The 2013 Fall TV Preview: The New Shows on The CW & CBS
August 30th, 2013 2:00pm EDT
Les Moonves made a rare appearance at the TCAs and answered a popular question: how is The CW still functioning? The ratings are terrible. Mark Pedowitz points to social media scores and whatnot and talks up the new way of evaluating success, which is to ignore ratings and focus on likes and retweets or some such nonsense. Moonves bluntly said The CW continues to function because it doesn't lose money. Good enough for me. I received screeners for the new CW shows, so I'm 5% more legitimate. l. The CW's light on new shows again. The Originals' pilot aired in April. Of the other two new shows, Reign's pilot is better, but The Tomorrow People seems unlikely to fail whereas Reign is trying to capture the magic of 1998's Ever After.
Meanwhile, stable CBS is premiering five new shows in the next month. I wrote last year that Moonves could order a series in which people tie their sneakers for each episode and get 11 million people to watch live, and I stand by that.
Created By Julie Plec
Premiere Date: Thursday, October 3 at 9PM
Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2013) Family is power. The Original Vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together, always and forever. Now, centuries have passed and the bonds of family are broken. Time, tragedy and hunger for power have torn the Original Family apart. When Klaus Mikaelson, the original vampire-werewolf hybrid, receives a mysterious tip that a plot is brewing against him in the supernatural melting pot that is the French Quarter of New Orleans, he returns to the city his family helped build..
Thoughts: I really like the first episode. I watched it twice. It follows a very tired formula, but the execution is great. Execution matters more than formula. I wrote this in April: "So, how is "The Originals"? The episode works quite well as a pilot. Indeed, the episode is a pilot. I was most interested in the plan to transform Klaus into a leading character, one the audience could sympathize with and root for. Klaus is a wild and remorseless villain. He slaughtered twelve of his hybrids this season because they tried to break free of him. A few episodes ago, his mind was messed with by Silas. Caroline was a witness to Klaus' suffering. I compared his suffering in front of his beloved to Spike's suffering in front of Buffy in the seventh season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Last week, Klaus decided not to kill Tyler. Baby-steps." Joseph Morgan's performance is the key to the success of the show. He's able to elevate Klaus from what's a thin character on paper into a lively, complicated, and complex character. I will try to find time to continue following this character. I like the performance. I liked the world. I trust Julie Plec.
THE TOMORROW PEOPLE
Created By Greg Berlanti & Julie Plec & Phil Klemmer
Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 9 at 9PM
Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2013) They are the next evolutionary leap of mankind, a generation of humans born with paranormal abilities - the Tomorrow People. Stephen Jameson stands at the crossroads between the world we know and the shifting world of the future. Up until a year ago, Stephen was a "normal" teenager - until he began hearing voices and teleporting in his sleep, never knowing where he might wake up. Now, Stephen's issues have gone far beyond the usual teenage angst, and he is beginning to question his sanity.
Thoughts: Damon Lindelof's interview in Vulture about the summer movie blockbuster is so effective that it's effect trickles into television and basically derails The Tomorrow People, for me, before the first act break. The Tomorrow People is a British import--another one of those series about people with extraordinary abilities. The difference between TMP and Alphas or HEROES is that the Tomorrow People are superior to human beings. Main character Stephen isn't just a normal teenager, he's the chosen one; and his family has deep roots in the battle between ultras, the baddies, and the Tomorrow People, the goodies. The government wants to neutralize the tomorrow people with containment centers, and my eyes glazed over really quickly. The creative team behind this series is great. Berlanti and Plec entertained me for many hours over many years, but the pilot doesn't click. Robbie Amell's okay but sort of flat in the lead. The other actors, besides Mark Pellegrino, play plot devices instead of characters. There is a deluge of this kind of storytelling right now which means a series needs to really stand out. TMP doesn't out of the gate, but there's plenty of time for the writers to find the show.
Created By Laurie McCarthy & Stephanie Sengupta
Premiere Date: Thursday, October 17 at 9PM
Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2013) Hidden between the lines of the history books is the story of Mary Stuart, the young woman the world would come to know as Mary, Queen of Scots. Queen of Scotland since she was six days old, the teenage Mary is already a headstrong monarch - beautiful, passionate, and poised at the very beginning of her tumultuous rise to power.
