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The Telefile
Fox Upfront 2012: If All Else Fails, They Still Have Zooey Deschanel

The Fox upfront presentation began with a pre-taped bit about the cast of New Girl interviewing for a new roommate, and their options were Fox stars ranging from Mr. Schue to Walter to the kid from Touch. Oh, and Emily Deschanel, because they couldn't resist making a sister joke. It was cute and the highlight of the network's hour-long presentation, for sure. Most of the rest focused on clips from this season of New Girl, a live awkward bit of banter between Zooey and Mindy Kaling about who is the most adorkable Fox star of them all, and Ryan Seacrest being Ryan Seacresty. They also made a big deal about The X-Factor and officially introduced new judges Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, while making a couple of digs at The Voice. I suppose they had to fill the time somehow, because aside from talking about some new random animation domination HD thing that's going to air in the dead of Saturday night (11 PM-12:30 AM), and referencing baseball as much as they could, there really wasn't a lot of new stuff to show off. But here's what we thought of the new programs they did preview:

Comedies

Ben and Kate (Tuesdays at 8:30 PM)
Fox exec Kevin Reilly used the word "Fempire" to describe how creator Dana Fox and New Girl creator Liz Meriwether had big fancy jobs on network television, and that was infuriating. Maybe that was just his ruse to get ad buyers to think this show had anything to do with New Girl because they really have nothing in common. For starters, New Girl makes me laugh, and this show (or at least its cutdown reel), while it featured the adorable little girl (Maggie Jones) who was the only good part of We Got a Zoo, didn't even make me chuckle. It's about a brother Ben (Nat Faxon) who moves in with his sister Kate (Dakota Johnson) to help raise her daughter, and they try and keep each other from making horrible dating mistakes. And there's a lot of climbing under tables. It's their thing.

The Mindy Project (Tuesdays at 9:30 PM)
I was really hoping this would be good, and I'd even have tolerated Mindy Kaling being part of Reilly's "Fempire," but the teaser really lacked any punch. Mindy's obsessed with romantic comedies and goes on a bunch of bad dates (with recognizable people like Ed Helms and Bill Hader). She's also an OB/GYN who shares an office with hot British doc Jeremy (Ed Weeks) and the dickish, self-important Danny (Chris Messina). It might fare better when it isn't just a string of one-liners, but the teaser just seemed like it was trying too hard to be fit in every romantic comedy stereotype. Still, at least Kaling's probably better off here than on The Office.

The Goodwin Games (Midseason)
Remember how funny Running Wilde was? No? Well, there's something about this wacky show that reminds me of it... maybe it's the insufferable rich people and the Felicity connection. When rich patriarch Benjamin (Beau Bridges) dies, he leaves his three children (and some stranger) a very personalized version of Trivial Pursuit to play to determine who gets his $23 million inheritance. The kids are Scott Foley, Becki Newton and Jake Lacy, and the show is from the creators of HIMYM, so expect to find out who wins the inheritance somewhere around season 9. (Just kidding; this is unlikely to last a full season.)

Dramas

The Mob Doctor (Mondays at 9 PM)
The title is ridiculous (even the way they highlighted the M and D in the logo so you'd really know it was about a doctor), the plot seems familiar and I was skeptical about My Boys star Jordana Spiro doing a drama... but yet, it looks like it might work. It doesn't seem like must-see TV, but it's certainly well produced and looks like it could be a fun new procedural type of show. Spiro is Grace Devlin, a doctor who has offered up her skills to the Chicago mob in order to save her brother from getting a pair of cement shoes. Also, Zach Gilford is in it, so I'll watch for that reason alone. This has to be better than Off the Map, right?

The Following (Midseason)
It's like Prison Break but with poetry instead of tattoos. Maybe? It's hard to tell, but James Purefoy is playing a serial killer who has escaped from jail and Kevin Bacon (who put him in prison in the first place) has to rejoin the FBI to find him. It's from producer Kevin Williamson and already looks better than The Secret Circle. It's an intriguing concept, looks very well done (and a good fit for Fox), but not sure where it is going to go past the first season.

Oh, and Glee is moving to Thursday nights and will focus not only on the kids in Ohio but also the grads in New York... so it has double the ways to suck on a night that's already packed with TV.

For our new fall TV schedule, click here.

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