NBC’s lineup: Gillian Flynn picks winners and losers
This week, New York City hosts the upfronts, in which the networks unveil glimpses of their new fall shows — think of them as trailers for a TV series. Each day, TV critic Gillian Flynn will weigh in on the winners and losers among these first quick looks.
Poor ailing NBC went first, airing snippets of its fall lineup — including some enticing dramas — at the upfronts Monday. Here, thoughts on the most (and least) promising.
Friday Night Lights
Filmed in that same dappled Americana lighting as the film, FNL seems fully prepared to delve into small-time life, Southern values, high-school politics, burgeoning machismo, racism, and, of course, the mythology of football, complete with painfully rousing speeches: ”Let’s touch God this time,” urges a player. If it’s half as good as the movie, or the book by Buzz Bissinger that inspired it, we’re in.
Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey plays the female head writer for an SNL-style show. Considering her costar is the regular, inspired SNL host Alec Baldwin (playing patronizing, whispery boss), this could be brilliant stuff if it doesn’t get too coy about its premise.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Another series set in an SNL-style show, but this one comes from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and has a hell of a bite, mocking network greed, network mediocrity…and, you know, networks (the preview even has a little jab at the faded glory of SNL). Darker in tone, it boasts Matthew Perry, Steven Weber, Amanda Peet, D.L. Hughley, and former Wing-er Bradley Whitford among its cast.
A great cast, including Delroy Lindo, Dana Delany, and Timothy Hutton, can’t freshen up the premise of this series — which breathlessly promises to follow the kidnapping of the child of wealthy parents over the course of a season. Shows from Murder One to 24 have already done the timeline-themed setup, and this looks like it’s breaking no new ground.
The Black Donnellys
From Crash writer/director Paul Haggis comes yet another story about Irish brothers and the trouble they get into in New York City.
Cross Amazing Race with The Da Vinci Code (the reality series comes from Da Vinci team Ron Howard and Brian Grazer) and wake me when it’s over.