NBC Universal Media
Television upfronts are upon us. Even though the fall TV season has just barely come to a close, with many shows not returning next year (poor Community), the networks have a new crop of shows ready to premiere later this year. NBC has recently announced its fall lineup, including an interesting mix of comedies and dramas. Here's a preview of NBC's upcoming primetime lineup
A to ZWhat It Is: Single-camera sitcom.What It's About: Andrew (Ben Feldman), a romantic at heart, tries to win the girl of his dreams, Zoey (Cristin Milioti).Who's in It: Ben Feldman, Cristin Milioti. What It Sounds Like: Exactly like How I Met Your Mother. It's so similar it's almost a little shameless. Check this: The male lead is a doe-eyed romantic; the female lead wants nothing to do with relationships; an unseen narrator who is also voiced by an actor best known from a '90s sitcom (Katey Sagal), is recounting the whole story; incredible romantic coincidences aplenty involving particularly colored items. It's madness. But at least they don't share a cast member... oh, wait...How Good It Will Be: It honestly looks like a tepid version of the CBS series, but without any of that show’s subversive charm or quirks.How Long It Will Last: It looks pleasant enough to last through the season, but who wants to watch another eight years of Ted and Robin doing will-they-won’t they.Premiere: Thursdays at 9:30 this fall.
Bad JudgeWhat It Is: Single-camera sitcom.What It's About: Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh) is a wild party girl who also happens to be L.A.'s toughest criminal judge.Who's In It: Kate Walsh, John Ducey, Tone Bell, Theodore Barnes.What's It Sound Like: A reality show titled Judge Judy: Off the Bench.How Good It Will Be: Judging by the trailer, it seems like the main character’s antics will grow stale after a while. “She’s a high ranking official, yet she’s wildly inappropriate” can only be barely amusing for so long.How Long It Will Last: This looks dead on arrival.Premiere: Thurdays at 9:00 this fall.
The Mysteries of LauraWhat It Is: Cop dramedy. What It's About: Laura Diamond (Debra Messing) is a gifted detective who must balance the excitement of police work with managing her twin boys and a flippant ex-husband.Who's In It: Debra Messing, Josh Lucas.What's It Sound Like: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but with more family drama.How Good Will It Be: It’s hard to tell. The trailer is charming enough and is actually littered with a couple chuckles. How Long Will It Last: We can see this one going the distance.Premiere: Wednesdays at 8:00 this fall.
ConstantineWhat It Is: Supernatural drama.What It's About: Based on DC Comics’ classic series Hellblazer, demon hunter John Constantine travels the country to fight off the forces of hell while looking cool in a trench coat. Who's In It: Matt Ryan, Lucy Griffiths, Harrold Perrineau. What's It Sounds Like: Like Supernatural, with more Brits. How Good Will It Be: The trailer has some genuine creepy moments and looks like a far cry from the Keanu Reeves-centered, sun-drenched L.A. interperatation of the character from 2005’s Constantine. Matt Ryan is a dead ringer for the comic book version, down to the blond hair and british-accented quips. How Long Will It Last: This one has good chances. Even though it’s scheduled for Friday nights, which is usually the death nell for television, NBC’s other supernatural action series, Grimm has improbably managed to survive on the same night. Also, It’s connection to comics will certainly bring in viewers.Premiere: Fridays at 10:00 this fall.
State of AffairsWhat It Is: Drama. What It's About: CIA analyst Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl) must decide which international crises need to be brought to the attention of the president. She’s also on a mission to find the people responsible for the murder of her fiancé, who was the president’s son.Who's In It: Katherine Heigl, Alfre Woodard, Adam Kaufman. What's It Sound Like: Like Scandal meets Homeland. How Good It Will Be: It looks like a soapy, glossy network version of Homeland, which could be fun, but could also be terrible. How Long It Will Last: NBC found a surprise hit with The Blacklist, and this show looks pretty similar in story. If it can pick up on that show’s audience it will definitely make it through the season.Premiere: November 17 at 10:00.
Marry MeWhat Is It: Single-camera sitcom. What It's About: After six perfect years together, Annie and Jake are ready to get married, but the universe seems to have other plans for them. Who's In It: Ken Marino, Casey Wilson, Sarah Wright, John Gemberling. What's It Sound Like: It’s basically looks like Happy Endings, which makes sense since it’s also from that show’s creator, David Caspe. How Good Will It Be: The cast has some great comedy chops, and the trailer has some goofy laughs here and there. If this show is even half as good as Happy Endings in it’s prime, we’ll be satisfied.How Long Will It Last: NBC is in dire need of some new comedies so we’re betting this one sticks around for a while. Premiere: Tuesday at 9:00 this fall.
