Unlike ABC, Fox and NBC, CBS choose to cut promotional videos for its new series more like “behind the scenes” EPKs than trailers. Who’s to stop them? The Eye trounced all the other networks this past season, even in the coveted adults 18-49, and the company was not shy in crowing about this fact at its upfront presentation as it unveiled its fall schedule. While we talk about the golden age of television and the shift toward more ambitious storytelling, themes and craft in series, CBS has found success in making very traditional procedurals and sitcoms whose familiarity and regularity seems to be part a large part of their pull. The new series showcased in the videos below feature talent like Will Arnett, Toni Collette, Anna Faris, Tony Shalhoub and Robin Williams, but none of them look like they’re put to good use — we’ve gone ahead and put these trailers in order from most promising looking to least, but let’s just say the bar for “best” here has been set very low.
“The Crazy Ones” is a single-camera comedy showcasing Robin Williams’ return to television as the wacky head of an ad agency who works with his uptight daughter Sarah Michelle Gellar. It looks like “House of Lies” without the edge or the meanness, but its inoffensiveness is it’s primary quality. If this is CBS’ attempt at vaguely boundary pushing comedy (guest star Kelly Clarkson wants to sing about sex!), it’s going to be a very mild fall.
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“Intelligence” aims to be “‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ for the information age, with “Lost” star Josh Holloway playing an agent who’s been implanted with a chip that lets him access the web and other information grids, visualizing them in ways that we but no one else on screen can see. It looks like “Chuck” without the humor, but also like it could be an innocuous enough way to spend an hour. “Hostages” has a larger scope and a less obvious formula, but the pairing of Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott leads to a lot of Acting with a capital “A” in the trailer — Collette can be a great actress, but she can also be overwrought in the wrong context, and McDermott tends to play big all the time. The fact that the scenario plays them both in stress situations immediately and seems intent on keeping them there makes this show look like an extremely shouty one.
“Mom” may be the biggest disappoint of this batch, because it features the pairing of Anna Faris and Allison Janney, two likable, gifted actresses who have also proven themselves to be talented comediennes. Janney plays Faris’ mess of a mom who’s comes back into her life eager to start their relationship anew, but the jokes on display below are broad and mostly painful. While “Mom” is about a group of women, “We Are Men” is about, yes, men, four of them (Kal Penn, Jerry O’Connell, Tony Shalhoub and Chris Smith) who are all recently divorced, and the way the show gets its gay and older women jokes out up front is a reminder that CBS is the network that gave up “Two and a Half Men.”
“The Millers” is here at the bottom below the shows above only because it makes Will Arnett and Margo Martindale make bad fart jokes. The laugh-tracked sitcom looks particularly rough given Arnett’s upcoming role in the new “Arrested Development” and Martindale’s terrific turn in “The Americans.” Just for that, it’s probably going to be a huge hit.