Friday, September 27, 2013

Television Shows And Schedules 2014 & 2013

Fall 2014 TV Scorecard: Which Shows Are Returning? Which Aren't?
(By TV Guide News, 24 February 2014)

Will your favorite shows be back next year? Check out our breakdown below and check back often for the latest renewal/cancellation news.


American Dad (moving to TBS)
Arrow (CW)
The Blacklist (NBC)
Bob's Burgers (Fox)
Bones (Fox)
Family Guy (Fox)
Glee (Fox)
Masterchef Junior (Fox)
The Originals (CW)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Reign (CW)
Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
Supernatural (CW)
The Vampire Diaries (CW)


2 Broke Girls (CBS)
The Amazing Race
American Idol
America's Next Top Model (CW)

The Bachelor
The Bachelorette (ABC)
The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Blue Bloods (CBS)

The Big Bang Theory
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
Castle (ABC)
Chicago Fire (NBC)
Chicago PD (NBC)
Community (NBC)

The Crazy Ones
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
The Goldbergs (ABC)
Elementary (CBS)
The Following (Fox)
The Good Wife (CBS)
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Grimm (NBC)
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
Kitchen Nightmares (Fox)
Last Man Standing (ABC)
Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
The Middle (ABC)
Mike & Molly (CBS)
The Millers (CBS)
The Mindy Project (Fox)
Modern Family (ABC)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
New Girl (Fox)

Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Parks and Recreation
Parenthood (NBC)
Person of Interest (CBS)
Revenge (ABC)
Scandal (ABC)
Shark Tank
Suburgatory (ABC)
Undercover Boss (CBS)
The Voice (NBC)


Almost Human
Beauty and the Beast (CW)
Betrayal (ABC)
The Carrie Diaries (CW)
Dads (Fox)
Dracula (NBC)
Enlisted (Fox)
Hart of Dixie (CW)
Hostages (CBS)
Intelligence (CBS)
The Mentalist (CBS)
Mom (CBS)
Nashville (ABC)
The Neighbors
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)
Raising Hope (Fox)
Rake (Fox)
Revolution (NBC)
Super Fun Night  (ABC)

The Tomorrow People (
Trophy Wife (ABC)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Us & Them (Fox)


The 100 (CW)
About a Boy (NBC)
American Dream Builders (NBC
Crisis (NBC)
Friends with Better Lives (CBS)
Gang Related (Fox)
Growing Up Fisher (NBC)
Hannibal (NBC)
Mind Games (ABC)
Mixology (ABC)
Night Shift  (NBC)
Reckless (CBS)
Resurrection (ABC)
Star-Crossed (CW)
Surviving Jack (Fox)
Undateable (NBC)


The Assets (ABC)
Back in the Game (ABC)
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Ironside (NBC)
Killer Women (ABC)
Lucky 7 (ABC)
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)
Nikita (CW)
Sean Saves the World (NBC)
We Are Men (CBS)
Welcome to the Family (NBC)
The X Factor (Fox)

The 2013 Fall TV season is rolling in right now, way too early since I was enjoying the chance to catch up on several things that have slipped through the cracks in my pop culture focus.  I got into several web series (The Guild, Burning Love, Walking Dead- Cold Storage) some TV series that I never got to when I first heard of them (The League. Longmire) and a BBC series that got some love at Comic Con (Orphan Black). 
Now I have 30 new series vying for my attention and I still haven't gotten a chance to watch the final season of Burn Notice.  I didn't have enough time in the day to do everything I needed or wanted to do during the summer so imagine what it will be like now.  On the plus side though, The Walking Dead will soon be back and Agents Of SHIELD is now on.  Below is my TV grid- green means watching in real time or first priority on the VCR and yellow means I'll watch later, on-demand, or when the main show has a rerun or preemption. If you don't see a show listed here, that means I have no plans to watch it (i.e. Dads, Revenge, NCIS Los Angeles, The Originals, Dracula, The Neighbors- how did that get renewed?) 

Fall TV 2013: Reviews Of All The New Shows
(By Hank Stuever, Washington Post, 13 September 2013)

Masters of Sex
Sunday, Sept. 29, 10 p.m., Showtime

Liberally adapted from Thomas Maier’s thorough 2009 biography of the pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, Showtime’s provocative new drama has no problems whatsoever grabbing attention and whatever else that wants to get grabbed. The setting is the prim American ’50s, where well-respected St. Louis gynecologist Masters (Michael Sheen) is secretly exploring the greater mysteries of human sexuality, mainly by convincing prostitutes to let him spy on them through peepholes while they do their work.

What Masters doesn’t know about women could (and eventually does) fill several books, but things get interesting when a new secretary at his hospital applies to be his research assistant. She is, of course, Virginia Johnson (played by Lizzy Caplan), a single mother with a forward-thinking sensibility about her own sex life. As a science project, “Masters of Sex” is an early success; Sheen seems to relish playing the uptight doctor who is beginning to understand the way his world restricts women (in and out of the bedroom) and Caplan is instantly perfect as the woman who will both teach and enchant him.
But none of that is happening too fast. “Masters of Sex” masters the restrained narrative equivalent of seduction and foreplay, building its story in a controlled and stylish (and, yes, frankly adult-oriented) manner. This TV season has failed to arouse me, but if there’s one show that might hit the right spot on the Sunday DVR queue, it’s this one. Grade: B+

Trophy Wife
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 9:30 p.m., ABC
Co-creator Sarah Haskins based this appealingly manic sitcom on her own experiences after marrying a man 20 years older who has kids from a previous marriage. Malin Ackerman stars as Kate, who has married Pete (“The West Wing’s” Bradley Whitford) and, a year later, is still trying to navigate her role as a stepmom to Pete’s four children from his previous marriages (yes, plural) to Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) and Jackie (“Enlightened’s” Michaela Watkins).

“Trophy Wife” is the only new sitcom that clears the double hurdles of cast chemistry and story pacing in the pilot episode. That’s mostly because the premise isn’t wielded like a frying pan to the head and the grown-ups in “Trophy Wife” are entertaining to watch and believably flawed; the kids are a common TV assortment of precociousness, but they’re also talented wiseacres. “Trophy Wife” is no “Modern Family,” but it’s as close as we’ll hope to see this season. (And, in the tradition of “Cougar Town,” the show has been given a title that is far less worthy of its aim.) Grade: B

Lucky 7
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 10 p.m., ABC
Based on the British drama “The Syndicate” and sent through the Hollywood tweaking machine, this drama is about eight employees at a Queens gas station whose lives change after they win the state lottery.

