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Fox Fall 2016 Trailers, Ranked: ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘Prison Break’ Show Promise

Fox Fall 2016 Trailers, Ranked: 'Lethal Weapon' and 'Prison Break' Show Promise

“Pitch” – Grade: D

Official Description (from Fox): From executive producer Dan Fogelman (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”), PITCH is the dramatic and emotional story of GINNY BAKER (Kylie Bunbury, “Under The Dome”), who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball – under the glare of a white-hot media spotlight. The inspiring series also stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (“Franklin & Bash,” “NYPD Blue”), Ali Larter (“Legends,” “Heroes”), Mark Consuelos (“Kingdom,” “All My Children”) and Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”).

Indiewire TV Critic Ben Travers: Given the real logos on those jerseys as well as Joe Buck calling the plays, “Pitch” seems to be focused on authenticity — which would be the right idea if it wasn’t so misguided from top to bottom. Not only does the first female MLB player throw pitches that make a pre-spectacles Wild Thing look restrained, but the implication her biggest challenge is overcoming daddy issues and emotions is downright embarrassing. What’s next? Does she have to choose between her career and a baby? Will she miss a start because of cramps? Will she fall in love with her catcher? There’s a real story to be told about women breaking into professional sports dominated by men, and this is already focusing on all the wrong conversations.

Indiewire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller: As someone who isn’t anal-retentive about baseball on screen, I didn’t share Ben’s issues. But while this show could be interesting, we’ve got a bad case of Reader’s Digest Condensed Pilot here, and it also continues the trend this week of male stars rendered unrecognizable thanks to massive amounts of facial hair. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, what happened?

“The Exorcist” – Grade: C

Official Description: Widely regarded as the greatest horror movie ever made, Academy Award-nominated “The Exorcist” terrified audiences around the world. Now, more than four decades later, “The Exorcist” returns as a contemporary psychological TV thriller following two very different priests tackling one family’s case of terrifying demonic possession. Directed by Rupert Wyatt (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), the series stars Alfonso Herrera (“Sense8,” “The Chosen”), Ben Daniels (“Flesh and Bone,” “House of Cards”) and Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Geena Davis (“Commander in Chief,” “Thelma & Louise”).

Ben: While the TV adaptation looks to feature plenty of gore and too many jump scares, the trailer fails to tease anything singularly enticing about the show. What makes it different than the film? What makes it the same? What makes it sustainable? In other words, why did this need to be made into a TV show? Few of these questions are answered, even if the film’s haunting score adds a little something extra to the end.

Liz: Geena Davis, I want to support you, but oh man. Admittedly, I have fallen asleep watching the original “Exorcist” about 12 times, but this trailer did not interest me in the slightest. If these two minutes and 41 seconds were this boring, I can only imagine how dull the actual show might be.

“Shots Fired” – Grade: B-

Official Description: “Shots Fired” is a compelling event series examining the dangerous aftermath of racially charged shootings in a small Southern town. The timely series stars Sanaa Lathan (“The Perfect Guy”), Stephan James (“Race,” “Selma”), Academy Award-, Emmy Award- and Golden Globe-winning actress Helen Hunt (“As Good As It Gets,” “The Sessions”), Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss (“Jaws,” “Madoff”) and Stephen Moyer (“The Bastard Executioner,” “True Blood”).

Ben: Raising all the right questions without really finding an authentic tone, “Shots Fired” makes for a fascinating case of reversing reality. A black police officer is put under investigation for shooting an unarmed white man, and hey, what do you know? Someone actually calls out the government for focusing on a dead white guy over the thousands of dead minorities. Denoting their awareness of the role reversal is key for giving this series hope, as it’s otherwise unclear how seriously the plot will dig into race relations. Not a bad trailer, but hopefully “Shots Fired” will make for a better show.

Liz: There’s a lot jammed into this, but not too much is given away and the high-level cast seems like it’s going to get a chance to shine. (Sanaa Latham deserves every opportunity she gets and more.) If Fox wanted its own “American Crime,” the network seems to have found it.

