UPDATED: CBS trailers are now live!
Order! Order! EW.com’s Trailer Court is now in session, with the honorable James Hibberd and Lynette Rice judging broadcast’s new fall TV trailers. For some viewers, these trailers will be the biggest factor that decides if they watch a show next season. So here are our reviews, then we’ll turn the conversation over to you, the jury, in the comment section. Full bias disclosure to help you gauge our opinions: James is partial to serialized dramas, and isn’t easily impressed by sitcoms; Lynette likes classic multi-camera comedies and anything with former stars from The Shield.
James: I feel about Elementary how Lynette feels about Chicago Fire. It’s tough to fall in love when you’re already smitten with another show that has the same premise (in my case, BBC’s awesome Sherlock). Still, CBS’ new mentalist seems to have the right mix of genius and social bluntness, and Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson could be fun. Doesn’t take a detective to know CBS fans will eat this up, and I’ll check it out too.
Lynette: CBS may have finally found the perfect role for Jonny Lee Miller, who was woefully underutilized in the short-lived drama Eli Stone.
James: Recent broadcast dramas set in the 1960s have flopped (Pan Am, Swingtown, The Playboy Club). But if one was going to work, you can’t get much better odds than a crime show set in Vegas on CBS. Thankfully, the genre and setting are as close to CSI as this show seems to get. Love the cast. Dennis Quaid has weathered into reminding me of Harrison Ford. I’m all-in if the writers embrace a serialized format that captures a fraction of the era’s corrupt brutality as depicted in writer Nicholas Pileggi’s Casino.
Lynette: Superb use of Quaid and Michael Chiklis (who may end up upstaging the former, even if he flashes that ageless six pack of his).
Made In Jersey
James: Pushy Jersey girl proves she’s smart to uptight big city lawyers. I sort of dislike this, and you can probably delete the “sort of.” Elementary and Made In Jersey are both obvious ideas, but Elementary feels classic while this feels like lame Jersey-TV trend jumping.
Lynette: CBS is particularly excited that they’ve found the next great star in Janet Montgomery (who’s a Brit doing a Jersey accent). I just hope we hear a lot more of that gum-chomping dialect when she’s giving her cross in court.
James: CBS has TV’s most popular sitcoms. And this looks like a CBS sitcom — for all that’s typically good about that (friendly characters, accessible jokes, slightly risque content) and bad (lowbrow humor, obvious stories, ever-present studio audience laughter).
Lynette: This is probably my least favorite new comedy — not because the conceit feels stale, but the characters seem ridiculously unrealistic. The Numb3rs dude hooks up with the knockout from One Tree Hill?
James: So Revolution looks closer to Terra Nova than The Walking Dead (If you ever make a post-apocalyptic TV show, at least wash the costumes once before trying to convince audiences that these are the characters’ everyday clothes). Still, I like this trailer much better than the ones for other serialized sci-fi dramas in recent years (like The Event, Alcatraz and FlashForward), and Giancarlo Esposito makes for a great villain. Will give this one a shot.
Lynette: My initial reaction to this was the same one I had when I saw the trailer for 2012, that John Cusack disaster movie from 2009. Seriously? A massive wave envelops our great God-fearing nation? And yet I still watched the movie.
James: I’m not sure you can create a bigger challenge for yourself than launching a comedy about depression. Matthew Perry is likeable, and this looks slightly better than his last show, Mr. Sunshine.
Lynette: While it pains me to say goodbye to his superior character on The Good Wife, Perry and this comedy exceeded my expectations. I’m thinking the best parts will only be when group is in session, however.
James: Funny (loved The Good Wife spoof), with a charming cast. Some wonder if this concept is too Blue State to draw a wide audience. I wouldn’t bet against Ryan Murphy.
Lynette: I choked up when it was played at the upfronts. (I also wondered how Ellen Barkin felt when Murphy approached her about playing a grandma.) But I digress: This one, I’ll watch.
Guys With Kids
James: When people think of the word “sitcom” this is what they think of.
Lynette: Comedies like this make me hurt inside.
James: Scrubs with monkeys. Justin Kirk is winsome, though this feels more like one of those 90-minute summer movies that critics hate but parents watch with their kids than it does a TV series.
Lynette: More like House with primates. I’m thinking the conceit will wear thin, as will the little hairy feller. After all, they got rid of Marcel the Monkey pretty quickly on Friends after he terrorized the set.
