Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Fall-Winter TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2013–14’s New Shows"

Summer TV got you in the doldrums? See what’s coming up with my and Kevin Fallon’s first impressions of 30-plus broadcast network pilots, from Resurrection and Believe to Ironside and Dads.

At The Daily Beast, you can read my last story for the site (yes, you read that correctly!), entitled, "Fall-Winter TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2013–14’s New Shows," in which Kevin Fallon and I offer our first impressions of 40 or so broadcast network pilots coming to television next season.

Your summer vacation may have involved lounging by the pool or traveling to Europe, but we’ve spent the first few months of hot weather sorting through the broadcast-network pilots for nearly 40 new scripted shows that will likely air next season. (A caveat: the networks have been known to yank a few before they even make it on the air.) We’ve come out the other side more or less unscathed and can now offer our first takes on the dramas and comedies that are headed to the fall and midseason schedules of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and the CW.

Every year the networks present their usual takes on the familiar doctor-lawyer-cop tropes, and this year is no exception. But there are also a few bright spots. Supernatural thrillers Resurrection and Believe are pretty damn engaging. Lottery-winner drama Lucky 7 is surprisingly alluring. And there are quite a few comedies—Brooklyn Nine-Nine, About a Boy, Trophy Wife, and even (surprisingly) CBS’s Mom—that actually make us want to watch another episode or 10.

So what did we think? First, a few more caveats: (1) our opinions should be considered “first impressions” of the pilots that were made available by the broadcast networks and not reviews. (2) All pilots—from music and dialogue to casting, etc.—are subject to change, so what airs next season may be drastically different from what we saw. (3) We reserve the right to change our initial opinions upon seeing final review copies of these pilots—not to mention a few more episodes. (4) Not all the fall and midseason pilots were sent out by the networks: ABC opted not to send out the pilot for its highly anticipated superhero espionage drama Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or those for Mind Games, Mixology, and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland; NBC didn’t send out Crossbones, Dracula, Undateable, or Chicago PD, to name four; and CBS isn’t letting us see Reckless or Friends With Better Lives just yet, while it picked up Bad Teacher to series after the upfronts. (Quite a few pilots weren’t available to press this year.)


Back in the Game (Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.)

Log line: A former All-Star softball player, smarting from a recent divorce, moves back in with her curmudgeonly dad and her young son and ends up coaching her son’s misfit Little League team.

Cast: Maggie Lawson, James Caan, Lenora Crichlow, Ben Koldyke, Cooper Roth, Griffin Gluck, J.J. Totah, Kennedy Waite.

Jace Lacob: While watching this, I kept thinking to myself that the grumpy, trigger-happy dad should be played by James Caan. What’s that, you say? The dad IS played by James Caan? Oh. It seems that even Caan tries too hard to play a blue-collar James Caan type called the Cannon, and the results are creaky and stiff. The boozy British mother, played by Lenora Crichlow (Being Human)—and her dynamic with Maggie Lawson’s Terry—is a rare highlight in this otherwise drab, lackluster comedy pilot, in which nearly every single joke fails to connect with the bat.

Kevin Fallon: There are elements here that should work. James Caan should be able to play a curmudgeonly drunk grandpa in his sleep and still get laughs. Writers Mark and Robb Cullen aren’t afraid to tread into slightly politically incorrect and sometimes even weird humor. (A friendship builds between Maggie Lawson’s Terry and another school mom that’s delightfully odd and crass.) Each member of the Bad News Bears of a team Terry ends up coaching has what should be a chuckle-worthy quirk. Yet in spite of all this, nearly every joke grounds out. With few laughs to reward an otherwise talented cast, the series is ultimately a swing and a miss.

Verdict: Strike out.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...


Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have

"Gilmore" Guy: Who is New Showrunner David Rosenthal?

A few days later and I am still processing the news that Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino--and her exceptionally talented husband, writer and producer Daniel Palladino-- announced their departure from the whip-smart drama after six seasons. The news wouldn't be such a blow, save for the fact that Gilmore Girls is as much about Amy and Daniel as it is about Lorelai and Rory. In their capable hands, the show explored a supremely complicated family dynamic through the beautiful friendship of mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory... and did so with smart dialogue usually found in a Nick & Nora film rather than on television. Zany subplots abounded as did quirky, beloved supporting characters. And now, after six seasons (including this most recent--and very shaky--season where Amy and Daniel wrote less episodes than usual), Amy and Daniel are passing on the showrunning torch to... Dave Rosenthal?!? For those of you in the audience unfamiliar with David Rosenthal ,