guilty than pleasure most of the time.

It didn’t really seem possible or desirable for the series to maintain the intensity of the pilot episode, and while it did tone it down microscopically, it’s still pretty ridiculous. All the characters lurch from one crisis to another every couple of episodes with more traumas in the first season than most shows see in a lifetime, and that’s not even including the actual disasters that the characters attend.

Sadly the dialogue hasn’t got much better from the pilot where I described it as “Every line is delivered like it’s the end of the world and the trophy for delivering the most clichés is the only thing that will save you from damnation”. Some characters are worse than others, Chief Boden is so intense about everything it hurts, Peter Mills (who I actually thought might be called Petermills for a while because of how often he’s referred to by full name) has an entirely disproportionate response to every little thing and Dawson’s ability to bounce from simpering to sanctimonious is astonishing. And sadly I never did get on with Jesse Spencer’s American accent.

In no way, shape or form would I ever describe this as a good show, and yet I’ve made it through 20 odd episodes. The salvation is that at their hearts the characters are all likeable, they have good intentions, strong bonds and are there for each other and the city they serve. I don’t understand why there aren’t more TV shows about fireman and paramedics, the audience automatically feels for them and want them to be happy and successful, it’s like making a show about kittens, just with more potential for explosions.

The production budget is well spent, actual big stunts are actually few and far between, but even the smallest stunt or effect is visceral and scary. Interestingly the call outs are often considerably more subtle than the non action-based scenes, with tension usually caused through smoke instead of explosions. To my memory they exclusively stay with the rescue services’ points of view, thereby escaping the Casualty teaser syndrome of trying to work out which of multiple disasters waiting to happen will cause a trauma for the nice family we’ve never seen before. That gives us the adrenalin of seeing the teams go into unknown situations and show off their know-how by working everything out quickly, while also conveniently decreasing the budget required to big disasters.

A lot of the marketing appears to be pushing the “sexy fireman” angle and the directors definitely do their best to remove the bulky uniforms, but frankly if that’s why you’re tuning in I think you’re going to be disappointed. In fact, tuning in for anything other than just a show that you put on in the background with ironing or a crossword, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s entertaining noise, some exciting rescue sequences and an occasionally amusing side story. Mind you, next season we’ll have the Chicago PD spin-off, and that doesn’t even have the action sequences, so my hopes for that are even lower!

The Upfronts – NBC

nbc network logoThe Peacock network, best known for… um… While other networks have a bit of a personality to them, I’ve never quite been able to look at a show and say “that belongs on NBC”. Judging by the number of cancellations they have, they’re not so sure themselves. Also given the lack of trailers with most of their new shows, I’m not sensing a massive amount of confidence in having found the answer.

What’s out
smashBig shows bowing out are 30 Rock and The Office, both solid performers (although I can’t stand either of ’em) that have come to the end of their run. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a bunch of stuff that never really got started. Matthew Perry notches up another failed show with the cancellation of Go On, while 1600 Penn, Animal Practice, The New Normal and Guys With Kids were all terrible looking freshman comedies although not as bad as Next Caller it would seem given that it was canned before airing a single episode. Do No Harm was an uninspiring drama and Deception was apparently a “prime time soap opera” and I’d never heard of it. Up All Night and Whitney both bow out after 2 seasons. The only cancellation I’m a smidge sad about is Smash, which wobbled about too much and never lived up to the hype, but I kind of loved it anyway (although I haven’t seen the second season).

What’s returning
CommunityLaw and Order still maintains a television presence as Special Victims Unit goes into its fifteenth season! Critical favourites Community, Parks and Recreation and Parenthood could all easily have been pushed out, but NBC is sticking with them. Chicago Fire has been a big success (firemen saving lives and taking their tops off, who knew?) and will spawn a spin-off. Grimm gets a third season and Revolution a second. Still on the fence though is Hannibal which only started very recently.

