The Upfronts: NBC

What’s out
The only show that I actually watch on NBC is Friday Night Lights and the end of the show has been planned for a while, giving plenty of time to wrap it up in a satisfying fashion. I adore the show, think it’s superb, but have to admit that I haven’t quite had the emotional strength to watch the last season yet, knowing it’s the last actually made it harder.

There are plenty of new shows that won’t be back, most of which never got off the ground at all – The Cape, Chase, The Event, Law & Order LA (which couldn’t be rescued even by a complete overhaul mid-season), Undercovers, and several sitcoms. Not a good year for NBC.

What’s back
Chuck has been renewed for a final half season wrap up, for a show that’s been bubbling since it started, 5.5 seasons seems like a bloody good run. But I don’t watch it so I can’t really say.

Harry’s Law is one that I wanted to like, but the more I thought about it, the more troubling I found the tone of the pilot. I may investigate whether it got better and go back to it as it will be returning next year, slightly surprising given that I haven’t heard any critic say anything about it in months and the ratings weren’t spectacular.

Parenthood is a show I keep meaning to catch up on, initially staying away from it because I didn’t want to fall in love with it as it seemed doomed to early cancellation. Now that’s just been renewed for season 3 so I guess that excuse has worn out.

Other things I don’t watch that are returning – 30 Rock, Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, although there seems to be the suggestion that they might be making big cast changes (if anyone reading this cares).

What’s new
Awake – Hello to Jason Issacs! You seem to have landed yourself a pretty amazing looking show.

Bent – I like Amanda Peet and the rest of the thing isn’t horrific, although it all looks a bit unremarkable.

Grimm – Kind of Supernatural meets Criminal Minds from the looks of it, sounds interesting, but I wasn’t massively impressed with the trailer.

The Playboy Club – This could end up being the kind of show that you tell people to ignore the title and the blurb and just watch because it’s superb. Or it could be horribly sexist and offensive. The trailer leaves me optimistic.

Prime Suspect – I’ve not watched the UK version, but this doesn’t look like Helen Mirren. I like Maria Bello a lot and this doesn’t look half bad.

Smash – Hey, Glee is massively successful right, why don’t we do a show about musicals?! Frankly I’m amazed that every network isn’t belting out show tunes at me. This looked… all right, not sure how they’re going to make it a series rather than just a tv movie though.

Up All Night – I actually chuckled a couple of times at this!

Free Agents – Damnit, I chuckled a couple of times in this one too. I hate myself.

Whitney – I did not laugh. I feel better about myself.

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea – dear god in heaven, this is possibly the most offensive and horrific thing I’ve ever seen labelled as a comedy. Drinking and driving… so funny!

Also a TV adaptation of The Firm (coming next Jan, so there’s no trailer for me to label as boring yet) and something called Best Friends Forever which seemed awful from the only clip I could find.

Links: The TV Addict, The Futon Critic, TV Squad.

Pilot Review: Parenthood

The Brief: Based on the Steve Martin film of the same name, it’s an ensemble drama featuring the extended Braverman family.

I found it impossible to watch this show without at every step comparing it not only to the film of the same name, but more importantly the well established show Brothers and Sisters. Each show has a large ensemble cast based around three generations of the family. The shows have very similar tones, falling into that middle ground between comedy and drama (or occasional melodrama).

There’s some good talent in the cast. Peter Krause and Lauren Graham are enough to make me check a show out all by themselves and make sense as siblings,Monica Potter as Krause’s wife is also a name and face I recognise and she is great in this. The two younger siblings are also okay, and there’s some talented young actors playing the various children. Each character and actor works, but they don’t feel like a family, they don’t have the instant chemistry which I saw from the pilot of Brothers and Sisters. This is a real shame, but may be due to the fact that a lot of the pilot was reshot, when Lauren Graham replaced Maura Tierney who had to withdraw due to illness.

Maybe the issue with the overall chemistry stems from the fact the family dynamic didn’t really work, the parents didn’t feel like strong enough characters. The oldest son (Krause) is the de-facto leader of the family, his father is treated more as a problem to be dealt with rather than a strong foundation and the mother was almost non-existent as a character. I hope that the family dynamics will become more settled as the show continues, working out the different connections, strengths and weaknesses, but I worry that by focussing on ‘parenthood’ instead of ‘siblinghood’ the relationships are all vertical and not as easily interconnected.

I think if I wasn’t such a fan of Brothers and Sisters I would have liked this show a lot more, as it was it felt a bit like a cheap imitation. So many things that happened in the pilot I could look at comparable scenes in Brothers and Sisters and see that they’d done it better. It didn’t have the energy or the extremes, an episode of Brothers and Sisters will make me laugh, cry, cringe and cheer; it wasn’t that I thought Parenthood was bad, it was just that it didn’t really evoke much of a response from me at all.

LinksOfficial website, TV.com, imdb, wikipedia

ReviewsCliqueClack (I spotted the running thing too!), TVSquad (“uncomfortably familiar”), TV Addict (“What grand irony: a show with family issues”).