NBC wraps up week 1 of the 2014 Fall TV Preview. I’ll preview returning shows next week, starting with ABC. Maybe. Maybe I’ll switch it up. Perhaps instead of the continuation of the fall preview I’ll write a novel while high on vitamin D milk.
THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA
Created By Jeff Rake (Carlos Villa & Javier Holgado created original series)
Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 17 at 8PM
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2014) Debra Messing ("Will & Grace") stars as Laura Diamond, a brilliant NYPD homicide detective who balances her "Columbo" day job with a crazy family life that includes two unruly twin boys and a soon-to-be ex-husband (Josh Lucas) - also a cop - who just can't seem to sign the divorce papers.
Thoughts: This drama features executive producers Greg Berlanti and McG. Berlanti’s as hit-or-miss as his former mentor, Kevin Williamson. I never thought Berlanti and McG would collaborate. The Mysteries of Laura seems ordinary. The hook of the series is that this smart, badass, tough cop also is a single mother. She walks into a room, covered in red paint, designed to look like bad, and swears those who did it will stay inside for a long time. The camera reveals her children. Oh, that NBC. It’s both procedural and family drama. Berlanti mixed procedural and family drama with Everwood (medical in that one) to decent success. Berlanti has enjoyed a hot streak of late. McG seems to have attached his name to every TV series in the last decade. Debra Messing is NBC’s favorite gal. I suppose she sort of plays against type.
Created By Adam McKay, Chad Kultgen, and Chris Henchy
Premiere Date: Thursday, October 2 at 9PM
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2014) No excuses, no apologies, no compromises. Wild child Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh, "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice") knows how to have a good time, but she also happens to be one of L.A.'s toughest and most respected criminal court judges. She has a reputation for unorthodox behavior in the courtroom, including creative rulings and saying exactly what's on her mind. Her private life, on the other hand, is anything but innocent. She parties too much and rocks out on the drums in a band with her best friend, Jenny. While there's no shortage of male admirers who would love to spend time with her, she's not ready to settle down... except when an 8-year-old boy - whose parents were put in jail by Rebecca - needs her help. He may, in fact, be the one thing that starts to tame this "bad" judge.
Thoughts: Kate Walsh, formerly of Private Practice, also plays against type in Bad Judge. Gary Sanchez productions brings the other side out of actors. Of course, that assumes one only has two sides when people have many, many, many different parts that work all at once, conflicting, contradictory, hypocritical, loving, hating, etc. Rebecca comes to work hung over; she rocks out in a band; she makes promises to little boys because she ruined their lives by jailing their parents. She’ll sleep with men in her office and care not whether or not the men acknowledge her the next day. As you can read above, the young boy introduced in episode one may reform the bad judge. By bad, NBC means she doesn’t live the conventional life of an ‘ordinary’ American adult. She’s not really wild nor should anyone in the audience care that the boy may tame her. She has her shit together well enough to act as a judge. I know, I know: stories basically follow the monomyth structure or Hegel’s triad. The boy is a threshold she must cross. By series’ end she’ll return to same place, having changed.
A TO Z
Created By Ben Queen
Premiere Date: Thursday, October 2 at 9:30PM
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2014) This is the A-to-Z story of Andrew (Ben Feldman, "Mad Men") and Zelda (Cristin Milioti, "How I Met Your Mother") - a pair that almost wasn't - and all that happened from the day they met.
Thoughts: Again with the other side of a character’s lif. Let’s not reduce too much in fiction. Andrew likes sports, but he also likes singing songs. What kind of character basis is that? Gosh darn Hollywood. Sports fans feel love for women; sports fans feel love for men; sports fans feel. A to Z is basically How I Met Your Mother’s final season if it wasn’t stretched out for 24 episodes and beyond redemption. It also has its roots in 500 Days of Summer and Her. Andrew believes in fate and destiny, but he mistakes choice and awareness for fate and destiny. Zelda could’ve wandered into Willflower day after day, and Andrew could have not introduced himself. If he hadn’t, nothing would’ve brought them together. His choice to say hi began what he thought was fate. Anyway, there would be no series without him talking to her, and people gobble up the fate and destiny angles for couplings because Hollywood brainwashes us with that yearly (and for the last couple decades). Perhaps, though, there exists an undetected pattern, a grand design we cannot see, and that one day when you look you’ll see. Milioti’s great. It’d be nice if Ben Queen wrote her differently from whatever the hell her character’s name was in HIMYM. I doubt that, though.