James: This trailer’s even funnier than Guys With Kids! Oh, it’s a drama. Did anybody not laugh at the climactic ending when the the hunky firemen did The Nod of Mutual Respect? And I guess there wouldn’t be a point in having any ugly firemen, right? Whenever I’m struggling to get my own way, from now on I’m just going to yell: “Don’t think! Just do it!”
Lynette: As much as I enjoyed looking at the dude with his shirt off, no fire drama interests me now that I’ve seen and loved Rescue Me.
The Mindy Project
James: You can understand why NBC passed on Mindy Kaling’s sitcom and why Fox picked it up. It feels like there’s a good show in here, somewhere, but that the pilot is not there yet. Pilots frequently get reworked between now and the fall and I wouldn’t be surprised if this high-profile project, which is being paired with New Girl, underwent more polishing.
Lynette: What a mess.
The Goodwin Games
James: Arrested Development + Trivial Pursuit? Potentially good.
Lynette: Absolutely adorable. I’m already hating how many new shows I’m going to have to squeeze on my DVR, including this little prize.
James: Intense, creepy and well, er, executed. Glad to see James Purefoy back in an interesting role, though I initially thought Kevin Bacon would be better as the villain.
Lynette: Nope, I like it when a hottie plays a killer. I hated how Revenge squandered Purefoy’s talents. The former Marc Antony from HBO’s Rome is so much better suited here.
Ben & Kate
James: Not a fan of the bland name, but this has a cute rom-com feel and the bartender scene in this trailer was a real laugh.
Lynette: My favorite new comedy. I wish my mom had made a Ben for me.
The Mob Doctor
James: An editor thought The Mob Doctor was the worst new series title of next season (my vote is for CBS’ Golden Boy). To me, what salvages this from being the worst name is that The Mob Doctor, as Lifetime as it sounds, at least tells you exactly what the show is about. As for the content: I’m surprised. By the end of this strong trailer, I was interested in a show that I initially thought sounded silly.
Lynette: GREAT idea for a show, and I like that she could develop into a delicious antihero for having to make tough (see: WRONG) decisions to help save her butt. My fear, however, is that the network will worry too much about making her likable so she WON’T do what the mob wants her to do.
James: Das Braugher! My favorite drama trailer of the fall, though I do wish it didn’t spoil the whole pilot (which, by the way, is terrific, and has one of the best opening acts in a broadcast TV pilot that I’ve seen since Lost). You get the sense from this trailer that the submarine crew is in way over their heads and they’re following a leader who might be making catastrophic decisions. I love that. Unfortunately, many broadcast viewers flee from anti-heroes and moral complexity. Creator Shawn Ryan is a great talent, let’s hope this one thrives.
Lynette: Crimson Tide meets Lost! Andre Braugher makes this show, which just happens to be from the creator of The Shield. Naturally, I’m in.
666 Park Ave.
James: Once Upon a Time and Grimm were fantasy shows that many in the industry (okay, me too) doubted would work. Maybe I’m wrong here too? Terry O’Quinn is always watchable, but from the campy title to this trailer, I can’t take this show anywhere near seriously enough to find it scary or suspenseful (and what’s with the pop song during the trailer’s final stretch? This is supposed to be a horror show!).
Lynette: ABC took the best actors from Brothers & Sisters, Lost, Desperate Housewives and Charlie’s Angels and shoved them into a Hotel California-like setting. You can check in any time you like but you can never leave! I’m glad Terry O’Quinn’s got a new gig; I just wish it was as a CSI or maybe even as Hannibal the cannibal, but not this.
James: Trashy fun. Could work.
Lynette: Skanky trash. Won’t work.
The Family Tools
James: With a name like the The Family Tools, you know it’s not targeting the Mensa crowd. This trailer, and the one below, are for super-broad family comedies that I realize there’s a large potential audience for (like The Middle), but doesn’t do anything for me personally.
Lynette: Kyle Bornheimer exclaims, “Why does this keep happening to me!!” and it makes me think of all the comedies he has tried but have failed (Worst Week, Perfect Couples, Romantically Challenged). But I’ll root for this one, not only because he has what it takes to star in a network laugher, but he’s got a great supporting cast in J.K. Simmons and Leah Remini (who’s a terrific hot mess).
How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life
James: Putting a bunch of profanity in a broadcast TV pilot, then bleeping and blurring it, is a pointless gimmick. (Yes, Modern Family has used it on rare occasion for effect, but they can pull it off). Lame.