“Lethal Weapon” – Grade: B-

Official Description: Based on the hit movie franchise of the same name, “Lethal Weapon” follows iconic cop duo Riggs and Murtaugh, as they work a crime-ridden beat in modern-day Los Angeles. From the moment the brash and impulsive MARTIN RIGGS (Clayne Crawford, “Rectify”) meets prudent, by-the-book ROGER MURTAUGH (Emmy Award nominee Damon Wayans, Sr., “My Wife and Kids,” “In Living Color”), it seems as if this partnership is doomed. But after their first case together, both realize this arrangement might just work out after all – if only Riggs doesn’t get them killed first.

Ben: The overdramatic and overused slow-motion notwithstanding, the first trailer for Fox’s TV adaptation of the popular film franchise does show flashes of potential, especially in Clayne Crawford (“Rectify”) as the new Martin Riggs. I can’t say the same for Damon Wayans or his hat, both of which don’t really fit the “I’m getting too old for this” rendition of Roger Murtaugh that Danny Glover created, but there might be something here if they can move past the trappings of repetition; too many scenes seemed cribbed from the movies, and too little themes were opened for extended exploration. I mean, even Riggs can only kill so many people.

Liz: This one had its moments of fun, largely due to the chemistry between Damon Wayans (Sr.) and Clayne Crawford. Murtaugh and Riggs are one of film’s most iconic partnerships, and nailing that was essential. But it’s not a good sign that the biggest laugh in this trailer, for me, was the shot of Riggs’ soon-to-be-dead wife cradling her pregnant belly… moments before an oncoming car made her into a tragic backstory.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” – Grade: B

Official Description: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a brand-new reimagining of the cult-classic midnight movie 40 years in the making, is set to air October 2016. Sweethearts Janet (Victoria Justice, “Victorious”) and Brad (Ryan McCartan, “Liv & Maddie,” “Heathers the Musical”) stumble upon flirtatious mad scientist DR. FRANK-N-FURTER’s (Emmy Award-nominated actress Laverne Cox, “Orange is the New Black”) bizarre abode during his annual Transylvanian science convention. The two-hour event also features “American Idol” alum Adam Lambert, Tony Award winner Ben Vereen and Emmy Award nominee Tim Curry, the original Frank-N-Furter.

Ben: About one-fifth as long as the other trailers, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” teaser adequately highlights its main appeal — Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter — without giving the cow away. Would we have liked more? You bet. But we’ll be savoring this one for a while.

Liz: There’s not much here to get us excited, but 30 seconds of Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter is all the time needed to convince me that this is genius casting. Remaking “Rocky Horror” falls into the category of “non-essential projects” — however, as long as Cox is on screen I’ll be content.

“24: Legacy” – Grade: B

Official Description: The clock ticks again with the next evolution of the Emmy Award-winning “24.” 24: LEGACY debuts with a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Feb. 5 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT), following SUPER BOWL LI, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, Feb. 6 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). The series chronicles an adrenaline-fueled race against the clock to stop a devastating terrorist attack on United States soil – in the same real-time format that has propelled this genre-defining series. Starring Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton”), Miranda Otto (“Homeland”) and Jimmy Smits (“Sons of Anarchy”), 24: LEGACY reunites the original series’ award-winning producing team of Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, Manny Coto and Evan Katz; director Stephen Hopkins; and “24” star Kiefer Sutherland, who all serve as executive producers.

Ben: By far the best part of this trailer is seeing would-be-damsel-in-distress Anna Diop jump down from her ivory tower, grab a gun out of the washing machine and start shooting terrorists. In an ideal world, she’d be the new Jack Bauer, and that would be a show we could really get behind. Instead, we’ve got Corey Hawkins, fresh from his success on “Straight Outta Compton,” but still an unproven action star who’s trying to fill Kiefer Sutherland’s considerable shoes. The trailer doesn’t indicate success or failure, rushing through a pretty average set-up and relegating stars Miranda Otto and Jimmy Smits to rather boring side duty. Fox is going to have to create way better ads if it wants us to watch after the Super Bowl — or, you know, they could just let the women take over.

