Our look at the new fall lineups continues with the Peacock Network. NBC always feels like my favorite network even when they make terrible decisions or I’m not watching any of their shows. But right now they’ve got my favorite network series in The Good Place, they saved Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and they’ve got a handful of other shows I really like. So how about the new lineup? Is NBC going to hang on to their favorite status? Let’s find out!
Abby’s – There isn’t a trailer available for this midseason show, but there’s some info. Abby is a woman who runs a bar (apparently out of her backyard, if Wikipedia is to be believed) for a crew of regulars. On the one hand, this doesn’t sound like much. On the other hand, it sounds like Cheers. Beyond that, well, it’s executive produced by Michael Schur, the creator of Parks and Recreation and The Good Place. He’s also the EP of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. There’s nobody in network comedy doing a better job than he is and so far, everything associated with him has been really good.
I’m excited to see Neil Flynn (I didn’t watch much of The Middle, but I love that guy.), Nelson Franklin, and Jessica Chaffin in the cast. And then there’s Abby herself, the great Natalie Morales. It is baffling to me that she isn’t a giant star and after some heartbreaking single season cancellations (The Middleman, Trophy Wife, The Grinder, even Powerless. She came in late, but she made that show so much better.), maybe this is going to be the one. I’ll try out anything with either Morales or Schur involved, so the two of them put this squarely on my official hot list. (I don’t have an official hot list.)
America’s Got Talent: The Champions – No trailer, but this is an off-season AGT spinoff that features acts from previous seasons and notable performers from the Got Talent franchises in other countries. Are they milking a franchise that can only support one ongoing series or are they smartly filling a void in their schedule with a guaranteed audience? Definitely one of those two things!
The Enemy Within – Still no trailer. What up, NBC? Dexter‘s Jennifer Carpenter plays “the most notorious traitor in American history”, a former CIA operative sentence to life in a Supermax prison. Morris Chestnut is the FBI agent who needs her help to find a dangerous criminal. Based on that, it sounds like it’s based around a single threat rather than a case of the week structure, but there are a lot of gaps. Basically, this sounds like a gender-flipped version of The Blacklist with maybe a little Blindspot thrown in. There’s nothing so far that stands out as something I have to see, but it sounds like the kind of show that does reasonably well for NBC.
The Gilded Age – Is there a trailer? There is not. This is kind of interesting, though. It’s a series created by Julian Fellowes, the man responsible for the TV adaptation of Doctor Thorne, which starred both Alison Brie and Ian McShane and is thus the greatest thing. (Sidebar – Two weird things about Doctor Thorne. The plot requires you to believe that single men are only courting Alison Brie’s character because she’s rich, which is clearly insane. Also, Fellowes appears in framing segments before and after each episode. At the end of the first episode, he suddenly pops up and says “My, there is rather a lot going on, isn’t there?”, which is amazing.) I guess I should also note that Fellowes is actually best known for Downton Abbey, which makes this project a little more interesting.
Fellowes first announced this project, a look at 1880s New York City, in 2012. Back then it was going to be a Downton prequel. It was also going to be a book, so things have clearly changed. It sounds to me like Fellowes is bogged down in research and I am not at all convinced that this will even start production before the end of the season, much less make it to air. It could be interesting, and I would probably check it out despite burning out on Downton (After a while, it just felt like the message was “Isn’t it too bad that England’s class system isn’t nearly as crushing as it used to be?”). But right now it’s got that Emerald City vibe that makes me think I’m going to write it up for three years before it ever airs.
I Feel Bad – Hey, an actual trailer! And about a million ads during American Ninja Warrior! This show has a fairly simple premise – a working mother deals with struggles at work and home and her parents are annoying. A tale as old as time. But the thing is, everything I’ve seen has been pretty funny. It almost feels like a network take on I’m Sorry, which is not a bad thing at all. And there’s something about the way the main character (Sarayu Blue) is, well, my age. Her kids are in the teen range (I’m physically unable to determine the age of young people.), she’s established in her career. That’s a little more interesting to me than what we usually see, which is somebody just getting back to work after having a baby and learning how to be a parent. It clicks just enough that I’m going to check it out.
The InBetween – Another one without a trailer. So far, NBC’s schedule seems to be almost entirely midseason replacements. But what are they to replace? Actually, they do have short season series like The Good Place, This is Us, and Will & Grace, so that question was hypothetical. Anyway, this seems like something that’s probably already on TV. A woman who can communicate with the dead helps the police solve murders. That was Tru Calling, right? (I haven’t seen Tru Calling, but I remember the ads!) And maybe a less interesting take on iZombie? It’s probably unfair to judge based on so little information, but I’ve seen so many shows where a medium (Oh! Medium! That’s another one!) works with law enforcement and there’s nothing right now that indicates this is anything more than just, you know, another one of those.
