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Network television had a big week with their annual May upfronts—the presentations given by different TV networks where executives pitch the new shows they’ve purchased for the Fall TV season.Upfronts bring out the stars of the show and present clips so that advertisers will invest in the programs and provide networks with big budgets to produce their series they have approved for Fall viewing.
This year the stars were out for the event and Hollywood suits did their best to impress. Fox brought out their big guns, aka the new judges of “The X-Factor”: Demi Lovato and Britney Spears. Other networks like ABC and Turner Broadcasting (aka TBS) let their resident funnymen, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien, charm Madison Avenue admen with TV executive-related humour.
In the end, veteran TV producers were the big winners of the week. “Gossip Girl” creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage now have four series on The CW as does “Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy, who just got another comedy picked up, this time on NBC.
And perhaps the biggest surprise? Most of the networks picked up new sitcoms. In fact, 16 out of the 36 new shows are situational comedies. NBC even announced that four out of its five scheduling days will include at least one hour-long comedy block.
We have quick summaries and even quicker judgments on all the new shows from “The Big Four” networks: CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.
Cast: Michael Urie ('Ugly Betty') David Krumholtz ('Numbers'), Brandon Routh ('Superman Returns'), Sophia Bush ('One Tree Hill')
Summary: Business partners and best friends must navigate relationships and their friendship. One is gay and the other is straight.
Our Opinion: It's obvious the show is written by the creators of 'Will & Grace' because it shares that tone. We do wish there was no laugh track but laugh tracks are common on CBS shows so there's nothing we can do. We say watch the first few episodes to let it find its footing.
Cast: Janet Montgomery, Kyle MacLaughlan ('Sex and the City,' 'Desperate Housewives)
Summary: A working-class woman from New Jersey uses her street smarts to compete with high-class colleagues in an upscale, New York law firm.
Our Opinion: Could be good but looks too run-of-the-mill. Watch only the pilot for now.
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis ('The Shield'), Jason O'Mara ('Terra Nova'), Carrie-Anne Moss ('The Matrix')
Summary: Centered around the true story of cowboy-turned-Vegas sheriff in the 1960s: Ralph Lamb.
Our Opinion: Despite the awesome cast, we say watch the pilot at most. But who knows? Maybe the pilot will impress us so much that we change our minds.
Cast: Jonny Lee Miller ('Eli Stone'), Lucy Liu ('Dirty, Sexy, Money')
Summary: Sherlock Holmes re-imagined in modern-day New York City. Dr. John Watson is now a girl: Joan Watson.
Our Opinion: Yes, there is a British 'Sherlock' which is absolutely excellent. And yes, the Robert Downey Jr. movies aren't bad either. But we have faith in this show because of the superb casting of Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Liu as a female Watson. We say watch this show.
Cast: Sarah Chalke ('Scrubs'), Brad Garrett ('Everybody Loves Raymond'), Elizabeth Perkins ('Weeds')
Summary: A recently divorced mother moves back in with her eccentric mother and kooky step-dad.
Our Opinion: Too formulaic. As much as we hate to say it (because of the good cast), we say maybe watch the pilot but most likely skip it.
Cast: J.K. Simmons ('Juno'), Kyle Bornheimer ('Perfect Couples'), Leah Remini ('King of Queens')
Summary: A man who was just kicked out of seminary school must put any dreams he had on hold to run his father's handyman business after the father suffers a heart attack.
Our Opinion: The trailer isn't overtly funny but seems charming. We say watch the first few episodes to let it develop its tone. Bornheimer and Simmons are too good to ignore this show.
Cast: Jami Gertz ('aeroplane!'), Lenny Venito, Isabella Cramp, Clara Mamet
Summary: A city family moves to the suburbs and finds out their neighbours are aliens.
Our Opinion: The trailer is not funny. Don't watch.
Cast: Reba McEntire, Lily Tomlin ('Damages,' 'The West Wing'), Sarah Rue ('Less Than Perfect')
Summary: After her husband cheats on her and takes all her money, Reba moves her kids and mother to their little house in Malibu and tries to continue a music career.
Our Opinion: It's just like Reba's old show but with music. This is a big skip for us even though it will probably run for years.
Cast: Alyssa Milano ('Charmed'), Yunjin Kim ('Lost'), Rochelle Aytes, Jes Macallan
Summary: Again, just as it sounds. This soap follows four women and their complicated relationships.
Our opinion: This show combines sex and love for both the men and the ladies. It'll most likely be a hit no matter what. Watch if you must, but we'll skip due to the infuriating nature of the plot.
