Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Glut of New Shows -- CBS, plus The CW

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All the while CBS remains the most traditionalist network of all, what with their procedural dramas, long-running reality competitions, classic-styled sitcoms, and their ability to renew more than two-thirds of their programming every season. They possess the kind of shows my parents would watch. Still, this owes to great success overall their shows have had, and I must admit CBS is making fairly ambitious strides this year. For example, two of the four new sitcoms premiering in a few weeks are of the single camera variety. We Are Men and The Crazy Ones follow suit from the success of the other three broadcasters with a more film-like design and style. It's a shame, however that neither show looks particularly good.

But on another upbeat note, CBS is also coming off a strong summer. As I said earlier, the Stephen King-adapted drama Under the Dome was a raging success, and my family were among those watching. Such a big gambit of launching a major series in traditionally quiet period seriously paid off, and we are going to get another season next year. The way I managed to pick up on some of CBS' new fall entries was through this show, a logical method given how many were watching through both the peak period in late June through the doldrums of August.

What does the Tiffany network have to offer this fall? Well...

We Are Men (Mondays 8:30/7:30c; Starts 9/30) -- A new comedy about a man who is left at the altar, and moves into an apartment where he bonds with three divorced men. The cast includes Tony Shalhoub (in his first series since Monk), Kal Penn (Kumar, and a former Obama staffer) and Jerry O'Connell (the man Rebecca Romijn left John Stamos for), and I sort of get New Girl vibes from that setup albeit with the same gender as the protagonist. Otherwise, this feels sort of flat and it would really have to take before I notice it.
Mom (Mondays 9:30/8:30c; Starts 9/23) -- Chuck Lorre's newest sitcom, starring Anna Faris as a women embracing sobriety and seeking to get her life raising a child on her own back on track. This is the one new CBS comedy that commands my attention the most, the premise sounds reasonable even though that may be the reputation of the creator of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory speaking. I should also mention that the great Allison Janney plays Faris' own mother on this show, which could also be a boost for it.
Hostages (Mondays 10/9c; Starts 9/23) -- CBS' ambitious new serialized, tightly compacted, fifteen-episodes-to-a-season drama, one of two planned this season. Toni Collette (In Her Shoes and Little Miss Sunshine) stars as a doctor about to perform crucial surgery on the President. However, an FBI agent gone dark (Dylan McDermott) holds her family hostage demanding that she botch the surgery and kill her valuable patient. This is an interesting premise, ambitious for an ongoing series (as in I recall how Under the Dome may have soared with audiences who thought it was a miniseries). It's more compelling than The Blacklist, but I feel like I'll just fall back on Castle for this night and time.
The Millers (Thursdays 8:30/7:30c; Starts 10/3) -- Another year, another stupid sitcom vehicle for Will Arnett. His Arrested Development co-stars Jason Bateman and Michael Cera can find good movies to star in and there are other actors from there having more difficulty finding work, but poor, poor Gob probably has the most rotten luck of all in the projects he attracts. And now, he teams up with Beau Bridges and award-winning Justified alumnus Margo Martindale for a truly generic setup for a comedy, about moving back in with your parents. Talk about wasted talent all over the map.
The Crazy Ones (Thursdays 9:30/8:30c; Starts 9/26) -- "Robin Williams Returns to Television". Yeah, add lines like "The Stars Align" and cutesy music to the promo, and you feel like he hasn't learned a thing from his Patch Adams, Jack, or Bicentennial Man days. The clips from the show itself just come off as Robin Williams being Robin Williams, artifice antagonizing my personal desire to like this actor and embrace his genuine talent. On this new show, he plays an ad executive (real creative choice, by the way) working with his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

There's not much here in regards to new fall shows, I must say. In fact, I look at these sitcoms and can understand CBS' decision to renew Mike and Molly for a 22-episode fourth season and yet holding it off for midseason. It seems far more likely for at least one of these new shows to bomb hard and get pulled quickly, leaving the returning show eyeing a potential November launch. A method to this madness, not unlike scheduling the now-cancelled Rules of Engagement on Saturday nights a couple of years back.

And while we're on the subject of returning comedies, I must take a beat to compliment The Big Bang Theory. Also, I may have fallen off the 2 Broke Girls bus for a while, but have since come around in regards to it and think the new season holds plenty of potential. But most of all, this is a big year for How I Met Your Mother, for the longest time the most youngest-skewing of CBS' shows. (By the way, here be SPOILERS.) After a surprise renewal last December, series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas agreed to make this the final season. With that, they've crafted an ambitious story arc about the wedding of Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky, 22 episodes centered around a single weekend. But the real story of the next season comes from the closing shot the most recent season, of a certain woman holding a certain yellow umbrella with her bass guitar. Before all else, this swan song will be about Ted Mosby meeting his future wife.

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And as an added bonus, I will cover the new shows on CBS' sister network The CW. There isn't much to say, because I typically don't watch the shows on this network. I have also seldom watched the shows airing on the WB or UPN before it, although they had some great shows on both those networks. And even now, we have an even greater dearth of content having developed than you would expect going from two networks to one.

Are they coming around? Well, over the summer the CW rebooted Whose Line is it Anyway?, even bringing back panelists Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie and Wayne Brady for the new version. It's been doing well, and a second season has already been ordered. At least that's something, and it is a real big something.

Hell, my attention has also been brought to one of these three new shows.

The Originals (Tuesdays 9/8c; Special Premiere Event 10/3, 9/8c) -- This "Special Premiere Event" will follow the season premiere of its parent series, The Vampire Diaries. Otherwise, the latter series is the one CW show I've noticed gets the most attention of young people on the network. Closest to the success of Pretty Little Liars, which airs on the cable network ABC Family. I haven't seen much of Vampire Diaries though, beyond the pilot at least, so this new show can't do much for me.
The Tomorrow People (Wednesdays 9/8c; Starts 10/9) -- This is the show that has gotten my attention turned to the CW, an unlikely remake for this network of a 1970's cult science fiction drama about young people who have gained superpowers (chief among them teleportation) as a result of an evolutionary development. I used to watch the 90's version on Nickelodeon, as did my brother and sister, and even people in my extended family too. The Tomorrow People is very special and nostalgic to us. But this new version is paired with a series called Arrow, which comes from the same producer and adds an attempt at grittiness akin to Christopher Nolan's Batman to the DC Comics hero Green Arrow. I don't get quite as much of that attitude from Tomorrow People, but it still looks very different from past incarnations. I would have to acknowledge changes from the last series with that name (not unlike the obvious tonal differences from a 70's British drama and the same kind of show in the 90's), but still I may have to ask my sister about this new show. To see if what she feels about it, or even if it does anything for her.
Reign (Thursdays 9/8c; Starts 10/17) -- Ambitious a series for the CW, a period piece focusing on Mary, Queen of Scots in her youth. Makes you wonder how this network will pull off something as big as history.

If there's anything else that the CW has going for it, that would be this year's sizzle reel. The song that plays in it, "I Love It" by Icona Pop is also being used in the network's on air bumpers. This may not have been the first time they've snagged a hit pop song as their network's theme, but this is an infinitely more memorable song than "California Gurls".

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