Created By David Caspe
Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 14 at 9PM
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2014) Six years ago, Annie (Casey Wilson, "Happy Endings") and Jake (Ken Marino, "Eastbound & Down") bonded over their mutual love of nachos and they've been inseparable ever since. Now, after returning from a romantic two-week island vacation, Jake's all set to pop the question. Before he can ask, though, Annie lets loose on Jake for his inability to commit. She was expecting him to "put a ring on it" in paradise and now Jake's perfect proposal is ruined. Not wanting to spend the next 60 years talking about that mess of a proposal, Jake and Annie decide to hold off on the engagement until they can do it right. Yet if history tells us anything, it's when we really want things to go right that they all tend to go wrong. The only thing we know for sure is these two are destined to be together whether they can get it together or not.
Thoughts: Casey Wilson and Ken Marino make a great pairing. I hate the idea of ‘we screwed it up once, let’s not screw it up again,’ because so many bad romantic comedies have done the same thing. Annie messes Jake’s life up a lot, which is allright, and Jake loves her so much that it’s okay. There’s the destiny theme again. I guess that’s a challenge for the writers. What if they fail to show these two should be together? Wilson and Marino would keep my interest for a few episodes, but poor, lazy writing would stop me from watching.
Created By Daniel Cerone & David S. Goyer
Premiere Date: Friday, October 24 at 10PM
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2014) Based on the wildly popular DC Comics series "Hellblazer," seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine (Matt Ryan, "Criminal Minds") specializes in giving hell... hell. Armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and his wickedly naughty wit, he fights the good fight - or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he's decided to leave his do-gooder life behind, but when demons target Liv (Lucy Griffiths, "True Blood"), the daughter of one of Constantine's oldest friends, he's reluctantly thrust back into the fray - and he'll do whatever it takes to save her. Before long, it's revealed that Liv's "second sight" - an ability to see the worlds behind our world and predict supernatural occurrences - is a threat to a mysterious new evil that's rising in the shadows. Now it's not just Liv who needs protection; the angels are starting to get worried too. So, together, Constantine and Liv must use her power and his skills to travel the country, find the demons that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows... maybe there's hope for him and his soul after all.
Thoughts: Constantine may keep a good bit of Grimm’s audience. I don’t think fans enjoyed the Keanu adaptation of the character. David S. Goyer’s a strong genre/comic book writer. He co-wrote The Dark Knight. I’d like to see DC Comics dominate television while Marvel dominates movies. Competition is good for each company.
STATE OF AFFAIRS
Created By Joe Carnahan
Premiere Date: Monday, November 17 at 10PM
Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2014) Each day the President is faced with dozens of life and death decisions, and to prioritize the biggest international crises facing the country, one top CIA analyst - Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy") - assembles the President's Daily Briefing (PDB). This list of the most vital security issues facing the nation brings with it moral and political judgment calls for Charleston and her trusted group of brilliant analysts at the agency. Aside from the political minefields she has to walk, Charlie has a close personal relationship with the President (Alfre Woodard, "Desperate Housewives") because she was once engaged to her son before a tragic terrorist attack took his life. Charlie survived that attack and is now determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. Navigating a complex personal life and a pressure-cooker profession is, of course, a challenge, and Charlie sometimes engages in boundary-pushing behavior to avoid facing her grief. But when the clock strikes 2 a.m., she is all about her job - protecting her nation, serving her President and still trying to get to the bottom of her fiancé's murder that will reveal itself as a shocking mystery.
Thoughts: I lost interest after two minutes of the preview video. Over 5 million people watched the video. I assume buzz exists for the series. The fiancé storyline that involves the two main characters will produce a roll of the eyes followed by an audible groan for the conspiracy angle. Read DeLillo or Gaddis instead. Maybe Mailer. I don’t know.