AllegianceWhat It Is: Spy drama. What It's About: Alex O’Connor is a young idealistic CIA analyst, but his life comes crashing down when he learns that his parents are deactivated KGB agents who have just been re-enlisted by the Kremlin to commit a terrorist attack against the U.S. Who's In It: Gavin Stenhouse, Scott Cohen, Hope Davis.What's It Sound Like: The Americans, but with fewer wigs and less '80s music. How Good It Will Be: It’ll be hard for this show to compete quality-wise with The Americans, which is probably the most underrated drama on television, since it is mining such similar territory. How Long It Will Last: You only have to look as far as NBC’s Hostages to see that dramas like this don’t tend to do well on the network. If the show is a critical success it good skate on its prestige like Hannibal, but we don’t see this as being terribly successful.Premiere: N/A
AquariusWhat It Is: Period police drama.What It's About: In 1967, L.A. police sergeant Sam Hodiak investigates a cult leader luring young women to his cause. Little does he know that that the guy he’s hunting turns out to be Charles Manson.Who's In It: David Duchovny. What's It Sound Like: Bates Motel, but replace Norman Bates with Charles Manson. How Good Will It Be: It looks like NBC is trying to mine the success (critical success at least) of Hannibal. If this show is even a tenth as good as that, it will be a home run.How Long Will It Last?: Knowing NBC and it’s audience, If this show does make it to the end of the season, it will be one of those shows that’s permanently on the bubble come renewal time.Premiere: N/A
Emerald CityWhat It Is: Fantasy drama.What It's About: A woman investigating the identity of her biological mother gets swept up into a tornado and transported to a twisted vision of magical world of Oz Who's In It: N/A What's It Sound Like: A dark and gritty version of The Wizard of Oz. How Good Will It Be: Judging from recent “Dark” versions of fairy tales (Hanzel and Gretal: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman), we don’t have high hopes. How Long Will It Last: NBC’s recet genre offerings haven’t fared to well, but ABC’s Once Upon a Time shows that there’s certainly an audience for fantasy on network TV.Premiere: N/A
Mission ControlWhat Is It: Single-camera sitcom.What's It About: Dr. Mary Kendricks is a brilliant Aerospace engineer that must survive the boys club of Astronauts in the 1960s. Who's In It: Krysten Ritter, Tommy Dewey, Malcolm Barrett, Johnathan Slavin, Julie Meyer.What's It Sound Like: Mad Men meets Anchorman with some Better Off Ted sprinkled in. How Good Will It Be: Mad Men has found a great amount of drama exploring the old-timey misogyny of the 1960s. A series that can explore the same themes from a comedic lens could be really great.How Long Will It Last: It’s hard to tell. This sounds pretty ambitious from NBC. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that people will immediately click with, so Mission Control might not last.Premiere: N/A
Mr. RobinsonWhat It Is: Single-camera sitcom.What's It About: Down on his luck musician Craig Robinson (Craig Robinson... hey, wait a minute...) teaches music to pay the bills, but works harder to inspire his students once he finds out that they’re only taking his class for the easy A.Who's In It: Craig Robinson, Jean Smart.What's It Sound Like: An updated version of Welcome Back Kotter.How Good Will It Be: Craig Robinson is a huge talent, and we’ve been waiting for him to get the chance to carry his own show. Fingers crossed, everybody. How Long Will It Last: Hopefully, old fans of The Office can rally behind this show and help it secure at least a couple of seasons.Premiere: N/A
OdysseyWhat It Is: Multi-camera sitcom. What It's About: A soldier, a corporate lawyer, and a political activist uncover a military-industrial conspiracy involving al Qaeda, the U.S. military, and a U.S. corporation funding the terrorist cell.Who's In It: Anna Friel, Peter Facinelli, Jake Robinson, Jim True-Frost. What's It Sound Like: Traffic with a heaping teaspoon of Homeland.How Good Will It Be: It sounds like an ambitious, international undertaking from NBC. It sounds good, but then again it’s from a director of Grey’s Anatomy. We guess we’ll have to see.How Long Will It Last: Not too long. This doesn’t look like NBC’s usual offerings so it’s hard to think it will last.Premiere: N/A
One Big Happy What Is It: Single-camera sitcom.What's It About: Best friends, Lizzy and Luke decide to start an unorthodox family, but things get crowded when Luke meets and marries the woman of his dreams, Prudence, a british expat scheduled to leave the country. Who's In It: Nick Zano, Elisha Cuthbert, Kelly Brook.What's It Sound Like: A zanier version of Modern Family. How Good Will It Be: It sounds like fun, and Elisha Cuthbert was fantastic in Happy Endings.Premiere: N/A
Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtWhat Is It: Single camera sitcom What’s It About: After 15 years of living in a cult, a woman decides to reinvent her life by moving to New York and taking on the city that never sleeps.Who's In It: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess.What’s It Sound Like: Ugly Betty meets The Office.How Good Will It Be: Ellie Kemper is perpetually delightful, and the idea of a woman readjusting to modern life after living in a cult could lead to some absurd situations. How Long Will It Last: Like Mr. Robinson, fans of the office might give this show a boost at least initially. Were thinking this one will at least finish out it’s season.Premiere: N/A
Maybe there are a few happy endings after all.
