Thursday, September 15, 2011

NBC Preview: Reviews of New Fall Shows

After seeing previews of the new fall shows from NBC, all set to debut in the next few weeks, here are some recommendations and reviews.  Two of the five are very good and one is good.  The other two: not so much.

Clearly the biggest show on NBC's docket is The Playboy Club.  From, Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer, it's a big, beautiful, yet dark show set in 1960's Chicago with Hugh Hefner and his gang as the backdrop.  In fact, Hefner appears, like George Steinbrenner in Seinfeld, as a voice and silhouette.  This show is very interesting.  Like Mad Men and, presumably ABC's upcoming Pan Am, it's a period driven soap opera with big sets, lots of extras, showstopping design and even "live" music performances.  I'm not at all sure about the plot line, though.  It's basically about what happens in and around the club with Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian of CSI: Miami and Third Watch) as the protagonist.  He's with one Bunny, then another.  There's the death of a mob boss with whom Nicke has yet-to-be-revealed ties, though he is an up and coming state's attorney.  There's also some cute casting.  David Krumholz of Numb3rs is the original manager of the night spot. I believe The Playboy Club will be talked about and will have a following.  With Pan Am and Mad Men I don't know whether or not it will survive.

Maria Bello, the protagonist in Prime Suspect (based on the British series of the same name) makes Angie Harmon's Detective Rizzoli of Rizzoli & Isles and both Cagney and Lacy look like blushing princesses.  She's the toughest woman on TV you've ever seen, a homicide detective in a program the network touts as "all dicks and one Jane."  She's bucking for promotions and solving cases while a fellow detective has died of a heart attack leaving a four-year-old daughter.  Jane's a good cop, but she doesn't play nice with others.  The guys in her squad don't give her a break; in fact they treat her very harshly.  Her personal life revolves around her brother and father, who in the cliche of cliche's, owns a bar.  Oh, and this show has plenty of grisly dead bodies and blood.  Give it a try if meanness and violence are your thing, but this is not a fabulous show, yet.

Hank Azaria in Free Agents on NBC plays a just-divorced middle-aged guy who's crushed.  He wants to start dating again, but is in no way ready.  Yet, he sleeps with his colleague, Helen, played by Kathryn Hahn, who is a mess herself.  The action takes place in a public relations firm where the workers are doing the dirty work for clients like corporate giants that sell food to people who end up with salmonella.  The workplace grunts are a bunch of jerks who act like teenagers.  The relationship part of this program has promise as does the general workplace scenario, but the supporting cast is for kids.

Up All Night features Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as new parents who switch roles. She goes back to work at a TV talk show.  He stays home with the baby.  They're both pretty immature as they navigate the cliches of baby rearing - no sleep, changing the baby, messiness and no alone time.  It's tedious and you've seen it before.  What's even worse is that these two refuse to give in to adulthood and stay up all night in the premiere, at least, to go partying and to do karaoke.  These two are well into their 30's.  It's so ridiculous that they wake up with hangovers and get angry when the baby needs their attention.  They seem to see the error of their ways at episode's end, but I get the feeling the silliness will continue.  Don't waste your time.

Whitney with Whitney Cummings (Chelsea Lately) and Chris D'Elia (Glory Daze) is one of those shows you think of five years from hence when someone reminds you that a star "was in that NBC sitcom about a couple who lived together, but didn't want to get married.  The guy had a beard."  And you say, "oh yeah, I saw that once, but forgot about it."  That's how bad Whitney is and, since it doesn't star anyone I'm familiar with, I may be overselling it.  Whitney will be off the air within a few weeks of its premiere on Thursday, September 22.

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