Fox's 2010-11 upfront presentation was a bit shorter than NBC's earlier today, but still just as tediously dull. After parading out the Fox talent and then letting Hugh Laurie act all appreciative, two bigwigs talked a lot about how people still watch TV and not just on the computer (yes, because couches are more comfortable than computer chairs). We were shown charts and graphs and heard talk of something called a "purchase funnel." Seriously dizzying. The event didn't really get interesting until Jane Lynch came out as Sue Sylvester and started making fun of Fox president of entertainment Kevin Reilly by poking fun at his weatherman looks and hair: "Last time I saw something that sweet and sticky it came with a free coffee and had jelly inside." After all that, it turned out that the network didn't have much new to show us... at least not for the fall (check the full calendar here). Still, some of what we did get to see definitely had promise.
Taking the post-House timeslot that will be vacated shortly by 24 is Lonestar. There's a cute lead who goes by the name of James Wolk. He plays a con artist who has fallen in love with two girls, one of whom is a now-brunette Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights). His father, David Keith, wants him to stay in the business and swindle Palicki's family for all of their earthly goods, while Jon Voight plays Palicki's father, who seems to be keen on making sure that his money stays put. The hook is that the young con man actually begins to fall in love with both the woman and the company that he's ostensibly trying to swindle. Some of the one-liners are we heard were too on-the-nose ("this is a house of cards; you don't get to live in it"), but there's something about the preview that makes us curious to see where it all goes.
This show debuts in the coveted post-Glee spot at 9 PM on Tuesdays. I heard the words "from Greg Garcia" and I got nervous. It could mean something enjoyable like the first season or so of My Name Is Earl, but it could also mean Yes, Dear. The bits and pieces that they showed us were actually kind of funny. It centers on Lucas Neff, who gets suddenly saddled with a baby he didn't know about and has to turn to his oddball family (which includes Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt and Cloris Leachman) to help him with the kid. It definitely seems to have more of an Earl vibe to it, so fingers crossed.
This one's a new comedy from Will Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz that airs at 9:30 on Tuesdays. Mitch created Arrested Development, in case you live under a rock and don't believe in humor. It seems like with this creative team, and the addition of Felicity herself, Keri Russell, could produce a hit. But judging by the clips, I'm skeptical. Arnett plays a spoiled rich guy; Felicity is a do-gooder with a heart of gold and a daughter that doesn't speak. They try and make the world a better place and maybe have sex a long the way. Unfortunately, it seemed like these two actors were in two different shows mashed together, considering how different their approaches were. The teaser didn't even make me laugh at all, but it did feature really tiny horses. Those are inarguably irresistible, but a great series they don't necessarily make.
After the fall shows run their course, there will be American Idol, of course. Fox is promising less of it -- only 90-minute performances and 30-minute results shows -- but we've heard that before. You know the minute that one of the comedies tanks, they will be padding the hell out of that show and be back to ticking off Glee fans around the nation with their overruns. Anyway, there are a few more new shows coming to the network this spring, as well as some schedule shuffling:
Once Lonestar ends on Mondays, this new Shawn Ryan cop drama will kick in. It's your basic corrupt mileu, in this case Chicago, with Jennifer Beals starring as a top dog, and Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) as a veteran cop who is rough around the edges. The promo they showed didn't really do a lot for me, but then again, commercials for The Shield never really grabbed me either. I think the nature of Ryan's intricate cop shows just don't work well in sound bites, so I'm willing to give this a try.
It's only the first day of upfronts and I'm already officially sick of comedies about young people trying to handle the ins and outs of relationships. I swear, there are more of these types of comedies then there are cop dramas... and there are a lot of cop dramas. This one is about three guy friends: one married, one with a live-in girlfriend and one who spends all his time complimenting strange women on their boobs. It reminded me of a much-tamer version of FX's The League, but without the laughs.
This is an animated show from the guy who brought you Dr. Katz, focusing on a struggling family-run burger joint that seems to violate a great deal of health codes. This so isn't my cup of tea, but it seems like a good fit with all of the other Sunday 'toons.
This is either going to be my favorite new show, or be a totally expensive dud. Steven Spielberg and dinosaurs seem like a good fit, however, producer Brannon Braga is also involved in this. The storyline starts off in 2149, when the world population is completely insane and the majority of animal and plant life is extinct... kinda like in Wall-E. So a group of people travel back in time to a prehistoric period in order save the human race (it is unclear how this exactly will work). There is no actual footage shot yet, and no cast, but the drawings we saw look pretty cool. The dinosaurs don't have to look like they always do (it's scientifically proven) and they claim that they're going for an Avatar vibe. I'll withhold official judgment until some actual scenes are done and released, but for now, I'm going to try and think positive.
The upfront finished with the cast of Glee singing "Like a Prayer" live on stage, because the Fox execs are going to milk that show to the very last drop. And who can blame them?
Check out our initial reviews of NBC's new fall and midseason shows.
Watch TWoP's editors discuss the shows that deserved to get cancelled in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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