Eliza Coupe, who played the uptight and competitive Jane Kerkovich on the dearly departed ABC show Happy Endings, will star in a new comedy series on USA called Benched. In the new show, Coupe will play a successful corporate lawyer who has a mental breakdown after being passed up for an expected promotion. Coupe sounds like a perfect choice for the character, who sounds suspiciously similar to Jane, who too exuded control but was really only a hair away from a complete manic break.
The half-hour comedy will be written and produced by Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones, while John Enbom, co-creator of Party Down, will serve as showrunner. While it sometimes feels like cable TV is comprised of about 95 percent courtroom shows these days, the comedic talent behind Benched gives us hope that the show will add something fresh to the sameness of the doldrums that comprises most legal programs.
Coupe's previous show lies in the quiet graveyard of sitcoms that ended way too soon. The little comedy was a bright and shiny beacon of laughs that got shuffled in the confusing mish mash of ABC's scheduling. The frantic and quick-witted comedy gave the network a healthy injection of fun and unpredictability, but the show was sadly canceled after its third season, even after fans and other networks launched desperate campaigns to save it from termination.
Maybe Benched is USA's attempt to give fans a little solace after Happy Endings met its demise. The network obviously liked what Coupe brought to Happy Endings, and though that she had what it took to carry her own show. It won't be the show we wanted, but maybe it will be the next best thing.
"Sorry if my snoring bothered you."
Those are not the first words I'd expect out of the mouth of someone who got up on a Friday morning to catch the 10:30 AM screening of a new movie but that is more or less what the fellow who'd been sitting behind me said as I passed him on my way out. I'd heard him snoring over the constant rat-a-tat-tat of bullets and butt-kicking being doled out by Milla Jovovich et al in this latest iteration of the never-ending Resident Evil series (this time in IMAX 3D) but I figured maybe I was hearing things. Nope he was asleep.
I used to play Resident Evil on my ancient PlayStation when it first came out. It scared the crap out of me. I enjoyed the first two movies — hey they included the skinless zombie dogs! — but I lost interest soon after that. How many times can you make the zombie apocalypse exciting? How many different skintight outfits can Jovovich wear while killing grotesque creatures who shoot evil grasping tentacles out of their mouths? Why should we care about all the blood and guts when we know the people we're supposed to be emotionally invested in will never die? We don't.
Try as he might there are only so many ways for writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson to give the Resident Evil series fresh new layers for each new movie. The Umbrella Corporation is the big bad. They were playing with biological weapons and somehow there was an accident that let one of the viruses loose... and boom you've got a zombie apocalypse on your hands. Our heroine is Alice played by Milla Jovovich and there is a rotating cast of characters who help her fight the good fight against the hordes of brain-eaters and whatever is left of the Umbrella Corporation that's now after her. There are some parallels to the video game series but Paul W.S. Anderson (a gamer himself) has taken lots of liberties with the basic plot over the years. While Anderson's flashy style is especially suited to these types of movies there's not enough plot to make it work.
We don't go to video game movies for plot of course but there has to be something to hold onto; otherwise why would we care if our protagonist were in danger? Anderson tries some neat tricks to snap us back to attention like bringing back characters that were killed in previous movies and throwing in a cloning subplot that calls into question some of the characters' true identities but it's still hard to get worked up about anything onscreen. However it ultimately sidesteps any deeper ideas that might take our attention away from all the guns. And there are so many guns and explosions and elegant butt-kickings doled out by Milla and her pals (or former pals in the case of Michelle Rodriguez's character Rain) that they blend together.
It is especially difficult to work up any interest in the story because it's a franchise and no matter how many times the stars or director might say they're not that interested in doing another everyone is just waiting to see how much money this will make before deciding to go forward. There is no question how franchise movies will end; there will be no derring-do on the part of the writer or director to actually kill off a beloved character permanently. At one point it seemed like Anderson was going to pull the old "And then she woke up!" trick which would have been bold both because it's such a hackneyed idea that it would make writing professors' heads explode all over the world but also because it would have required Anderson to play in a different universe and expand his repertoire a bit. Alas like Alice and Anderson himself we just can't seem to escape this rabbit hole.