What’s new
The Blacklist – Raymond Reddington (James Spader, Boston Legal) is one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, but now he’s turned himself in, and is handing the FBI criminals. It looks a bit Following, a bit Silence of the Lambs and I was utterly hooked by the trailer. James Spader is a fantastic piece of casting and I’m perilously close to actually being excited about this one.

The Michael J. Fox Show – Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox, come on, I’m not telling you what he’s been in!), was a top news anchor who’s returning to work after 5 years of dealing with his Parkinson’s Disease and kids. It’s weirdly semi-autobiographical and is trying to find a fine line between self-indulgent, inspiring and manipulative. Given the title… I’m not sure it’s been successful. But Fox’s talent may make it work.

Ironside – a remaking/re-imagining of the 1960’s series. It’s pretty much a standard New York police drama, just with the lead character in a wheelchair. That’s not to say that modulation isn’t an interesting or an important one, just that it feels perilously close to a gimmick.

Sean Saves the World – Pretty standard ‘balancing work with parenting’ thing, it’s just that Sean (Sean Hayes, Will and Grace) is long divorced and gay and his teenage daughter has only just moved in with him. Oh and there’s a difficult mother too. It’s the least funny thing I’ve seen all day and that’s saying something.

Welcome to the Family – Dan (Mike O’Malley, Glee) and Karina (Mary McCormack, The West Wing) think they can finally start their lives again when their daughter graduates and heads to college. The plan falls through when she returns home pregnant. Now the baby’s dad and his parents are on the doorstep and no one gets along. The only thing going for this is the cast and that it’s not as hideous as Sean Saves the World. I still won’t be watching though.

Dracula – Dracula (Jonathan Rhy Meyers, The Tudors) is bringing electricity to 19th Century London, but he’s also pursuing those who made him a vampire. I’ll be honest, I’m confused by both the trailer and the synopsis provided in the press release. It looks expensive, but also a bit rubbish.

About a Boy – Based on the Nick Hornby book (and presumably the Hugh Grant film), “man-child” Will discovers that women find single dad’s irresistible and sets up a deal with his 11 year old neighbour. Sounds annoying, but then I actually liked the film. Mind you I’m not sure the relatively unknown David Walton (Bent? Perfect Couples?) has Hugh Grant’s screen presence.

Believe – I’ll start with the good news, it’s written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) and Exec Produced by J.J. Abrams. The bad news is that the blurb is so awful I lost the will to live half way through. It’s something about a 10 year old girl with ‘magical powers’ like telekinesis and predicting the future who tours from city to city with her protector, a former death row inmate. It sounds cheesy, but maybe the names attached can pull it off, without a trailer it’s hard to predict.

Chicago PD – a spin-off from Chicago Fire based in the local police department with the beat officers and the intelligence unit combating organised crime. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe, Californication) and Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda, Treme) from Chicago Fire will transplant to this series and it will be interesting to see how the former, a villain on Fire, will be allowed to grow. For some reason there are no other fire department shows on television, and Chicago Fire filled that gap well, but given the plethora of cop dramas, I’m not sure that there’s anything special enough to make this stand out.

Crisis – A bus load of teenagers from an elite school are taken hostage, their parents are diplomats, CEOs and even the President, so how far will they go to get their children back, and what will that mean for the country. It’s an interesting and different concept, giving plenty of material for both the families and the officials. It stars Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) so it’s certainly got potential.

Crossbones – 1715, Blackbeard (John Malkovich, Being Himself) reigns over an island of pirates. An undercover assassin is sent after him, but finds that maybe Blackbeard isn’t as clearly evil as he seems. It’s a pretty original setting for a television show, but without a trailer, it’s hard to get particularly excited by a synopsis that falls a bit flat.

The Family Guide – the Fisher family are pretty unusual, Dad (J.K. Simmons, The Closer) is blind, Mom (Parker Posey, Louie) is rebelling because she didn’t when she was a teenager, daughter is obsessed with the 80s and son has always been his dad’s eyes but is now being replaced by a dog. It’s narrated from the future by the adult son, looking back the time where they all “discover who we needed to be”. Sigh.