Each week the gang at Gold Star Gas N’ Shop pools its money to bet the same lottery numbers. Just as things are getting desperate for Matt (Matt Long) and his ex-con brother Nicky (Stephen Louis Grush), the winning numbers miraculously come through. The group has won $45 million to split, but there’s immediate upset, since one of the workers didn’t put his money in the pool. This is just the beginning of a sequence of mo’-money problems that will form “Lucky 7’s” overall story arc, as each winner faces her or his own crises and demons.

I’m immediately impressed with “Lucky 7’s” ensemble cast and how quickly the story drew me in and hinted at some further mysteries. Part of that has to do with my relief at watching any drama that isn’t a crime procedural, yet “Lucky 7” also has some moral rumination and complexity to it. It’s basically a caper disguised as a drama, and we could use a caper on prime-time TV. Grade: B

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 10 p.m., NBC
A slick and even satisfying revamp of one of those crime shows my parents watched in the ’70s (what’s next — “The Streets of San Francisco”?), this time with Blair Underwood as shrewd New York police sergeant Robert Ironside, who heads up a team of detectives (including “Orange Is the New Black’s” Pablo Schreiber) assigned to crack tough cases and crack heads when necessary.  Everything’s changed since Raymond Burr, the original “Ironside,” rolled up in his wheelchair, even wheelchairs. Taking its cues from a generation that prizes the overcoming of adversity as a prevailing narrative, this “Ironside” preoccupies itself with emphasizing its main character’s strength, physicality and virility, a task the 49-year-old Underwood handles well. Sgt. Ironside’s key advantage is his handicapability; when a fellow detective asks how he spotted a clue no one else sees, Ironside says: “I’ve got a different view of the world down here.”

But “Ironside” is also interested in the ways its protagonist copes with and resents his confinement, retracing the events that paralyzed him from the waist down, as well as the ways his partner (“The Killing’s” Brent Sexton) blames himself for what happened that night. There’s an interesting psychological drama to explore here, if “Ironside’s” writers and its seasoned cast can resist the easy, repetitive lure of cop-show pro-forma.  Grade: B

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 8:30 p.m., Fox
“Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg stars as Jake Peralta, a smart but slacking detective who doesn’t have much use for rules or procedure; his un­or­tho­dox behavior is tolerated mainly because he solves cases. Jake’s world is upended slightly when a tough new captain (Andre Braugher) takes over the 99th precinct. The two men play well off one another, and a skilled supporting cast (Joe Lo Truglio, Terry Crews, Chelsea Peretti, Stephanie Beatriz) ensures that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” doesn’t devolve into Samberg overload.  Long ago, actual police officers were purported to have said that the 1970s sitcom “Barney Miller” showed a far more accurate depiction of their lives than the cop dramas. No one will accuse “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” of too much authenticity, but it does have a confident breeziness in its banter that almost immediately locates a “Miller”-esque balance in the more absurd aspects of law enforcement. Grade: B-

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m., ABC
Co-created by geek idol Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), this hyperactive series plucked from the Marvel comic-book canon is an epilogue to Whedon’s big-screen “Avengers” adaptation, in which the U.S. government grapples with the existence of mutant superheroes and aliens.  Clark Gregg reprises his role from the big-screen “Iron Man” and “Avengers” films as the newly resurrected Agent Coulson, who assembles an international team of agents who all work for the mysterious S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, with all those annoying periods intact) whose mission is to . . . start a list, I guess? Jetting the globe in their tricked-out jet, the agents hunt for everyday people with superpowers, hoping to find them before a sinister group known as Rising Tide gets to them first.

“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” launches with a plucky, adventuresome and remarkably non-pretentious pilot episode, but if you haven’t been reading Marvel Comics lately (or at all — Stan Lee first dreamed up a S.H.I.E.L.D. story line in 1965), then the show can feel somewhat exclusionary and, frankly, a little too cornball and cutesy about its own geekiness. There’s an opportunity here to riff on the contemporary issue of government intrusion and Wikileaks paranoia, but, in its first episode at least, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” seems more like a Comic-Con afterparty in which not enough people came dressed as superheroes. Grade: B-

The Crazy Ones
Thursday, Sept. 26, 9 p.m., CBS
From David E. Kelley (“Ally McBeal,” “Boston Legal”), “The Crazy Ones” heralds Robin Williams’s return to TV (where we first met him as Mork from Ork 36 years ago), but, more interestingly, it represents a tonal shift for CBS in terms of comedy that includes “We Are Men.”  Williams plays the hyperactive-but-brilliant founder of a successful of Chicago-based ad agency; Sarah Michelle Gellar plays his daughter, who tries to keep the agency solvent and sane. There’s a lot of energy to cram into a half-hour episode, not all of it coming from Williams; a real standout is the increasingly interesting James Wolk (Bob Benson from “Mad Men”). The first episode is uneven as the pieces and pace don’t quite cohere, but it leaves you wanting more. For my longer review, see Page 13. Grade: B-

Friday, Oct. 25, 10 p.m., NBC
A tip of the top hat to NBC for taking on a period drama — a lavish and risky proposition even in the best of times. Loosely derived from Bram Stoker’s novel, this “Dracula” stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) as a revivified Vlad the Impaler, brought back from ossified, subterranean exile by an unlikely ally to wage battle against an age-old Order of the Dragon that has ensconced itself in Victorian-era upper society.  Disguising himself as an American entrepreneur named Alexander Grayson, Dracula arrives on the London scene in 1896 and sets about undermining (and frequently snacking on) the ruling class, hoping to exact his revenge on the Order for what their forbears did to him centuries ago.  “Dracula” shows a lot of skill when it comes to launching a swift-paced series and weaving together several taut story lines and characters; at times it even finds an undiscovered sweet spot between “Downton Abbey” and Bela Lugosi. Rhys Meyers is an adequately creepy vampire and there is sex, style, mystery and ad­ven­ture all around. Only one crucial piece is missing: “Dracula” isn’t scary. Grade: B-

Available now for streaming on Netflix
Ricky Gervais writes, directs and stars in this tenderhearted ensemble mockumentary about an enthusiastic employee at the Broad Hill retirement home. The show is a risk for Gervais, who combs his hair over and juts his jaw into an underbite in order to play the title character; we are to understand that Derek is not quite right but none of the words for it seem apt. (Simple? Special? Mentally disabled? Autistic?)  It’s ingenious that “Derek” is less preoccupied with a diagnosis and more focused on the minuscule but meaningful ways that Derek interacts with his elderly charges. The only problem is an overall feeling of hesi­ta­tion — on Gervais’s part, but also on his audience’s. You’re so braced for something to snap, for the comedy to stray into no-no land, that it’s hard to relax and appreciate “Derek’s” emotional intent.

