Friday, September 3, 2010

Fall TV Preview – 2010 – Part 3: NBC

LeapBackBlog’s Fall TV Preview gives you a rundown of the good stuff that is out there – and there is so much of it, too much really. It is broken down by network – ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW, and then shows on Cable. Finally, I list the top five shows most worth your time this fall.
Here is the stuff worth checking out:

Part 1: ABC - No Ordinary Family, Grey's Anatomy and Modern Family

Part 2: CBS - The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, $#*! My Dad Says

Part 3: NBC - Chuck, The Event, Undercovers, Friday Night Lights, Community, The Office, 30 Rock


Chuck (season 4 premiers Sep 20, 8PM)
Synopsis: A nerd, Chuck Bartowski, turned spy when all the CIA’s secrets were transferred to his memory by his friend Bryce Larkin in an effort to keep them safe. Now Chuck and his CIA and NSA handlers, Sarah and Casey respectively, must help stop evil plots against the country while hiding Chuck’s identity as the holder of all America’s secrets.
Why Should You Watch: The show is a lot of fun. There is a great dynamic between the actors, especially between Zachary Levi (Less Than Perfect), Yvonne Strahovski (Headland) and Adam Baldwin (Firefly). Seeing seasons 1-3 is probably a good idea to get caught up to speed on how Chuck went from lowly Buy More Nerd Herd employee to super spy – but the show is episodic enough that the story and characters can be picked up well enough jumping in now. The mix of comedy and action is done really well usually and the whole cast is great and works well together. The show is run by co-creators Josh Schwartz (The O.C. and Gossip Girl) and Chris Fedak.
Potential Issues: Sometimes the show promotes comedy before drama and action to the degree where it gets a little silly, but overall the show does maintain a good balance. This is a show that works better with fewer stories to tell – it is better when it is more serialized and less episodic, as it does get repetitive at times. The show also has to fight for each new season as ratings have never been great, which is too bad.
Verdict: Really worth watching this show, it is really funny and has wonderfully enjoyable characters.

The Event (premiers Sep 20, 9PM)
Synopsis: The show is about Sean Walker who goes on vacation with his girlfriend Leila – then suddenly he becomes caught up in a conspiracy that goes as far as the White House. What Sean does not know is that the government is hiding a strange secret regarding a group of detainees (apparently, the less you know the better).
Why Should You Watch: It is being touted at the new Lost – aka it is an extremely serialized show about an extraordinary phenomenon.  Executive producer Nick Wauters has a decent track record having previously worked on such sci-fi-ish shows like MediumEureka and The 4400 as a writer.  The show also has a decent cast including: Jason Ritter (The Class), Sarah Roemer (Fired Up!), Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls), Blair Underwood (Dirty Sexy Money), Laura Innes (ER), Zeljko Ivanek (Damages), and Ian Anthony Dale (Day Break), but really the only interesting casting choices are the very good Ivanek and the ready for a break-out role Roemer. (Apparently, and likely wholly media driven) the buzz is that this is the must see event of the fall (haha, name-drop pun).
Potential Issues: Do we really need or want a new Lost? How many previous shows have claimed as much only to fail within a season (yeah, I’m looking at you FashForward). Plus, being highly serialized, the show better be really good and viewer-gripping or this is going to be kaput like the rest.
Verdict: Skip, unless you want to really really want to know what The Event is – or just look it up on Google in a few weeks.

