In just over a month, a new season of TV will be bursting onto our screens. A few months ago, I looked at ABC's new lineup, and it's definitely time to figure out what else to check out when September rolls around. NBC's new shows are a mixed bag, including two highly dramatic dramas (one about firefighters, the other about an apocalyptic world), two comedies about children and family (one which seems genuine and full of heart, the other which simply seems full of dudebros), and a rehash of Community in a group therapy setting. Oh, and a comedy with a monkey. Plenty to roll your eyes at, and plenty that might well be worth watching.
NBC's full fall schedule is available here.
Summaries and trailers after the cut.
Summary: Meet Dr. George Coleman (Justin Kirk, “Weeds”), a top-dog New York veterinarian. With an unorthodox style of operating, George’s success comes from his undeniable gift with animals of all kinds. That is, all but the human kind. Dorothy Crane once held the key to George’s heart, but today she also holds the key to the family business as she takes over Crane Animal Hospital. Not only is she George’s new boss, but her romantic history with him and her lack of experience with animals is seriously cramping his style. Dorothy is whip-smart and ambitious, and she’s going to make George pay for the past. Needless to say, he’s determined not to make any changes in his (animal) kingdom — which includes poker games with a resident capuchin monkey.
Pros: It's directed by the Russo brothers, who are executive producers on Community and Happy Endings. It could be wacky and fun, in a Scrubs kind of way.
Cons: It's basically House, as a sitcom, without the mystery solving. With a monkey in a labcoat.
Anticipation Rating: 2/10
Summary: No job is more stressful, dangerous or exhilarating than those of the Firefighters, Rescue Squad and Paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. These are America’s everyday heroes — the courageous men and women who forge headfirst into danger when everyone else is running the other way. But the enormous responsibilities of the job also take a personal toll. Big reputations and hefty egos, coupled with the pressure to perform and make split-second decisions, are bound to put squad members at odds. When a tragedy claims one of their own, there’s plenty of guilt and blame to go around. In the middle of a divorce, Lt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer, “House M.D.”) tries to go about business as usual but can’t help butting heads with the brash Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney, “The Vampire Diaries”) of the Rescue Squad – and each blames the other for their fallen team member. When it’s “go-time” though, they put aside their differences and put everything on the line for each other. “Chicago Fire” is a look inside one of America’s noblest professions.
Pros: Lots of female characters, and seems like it might be a character-driven, action filled, emotional show. Created by Emmy winning Law & Order creator Dick Wolf.
Cons: Basically a procedural moved into the real of firefighting. If you love procedurals, that's a big pro. If, like me, you don't, there's probably not much to get excited about.
Anticipation Rating: 4/10 (not my cup of tea).
Summary: Misery loves company. Unless you’re sportscaster Ryan King (Matthew Perry, “Friends,” “Mr. Sunshine”) who thinks misery should just be left alone. After taking some time off, Ryan – who recently lost his wife in a car accident – is now ready to get back to work. And while he seems like his same old charming, cocky self, his boss won’t set him back on the air until he seeks counseling. So, Ryan reluctantly joins a support group with one goal in mind: get in, get out and get back on the radio as quickly as possible. Played by the fast-talking, sarcastic, and charismatic Perry, Ryan gives grief a real run for its money. Within one day of group therapy, he hijacks the meeting and suddenly the downtrodden are cajoled into playing a game of “who’s got the best sob story?” And in no time all of them are battling it out, trying to one-up each other’s despair. Now, this is fun! Ryan’s total lack of interest in healing might be just what this group needs – and maybe, exactly what he needs to move on with his life.
Pros: I was prepared to hate this, but it actually looks really sweet and fun! It has a diverse-seeming cast and the potential for both pathos and humor.
Cons: Might turn into a "therapy is nonsense, just go live your life!" kind of show. Or worse, "ignore the lady who knows about therapy and listen to the dude who knows how fun works!"
Anticipation Rating: 7/10
Guys with Kids
Summary: From Emmy winner and executive producer Jimmy Fallon comes a new comedy about three thirty-something dads trying to hold on to their youth, while holding onto their new babies’ hands. Easy, right? Thankfully, Chris (Jesse Bradford, “The West Wing”), Nick (Zach Cregger, “Friends with Benefits”) and Gary (Anthony Anderson, “Law & Order”) have each other to help navigate their survival as new dads, while still trying desperately to remain dudes. Balancing work or staying at home, painfully married or happily divorced, they know that taking care of the little ones while maintaining a social life is a daily challenge. Whether it’s hosing the little squirt down in the kitchen sink or hitting the bar strapped with a baby björn, these guys are on a roller-coaster adventure – parenting like you (and they) have never seen before.
Pros: This is actually a comedy about three fathers who seem like responsible parents... including a single father and a stay-at-home dad. And despite the title, the joke doesn't seem to be "guys taking care of children, how crazy! They can't do that!"
Cons: Pretty painful laughtrack, and, at least based on the trailer, the female characters are relegated to the roles of "person to flirt with" and "wife who doesn't understand." And how many "bros trying to stay bros" shows do we really need?
Anticipation Rating: 3/10
The New Normal
Summary: These days, families come in all forms – single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors… It’s 2012 and anything goes. Bryan (Andrew Rannells, “Girls,” “The Book of Mormon”) and David (Justin Bartha, “The Hangover”) are a Beverly Hills couple and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed and loving partnership, the one thing missing is a baby. And just when they think the stars will never align, enter Goldie (Georgia King, “One Day”), an extraordinary young woman with a checkered past. A Midwestern waitress and single mother looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother (Ellen Barkin, “Ocean’s Thirteen”), Goldie decides to change everything and move to L.A. with her precocious 8-year-old daughter. Desperate and broke – but also fertile – Goldie quickly becomes the guys’ surrogate and quite possibly the girl of their dreams. Surrogate mother, surrogate family.
Pros: Looks like a sweet comedy-drama about a gay couple who want kids, a single mother who wants a career, and a sweet little girl with glasses. It looks like a comedy with heart.
Cons: Created by Ryan Murphy. After Glee became such a problematic mess, I'm more than a little wary.
Anticipation Rating: 7/10
Summary: Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it? On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman’s life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously – and unbeknownst to her – had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future.
Pros: Epic adventure in a post-apocalyptic world created by the director of Iron Man and the creator of LOST. So much potential. The female lead, Charlie, looks like she might be interesting to follow on her adventures, and it looks like it has an emotional, high-stakes plot with lots of action and character-relationship drama thrown in for good measure.
Cons: The science doesn't make sense. All electricity just stopped? Even cars and planes that aren't plugged into anything?
Anticipation Rating: 7/10