A strong supporting cast (including Kerry Godliman as the facility’s overworked manager and Karl Pilkington as the handyman) does what it can, but after a few episodes, “Derek” becomes less absorbing; it’s more of a character sketch than a fully realized story. Grade: C+

Monday, Sept. 23, 9:30 p.m., CBS
Chuck Lorre, CBS’s resident sitcom rainmaker, returns with “Mom,” in which Anna Faris plays Christy, a recovering alcoholic raising two children and working as a waitress at a fancy restaurant. At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, she runs into her newly sober mother (Allison Janney) and the two attempt to repair their testy relationship. “Some mothers teach their daughters how to bake,” Christy tells her AA group. “Mine taught me how to beat a cavity search and still look like a lady.”

“Mom” has a dismissive, certainly blunt, Charlie Sheen-like snarkitude about relationships, dysfunction, drug use, promiscuity, teen sex, deadbeat dads and whatever else comes it way. Some examples: At the restaurant, the snooty chef (French Stewart) tells an employee to “Beat those egg whites gently, as if they were a small, annoying child.” At another moment, Christy’s young son Roscoe (Blake Garrett Rosenthal) excitedly discovers a video game where “If you hit the hooker enough times, she gives you your money back!” And when Christy’s teenage daughter (Sadie Calvano) swears she isn’t having sex, Christy replies: “Don’t lie to the woman who washes your sheets.”  Janney and Faris seem to have fun, even when the material in the pilot episode is a tad too seedy and even off-puttingly icy. If “Mom” could dial it down a notch, it would find a better balance between bawdy and snide. Grade: C+

Monday, Sept. 23, 10 p.m., CBS
With its big red PREMISE ALERT flashing like crazy, CBS’s experimental new drama is this season’s most alluring act of derring-do; it’s also the show that’s hardest to swallow. Toni Collette stars as a top-notch surgeon who will perform a tricky life-saving operation on the U.S. president. But the night before the surgery, a group of masked men (led by a rogue FBI agent played by Dylan McDermott) breaks into her house and takes her family hostage. If she doesn’t agree to secretly assassinate the president, it’s curtains for her family.

Throughout the pilot, you’ll wonder why this couldn’t all be handled in a mediocre two-hour action movie, mainly so that Collette will be free to keep searching for work more befitting her talent. Is there really a series here? Yes, the producers assure us — the relationship between the hostages and their captors will evolve as facts emerge and conspiracies take over. “Hostages” is based on an Israeli series (just like “Homeland” was, with the same frantic baseline addiction to the terror milieu), and it exudes the kind of taut confidence that CBS likes in its dramas. It’s handsomely made and yet patently ridiculous. Grade: C+

The Millers
Thursday, Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Beau Bridges and Emmy nominee Margo Martindale (“The Americans”) star as Tom and Carol Miller, who, after 43 years of marital bickering, decide to split up once they learn of their son’s impending divorce. Carol moves in with the son, local TV reporter Nathan Miller (“Arrested Development’s” Will Arnett, in the latest of what appear to be his limitless chances at finding a sitcom gig), while Tom moves in with Nathan’s sister (“Glee’s” Jayma Mays) and her husband (“Veep’s” Nelson Franklin) and daughter.

“The Millers,” which was still undergoing some tweaking at press time, does have its bitterly funny scenes, leaning heavily on Martindale and Bridges. When they start going at it, there’s a glimmer of something mean and magic. But the show suffers from the same banal characteristics of most paint-by-numbers network sitcoms, right down to the predictable addition of Nathan’s BBF (“Black Best Friend”) played here by “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” J.B. Smoove.  As it tries to find its way, “The Millers” has at least locked in on a central theme, or something like it: Divorce is just hilarious, if you include enough references to elderly flatulence. Grade: C+

Thursday, Oct. 17, 9 p.m., The CW
You guyyyyys: Instead of “Stairway to Heaven” as a prom theme, how about 16th-century France? (The dresses are sooo pretty! There’s a castle! The boys can all wear tight leather pants!)  And lo, once you get past the utter silliness of the idea, “Reign” is kind of a kick. Adelaide Kane stars as Mary, Teen Queen of Scots, who has been living a sheltered life in a country convent, betrothed to Prince Francis (Toby Regbo), the heir to the French throne. After a thwarted assassination attempt, the nuns decide Mary will be safer in the royal court. A coterie of childhood friends arrives from Scotland to keep her company and pretty soon “Reign” becomes a parade of interchangeable paper dolls and swoony romance pageantry, with plenty of inter-palace intrigue.

In a way, “Reign” is only trying to partake in the same fashionable fun that filmmaker Sofia Coppola had at Versailles with her 2006 take on “Marie Antoinette,” replete with contemporary pop songs; it’s not feloniously inaccurate and at least it’s not vampires. Someone is always trying to kill Mary, whom a younger, hotter Nostradamus (I mean, really) has ominously predicted will bring disaster to the palace power structure.  That thud you just heard was a history professor who passed out. Grade: C+

Sleepy Hollow
Monday, Sept. 16, 9 p.m., Fox
A minimally engaging update of Washington Irving’s 1820 horror story, in which American revolutionary soldier Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) wakes from an underground, 240-year coma/nap, emerging into daylight in modern-day New England, where it seems the fearsome Redcoat he beheaded in battle has also returned to exact a complicated revenge on the locals. It isn’t long before a bewildered Ichabod (hipster baby-name alert!) is arrested on suspicion of murder and then partners up with a dubious deputy (Nicole Beharie), who helps him hunt for the Headless Horseman.  Deliberate and thoughtful is not an option here. Rather than observe the ways a man from the 1770s might grapple with the realities of 2013, “Sleepy Hollow” seems mainly concerned with quickly launching a “Grimm”-like romp through folklore and episodic crime-solving. It’s layered with hints of unfolding conspiracies — time-travel and secret brotherhoods and what-not. It’s all done with a cold efficiency and a gloomy, disinterested tone. Grade: C

The Blacklist
Monday, Sept. 23, 10 p.m., NBC
A shaved-headed James Spader (“Boston Legal”) transforms into yet another of TV’s manipulative criminal masterminds who sits in confinement and yet, with a Lecter-like ingenuity and coyness, manages to unleash havoc for the poor agents who must defuse, decode and otherwise debase themselves in order to interpret the mastermind’s clues.  Spader plays Red Reddington, a traitorous U.S. agent who aided dozens of international criminals and terrorists. After decades on the most-wanted list, he surrenders to the FBI, offering to help them catch the remaining members of the list, but under certain conditions — among them that he will only work with a fresh-out-of-Quantico agent named Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).  Her torment is only beginning as Reddington sends her in several different directions at once. Spader seems to relish the character’s oozy pretentiousness and obnoxiousness; the only actor who would enjoy it more, perhaps, is Kevin Spacey. The pilot episode is stylish and swiftly paced, but that’s all it is, and despite some intriguing plot twists, there’s not a lot of motivation to keep coming back. Grade: C

Hello Ladies
Sunday, Sept. 29, 10:30 p.m., HBO
A friend once told me it’s possible to become cool in L.A. simply by osmosis, but it’s not soaking in for poor Stuart (Stephen Merchant), a lonely British bachelor trying to find love (or just sex) in a town without pity. This eight-episode HBO series is more of a riff on the kind of awkward hubris and guaranteed humiliation that has become a defining feature of 21st-century situation comedy. Future television and movie historians will know us mainly by our enjoyment of stories about sad sacks who further their own misery by trying to impress those around them.