Cast: Anthony Edwards ('ER'), Scott Michael Foster ('Greek'), Jacinda Barrett, Michael Nyqvist ('Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol')
Summary: An editor of a sceptics magazine is pulled into a centuries-old conspiracy when the woman he loves is kidnapped.
Our Opinion: Watch the pilot for Anthony Edwards alone. But the rest of the season will probably lose viewers as the conspiracy develops.
Cast: Radha Mitchell ('Silent Hill')
Summary: A widow of an assassinated criminal must take her husband's post in the crime syndicate to protect her family.
Our Opinion: Before watching the trailer, we would have said skip. But now we can't wait to see if this will become the newest female-empowerment, kick butt show. Watch.
Cast: Rachael Taylor ('Charlie's Angels'), Dave Annable ('Brothers & Sisters'), Terry O'Quinn ('Lost'), Vanessa Williams ('Ugly Betty,' 'Desperate Housewives')
Summary: A young couple agrees to be the managers at a new hotel that is definitely haunted.
Our Opinion: We very hesitantly put this show on the watch list. But the trailer makes it look like the show might veer into crazy town rather than stay mysterious and eerie. O'Quinn makes everything better, though.
Cast: Andre Braugher ('Men of a Certain Age'), Scott Speedman ('Felicity'), Autumn Reeser ('The O.C.'), Dichen Lachman ('Dollhouse')
Summary: After ignoring to fire nuclear missiles on Pakistan, a U.S. nuclear submarine is betrayed by our government and sets up its own nuclear nation on a remote island.
Our Opinion: Watch the first few episodes at least. As long as the folks on the submarine don't just stay on the submarine for several episodes on end, this could be a great, intense new drama.
Cast: Connie Britton ('Friday Night Lights,' 'American Horror Story'), Hayden Panetierre ('Heroes'), Eric Close ('Without A Trace'), Powers Boothe ('Sin City'), Charles Esten ('Whose Line Is It Anyway?')
Summary: A soap set in the country-music scene in Nashville where one star is on the rise and the other star is fading.
Our Opinion: Connie Britton alone makes this a must-watch show. 'Nashville' fills our soap quota for the new fall season.
Cast: Justin Kirk ('Weeds'), Tyler Labine ('Reaper'), Matt Walsh ('Veep')
Summary: A 'House'-type doctor who works at an animal hospital and loves the patients more than their owners.
Our Opinion. Don't watch. We really wish this looked better because Kirk is wonderful on 'Weeds' but these clips look terrible.
Cast: Matthew Perry ('Friends'), Laura Benanti ('Eli Stone')
Summary: A sportscaster deals with loss during mandatory group therapy sessions with some really kooky characters.
Our Opinion: Watch. The clips are charming and reminiscent of Perry's glory days on 'Friends' without all the over-exaggeration. We say yes to this sweet, simple comedy.
Cast: Justin Bartha ('National Treasure'), Andrew Rannells ('The Book of Mormon'), Ellen Barkin ('Switch,' 'Ocean's 13'), NeNe Leakes ('Real Housewives of Atlanta')
Summary: Revolves around a gay couple, their surrogate and the surrogate's family growing up together.
Our Opinion: Watch the first few episodes. We're only giving this show a small window of opportunity because of the actors. Creator Ryan Murphy has effectively ruined his other comedy on TV ('Glee') so we don't have a lot of hope for this show either.
Cast: Jesse Bradford ('The West Wing'), Anthony Anderson ('Law & Order'), Zach Cregger ('The Whitest Kids U' Know'), Jamie-Lynn Sigler ('The Sopranos', 'Entourage')
Summary: Exactly what the title says. Three 30-something guys must navigate the parenting world even though they're pretty immature themselves.
Our Opinion: Watch the pilot but that's about it. This show is produced by Jimmy Fallon and could be decent but the laugh-track negates all the good qualities.
Cast: Dane Cook, Jeffrey Tambor ('Arrested Development')
Summary: An alpha male radio DJ must work with a new, feminist co-host when his ratings start to tank.
Our Opinion: Don't watch. Cook looks to be rehashing jokes and playing himself yet again. The only thing that saves the show even a bit is the presence of 'Arrested Development' fan-fave Tambor.
Cast: Bill Pullman ('Independence Day'), Josh Gad ('The Book of Mormon,' 'The Daily Show'), Jenna Elfman ('Dharma & Greg')
Summary: A modern-family type show where the family is actually the First Family. The father is the President of the United States.
b Considering its written by former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett, we'll give the comedy one chance but that's it. We think it looks too corny.
