Broadcasting and Cable includes me among critics roundtable on new fall TV season
It's always cool to be included in a publication's roundtable of critics to talk about the new fall TV season; on Monday, Broadcasting and Cable magazine published its story featuring my comments alongside critics from USA Today, TV Guide, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today and AOL TV.
Unfortunately, you have to have a subscription to read the story online, so I can't link it here.
But I will post the relevant parts -- namely the sections with my comments -- here, mostly so you can see the other critics offer actual wisdom on the new fall shows coming.
Here you go:
Despite The CW’s giddiness in bringing Sarah Michelle Gellar back to the network, the pilot for Ringer felt mostly out of place on the channel to critics (perhaps unsurprisingly for a show that was developed for CBS), and drew uneven reviews.
“I see why they put it on The CW, but when you watch it, it felt like neither fish nor foul. It felt too mature for The CW and too youngskewing and substantial for CBS,” says Eric Deggans, TV/media critic for the St. Petersburg Times. “When something that outlandish, that was rejected by your sister network is your highest pro! le show—I expected more from them, to be honest.”
Overall, the networks seemed to meet, if not exceed, critics’ expectations for improvement over a lackluster 2010-11 season, branching out from trite formats and taking several big chances. But with the nets treading cautiously by sitting on some potential hits, grading this year’s freshman class will take some time.
“Midseason I think is when things will really get interesting,” Deggans says. “The fall is not quite as impressive.”
While critics saved the bulk of their enthusiasm for midseason pilots, Fox’s New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel as a quirky, recently- dumped 20-something who moves in with three male roommates, is the comedy pilot with the most potential. Drawing unanimous praise after garnering early buzz at the upfronts, the show seems to have overcome a somewhat predictable premise with an interesting script and charming characters (though Damon Wayans Jr., who appears in the pilot, is being recast after Happy Endings got renewed).
The CBS drama Person of Interest—from Lost creator J.J. Abrams—got mostly high marks for putting an interesting twist on the typical CBS procedural form. The thriller stars Jim Caviezel as a presumed dead former CIA agent who teams with a mysterious billionaire (Lost scene-stealer Michael Emerson) to fight crime in New York City. Critics gave both Person of Interest and A Gifted Man props for elevating a typical crime or medical procedural show to a higher level, much as CBS’ The Good Wife did for the legal drama in 2009.
TV Guide's Matt Roush: “This year it’s really the comedy that jumped out at me, nothing more than New Girl. It’s adorable and it’s funny. It’s one of those shows that every time I see the trailer on TV, I stop at the promo to watch it again and it makes me want to watch the pilot again.”
Eric Deggans: “New Girl, I went into that pilot knowing the premise and knowing the actor starring in it, I knew the whole story, but I still enjoyed it. Normally that’s the kiss of death for critics with a sitcom. But I thought they figured out a way to make the characters charming and make the actual script interesting enough that they overcame that.”
USA Today's Robert Bianco: “I don’t think the clips did New Girl justice. I was not expecting to dislike it; I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. I think Zooey Deschanel in that gives a great and original comic performance. It’s a sitcom character we haven’t quite seen.”
The Hollywood Reportet's Tim Goodman: “Person of Interest was definitely one that I think I would keep up with. The caveat being that in a pilot situation you can get burned. So many times you find a pilot that’s great and then it just doesn’t follow up.”
Several shows made the list, including How to Be a Gentleman, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Once Upon a Time and Prime Suspect, which stars Maria Bello in a remake of the British cop series. But the fall show that took the worst beating by critics was ABC’s rebooted Charlie’s Angels. The flashy action heroine drama, which first aired on the network in the 1970s, stars Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor as the butt-kicking trio in a series that suffers from an implausible story line and borderline sexist clichés.
Fox’s I Hate My Teenage Daughter, about two single mothers raising “mean girl” daughters, looks to be a flop despite an experienced sitcom actress in Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl). Likewise, CBS’ How to Be a Gentleman seems unlikely to improve the problem post-The Big Bang Theory timeslot where $#*! My Dad Says fumbled last season. Both comedies were deemed the weak points of Fox’s and CBS’ otherwise strong schedules, respectively.
Bianco: “The two remakes (Charlie’s Angels and Prime Suspect)—not only are they bad, but they strike me as shockingly unnecessary. You expect a remake of Prime Suspect to not be as good as the original and it doesn't come close. It's shocking that a remake of Charlie’s Angels can be so much worse than the original because the bar was not really set all that high.”
THE INEVITABLE HIT
Paul Lee went to major lengths to lure sitcom star Tim Allen back to primetime, but the resulting comedy Last Man Standing, which falls into ABC’s overpopulated “man in a woman’s world” genre, fell flat with critics. While short of calling it the season’s worst, most were disappointed with the execution. (Hitfix's Dan Feinberg says, “You’d think that Tim Allen knows how to do a basic sitcom, and it turns out in this particular case that he can’t.”) But if Allen’s appeal proves intact, the show could do business for ABC despite a tough timeslot opposite NCIS and Glee.
Deggans: “To critics, it’s going to feel like Tim Allen is kind of running in place. It’s like if his old character from Home Improvement got divorced and married into a different family. But people like Tim Allen. And particularly I think if they can elevate their writing a little bit and make it a little sharper and make the characters a little more appealing, I think people will like that show even though critics will probably hate it.”
Perhaps no shows drew more mixed responses from critics than the two 1960s era dramas, Pan Am and The Playboy Club. Despite a certain aesthetic appeal, most couldn’t understand the strategy of copying a cable show—AMC’s Mad Men—that, despite it’s pop culture cred, draws only about 2 million viewers a week. While the scales tipped slightly in Pan Am’s favor as the favorite of the two nostalgia entries, the stories will have to broaden out in future episodes to have any chance at success on network TV.
AOL TV's Maureen Ryan: “The Playboy Club was just painful to me. It’s not even that if you’re a fan of Mad Men you might be irritated at the way they take elements of that and make them boring. It’s almost like even if you’ve never seen Mad Men for a second, it just doesn’t really hold up. Pan Am, at least I didn’t feel vaguely insulted by it.”
Deggans: “I didn’t hate Pan Am and The Playboy Club, they weren’t this cavalcade of sexist nonsense that I expected them to be. They weren’t good, but they weren’t as awful as I feared they would be. You could tell they were trying really hard to avoid the most obvious criticisms they were going to get for doing the shows; I’ll give them that.”