It’s a threadbare shtick, but Merchant, whose most notable work was done in collaboration with Ricky Gervais, has mastered it. Stuart is too unctuous and aggressive to gain the right sort of viewer empathy, but that burdensome feeling is balanced out a tad by Merchant’s co-stars (Christine Woods as his apartment tenant Jessica; and Nate Torrence as his friend Wade). We wincingly follow along as Stuart tries to get into exclusive clubs and then makes all the wrong moves on cruelly indifferent women. It’s as if “Entourage” had a nightmare. Grade: C

We Are Men
Monday, Sept. 30, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Taken lightly, “We Are Men” is a nimble little exercise in macho liberation, as four men who live at a furnished-apartment complex in Tarzana quell their emotional sorrows with carbohydrates and casual sex. Give it too much thought, however, and it’s easy to become astonished at the zealously regressive sense of humor displayed here, which leans much too heavily on the same-old “Mars/Venus”-style jokes about the gender gap.

After his fiancee leaves him at the altar, “Graduate”-style, Carter (Chris Smith) moves into the apartment complex, where, poolside, he befriends the quadruply-divorced Frank (Tony Shalhoub) as well as Stuart (Jerry O’Connell), an OB/GYN going through a bitter divorce and Gil (Kal Penn), whose wife kicked him out after she discovered him having an affair. The men take on the mission of re-acclimating Carter to the freedoms of manhood and, because it’s a pilot episode, the jokes are all delivered with the nuance of a car bomb. The cast is certainly talented enough to overcome “We Are Men’s” shortcomings, if the writing improves. Grade: C

Sean Saves the World
Thursday, Oct. 3, 9 p.m., NBC
“Will & Grace’s” Sean Hayes waltzes back onto NBC’s Thursday-night schedule fairly effortlessly in this new sitcom, in which he plays a gay single dad to a sullen teenage daughter (Sami Isler), with occasional meddling from his outspoken mother (Linda Lavin).  Hayes plays it all so dutifully that even his pratfalls have an on-point, pro-athlete precision to them, giving his show a very rote approach; it’s Lavin who seems more delighted to have the chance to nibble on the scenery a bit. “Reno 911’s” Thomas Lennon plays the new owner of the design firm where Sean works — one of those exposed-brick workplaces that approximates the feel and mood of what TV writers think office work must be like. They’ve even given him a standard-issue Black Best Friend at work (Echo Kellum). And, plucked from the ruins of “Smash,” Broadway actress Megan Hilty has been added to the cast since the initial pilot was screened by critics this summer.  Nothing about “Sean Saves the World” is off-putting, but not much about it is welcoming either. But when Hayes is going full blast, it’s nice to reconnect with some hints of the hilarity and snarky mania he made his own back in the late ’90s. Grade: C

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Thursday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m., ABC
ABC did not release a full pilot episode by press time of its new “Once Upon a Time” spinoff, in which Victorian-era teenager Alice (Sophie Lowe) must persuade her doctors at an insane asylum that she really did follow a talking rabbit down a hole, where she met and fell in love with a genie and got into all sorts of trouble. A 20-minute preview of “Wonderland” shown to critics looks to be similar in tone to the first show, but with more special-effects razzmatazz. Really, I think this is a way for Disney (ABC’s parent company) to remind us that it owns nearly every character there is. As Alice rushes around, you half-expect the Muppets and Darth Vader to make cameo appearances. No grade yet.

Witches of East End
Sunday, Oct. 6, 10 p.m., Lifetime
Julia Ormond stars as Joanna, a witch in a seaside town who is cursed to lose her daughters, Freya and Ingrid (Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston), over and over- giving birth to them again each time they die. She decides to break the curse by casting a spell over her girls so that they won’t dabble in witchcraft or know their true nature. Now they’re grown and fate has come calling on the night of Freya’s engagement party: Spells are cast, gloom and agony are foretold and, when Freya starts making out with her fiance’s brother, a vase of roses bursts into flames.  If that stirs you (and if your fingers need a break from typing all your erotic fan-fiction), then “Witches of East End” isn’t the worst you could do. The show has a sincerity about its silliness and light spookiness; for a moment there, it’s almost as if “True Blood” tried to conceive a demon baby with “Bunheads.” It didn’t turn out quite right, but that’s why we keep all those Mason jars in the basement. Grade: C

The Tomorrow People
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 9 p.m., The CW
Stephen (Robbie Amell) is one of those teenagers who goes to an urban school in The CW district where everyone looks like they’re 25 and even the ostracized kids are pretty. He’s on anti-psychosis meds to quell the voices he hears and he suffers from a weird sleepwalking problem where he wakes up in other people’s houses.  Turns out he’s been teleporting short distances and the voices are a group of specially gifted humans called the Tomorrow People, who make contact with Steven and tell him that his father was their last best hope for eluding the Ultras, who are trying to snuff out their kind. As he learns to use his powers of telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation, Steven has to decide if the Tomorrow People are what they seem, or if the Ultras (including his uncle, played by “Lost’s” Mark Pellegrino) are in fact the good guys. Sounds confusing, but it’s actually too simple — based on a British show, but derivative of sci-fi and superhuman dramas we’ve seen plenty of times before, up to and including the slo-mo “Matrix” bullets flying out of a gun. Grade: C

Friday, Nov. 8, 9:30 p.m., Fox
In the combined years the United States has spent fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve never had the “M*A*S*H*”-like companion comedy (or even a “Gomer Pyle: USMC”-like companion comedy) on network TV that could sound a lighthearted bugle bleat to the drums of war.  “Enlisted” would seemingly like to be that show, but it gets off to a clumsy start that lacks just the right edge. Geoff Stults stars as Pete, an Army sergeant who is reassigned to rear-detachment base duty after a meltdown in Afghanistan. At the bases, he is reunited with his doofus brothers (Chris Lowell and Parker Young), a corporal and a private. Soon enough, the show feels like a series of yellowed “Beetle Bailey” comic strips found in an old footlocker, with enough sex jokes thrown in to remind you that it really is set in 2013. Grade: C-

