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NBC Unveils Clips of Several New 2009-10 Fall Series -- "Parenthood" Makes Best First Impression
May 4, 2009  | By David Bianculli

Again revealing some of its cards before its rival networks present new fare at the upcoming upfront presentations, NBC has leaked some of its new fall series clips -- not only to advertisers in New York, but to regular fans, on the Internet.

The upshot: A few of the new scripted shows, at first glance, appear decent, especially the new remake of the 1989 movie Parenthood, already made once as a TV series in 1990. For NBC, this is an improvement.

The bad news, though, is that there appears to be no good news for Life, a show so impressive it should have been renewed despite the ratings. The final fate and placement of other returning shows will be announced May 19 -- but for now, there are plenty of first impressions to go around...

These are only tentative, early impressions, not reviews -- but in the past, that was enough of a taste to single out, say, NBC's 30 Rock as the season's best new offering, and that held up. So under the theory that complex shows may need full-length samplings to make their case, and that networks put their very best foot forward in all clip compilations, here are some very basic assessments of some of NBC's new fare.


Parenthood, from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, appears to have just the right tone -- even better than the previous series spinoff, which felt more like a filmed sitcom. (Yes, I remember the original and reviewed it, and liked it. I'm old. But to NBC, everything that old is new again... and as blasts from the past go, this beats the hell out of Bionic Woman and Knight Rider.)

The cast, this time, includes Peter Krause, Craig T. Nelson, Maura Tierney, Monica Potter and others -- quite a list -- and the backstage creative team includes two stellar talents, Jason Katims of TV's Friday Night Lights and Thomas Schlamme of The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

The clips work. The show should, too.


Other shows seem more formulaic or familiar. 100 Questions, starring Sophie Winkleman as a young woman who works her way through a memory-triggering questionnaire at an online dating firm, has the same feel as How I Met Your Mother. Mercy is like a Grey's Anatomy from the nurses' point of view, with Michelle Trachtenberg as a wide-eyed newbie. Trauma is, pure and simple, a modern-day Emergency!, but with a lot of ER adrenaline pumped in.


Community, starring Chevy Chase, is about a group of adults who form a study group at a community college. I suspect it's supposed to be funny, but there's no evidence of that from the available clips. And Day One, a serialized doomsday drama that sounds a bit like Jericho, is presented with no clip reel, just production footage. All I can say, for now, is what the "Farm Film Report" guys used to say on SCTV: "It blowed up real good."

To sift through the available evidence yourself -- and I think this is the first time, and the first network, where this has been instantly possible -- go to NBC's web page devoted to upcoming shows, which you can find by clicking HERE.

The network, with his announcement, is totally downplaying its unscripted offerings, and it's probable that, before too long, we're learn why. But with one network letting us have a peek at the fall, there's at least one new scripted series that looks to be worth anticipating.

And these days, that's a very good start.




Giada said:

I agree with your first impressions. "Parenthood" looks like the strongest show. "100 questions" gave me a "Friends" vibe, for the "choreography" of the exchanges and for the scenography mainly, probably. Unlike you, I smiled a lot with the "Community" clips, but generally comedies need a tighter cast to be effective, and here it is quite big. Save for the medical shows (to which I will give a shot anyway, on the base of the people on the production teams), I am quite excited about the concepts behind all the new shows, so I'll give them all a fair chance to win me over.

Comment posted on May 4, 2009 3:09 PM

Chris J. said:

Thanks for the link to the site! It's nice to be able to watch these clips. Overall I agree with your initial impressions. I really thought Community looked promising though. I laughed several times during the clip. Parenthood looked promising as well. Mercy looked like melodramatic rubbish, Trauma looks like over-the-top action that will most likely be weak in the plotline/acting department and having only production footage of Day One can't be good. At least there appears to be a glimmer of life over at NBC this year.

Comment posted on May 5, 2009 9:08 AM

Jon88 said:

If Charlie Crews were to appear in a series of "Life" novels, I'd buy them. In hardcover.

Comment posted on May 5, 2009 10:05 AM

ockraz said:

I'm so happy that Maura Tierney may be in a new hit! She is terrific. I think Whitman is a good choice to play her daughter too.

Comment posted on May 8, 2009 3:44 PM
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