Bad news, fellow whisker basket collectors: Tonight ABC will air the second season finale for the fan favorite comedy Happy Endings. (If your reaction to that information looks exactly like this, I feel your pain.)
The good news is that the show had a vastly improved sophomore season and earned higher ratings as word-of-mouth got out that it's one of television's best kept comedy secrets. But before we bid adieu (sorry Jane, I know how much you hate the French) to the Happy Endings gang for the summer (don't worry, we'll all visit at the lake house!) let's take a look back and the highs —and very few — lows from season two, aka The Year of Penny.
- "The Code War": Brad has a work wife and Jane tries (and fails miserably) to get a work husband, but it's Max and Dave's battle royal after breaking "the code" that made for one of the most laugh-out-loud eps.
- "Cocktails and Dreams": Dave befriends Colin Hanks and inceptions the gang's sex dreams after making a potent cocktail at his food truck. Plus, we all learned what a "whore's bath" is!
- "Secrets and Limos": Penny creates a vision board, Max illegally starts a limo business, and Alex finally made a joke that landed. ("You and your board need to get a room. A board room. Yes!")
- "Full Court Dress": Max and Penny make for terrible babysitters, while Alex tries to pawn off a J. Crew dress to Jane as her own. In a season low light, Dave and Brad befriend a creepy mailman (Rob Riggle) who eventually dies.
- "The Kerkovich Way": Penny and Max compete in a silly pointless scavenger hunt, and Jane manipulates her way into everyone's hearts. Sadly, despite their hook-up in "Cocktails and Dreams," Alex and Dave let fans down and decide to stay just friends.
- "You Snooze, You Bruise": Dave faces down a bully at the gym, while Jane learns to "relax." A bit of a snooze, really.
Season 2 Highlights (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the DVR):
- Dave's ballad "Love to the Power of Love"
- Max accidentally stabbing Brad in the leg with a oyster shucker. ("I stabbed you, dude!")
- The gang's Halloween costumes, particularly Max as a baby and Jane as bacon
- Inspired cameos from Fred Savage, Busy Philipps, Megan Mullally, Colin Hanks, and James Wolk.
- The Steaktanic.
- The "Trove."
- Dave's perm. ("Temple Grandin!")
- Dave's permanent desire to feel cool. (Ahem, v-necks.)
- Penny eating floor pie.
- Alex's "Ellen dance." (DJ Alex Haley would be proud.)
- Max holding his horses. Literally.
- Max the Bear.
- Max the "Fat Joey."
- Brad the Bird Whisper.
- "Indecent Proposal-ing."
- "Women. Be. Stoppin'."
Season 2 MVP:
This is a tough one. Almost too tough. While Eliza Coupe's type-A lunatic Jane and Adam Pally's slacker king Max were consistently hilarious throughout the season, Elisha Cuthbert's under-the-radar Alex all but dominated the second half of the season. While the entire ensemble (including a top-notch Casey Wilson and an improved Zachary Knighton) fired on all cylinders, in the end, nobody could trump Damon Wayans Jr. and his lovable Brad. Between his flawless execution of physical comedy (parkouring, kicking his leg over people's heads, falling on mousetraps, fighting a bird in his car, a memorable visit to the dentist) and his delivery of gut-busting one-liners ("Them thiiiiiings," "Hold up, that's a husk," "B**ch, it is 5:30!") the devoted husband, friend, and Dinosaurs enthusiast emerged the reigning champ.
Best Lines From Season 2:
- “You’re an acquired taste, like goat cheese or Mr. Bean.”
- "Remember that time you guys went to pick apples without me and you found Ricki Lake's wallet?"
- "Arbor Day is the Wimbledon of having sex."
- "Good news. Whatever I have is not from the bird I kissed!"
- "TV is nature's babysitter."
- "Guess you could say I'm a knitter with attitude!"
- "I hate kids. And I'm not talking the type I hate that goes away after a series of zany misadventures where we grow to love each other. I'm talking about a blistering hate for them and their creepy tiny little features."
- “[Your hair looks] like John C. Reilly after a kickball game.”
- “That place is harder to get into than Obvious Joke Here, that new alt-comedy club downtown."
- “How could you let me out of the house being this fat?!"
- “It could be just like The Butterfly Effect. That one little movie led to Ashton Kutcher doing a lot of bad movies”
- "You guys have fun, because I just got the Criterion Collection of Clueless, so I’ll see you guys later. I hope not sporadically.”
- “I signed us up for a mini-triathlon. So if anyone asks, we’re dwarves.”
- “This morning I didn’t want frittatas and now if you told me I could never have one again, I would kill you in cold blood, assassin-style”
What was your favorite moment from this season of Happy Endings? How about your favorite character? Sound off in the comments and be sure to check in tomorrow morning for a full recap of the finale!
[Photo credit: ABC]
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