The Goldbergs
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 9 p.m., ABC
In theory I love the idea: Creator Adam F. Goldberg delves into the actual home videos he shot as a child of his argumentative, suburban Jewish family in the mid-1980s and uses those tapes as the basis for this sitcom three decades later.  The result, unfortunately, is a dopey pilot episode that succumbs to the trap of portraying the ’80s only in obvious ways — bring out the pastel leg warmers and geometric Cosby sweaters — and it rapidly turns into a prolonged, nearly laughless sketch about domestic life in the Pac-Man era. If the old videos were so funny, why not just show them instead? Grade: D+

The Michael J. Fox Show
Thursday, Sept. 26, 9 p.m., NBC
Who wants to be the one to tell Michael J. Fox that his new show, which is built entirely around the nobility of his real-life travails and triumphs with Parkinson’s (the word “disease” seems to have been dropped from all references), just isn’t that entertaining? Here, the ’80s star of the small and silver screens leaps back into series comedy, playing a Manhattan TV reporter who went on hiatus to manage his illness.  Having recovered his confidence and grown bored out of his gourd as a stereotypical husband and stay-at-home dad to three children, Fox goes back to the local NBC affiliate for a ballyhooed return cooked up by his producer (“Treme’s” Wendell Pierce). The first episode is rife with cross-promotional NBC references, making it difficult to notice if there’s a show on or if it’s just ads. For more of my thoughts, see Page 13. Grade: D+

The Originals
Thursday, Oct. 3, 9 p.m., The CW
This spinoff from “The Vampire Diaries” follows Elijah’s brother Klaus (Joseph Morgan) — an “original” thousand-year-old vampire who also happens to be part werewolf — to his old stomping grounds in the French Quarter of New Orleans. (In all that time, no one has told Klaus that a self-respecting vampire would never call the town New Orleeenz.) Once there, he discovers his ancient frenemy Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) heads up a gang of party-hearty, night-and-day vampires while somehow keeping a mysterious control over the local witches.  The biting, the brooding, the smoldering — it all continues to press safe-but-slightly-naughty buttons for today’s paranormally obsessed teen market. Like “Vampire Diaries” (and so much else), “The Originals” lacks a sharp wit, preferring the heavy-velvet drapery of self-seriousness and pretend passion. You would think the kids have had their fill by now. Grade: D+

Sunday, Sept. 29, 10 p.m., ABC
A sleek but forgettable addition to ABC’s undying belief in the nighttime soap — rounding out a trio of one-word emotional pitfalls that include scandal (“Scandal”) and revenge (“Revenge”).  Adapted from a Dutch TV drama, “Betrayal” isn’t like ”Scandal” or “Revenge,” nor does it have “Nashville’s” heat-seeking instincts. A photographer named Sara (Hannah Ware) is ambivalent about her marriage to an ambitious Chicago prosecutor (Chris Johnson); she meets handsome stranger, Jack (Stuart Townsend), at a gallery show and tentatively begins an emotional, then physical, affair. Only too late does Sara discover that Jack is an attorney for his father-in-law (played by “American Horror Story” and “Six Feet Under’s” James Cromwell), a crime boss who is the target of an investigation headed by — you guessed it — Sara’s husband.  So far, there’s not much here you don’t see coming from many miles away, and there’s barely enough chemistry between Ware and Townsend to make things bubble. If “Betrayal” wants to stick around, it better have some real surprises in store. Grade: D-

Tuesday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m., Fox
Seth MacFarlane’s camp has coughed up this embarrassingly anachronistic attempt to have its way with the multi-camera, studio-audience sitcom format, in which Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi star as entrepreneurial game designers who have troubled relationships with their clingy, financially fraught fathers, played by Peter Riegert and Martin Mull.  The pilot episode has already been pummeled by some critics, mostly for its relentless attempts at the sort of racially and sexually frank humor that, for mainly intangible reasons, works better in MacFarlane’s animated shows (“Family Guy,” etc.) or his big-screen film “Ted.”  

Off-color and offensive humor is not a terrible strategy, as we all know — it worked out just fine for CBS’s “2 Broke Girls.” What’s galling is the utter absence of originality, spirit or even new jokes: When “Dads” wants to make fun of Asians, it dresses a character up as a Harajuku schoolgirl; when it wants to make fun of Latinas, well, here comes the sassy housekeeper; when it’s gays, Mull snaps “You go, girl.” The poor actors look like they’re serving mandatory sentences for the creators’ crimes of laziness. Grade: F

Back in the Game
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Maggie Lawson plays Terry, a single mom who has moved in with her ill-tempered father, whose nickname is the Cannon (James Caan), a former baseball player who projected his athletic and personal failings on his daughter, giving her the TV version of feelings of inadequacy and resentment. When her son (Griffin Gluck) fails to make the baseball team, Terry, who harbors bad memories of how the Cannon forced her into sports, challenges the iron-fist rule of the alpha-dog coach (Ben Koldyke) by volunteering to coach a team of misfits, “Bad News Bears”-style.

Producers persist with this post-recessionary fixation on adult children who fall on hard times and move back in with a parent or two; it’s both the worst and funniest premise that marginally employed sitcom writers can currently conceive. And so far, it’s worked mainly as an indicator of quick cancellation. Grade: F

Super Fun Night
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 9:30 p.m., ABC
Australian comedy star Rebel Wilson (“Pitch Perfect”) bizarrely opts for an American accent in this comedy she writes and produces, in which three Manhattan women prefer to cocoon themselves on Fridays (a.k.a. “fun night”) with binge-eating and board games in their shared apartment. “We have indoor faces and bodies,” Kimmie Boubier (Wilson) tells Helen Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash) at a particularly down moment. “Let’s just leave the going-out to the pretty and popular people.”

Once more we plunge into the unsettling, split-personality narrative of today’s post-feminist young women, whose theme song may as well be “You Are 27 Going on 12.” I get part of the act: they want to be seen as sexy and complicated girls (or “Girls”), until the precise moment they briefly reclaim their sense of maturity and pride as women. “Super Fun Night” reaches for the stylings of Mindy Kaling and Kristen Wiig, replaying over and over the lesson that self-assertiveness somehow erases humiliation.