Liz: “Next year, the clock resets” is a genius tagline. The dialogue, though? “I’m the only one I can trust”? Don’t know if I’m sold on this one, especially because Corey Hawkins, as Ben said, has yet to establish his ability to carry the show. Really, I’m just curious about Jimmy Smits’ character. When did President Santos get remarried to the head of CTU? (I may have watched way more “West Wing” than “24” in the 2000s.)

“Star” – Grade: B

Official Description: From Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Lee Daniels (EMPIRE) and Tom Donaghy (“The Whole Truth”) comes STAR, a new drama headlined by Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award, Grammy Award and Golden Globe winner Queen Latifah (“Bessie,” “Bringing Down The House”) and Emmy Award nominee Benjamin Bratt (“24: Live Another Day,” “Law & Order”). Three talented singers (newcomers Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady) desperate for a new start and with ambitions of stardom navigate the cut-throat music business on their road to success. With a soundtrack of original music and stunning music performances, the series also features guest star and Grammy Award winner Lenny Kravitz (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “The Hunger Games”).

Ben: Lots of flair and some substance, “Star” looks like a dark, moody follow-up to the simple soap that’s still reigning over Fox. “Empire” may be the reason Lee Daniels’ new show exists, but it doesn’t look like a spinoff, remake or even sibling outside of its musical roots. The story itself looks familiar and Lord knows we don’t need another take on the corrupt music industry, but with so many women singing so many catchy songs, “Star” should be hard to resist.

Liz: Oh, man, the main character’s name is literally Star? Okay. Well. Hmm. This one could be fun, at least for fans of “Empire” or Lenny Kravitz. But why aren’t they billing this as “the triumphant return of Queen Latifah to network television”? Feels like a massive oversight.

“APB” – Grade: B

Official Description: Inspired by true events, APB is a new police drama with a high-tech twist from executive producer/director Len Wiseman (LUCIFER, “Underworld”) and executive producer/writer Matt Nix (“Burn Notice”). After billionaire engineer GIDEON REEVES (Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominee Justin Kirk, “Tyrant,” “Weeds”) witnesses his best friend’s murder, he takes over Chicago’s troubled 13th District and reboots it as a private police force, challenging the district – including an ambitious, street-smart cop (Natalie Martinez, “Kingdom,” “Under the Dome”) – to rethink everything about the way they fight crime.

Ben: What if your local police force was flooded with all the money it needed to get the job done right? That’s the premise presented pretty effectively in the first look at “APB,” a show which will undoubtedly skirt over the nuances of such a quandary, but at least seems to be asking some of the right questions. The cliffhanger ending worked for me — as the future of law enforcement is challenged by the practicalities of personnel — but this procedural benefits from the always welcome presence of Justin Kirk. He may just hold it together, too, much like Hugh Laurie did with “House.”

Liz: The emphasis this trailer places on showing off the cool gadgetry and technology being applied to crime-fighting means we’ll probably see a lot of producers say stuff on the junket circuit like “the app is really like a whole other character in the show.” That said, I’m not totally sure “APB” understands what “an app” actually is. The casting looks good overall, though. Justin Kirk is magnetic and his charm does come through in just the trailer.

“Son of Zorn” – Grade: B+

Official Description: Featuring the voice of Jason Sudeikis (THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, “Horrible Bosses,” “We’re the Millers”), SON OF ZORN follows an animated warrior from a faraway island in the Pacific Ocean, who returns to Orange County, CA, to win back his live-action ex-wife (Cheryl Hines, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and teenage son (Johnny Pemberton, “21 Jump Street”).

