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NBC’s New Fall 2014 Shows: First Clips, First Impressions
May 12, 2014  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

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 and 2013, the new NBC fall schedule makes room for six new series, all scripted – with a lot more shows reserved for midseason. For fall 2014, once again, there are three new dramas, and three new comedies. Based on first impressions, NBC is batting a very high average, with several shows offering extended trailers intriguing enough to want to see more.

Last year, only one of the new NBC series unveiled at the upfront presentation for advertisers emerged as a hit, a show popular enough to reverse the network’s ratings fortunes. That was The Blacklist, starring James Spader, which helped NBC rise from fourth place to what may emerge as first place (for the first time in a decade) in the 18-to-49 demographic category most coveted by advertisers. Otherwise, the 2013 fall season was a bust, with even frontrunner The Michael J. Fox Show receiving a cancellation notice, along with the other new fall freshmen series: Sean Saves the World, Welcome to the Family, Dracula and Ironside.

NBC’s appreciation of The Blacklist is so profound that, while starting Season 2 in its established Monday slot in the fall, they'll be moving it to Thursdays (the biggest night for movie advertising, as viewers plan their weekends) in 2015, relaunching it after NBC’s telecast of Super Bowl XLIX.

The excellent Parenthood will be back, but only for a shortened final season. Other returnees of note include About a Boy, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Grimm, Hannibal, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Parks and Recreation.

Returning reality, competition and alternative shows include America Ninja Warrior, America’s Got Talent, Celebrity Apprentice, Hollywood Game Night and The Voice.

Judging the six new fall series is premature, even impossible at this point – but there’s value in registering first impressions, even based on the network’s initial extended promos, which try to put the best foot forward while retaining the possibility of pulling the rug out from under some of those feet before the shows premiere. But last year, for example, first impressions were more than enough to smell the offal aroma emanating from, say, Ironside, so let’s see…

Of the three new NBC comedies for fall 2014, the Tuesday 9 p.m. ET entry, Marry Me, (top photo, far right) shows flashes of being both well-acted and well-written. Created by David Caspe of Happy Endings, it stars Casey Wilson, who was underused during her stint on Saturday Night Live, and Ken Marino as people whose lives almost intertwine, and then do after all.

Here’s an initial taste:

The next new NBC comedy, Bad Judge, hands a comedy role to former Private Practice star Kate Walsh, (top photo, second from left) playing an unrepentantly misbehaving L.A. criminal court judge. She’s good in the promo, and so is Tone Bell as her bailiff, making a strong impression even in this tightly edited sample. Chad Kultgen, who wrote the story for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, is the executive producer and writer here, for a sitcom that also has Funny or Die partners Adam McKay and Will Ferrell among the other executive producers.

Bad Judge is scheduled Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET. Here’s a preview:

The final new NBC comedy for fall is A to Z (Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET, paired with Bad Judge). The title refers to both a start-to-finish look at a relationship, as well as the names of the lead characters: Andrew, played by Ben Feldman from Mad Men, and Zelda, played by Cristin Milioti from How I Met Your Mother.

In A to Z, based on the very sweet first taste, they play people who, as with How I Met Your Mother, meet cute, then cuter, but with many obstacles before they get together. First impression? This couple, like this sitcom, seems nice – and even has an omniscient narrator, Katey Sagal, to add some spice. Ben Queen, who wrote the screenplay for Cars 2, goes around the track with human characters this time. Here’s a sample:

For the dramas, The Mysteries of Laura, leading off Tuesday nights at 8 ET, is a drama with a light touch, reflecting the talents and appeal of its star Debra Messing. She plays a NYPD homicide detective who juggles her case load with a busy home life as a working mom – sort of like Andy Sipowicz also dealing with day care. It might work – but with executive producers Greg Berlanti and McG trying to find the right tone, it might, like its heroine, be pulled in many directions at once. I like Messing, but a verdict on this series will require a fuller context. Here’s a preview:

The next new NBC fall drama, Constantine, is based on the Hellblazer comics, one of many new shows surfacing this fall based on characters from DC Comics. This one, scheduled Fridays at 10 p.m. ET (paired with the returning Grimm), stars Matt Ryan (top photo, second from right) as John Constantine, a tough guys who’s been to hell and back – and goes to hell again, to protect an innocent played by Lucy Griffiths. Harold Parrineau also stars, in a drama that looks complicated and strange, but also has moments that look impressively creepy. Executive producers include David S. Goyer, of Batman Begins fame. Here’s a first look:

And finally, there’s State of Affairs, which replaces The Blacklist on Mondays beginning mid-November. Clearly, it’s NBC’s attempt to lure the Scandal crowd, but with a black female President as well as a (white) female presidential confidante.

This time it’s Katherine Heigl (top photo, left) in the central role, playing a CIA analyst who has the President’s ear (and once married her son as well). The Prez is played by Alfre Woodard, and an executive producer here, as well as writer and director, is Joe Carnahan, who was a director on The Blacklist.

I’m not sure about this one at all, based on first impressions – but I like both of these actresses very much. So for now, you be the judge:

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.

What do you think? Let us know…

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Just wondering when you're going to post reviews of the upcoming Fall 2014 shows. I rely on you guys to help me decide what to watch/dvr., and all I can find are articles on the Upfronts from May.
Sep 9, 2014   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Thanks for asking, Lois. Our 2014 Fall Preview will be coming next week and you won't have to search for it! Stay tuned...
Sep 9, 2014
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