Kimmie is both loser and winner, an attorney who just got a promotion and yet lives beneath a cloud of self-effacing humor and off-key “Wicked” ballads, which is more pathetic than evocative. To impress a handsome co-worker (Kevin Bishop), she pours her extra-full figure into a sausage-casing dress and drags her friends along to his nightclub party. The “struggle bus” crashes when a wardrobe malfunction leaves Kimmie nearly naked (Spanx and all), exposing her LED-lighted heart panties and bra, which blink out unanswered distress signals to Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore about the sad state of comedy we’re in. Grade: F

Welcome to the Family
Thursday, Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m., NBC
My nominee for quickest and most punitive cancellation goes to this facile dramedy about two 40-something couples who must learn to get along because their teenage children — a boy who is a Stanford-bound valedictorian and a girl who is an unfortunate iteration of the clueless blonde stereotype — are suddenly expecting a baby and have decided to keep it.  Or perhaps they’re being forced to keep it, because they live in some parallel America in which Roe v. Wade has been fully reversed, thus reducing at least one obvious solution to the dilemma. (Which would, of course, cut the premise off right there; I understand that the point of the show is the pregnancy.) The truth is, these kids do live in a parallel America, the imaginary land of network television, which hasn’t found a way to talk frankly about abortion in the half-hour comedy format since, I don’t know, “Maude”?

I’m not at all opposed to the personal choices made by the characters in “Welcome to the Family,” I just wish they’d had the choice to make.  The foregone conclusion in the pilot is galling, especially in the scene where the teenagers’ combative fathers (“Glee’s” Mike O’Malley and “Desperate Housewives’s” Ricardo A. Chavira) are seen chasing after the girl, believing she’s about to get on a rollercoaster. The metaphor is quite blunt: Save the fetus at all costs! (And forget Stanford!)  That’s my editorial carp, but here’s my review: What a limp and unfunny show; it’s just more Thursday-night clutter. Grade: F

Almost Human
Monday, Nov. 4, 9 p.m., Fox
Another dull example of the manufacturing of sci-fi factory goods with the (increasingly devalued) J.J. Abrams label slapped on. Less a homage and more like a bad knockoff, “Almost Human” lifts elements of “Blade Runner,” “Minority Report,” “I, Robot” and “Robocop” for this police drama set in 2048, where a cop (Karl Urban, who played Dr. McCoy in Abrams’s updated “Star Trek” films) is forced to work with a synthetic partner (Michael Ealy), even though he doesn’t like or trust the new technology.  I hope that when “Almost Human” airs in November it will be slicker than the junky pilot episode shown to critics, but I’m afraid that it needs more than just a CGI juicing to get over the fact that it’s dull as a box of broken toys. Grade: F


Premiere dates for returning fall shows

“2 Broke Girls” (CBS at 9) Monday, Sept. 23

“The Amazing Race” (CBS at 8) Sunday, Sept. 29

“American Dad” (Fox at 9:30) Sunday, Sept. 29

“American Horror Story” (FX at 10) Wednesday, Oct. 9

“Arrow” (CW at 8) Wednesday, Oct. 9

“Awkward” (MTV at 10:30) Tuesday, Oct. 22

“Beauty and the Beast” (CW at 9) Monday, Oct. 7

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS at 8) Thursday, Sept. 26

“The Biggest Loser” (NBC at 8) Tuesday, Oct. 8

“Blue Bloods” (CBS at 10) Friday, Sept. 27

“Bob’s Burgers” (Fox at 8:30) Sunday, Sept. 29

“Bones” (Fox at 8) Monday, Sept. 16

“The Carrie Diaries” (CW at 8) Friday, Oct. 25

“Castle” (ABC at 10) Monday, Sept. 23

“Chicago Fire” (NBC at 10): Tuesday, Sept. 24

“Covert Affairs” (USA at 10) Thursday, Oct. 17

“Criminal Minds” (CBS at 9) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (CBS at 10): Wednesday, Sept. 25

“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC at 8) Monday, Sept. 16

“Eastbound & Down” (HBO at 9) Sunday, Sept. 29

“Elementary” (CBS at 10) Thursday, Sept. 26

“Family Guy” (Fox at 9): Sunday, Sept. 29

“Glee” (Fox at 9) Thursday, Sept. 26

“The Good Wife” (CBS at 9) Sunday, Sept. 29

“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC at 9) Thursday, Sept. 26

“Grimm” (NBC at 9) Friday, Oct. 25

“Hart of Dixie” (CW at 8) Monday, Oct. 7

“Hawaii Five-0” (CBS at 9) Friday, Sept. 27

“Homeland” (Showtime at 10) Sunday, Sept. 29

“How I Met Your Mother” (CBS at 8) Monday, Sept. 23

“Key & Peele” (Comedy Central at 10:30) Wednesday, Sept. 18

“Last Man Standing” (ABC at 8) Friday, Sept. 20

“Law & Order: SVU” (NBC at 9) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“The Mentalist” (CBS at 10) Sunday, Sept. 29

“The Middle” (ABC at 8) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“The Mindy Project” (Fox at 9:30) Tuesday, Sept. 17

“Modern Family” (ABC at 9) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“Nashville” (ABC at 10) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“NCIS” (CBS at 8): Tuesday, Sept. 24

“NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS at 9) Tuesday, Sept. 24

“The Neighbors” (ABC at 8:30) Friday, Sept. 20

“New Girl” (Fox at 9) Tuesday, Sept. 17

“Once Upon a Time” (ABC at 8) Sunday, Sept. 29

“Parenthood” (NBC at 10) Thursday, Sept. 26

“Parks and Recreation” (NBC at 8) Thursday, Sept. 26

“Person of Interest” (CBS at 10) Tuesday, Sept. 24

“Project Runway All Stars” (Lifetime at 9) Thursday, Oct. 24

“Raising Hope” (Fox at 9) Friday, Nov. 8

“Revenge” (ABC at 9) Sunday, Sept. 29

“Revolution” (NBC at 8) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“Scandal” (ABC at 10) Thursday, Oct. 3

