This week the networks, one by one, introduce their new shows at the spectacle for advertisers and the press called the Upfronts, and NBC goes first, on Monday. It’s best to greet the Upfronts with low expectations: cable channels like HBO, Showtime and AMC have most of the best, innovative shows on TV. But somehow good shows sneak onto the networks too. Here’s a look at NBC’s most promising or just its weirdest for the fall.
MOST PROMISING DRAMA: PRIME SUSPECT
The classic series with Helen Mirren as Det. Jane Tennison finally gets Americanized, with Maria Bello as the renamed Jane Timoney. We’ll have to see if the premise of a woman detective fighting sexism along with crime holds up – the original goes back 20 years – but the cast is fantastic, including Aiden Quinn, Kirk Acevedo (above with Bello) and the incomparable Brian F. O’Byrne. Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) is an executive producer and director. This clip makes the retread series look better than we have any right to expect.
MOST PROMISING COMEDY, UP ALL NIGHT
Will Arnett is the new parent and stay-at-home Dad, married to Christina Applegate as the back-to-work Mom, with Maya Rudolph as her best friend. It’s an all-purpose premise, but this show has the strongest, most sophisticated pedigree of any new comedy – it was created by Emily Spivey, an SNL and Parks and Rec writer, and executive produced by Lorne Michaels – and in this clip this looks like it.
TOO WEIRD TO JUDGE: GRIMM
I wouldn’t call this promising, but it is trendy. Fairy tale plots are everywhere today, with major films in the works too. Here, a homicide detective in Oregon learns he is the descendant of a different breed of crime-fighters, the Grimms, who try to thwart the appearance of actual fairy-tale creatures in the world. And you thought the Big Bad Wolf was just a metaphor? Ha! ABC has its own new fairy-tale drama, Once Upon a Time, so you can pick your poison apple.
MID-SEASON MUSICAL DRAMA: SMASH
This extravaganza, which follows a fictional Broadway musical-in-progress about Marilyn Monroe, sounds like Glee grows up and meets A Chorus Line. Steven Speilberg is executve producer of the series, created by veterans of Broadway’s Hairspray among other hits: producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman. In this clip you get just a glimpse of Anjelica Huston as a producer and Debra Messing as songwriter.
You can preview other (less intriguing) shows at nbc.com