Today’s both an exciting and demoralizing day for those with jobs in network television; the major TV networks all roll out their upcoming Fall TV plans, letting entertainment media see what’s new on their programming grids,as well as what’s been whacked.
Today, we got a lot of “official word” we already knew from NBC: they cancelled a lot (when your ratings are as dismal as theirs, you’re bound to do that), offing “Smash,” “The New Normal,” “Go On,” the dreadfully bad “1600 Penn,” “Up All Night” and “Whitney” to name a few. “Community” and “Parks and Rec” will be back, however, along with pseudo-sci-fi “Revolution.” About the only programming that truly worked for NBC, though, was “The Voice” and Sunday Night Football. So there’s a sense that NBC’s trying to “turn around” it’s “turn around” attempt from 2012-13.
The most-hyped newcomer on their fall grid is The Michael J. Fox Show – starring you-know-who, as a ‘forced into retirement’ stay at home dad/former New York city TV reporter dealing with his Parkinson’s disease. The writers’ use (I hate that term, but that’s how it feels) of Parkinson’s comes off sort of awkward and uncomfortable when you watch the show’s teaser clip (below) and honestly, there weren’t many funny moments, so it’s hard to gauge how successful this show will be. NBC has it slotted to air Thursday nights at 9:30pm EST, behind Sean Hayes (‘Jack’ from “Will & Grace”) new series “Sean Saves The World,” which leads many to wonder how confident NBC even is in the show they’re touting so mightily.
Then there’s the aforementioned Hayes’ project; when you watch the show pitch (below), do you not find yourself thinking about ‘Jack’ from “Will & Grace” …. a LOT? Same actor, same demeanor, only slightly less dingy and dresses almost exactly like ‘Jack’ did in so many episodes of “Will & Grace.” The highlight (for me, anyhow) was seeing Linda Lavin (aka ‘Alice’ from “Alice”) making her return to the small screen. The clips’ actually pretty funny, but will this show be able to overcome the ‘Jack’ factor?
“Welcome To The Family” seems to have some promise, too; think of it as a more light-hearted “Parenthood” and go with it. Actually, it would probably be a decent lead in for “Paernthood” (but won’t be; memo to NBC execs). Yes, that’s Kurt’s dad from “Glee,” by the way, playing the father of a recent high school grad daughter who’;s on her way to Arizona State before finding out she’s pregnant … thanks to her and her boyfriend’s extra-curriculars. He, of course, comes from a Latino family (yawn: culture clash comedy), was valedictorian and on his way to bigger and better things before the young couple opt to try and tie the knot, bringing the two families together.
Then there’s the head-scratching decision to revive “Ironside;” Blair Underwood must be owed a “re-do” by the execs at 30 Rock after his last venture with them (“The Event”) went belly-up after one full season of mismanagement. I don’t see this working (over-acting, quippy cop “tough guy one-liners” and worn out cop drama cliches can’t keep working forever.
If I had to give odds on what will work and what won’t, I’d say “Sean Saves The World” has the best shot, out of the gate, but the “Will & Grace” parallels won’t die easily until Hayes grows a goatee and/or tweaks his on-set persona a bit. “The Michael J. Fox Show” feels like it’s already in trouble before it debuts, and I’ve got nothing to back that up other than ‘gut feeling.’ But I’m rooting for the guy; what better inspiration for people battling ailments like Parkinson’s than to see a high-profile celebrity doing just that, and succeeding by portraying a character who’s succeeding himself?
Let’s face it; NBC needs to taste success; to do that, they might be best served to stay out of their own way. It’s my belief their scheduling “bipolar disorder” and quirky mid-season breaks ruined critically acclaimed and much-hyped projects like “The New Normal,” “The Event,” and honestly, I’m surprised “Revolution” is doing alright despite the same network treatment. It’ll never escape my mind, either, that this was the network that passed on “The Walking Dead.”