“Shark Tank” (ABC at 9) Friday, Sept. 20

“The Simpsons”(Fox at 8) Sunday, Sept. 29

“South Park” (Comedy Central at 10) Wednesday, Sept. 25

“Survivor” (CBS at 8) Wednesday, Sept. 18

“Supernatural” (CW at 9): Tuesday, Oct. 8

“Treme” (HBO at 9) Sunday, Dec. 1

“Two and a Half Men” (CBS at 9:30) Thursday, Sept. 26

“Undercover Boss” (CBS at 8) Friday, Sept. 27

“The Vampire Diaries” (CW at 8) Thursday, Oct. 3

“The Voice” (NBC at 8) Monday, Sept. 23

“The Walking Dead” (AMC at 10) Sunday, Oct. 13

“White Collar” (USA at 9) Thursday, Oct. 17

CBS, NBC, ABC Make Decisions On A Slew Of Shows: What’s Ordered And What's Gone?
(By Lisa de Moraes, WashingtonPost, May 11, 2013)
Careening toward Monday’s start of Broadcast Upfront Week 2013, the TV industry was atwitter about news that Fox would try to bring back “24” as a “limited series” (that’s Hollywood for “13 episodes”) and that NBC was mowing down virtually its entire comedy lineup (while also putting newsmag “Rock Center” and let’s-make-a-musical drama “Smash” out of our misery).  But ad execs, to whom the week of network dog-and-pony shows is geared, may be most eager to see the sizzle reel for CBS’s new David E. Kelley comedy series “Crazy Ones,” in which Robin Williams plays — a brilliant ad exec.   CBS also has ordered big-ticket drama, “Hostages,” from its go-to drama guy Jerry Bruckheimer, in which Toni Collette plays a brilliant Washington, D.C. surgeon selected to operate on POTUS, which gets complicated when her husband and kids are kidnapped.  This is not to be confused with NBC’s new drama, “Crisis,” in which POTUS’s son is kidnapped during a school field trip. Adding to that confusion, Dylan McDermott stars with Collette in “Hostages,” while Dermot Mulroney stars in “Crisis.”
Marg Helgenberger’s back on CBS, as part of the cast of the new drama “Intelligence,” about an agent at US Cyber Command who has a microchip implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum.  Attempting to fill the big shoes left by “Rules of Engagement” is Rob Greenberg’s new “We are Men,” in which Chris Smith plays a young guy learning the ropes from the older guys he meets in a short-term rental complex — including Kal Penn, Tony Shalhoub and Jerry O’Connell.  And if “WaM” can’t fill the shoes, maybe Greg Garcia’s new “The Millers” can; its’ star Will Arnett plays a recently divorced guy whose life gets more complicated when his parents have marital problems.

Late Friday afternoon, CBS said goodbye to “Vegas,” “CSI: NY,” “Golden Boy” and the network’s inexplicably long-lived utility player “Rules of Engagement.”  Meanwhile, by Friday night, NBC comedies “Go On,” “Whitney,” “Up All Night,” “Guys With Kids,” “The New Normal,” and “1600 Penn” had been tossed in the tumbril to join “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “Animal Practice” in the NBC comedy graveyard. The only NBC comedies to escape the executioner were “Parks and Recreation” and “Community.”  NBC was said to have canceled almost all of its comedies because network suits were so happy with their new-comedy development. On Friday, NBC added to its new-comedy list a Bill Lawrence series about a slacker who takes in his new roomie’s “Undateable” pals, and a multi-ethnic rom-com “Welcome to the Family.”

On the drama side, NBC picked up an “Ironside” reboot starring Blair Underwood, a Dick Wolf cop drama called “Chicago PD,” and “Blacklist,” in which the world’s most wanted criminal turns himself in, starring James Spader.  At their presentation, ABC execs will celebrate the renewals of “Modern Family,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Revenge,” “Suburgatory,” “Scandal,” “Nashville,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Castle,” “The Neighbors,” “Last Man Standing” and “The Middle.” They won’t mention canceled “Malibu Country,” “Body of Proof,” “Happy Endings,” “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life),” “Family Tools” and “Red Widow.”

They will instead direct advertisers’ attention to their new comedies: Adam Goldberg’s semi-autobiographical “The Goldbergs”; Rebel Wilson and her BFF’s in “Super Fun Night”; James Caan as a loudmouthed lout with a recently divorced daughter in “Back in the Game”; and Bradley Whitford as a guy on his third wife in “Trophy Wife,” and a Manhattan bar comedy called “Mixology.”  ABC execs also will tout the new dramas, including “Resurrection” about the town of Arcadia, Missouri in which deceased loved ones suddenly start to return. This project formerly was called “The Returned” and was set in a town called Aurora, until someone cut off the creators’ Stupid Pills.
Also on ABC’s new-drama roster: A “Once Upon a Time” spinoff set it Alice’s Wonderland; Joss Whedon’s horribly named “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” based on the Marvel comic books and “The Avengers” flick; “Mind Games,” about a con man (Christian Slater) and a bi-polar genius (Steve Zahn) who are brothers; “Lucky 7,” about gas station employees sharing a winning lottery tickets; “Betrayal” about a woman who cheats on prosecutor husband with another lawyer; and “Killer Woman” about the only female member of the Texas Rangers.  Fox on Friday was trying to seal deals to resuscitate “24” after killing star Kiefer Sutherland’s more recent action series, “Touch.” Fox’s lips have been sealed about the talks since word leaked out late in the week, but former exec producer David Fury tweeted late Thursday he would be “pulling double duty” on the “24” reboot and new FX drama “Tyrant,” adding, “Whoo & Hoo!”

Two Non-Surprises: Fox Orders Another Gordon Ramsay Show, CBS Renews ‘Criminal Minds’
(By Lisa de Moraes, WashingtonPost, May 11, 2013)

Which Broadcast TV Upfront walk-up announcement surprised you less:

* Fox has ordered yet another Gordon Ramsay cooking show.
* CBS has ordered another season of “Criminal Minds”?

Fox announced Friday it has picked up “Junior Masterchef,” a new culinary competition series for wanna-be chefs between the ages of eight and 13.  It was part of a deal in which Fox also ordered one more season of Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” which will bring its total to 13 seasons – and two more of Ramsay’s “Masterchef,” which keeps that one on the network through at least a sixth season.  Fox is now in bed with Ramsay to the tune of five series:  “Masterchef,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Hotel Hell,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” and now “Junior.”

“Junior Masterchef” gives two budding cooks the opportunity to showcase their talent…blah, blah, blah, series of challenges and cook-offs, blah, blah, blah, Ramsay one of the judges. It’s based on a UK format.  Meanwhile, the on-camera gang at CBS’s “Criminal Minds” finally signed new two-year deals (the showrunner Erica Messer had signed a new deal before that) and next season will be “Criminal Minds’s” ninth.  It’s CBS’s 20th series to be renewed for next year.

CBS Renews ‘Two And Half Men’; Angus T. Jones Won’t Be A Regular
(By Lisa de Moraes, WashingtonPost, Apr 26, 2013)

The same day CW announced it had picked up “Hart of Dixie,” ”Beauty and the Beast,” and a “Vampire Diaries” spinoff for next season, and NBC revealed it had greenlit a new season for “Parenthood,” “Revolution,” “Grimm,” “Chicago Fire,” and “Law & Order: SVU,” CBS said it had renewed “Two and a Half Men” for and 11th season.  Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer will be back as regulars. But Angus T. Jones, who nearly derailed his lucrative (a reported $300,000 per episode) “Men” career last November when he recorded a testimonial for a church urging us to stop watching the show and filling our heads ”with filth,” is not going to be a regular character on the show next season. He’ll be recurring — industry-speak for “some episodes but not all.” The actor is attending college, in real life.

