Snap judgments on fall season
Last month, networks announced their official fall 2011-2012 prime-time schedules. Right now, it’s hard to tell which shows will be good and which will suck eggs through a straw. But a quick glance through the networks’ own sneak preview trailers leads us to a few conclusions.
Most Interesting: “Once Upon a Time” was one of several fairy-tale-based pilots in development, but trailers for this fairly serious “Snow White trapped in small-town New England” actually look intriguing. Those in the mood for “Mad Men”-style flashbacks should enjoy “Pan Am,” a glossy airline stewardess period piece starring Christina Ricci. “The River” comes to us from the creator of Paranormal Activity. It’s a “found footage” drama about a family hunting down their wildlife-expert father who’s gone missing under very creepy circumstances.
Least Interesting: “Apartment 23” is a female “Odd Couple” sitcom described by ABC as “a female Odd Couple.” Clever. In “Work It,” two unemployed dudes dress as chicks to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps. “Bosom Buddies” called and doesn’t want its premise back.
Most Interesting: “Grimm” is TV’s other fairy-tale-based series, this one about cops who fight witches and trolls. The critically acclaimed British crime-solver series “Prime Suspect” gets an American remake with Maria Bello (A History of Violence) subbing for Helen Mirren.
Least Interesting: “Awake” actually sounds too interesting. It’s about a detective who gets in an auto accident and wakes up in two different realities—one in which his wife has died and one in which his son has died. Given the TV backlash against confusing sci-fi, this one feels like a short-timer. Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee add some star power to “Smash,” a musical drama about the casting of a Broadway show. However, the premise borrows too much from “Glee”—a show that’s struggling to come up with ideas in only its second season.
Most Interesting: “Person of Interest” stars Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) as a presumed-dead CIA agent who teams up with a mysterious billionaire (Michael Emerson from “Lost”) to fight violent crimes. Think Batman without the cape.
Least Interesting: “A Gifted Man” isn’t just another wacky doctor show. See, the doctor’s dead wife gives him lessons on the meaning of life from the “hereafter,” making it a wacky doctor / “I see dead people” show. And how about a wacky crime-solver series to go with that? “Unforgettable” is about a female detective with photographic memory.
Most Interesting: Several people behind “Lost” produce the eerie new show “Alcatraz” about time-lost prisoners who suddenly reappear, decades after their mysterious disappearance. “Terra Nova” is produced by Steven Spielberg and has dinosaurs in it, which is good enough for us.
Least Interesting: When the animated series “Napoleon Dynamite” premieres in mid-season 2012, it will be eight years after the movie that inspired it. They may have missed the window on that one.
Most Interesting: Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to TV in “Ringer” as a woman on the run from the law who steals the identity of her identical twin sister.
Least Interesting: On principal, we hate shows with name-based puns in the title. So we detest “Hart of Dixie,” a Southern-fried rip-off of “Northern Exposure.”