Cast: Anne Heche
Summary: After a brush with death, a woman in a broken marriage transforms herself into a prophet and tries to create miracles from God.
Our Opinion: Don't watch. These kinds of religious shows only do well on cable networks like Showtime or HBO. This looks like a much more stereotypical, even irreverent version of HBO's 'Enlightened.'
Cast: Stephen Pasquale ('Rescue Me'), Phylicia Rashad ('The Cosby Show')
Summary: A neurosurgeon must control his dangerous alter-ego from wreaking havoc on his hospital and his personal life.
Our Opinion: Definitely watch the pilot. Jekyll and Hyde type stories don't have the best track record on NBC (see: 'My Own Worst Enemy'), but the clips NBC has shown so far make this show look really intriguing.
Cast: Jesse Spencer ('House'), Lauren German, Monica Raymund ('Lie to Me'), Taylor Kinney ('The Vampire Diaries')
Summary: 'Law & Order' creator Dick Wolf takes viewers into the personal and professional lives of the Chicago-city fire department.
Our opinion: No matter whether you watch the show or not, it'll probably run for several seasons. That's just what happens with most Dick Wolf shows.
Cast: Meagan Good ('Californication'), Victor Garber ('Alias'), Tate Donovan ('The O.C.')
Summary: A soap that follows a female detective as she investigates the murder of her childhood best friend at the house where she used to be the maid's daughter.
Our opinion: Another watch for the pilot alone. These soap-type shows tell you so much about whether you'll enjoy or not within the first 20 minutes. We expect this will be a 'Revenge'-like hit for the Peacock network.
Cast: Billy Burke ('24', 'Twilight'), Giancarlo Esposito ('Breaking Bad'), Andrea Roth ('Rescue Me')
Summary: The world mysteriously loses all electricity one day and sends everyone into chaos. Fifteen years later, a small group of rag-tag survivors try to make civilisation in the ashes while simultaneously looking to restore power.
Our Opinion: Watch the pilot. That first episode alone will tell us if the show will go in a 'Lost' director or a 'Flashforward'-'Terra Nova'-'The Event' direction. Because of 'Breaking Bad' star Giancarlo Esposito alone, we hope the show isn't terrible.
Cast: Nat Faxon ('The Cleveland Show'), Dakota Johnson ('The Social Network'), Lucy Punch ('Bad Teacher')
Summary: A single mother gets a roommate when her brother moves back into town to help her raise her daughter.
Our Opinion: Watch. But saying that we're also worried this will become too much of a 'Raising Hope'-type story. And if Fox has to choose between the two shows, we expect they'll choose 'Hope.' As long as 'Ben and Kate' can distinguish itself from the pack, this is a surefire win for the network.
Cast: Scott Foley ('Felicity'), Becki Newton ('Ugly Betty,' 'How I Met Your Mother'), Jake Lacy ('Better With You')
Summary: Three estranged siblings are forced to play a game of Trivial Pursuit about their lives in order to get the inheritance from their recently deceased father. The game brings the brothers and sister closer together.
Our Opinion: Watch. Another show that gives us high hopes. The team behind 'How I Met Your Mother' created this show as well so we expect a great blend of laughter and heart.
Cast: Mindy Kaling ('The Office'), Chris Messina ('Damages'), Anna Camp ('True Blood'), Richard Schiff ('The West Wing'), guest starring Ed Helms ('The Office') and Bill Hader ('Saturday Night Live')
Summary: Kaling stars as a 'Bridget Jones'-type doctor who tries to navigate and a growing professional life with a struggling personal one.
Our Opinion: Watch with your fingers crossed. We're sceptical but extremely hopeful. It's too bad this premise and trailer look so formulaic.
Cast: Jordana Spiro ('My Boys'), Zach Gilford ('Friday Night Lights'), Zeljko Ivanek ('Heroes', 'Damages'), Jamie Lee Kirchner ('Mercy'), Jesse Lee Soffer ('As The World Turns')
Summary: A young female doctor become indebted to the South Chicago mafia and must moonlight as the doctor for the mob family.
Our Opinion: Watch for the first few episodes, despite the terrible title. The show has potential because of its great cast.
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Maggie Grace ('Lost'), James Purefoy ('Rome'), Shawn Ashmore ('X-Men')
Summary: Bacon plays an FBI agent tasked with finding a serial killer (Purefoy) who has started a cult of serial killers.
Our Opinion: Definitely Watch. The trailer looks more procedural than we hoped but we see this being a great cult hit. However, this type of show would probably be best on an HBO or even FX-type network.
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