Undercovers (premiers Sep 22, 8PM)
Synopsis: The show is about husband and wife CIA agents, Steven and Samantha Bloom, who quit five years ago settling into a quiet normal married life. However, five years in, their life is lacking excitement and a certain spark. So when CIA director Carlton Shaw presses them to rejoin the agency when an operative goes missing, they get back in the spy trade.
Why Should You Watch: Well, this is a new show from J.J. Abrams, and that is a good enough reason alone. Abrams gave us FelicityAliasLostFringe and he directed Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek. He is co-creating the show with Josh Reims who worked on Brothers & Sisters and with Abrams on Felicity. Abrams has had a fantastic eye for discovering and casting heroines (Keri RussellJennifer GarnerEvangeline Lilly, and Anna Torv); Gugu Mbatha-Raw is his newest find. Joining her is co-lead Boris Kodjoe (Soul Food) and supporting players Gerald McRaney (Deadwood), Mekia CoxCarter MacIntyre (American Heiress), and Ben Schwartz (Mayne Street). The show is already receiving a lot of acclaim based on its pilot – critics calling it a “sexspionage” show that is very fun to watch, packed full of action but with good characters too.
Potential Issues: The cast is not overly exciting on paper, but I trust Abrams’s casting as his past shows have all had wonderful groups of actors that fit their characters well. There are already a lot of spy shows and action-comedy type shows, so this will need to stand out to survive and if it does will likely cannibalize some of the others.
Verdict: A must watch, Abrams is one of the top writers in the TV game and he is directing the pilot.

Friday Night Lights (season 5 premiers Oct 27, 8PM on DirecTV and NBC at some point)
Synopsis: The show is about the small town of Dillon, TX, and their high school football team, and the students, teachers and parents surrounding it.
Why Should You Watch: This is called the best show that flies under the radar. It boasts strong performances and good character and story arches.
Potential Issues: Despite all its critical acclaim, it continues to be a lesser known show for a major network, even after four seasons. This season also does not have a big draw for new viewers as NBC has stated that season five will be its last.
Verdict: If you love the show, keep on watching it, if you have not seen it, Netflix.

Community (season 5 premiers Sep 23, 8PM)
Synopsis: The comedy sitcom is about a lawyer, Jeff Winger, who is forced to attend community college, as his education is deemed void by the Bar.
Why Should You Watch: The show is really funny, lead by star Joel McHale (The Soup), Chevy Chase (Fletch) and Ken Jeong (Knocked Up). The rest of the supporting cast is good too. Season two is set for a guest appearance by Betty White (The Golden Girls). There are a lot of good comedy sitcoms on TV, but this is one of the best.
Potential Issues: The show struggled to gain ratings during season one. Will season two do well enough to garner a third season? NBC putting up against The Big Bang Theory probably does not help.
Verdict: Worth watching, and if you love the show, make sure to catch it live, every TV set helps for a third season.

The Office (season 7 premiers Sep 23, 9PM)
Synopsis: The show is about the employees of the Scranton, PA, branch of Dunder Mifflin, primarily focusing on regional manager Michael Scott, newlyweds Jim and Pam, and overcommitted Dwight Schurte.
Why Should You Watch: The show has grown out from under the shadow of its BBC Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant predecessor and become its own show (and I think overall it is even better, but different) with each season getting better and better. It has transgressed its comedy roots. It is not about the jokes anymore, though they are plentiful and highly enjoyable, the characters are the point of the show now and what makes it great and keeps us coming back. This show really is one of the best on TV. Newcomers will be able to follow the story and get a sense for the characters, but really you should start from the beginning.
Potential Issues: Season seven is star Steve Carrell’s (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) last. Can the show continue on after he leaves? Will the show try too hard to give him a sendoff instead of sticking to what it does well?
Verdict: If you already watch it, you know it is great, and if not, why are you not watching it?

30 Rock (season 5 premiers Sep 23, 8:30PM)
Synopsis: The show is about the lead writer of an SNL type skit show “TGS with Tracy Jordan” Liz Lemon, her boss Jack Donaghy, and its two main stars Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney, as well as other characters that interact with them.
Why Should You WatchTina Fey (SNL) and Alec Baldwin (The Aviator) are pure comedic geniuses in this. The writing and situations are often hilarious and the supporting cast all fill their roles well. But really it is Fey and Baldwin that elevate this show.
Potential Issues: The show at times is inconsistent; while it is usually funny, many of the stories are blah. Fey and Baldwin end up carrying the show way too much.
Verdict: Fey and Baldwin in this show are worth your time, but the show itself maybe is not.

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