Manifest – In this new drama, a passenger plane encounters turbulence and somehow lands five and a half years after it took off, even though that time hasn’t passed for the 191 passengers. They immediately have to be told how many Marvel movies they missed and who the President is. And after they stop laughing, they have to be told “No, seriously. And he’s bringing back asbestos.”
It looks… decent. I feel like they could burn through the premise pretty quickly – they already run through a lot of the scenarios for things that could happen in five years. There’s a new treatment for your disease, that thing you invented is a hit, I have a new wife now. That could be fun for a few episodes, but unless they’re doing some deep dives, it’s not going to last. The trailer does indicate that there might be a reason this happened to these particular people, so there’s some interest there. Although the presence of Robert Zemeckis as an Executive Producer has me thinking it’s going to be some inspirational nonsense about how these particular people are special, and I’ll roll my eyes at that. I’ll check it out, but I’ll also be prepared to bail if the premise goes wonky. I’m getting very cutthroat in my old age and I will stop watching you in a second.
New Amsterdam – Another in the “inspirational medical shows” genre, which is gaining steam because even those of us who have insurance know that if something goes seriously wrong, we have to choose between bankruptcy and death. So the idea of a medical director who cares just so damn much and fires the cardiac surgery department for prioritizing billing is appealing and also as much a fantasy as the people who disappear in the sky for five years. (Also? Kinda screws over anybody who needs heart surgery.) I don’t object, but there’s a part of me that feels like this is hardcore pandering to people who have had to make that bankruptcy / death choice or watched a loved one make it, and that makes me feel a little bit sick. I think this may be well-intentioned but it also upsets me in a way that I can’t quite explain.
On to other things. This is the second NBC series called New Amsterdam in ten years. The first was a time travel show and I wrote about that one, too. Either I’ve been doing this too long or that’s too quick to recycle a title. Also, I’m happy to see Freema Agyeman, who played Martha Jones in Season Three of Doctor Who. For her sake, I hope this does well. I just won’t be watching it because it’s making me upset.
The Titan Games – There’s no trailer for this yet, but it’s a game show hosted by Dwayne Johnson that’s basically American Gladiators but with an ongoing competitive aspect. Like, if you beat a Gladiator, you get their job. Although I think part of the 2008 relaunch was that the best performer of the season got to become a Gladiator, so really there’s nothing exceptionally new about this. But it’s set to air in January, which is kind of a dead zone, and I’m up for some Dollar Store American Gladiators. Let’s give it a shot!
The Village – There doesn’t seem to be a trailer yet, but also looking it up gets you nothing but the trailer for the 2004 M. Night Shyamalan movie. So maybe rethink that title just to make it Google-able? Anyway, it’s about an apartment building in Brooklyn where the residents share a tight bond. It promises “hopeful, heartwarming, and challenging stories of life that prove that family is everything – even if it’s the one you make with the people around you”, so that sounds just painfully earnest. It could be sort of a companion to This Is Us, and the Spring 2019 premiere date makes me think it’s meant to take over that time slot when the season finishes. There’s too little to go on, so I can’t make any kind of call. I could probably be won over by one even slightly unexpected angle, though. So this one has an incomplete grade for now.
What I’m Watching – I’m a definite for Abby‘s, and I’ll give I Feel Bad, Gilded Age, and Titan Games a shot. Manifest is a strong maybe, and if it gets through the pilot without being dumb, I’ll give it a shot. That’s not bad at all. Plus, they’ve got Brooklyn Nine-Nine joining the network, so overall, it’s a good showing.
2017 Follow-up – There were twelve shows announced last fall. One of them, the Chris Hardwick hosted Awesome Show never aired and at this point, probably won’t. NBC has decided he’s OK to keep hosting The Wall, but I think Hardwick’s going to have a problem getting any new projects on the air. Another of the shows, Genius Junior is, well, I’m not sure. It’s not on the schedule and it hasn’t been renewed, but it’s not listed as cancelled either. I imagine it’s one of those things NBC will keep in its back pocket until needed. Law and Order: True Crime retroactively became a miniseries, so that leaves us with nine. Of those, five have been renewed (A.P. Bio, Ellen’s Game of Games, Good Girls, Making It (listed as The Handmade Project on last year’s schedule), and Will & Grace) and three are definitely cancelled (Brave, Champions, and the briefly popular Rise). Reverie recently wrapped up its summer run and isn’t officially cancelled but the ratings were not good. Still, if you take out the never-aired and limited run shows, they’re five for nine. And three of the renewals are shows I really like, so NBC is doing just fine with me.
Next week we wrap things up with the CW and maybe some final thoughts. Does the CW have five new shows, three of which are spinoffs or reboots of their properties? You know it!