The Night Shift – The night shift at San Antonio Memorial is home to a “special breed” of doctors, now not just challenged to save lives, but also to save money. I like the idea, but the names attached are all a little C-list with Eoin Macken (Gwain from Merlin), Ken Leung (Miles from Lost), Brendan Fehr (Michael from Roswell) and Freddy Rodriguez (Rico from Six Feet Under) – all fun in their roles, but the lack of heavy weights undermines everything a bit.

Undateable – Danny (Chris D’Elia, Whitney) takes on a group of romantically challenged friends in an attempt to teach them everything he knows about love. Sounds hideous.

Links
NBC has more information about all their shows on their website. I guess the trailers may turn up there at some point. The press release and schedule summary are at the Futon Critic.

Chicago Fire: Pilot Review

The lives of the occupants of a Chicago Firehouse, including fireman, paramedics and something called a rescue squad whose purpose I’m unclear on, but seems very dramatic.

That’s a great trailer, not because it necessarily makes you want to watch Chicago Fire, but because it’s absolutely spot on for what the pilot of the series is. For a start it’s got the entire plot from the first scene to the last boiled down to the key moments, all the pilot does is extend each meaningful look, extend the action sequences and briefly introduce a few more secondary characters each with their own identifying characteristic (the gay one, the one with money troubles, the old one, the new one, the one with the terrible moustache).

What’s both impressive and unfortunate though is that the tone of the episode is exactly the same as the trailer. That level of intensity works well in a 3 minute trailer, but when it’s drawn out over an hour it rather left me wanting to give everyone a valium and suggest taking up mediation. Every line is delivered like it’s the end of the world and the trophy for delivering the most clichés is what will save you from damnation. During the fires and accidents that the crews attend when it is actually life and death that works ok, but gets a bit tiresome when everyone continues in that tone while eating dinner, arranging to go out for drinks or standing half naked in a locker room. Every statement is loaded with testosterone, emotional back story and an overwhelming sense of responsibility which quickly made its way through tiresome towards faintly hilarious.

There are a few other problems, not least for a UK audience (or at least for me) it’s a bit confusing what the structures and responsibilities are, which makes it rather hard to understand some of the conflicts. I’m also a bit unsettled by all the firefighters being men and all the women being paramedics but I’m not gonna go too nuts about that.

So given that, why am I going to keep watching? I don’t really know, maybe it’s just that I love shows about the emergency services having been practically raised on Casualty, London’s Burning and The Bill. The fire sequences were extremely well done, and other than the stupid mistake in the flashback rescue at the start, the characters all come across as extremely competent professionally even if they’re a bit of a mess in their personal lives. Based on the pedigree of the cast involved (Jesse Spencer from House, Taylor Kinney of Trauma, Monica Raymond from Lie to Me) I think they can all deliver good and interesting performances (although Spencer’s American accent remains unproven).

I will be sticking with it for a few more episodes, but I have to say that the whole thing just really made me miss Trauma, the San Francisco paramedic series that failed to make it beyond a first season despite me thinking it was excellent. Trauma managed to create intensity and convey the life-and-death situations without the melodrama. I think if Chicago Fire can just calm down a bit, lighten up the dialogue and let the actors become more relaxed in their characters, Chicago Fire may turn into something quite watchable.

Chicago Fire is on Sky Living on Wednesdays, repeated Sunday and Tuesdays from the look of it.

Other Reviews
TV Fanatic – The fire fighting and the rescues are the greatest strength of the show. The scenes are full of adrenaline and heart-pounding action, and this is part of the something that Chicago Fire does possess. No matter how lacking some of the characters are at this junction

Yahoo! TV – The “Chicago Fire” series premiere was missing something that’s difficult to pin down, but it was likely linked to tons of stories and subplots crammed into a single episode. The show has promise, but it needs to take breather.

Zap 2 it Fighting fires is an inherently exciting profession, so there’s no shortage of drama to mine. But the show has the potential to quickly go wrong if it focuses too much on the relationship drama and not enough on the fires.