CBS came into today’s upfronts presentation ready for a splash. Boasting about the biggest new show of the season and with one of TV’s most prized bits of IP in its back pocket, the network looked to turn heads with its slate of fall programming.
With “Star Trek: Discovery” journeying forth to CBS All Access, that left eight other shows to make a notable impression with their trailer debuts. As we’ve done for other networks so far this week, we’ve gathered all the first looks below and ranked them from disastrous to “get this in our eyeballs posthaste.”
“Wisdom of the Crowd”
The show may miraculously find a way to dig itself out of its philosophically murky premise, but boy does this seem like a horribly misguided setup. Billionaire Mogul Jeremy Piven somehow makes sense, but a weekly crime procedural that extols the virtues of a surveillance state and willful jettisoning of personal privacy seems downright dangerous. (At least “Person of Interest” made some efforts to engage with the moral quandaries of its crime-solving methods.) The last thing that TV needs is a glorification of internet vigilantism. Unless there’s another significant layer to this show than the ones that they’ve unspooled here, this really seems like one of the worst ideas of the fall TV season.
The last time Elliott Gould played a wacky, unpredictable apartment neighbor, the world got “Mulaney.” Now it looks like he’s back filling Peter Boyle’s shoes in an even more cramped spin on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” There’s something oddly endearing about the first-date-gone-awry that’s the main focus here, but it’s easy to see how this could get pretty worn out pretty fast. Unless “9JKL” goes for less forced family awkwardness and more Albert Tsai — Bert, we still miss you — this seems destined to stick in the multicam purgatory between watchable and terrible.
Some network dramas are built on premise rather than execution. This seems to be aiming for the latter, following a group of elite special forces on the battlefield and back at home. While some of these conversations seem to be hitting the moral conflict angle a little hard, it looks like this show won’t be trying to tidy up any of the action sequences. (That point blank headshot is a pretty harrowing moment to feature in a trailer.) When this show branches out from the Boreanaz storyline, there might be more here, but this is banking more on the promise of an established set of military drama touchpoints (and yet another somber cover of “Heroes”), rather than forging something new.
“Me, Myself and I”
Following someone through three different periods of their life is an admittedly fun premise, but there’s something about this that feels more like a movie than a network sitcom. Maybe this show will rely less on life milestones as it moves past the most important things that happened to Bobby Moynihan’s character as a boy, middle-aged man and fellow of the future (love the idea of Corky’s still surviving well after the second Zuckerberg administration). But for now, Moynihan is a great goofball and any chance for him to exercise his subtler side is fine by us.
It’s odd to see that this takes place in L.A., because this show’s general approach would feel right at home in NBC’s Chicago universe. There’s a ripped-from-the-headlines overtone to the police/community relationship subplot, but there’s still plenty of time for steamy, interdepartment romances, too. This trailer touts the contributions of director Justin Lin, which makes sense that the “Fast and Furious” vet would bring a #family undercurrent to this team. Ultimately, the biggest message here is that this “S.W.A.T.” is a reboot with a conscience (that also can give a guy a chance to jump over a moving car).
“The Big Bang Theory” might be the biggest comedy on TV, but this first look at the prequel series proves that it’s a story best suited for single-cam. Yes, this has some of the “Look! It’s the ’80s!” touchstones that you’d see on “The Goldbergs,” but at least it’s not playing to the cheap, pop-culture reference laugh-bait of the show that gave it life.
Maybe this is just a sizzle reel of his finest moments, but Iain Armitage already looks like a casting master stroke. And his fellow Cooper kids look like they’re ready to help make a great TV family. You can already start to see the family tensions and uneasy alliances form, whether this is merely “Everybody Hates Sheldon” or something else.