Ben: A unique premise paired with a compelling cast carry most of the weight in this trailer, even if laughs aren’t as plentiful as one would hope. Jason Sudeikis seems right at home voicing a macho and muscular animated hero. Cheryl Hines is the ideal rehabbed wild woman living in suburbia. And it’s about damn time Tim Meadows returned to live action TV. One bold surprise at trailer’s end should make this comedy hard to forget, even if it’s the names Phil Lord and Christopher Miller that really sell it — which, to be fair, are part of the trailer.

Liz: Real talk: The biggest laugh of the day, for me, was the giant eagle bit at the end of this trailer. (And unlike “Lethal Weapon,” it was funny on purpose.) Visually this one’s going to be tricky to figure out, but overall it’s quite promising.

“The Mick” – Grade: B+

Official Description: From the producers of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” THE MICK is a no-holds-barred single-camera comedy that follows MACKENZIE, aka “MICKEY” (Kaitlin Olson, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), a brash, two-bit hustler from Rhode Island who must assume guardianship of her sister’s three high-maintenance children. As irresponsible as Mickey has been her entire life, she may discover that responsibility isn’t the buzzkill she always thought it would be.

Ben: Giving Kaitlin Olson the vehicle she needs to showcase her talent for physical comedy is gift enough, but this spot seems to indicate the creators are making the most of a thin premise. Packed with attitude and colorful personalities, “The Mick” looks like a bunch of bad attitudes blended together to create a good time. It will have to be a little more consistently outrageous to sustain, but what’s here looks good.

Liz: Well, now we know what would happen if the guys from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were allowed to make a family comedy — something potentially awesome. Kind of an extreme take on “Uncle Buck,” to be sure, but I’m sold on the basis of Kaitlin Olson’s unhinged glory, as showcased to the max in these few minutes.

“Prison Break” – Grade: A-

Official Description: In the next action-packed chapter of PRISON BREAK, original series stars Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Sarah Wayne Callies, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Rockmond Dunbar and Paul Adelstein are re-united for an all-new adventure spanning the globe. When clues surface that suggest a previously thought-to-be-dead MICHAEL SCOFIELD (Miller, “The Loft”) may be alive, his brother, LINCOLN BURROWS (Purcell, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”), reunites with Michael’s wife, SARA (Callies, “Colony,” “The Walking Dead”), and Fox River State Penitentiary’s most notorious escapees to engineer the series’ biggest breakout ever.

Ben: Wait, “Prison Break” is coming back with an actual prison break?! Fantastic! That’s all I needed to hear, but this pulse-pounding spot really does get the testosterone pumping. Plus, I mean, come on: Wentworth Miller bro-hugging his brother, Dominic Purcell? I’m in. Sold. Bring it on.

Liz: Highlighting the return of knotty and elaborate prison break schemes, star-crossed romances and brotherly love, this was a perfect teaser for the return of “Prison Break” that did some important work in establishing the set-up for the show’s return, while not complicating things or revealing too much. As Ben said, that hug was the emotional highlight of this entire collection of trailers.

“Making History” – Grade: A-

Official Description: Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, “Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”), and written by Julius “Goldy” Sharpe (FAMILY GUY), the new comedy MAKING HISTORY follows three friends from two different centuries as they try to balance the thrill of time travel with the mundane concerns of their everyday lives. The wildly original series stars Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project,” “Happy Endings”), Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) and Yassir Lester (“Girls,” “Key and Peele”).

Ben: Yes! Yes! This forever! Adam Pally as an irresponsible time traveler — dating “Gossip Girl” breakout Leighton Meester in the past because he can’t get a girlfriend in the future — who’s already screwed up American history enough where he has to invite a more responsible history teacher to go back with him to fix it? Can someone go back in time and make this sooner so we can enjoy it right now?

Liz: While Adam Pally is reliably entertaining and I liked the running gag about the ham, this trailer feels like it gives an awful lot of the pilot away, which is always a bit of a frustration. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are more than reliable as creators go, though, so while I’m honestly a bit more excited about NBC’s “Timeless,” the promise of ham jokes keeps me invested.

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