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NBC's New Fall 2013 Shows: First Clips, First Impressions
May 13, 2013  | By David Bianculli  | 3 comments

Once again this year, TVWW offers quick, bite-sized video samples of the new fall TV offerings, along with our own very first impressions. We start with NBC…

This year, as in 2012, the new NBC fall schedule makes room for six new series, all scripted – with a lot more shows reserved for midseason. For fall 2013, there are three new dramas, and three new comedies. Based on first impressions, NBC is batting a very high (especially for NBC) .500 – with three shows offering extended trailers intriguing enough to want to see more.

Of the returning part of the schedule, the biggest and best news is the vote of confidence, or at least show of respect, given to Parenthood, which will move to the Thursday 10 p.m. ET slot, one the dramatic anchor of the network’s Must-See TV night. But the way things at NBC have been going lately, Thursday nights are more like Please-Watch TV – and this fall, it’s the network’s most-revamped evening, with only one show, Parks & Recreation, returning from last season.

Also returning from last season, as part of the fall schedule, are two shows that premiered last year: Revolution (moved to Wednesdays) and Chicago Fire.

Of the new shows, the one with the biggest chance of success is The Michael J. Fox Show, scheduled Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET. It’s also the most instantly likable of the new pilot preview trailers. In this workplace and domestic sitcom, Fox plays Mike Henry, a TV newsman returning to work after struggling with Parkinson’s disease. Fox appears effortlessly good, as expected, but the trailer suggests he’ll be supported quite well by his co-stars, who include Wendell Pierce from Treme and Betsy Brandt from Breaking Bad. Here’s a preview:

Another Thursday night comedy featuring a familiar NBC star is Sean Saves the World, which precedes the new Michael J. Fox show at 9 p.m. ET. It stars Sean Hayes of Will & Grace, and is directed by legendarily successful sitcom director James Burrows. Its supporting cast includes Linda Lavin, of Alice a TV generation ago, playing Sean’s often disapproving mother. He, meanwhile, is playing a single parent, who came out as gay after his divorce and is now raising a young teen daughter.

First impressions here are not great – the setups and jokes, even in the teaser, are groaningly obvious – but NBC obviously has great hopes for this show, since Sean has the 9 p.m. anchor slot. Here’s a preview:

The final new NBC comedy for fall is Welcome to the Family (8:30 p.m. ET), which actually looks like it’s got a spark, and a sense of humor.

That’s somewhat of a surprise, because it comes from Mike Sikowitz, whose credits as a writer-producer include the underwhelming Rules of Engagement. It’s also got a plot – the sudden mixing of a white and Latino family – that was responsible for one of the decades’ worst comedies, 2012’s Rob.

Here, though, Mike O’Malley – who plays so well with others in both NBC’s Glee (as the understanding dad of gay Kurt) and FX’s Justified (as ruthless gangster Nicky Augustine) – looks comfortable in a sitcom lead. (And should, after all those years on Yes, Dear.)

Here’s a preview:

As for the NBC dramas, there’s one enticing one – though you wouldn’t think so, based on the premise. An evil and imprisoned bad guy offers advice to his captors regarding other killers at large, but at a price? Haven’t we seen this idea done way too many times, and way too ineptly, the past two seasons?

Yes, we have. But this time, in The Blacklist (10 p.m. ET Mondays), the central killer is played by James Spader, one of the most magnetic actors on television. And playing the equivalent of Clarice to his small-screen version of Hannibal is Megan Boone, formerly of Law & Order: Los Angeles. Here’s an extended preview, which suggests this series has a good chance of catching on:

The remaining new NBC dramas seem, on first glance, like high-concept misfires. One is Dracula (10 p.m. ET Fridays), an obvious attempt to appeal to the CW crowd with a period take on the familiar Bram Stoker novel and characters. The setting, this time, is Victorian London, though it retains all the main characters from the original novel, from Van Helsing and Jonathan Harker to Lucy, Mina and Renfield. The young actress who played the Huntress in CW’s Arrow, Jessica De Geow, gets the meaty Mina role – and Jonathan Rhys Myers, who played King Henry VIII in The Tudors, is Dracula here.

The trailer boasts of a link to Downton Abbey, and director Andy Goddard shot some of that period drama as well – but as first impressions go, there are few hints in evidence in Dracula of the style, wit, intelligence of Downton Abbey. You may think differently. Judge for yourself:

And finally, there’s Ironside (10 p.m. ET Wednesdays), a remake of the 1960s-70s clunker starring Raymond Burr as a wheelchair-bound detective who runs an elite investigative unit out of a mobile van. This time the star is Blair Underwood, and the creator is Michael Caleo, who clocked some time as a story editor in one season of The Sopranos – but the trailer looks laughable.

NBC keeps reaching back to TV’s past and dredging up the worst possible ideas for remakes – Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, and now this. What’s next? A new version of Longstreet? (That’s the one about the detective who just happens to be blind. Honest.)

Here’s a preview. Of the new Ironside, not the old Longstreet:

These are only first impressions. I’m willing to be surprised, and even reverse judgments entirely, once the full-length pilots are delivered to critics for preview. In the meantime, that’s what I think, and which teaser clips leave me most, and least, impressed.

Ed Bark's Uncle Barky Bites has more on NBC's new fall shows, as well as the network's mid-season replacements, which include the pirate drama, Crossbones, with John Malkovich, and Crisis, starring Dermot Mulroney and Gillian Anderson.

What do you think of NBC's new offerings? Let us know…


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Is that really Annet Mahendru in the clip of "The Blacklist?" It sure doesn't look like her. She has a very distinctive facial shape and very distinctive lips and the actress in the clip doesn't seem to. Have they changed the casting perhaps or is that really her?
May 14, 2013   |  Reply
Looks like "Blacklist" may be NBC's attempt at the "Following" demographic. Not sure I can sustain the interest. Same with "Ironside," though I like Blair Underwood.

I actually laughed at the Michael J. Fox clip, so maybe I'll give it a try.

But Dracula? Seriously?
May 14, 2013   |  Reply
Wha'cho doin' knocking Longstreet? Anything with James Franciscus in it was pretty good, including Longstreet, Mr. Novak and Doc...uh, Doc...u, Doc something. Not Savage.
May 13, 2013   |  Reply
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