Thoughts: Reign not as different as you might think for a CW show. Pretty people are everywhere. Mary's friendship with her girlfriends is similar to any depiction of friendship seen on The CW. There are love triangles, deception, adultery, etc. It's like any teenage drama but only set in the 14th century. The accents are jarring. France and Scotland have different histories, cultures, language, and accents, but not in Reign. The Queen of Scotland speaks with a distinct English accent. Adelaide Kane's the prettiest girl I've seen on The CW since Nina Dobrev. She's a young Australian. The young Aussies are taking over American TV shows, and they are all ridiculously good-looking. Reign's similar to Ever After. A historic figure becomes a character. The story's not the same, but the costumes and the tone is. Reign seems to be a better bet than Emily Owens M.D.
Created By Chuck Lorre & Eddie Gorodetsky
Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 9PM
Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) MOM is a comedy from executive producer Chuck Lorre starring Anna Faris as a newly sober single mom raising two children in a world full of temptations and pitfalls, and multiple Emmy Award winner Allison Janney as her critical, estranged mother.
Thoughts: What is wrong with CBS' brand of comedy? The laugh track is a weapon. I imagine a family sitting around on a Monday night watching the CBS comedy block. The offensive jokes made by characters are accompanied with a laugh track. Laughter means acceptance. If someone laughs, it is good. If someone doesn't, it is bad. Alison Janney's character is a former drug addict. She's a terrible mother and her daughter blames her for the way her life turned out. Anna Faris' character delivers the saddest line I've heard in trailers for new shows. The character reminds her mother she licked specks of cocaine from the carpet. The laugh track goes nuts for the line, like it's funny a woman was that bottom in her life. I hope Mom gets cancelled before the first episode ends.
Created By Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 10PM
Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) HOSTAGES, from executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is a high-octane suspense drama starring Emmy Award winner Toni Collette as a premiere surgeon thrust into a chilling political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage by rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott).
Thoughts: I got angry at myself for getting hooked by a 3 minute show produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. I got angry because I'm probably a pretentious person who thinks Hostages is below me. I don't know. Duncan Carlisle's plan seems incredibly short-sighted. The preview suggests Duncan wants the president killed because of a new health care plan. So much for subtext. The premise is nonsense.
THE CRAZY ONES
Created By David E. Kelly
Premiere Date: Thursday, September 26 at 9PM
Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) Academy Award winner Robin Williams returns to series television in THE CRAZY ONES, a single-camera workplace comedy about a larger-than-life advertising genius whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired... if he weren't the boss.
Thoughts: Robin Williams almost reluctantly played Dungeons and Dragons on Harmontown before Dan Harmon bailed him out. Robin Williams isn't as reluctant to accept a high salary to star in David E. Kelly's newest show. If you enjoy Robin Williams, I think The Crazy Ones will be enjoyable. I think it's his vehicle. Kelly's writing it for him. James Wolk is terrific in the two scenes I watched. Wolk's coming off the high of portraying the memorable Bob Benson in Mad Men.
WE ARE MEN
Created By Rob Greenberg
Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 8:30PM
Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) WE ARE MEN is a single-camera comedy about four single guys living in a short-term apartment complex who unexpectedly find camaraderie over their many missteps in love.
Thoughts: Good cast. Solid premise. We Are Men's like How I Met Your Mother if Ted got left at the altar. Kal Penn's involvement instantly makes the show more likable. Tony Shaloub's gonna get good lines. The search for one's soul mate is a popular goal for a main character, especially when that main character was deserted by Fiona Gubleman.
Created By Greg Garcia
Premiere Date: Thursday, September 30 at 8:30PM
Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) THE MILLERS stars Will Arnett as Nathan Miller, a recently divorced local roving news reporter looking forward to living the singles' life until his parents' marital problems unexpectedly derail his plans.
Thoughts: The six minute preview covers the essential beats of the first episode. Will Arnett's dance number with Margo Martindale shouldn't have been included in the preview. It doesn't matter actually. The Millers will get 10 million for the premiere. Will Arnett's figured out how to play roles without becoming GOB.
Photo Credits: The CW