This TV season, “Men” has played an important role in CBS’s effort to own comedy on Thursday nights, paired with “The Big Bang Theory.” Both are Chuck Lorre comedies.  “Men” joins the slew of series CBS had already picked up early for next season. They include comedies “2 Broke Girls,”  “Mike & Molly,” “How I Met Your Mother” and, of course, “The Big Bang Theory.”  Drama-wise, CBS has already greenlit next season on “The Good Wife,” “Blue Bloods,” Person of Interest,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Elementary,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “The Mentalist.”  The network’s newsmags “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours” are coming back, as are reality series “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor,” and “Undercover Boss.”


NBC Renews ‘Parenthood,’ ‘Revolution,’ ‘Grimm,’ ‘Chicago Fire,’ ‘Law & Order: SVU’
(By Emily Yahr, WashingtonPost, Apr 26, 2013)

About three weeks before NBC releases its official fall schedule at the upfronts, the network has announced early pick-ups for five of its drama series: “Parenthood” and “Grimm,” along with newcomers “Revolution” and “Chicago Fire” and veteran “Law & Order: SVU.” All five shows received 22-episode orders.  Given that the viewers-plagued network has seen disappointments with new dramas such “Do No Harm” and “Deception,” as well as the re-tooled “Smash,” renewals for the two new drama series — which have done much better in the ratings — are not quite surprising. J.J. Abrams’ “Revolution,” about a post-apocolyptic world without power, is the top-rated drama series among all broadcast networks in 18-to-49-year-old category.  “Chicago Fire,” produced by “L&O” king Dick Wolf, has pleased NBC so much that the network is already contemplating a spin-off for next season. 

Meanwhile, critically-beloved but low-rated “Parenthood” was less than a sure thing, but has been given a 22-episode fifth season order for the first time since its second season — last year, it only produced 15.  In its second season, “Grimm” has been a solid performer for NBC on Friday nights, though it will get a chance to shine on Tuesdays starting next week, replacing the network’s latest reality flop, ”Ready for Love.”  And Wolf’s remaining “Law & Order” franchise, “SVU,” will march into its 15th season.  No word yet on the fate of NBC’s comedies currently on the bubble, including “Parks and Recreation,” “Community,” “Whitney, “Go On” and “The New Normal.”


Seth Meyers Will Move To NBC ‘Late Night’ As Jimmy Fallon’s Successor
(By Lisa de Moraes, Washington Post, May 13, 2013)

NBC has confirmed that “Saturday Night Live” long-timer Seth Meyers will take over as host of the network’s “Late Night” next year, when Jimmy Fallon takes “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno.  NBC waited until Sunday afternoon — just a few hours before releasing its new prime-time schedule to the news media — to confirm months of speculation about Meyers. With the announcement, the network hoped Monday’s chatter would be about late-night TV — which NBC still dominates — rather than prime time, where the network has collapsed whenever Sunday football and “The Voice” take breathers.

In prime time, NBC has decided to give a James Spader action thriller the coveted post-”Voice” time slot. NBC also hopes that family comedies starring Sean Hayes, Mike O’Malley and Michael J. Fox can resuscitate its Thursday nights — and hopes Dracula and Blackbeard can revive its Fridays — but hasn’t made up its mind about keeping Donald Trump or Hannibal Lecter.Last Friday, NBC canceled virtually all its prime-time series in comedy — a genre in which the network was once considered the gold standard — as well as several big-ticket dramas, including “Smash,” and the newsmag “Rock Center.”
On Sunday afternoon, only “Parks and Recreation” and “Community” survived NBC’s comedy purge. Those shows were joined by just five returning dramas: “Grimm,” “Parenthood,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Revolution” and “Chicago Fire.”  NBC said Sunday that it will decide whether to pick up another season of “Hannibal” in the next few weeks — as well as whether to order more of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Neither program was on the prime-time slate that NBC unveiled Sunday.
As expected, “The Voice” is back, on Mondays and Tuesdays. It will be followed by “The Blacklist,” in which Spader stars as an ex-government agent who is one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives.  Dick Wolf’s sophomore “Chicago Fire” is being moved to Tuesdays at 10 to benefit from a “Voice” lead-in at 9; “The Voice” follows “The Biggest Loser.”  After NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday’s “The Voice” shifts back to 8, so NBC can launch two comedies off of it: a reboot of the Hugh Grant flick “About a Boy” and “The Family Guide,” about a blind dad who finally gets a guide dog.  The network really needs to rebuild its comedy brand, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt acknowledged in Sunday’s announcement.  On Wednesdays, imagine “Revolution” at 8, followed by “Law & Order: SVU” at 9, leading into a reboot of “Ironside,” starring Blair Underwood in the paralyzed-cop role made famous in the ’70s by Raymond Burr. NBC will attempt to broaden its Thursday comedy audience with a family slate that’s sure to make TV critics unhappy. That lineup includes “Welcome to the Family,” starring Mike O’Malley and Mary McCormack as parents of a high-schooler who gets pregnant by a Hispanic teen, which, NBC says, upsets the guy’s parents because “they now have Caucasians in the family.”  “Family” will be followed by Hayes’s new sitcom, “Sean Saves the World,” and then “The Michael J. Fox Show,” in which the former “Family Ties” star plays a news anchor who put his career on hold to spend more time with the family after receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Friday is Genre Night at NBC next season, with “Grimm” airing at 9, followed by “Dracula,” starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, at 10 in the fall and, in spring, “Crossbones,” with John Malkovich as the infamous Blackbeard. The newsmagazine “Dateline” is the warm-up act, at 8.  On Saturday, NBC returns “Rerun Theatre.”  On Sunday, after football season, NBC has decided that it’s time for “big dramas again,” Greenblatt said in Sunday’s announcement.  Setting aside “Dateline” at 7 p.m. and a home-renovation reality competition show called “American Dream Builders” at 8, what Greenblatt means is that NBC will debut J.J. Abrams’s new “Believe” at 9, followed by the new “Crisis” at 10.  “Believe” is about a little orphan girl named Bo who has mastered levitation, telekinesis, forecasting and the ability to control nature. Her guardians, a.k.a. True Believers, want to safeguard her from harmful outsiders who would use her for personal gain — like the programming suits at HLN. Or Lifetime. 
Anyway, the True Believers decide to spring — from death row — a wrongfully convicted felon to take care of her. What could go wrong there?  “Crisis,” in which POTUS’s son is among those kidnapped during a school field trip, stars Dermot Mulroney. That is not to be confused with CBS’s new “Hostages,” whose cast includes Dylan McDermott — the show about a doctor who has to operate on POTUS, except that she gets distracted when her husband and kids get kidnapped.  In conclusion, Greenblatt said: “This is the most robust and highest-testing slate of new shows we have had in years.”