Lynette: I know Sarah Chalke was a hot commodity this development season but here is one comedy in which she’s actually upstaged (to a glorious extent) by the marvelous Elizabeth Perkins. Go ahead, ABC: Tout that you got the cute and skinny blonde from Scrubs but we know who the real star is here.
James: …on the plus side, Last Man Standing may have found its soul mate.
Lynette: Reba kinda freaks me out because the ol’ girl never seems to age. While the comedy is turribly predictable, ABC may have figured out a way to rebuild TGIF with her and Tim Allen. (And to keep things cooking, the same showrunner will oversee both shows).
James: Is country music really only big enough for one female singer? You sort of get that impression watching this trailer, that the stakes for Connie Britton’s aging country music singer vs. the young rising star are being overstated. Otherwise, this looks like solid storytelling and the casting of Britton and Hayden Panettiere feels right.
Lynette: Connie Britton is a bona fide TV star and she looks and feels right at home in this nifty drama that already has me wondering what’ll happen in season 2. I’m eager to find out, though.
James: Watched this trailer with a literal dropped jaw. I cannot believe this is a real show. And that it is, presumably, ABC’s best new comedy, since it’s been given the coveted lead-in from Modern Family. I haven’t felt like this since watching a trailer since … well, since ABC’s Work It. At least The Neighbors won’t have aliens protesting the show as discriminatory (well, it might).
Lynette: Love that Jami Gertz finally scored a TV show. Hate that she has to act opposite creepy green things. She deserves better.
James: Intrigued. This is about a woman who takes over her late husband’s crime empire and I like that the story is moving slowly — you don’t yet get a full sense of where she’s headed in this pilot. The new title works too (it was originally called Penoza, a title only a writer could love).
Lynette: Ever heard of Radha Mitchell? Good: That’s the way TV should operate. It makes stars, just like what will happen with this impressive suspense thriller. (She’s the red widow, btw).
James: “If you knew the real truth, you would lose your mind.” Oh, promises, promises, Zero Hour! Excuse the skepticism, but we’ve been down this mythology road before. I do like the ambition of this Raiders of the Lost Da Vinci Clock story, I remain skeptical whether the show (and a haggard Anthony Edwards as the star) can pull this off.
Lynette: If I wanted to watch National Treasure or Angels and Demons, I’d rent them at the Blockbuster near my house to help keep it in business. Giddy to see Anthony Edwards back in TV. Too bad it had to be in this.
The CW screened full trailers at the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers, but there are only 30-second promos available online at this point, and only for a few shows. We’ll update this page as more online video is released.
James: He fights crime — with an impractical ancient weapon! There’s a reason nobody uses a big-ass bow and arrow nowadays. Yes, it looks cool, I loved The Hunger Games too, and Hawkeye in The Avengers was neat. But we have all these other weapons now that simply work a lot better, and that’s been undisputed since Wounded Knee. Now. Having suspended my disbelief about the bow: Arrow looks super promising (I really enjoyed the pilot). Billionaire crime fighter Oliver Queen will draw a lot of comparisons to Batman (he always has). But unlike the Dark Knight, this guy has no qualms about killing bad guys. If this show is a hit, I want a spin-off called Javelin.
Lynette: The last time the CW produced a pilot that was better than most shows I could find on broadcast was Gossip Girl in 2007. This series has the potential to truly break out, thanks to a huge push at Comic Con this summer and the fact it stars a superhero with rock hard abs straight out of 300.
Beauty and the Beast
James: Eh, more post-Twilight emo teen fantasy CW chick bait. Beast reimagined as a Hulk/werewolf figure, which allows him to look all hot when he’s not beasting out and killing bad guys who threaten his lady friend. Not for me but, then again, it’s not meant to be. Actual line from the pilot: “You have a blind spot for douches!”
Lynette: As much as I loved Ron Perlman in the original, I think it’s a nifty idea to remake this cult hit from the 80s. I just have a reaaaalllly hard time imagining Kristin Kreuk as a cop. Why not a journalist? Or a crime-fighting stylist?
Emily Owens, M.D.
James: Mini Streep! This could be The CW’s sleeper surprise — not pre-sold with known brands like Arrow or Carrie Diaries, but simply a likable heroine (played by Meryl’s daughter Mamie Gummer) with cute writing about a young doctor who’s just a tad more convincing than Rachel Bilson in Hart of Dixie (and by a “tad” we mean several nautical miles).
Lynette: While this feels a little old for the CW (no arrow-hurling honeys or crime-fighting stylists here), this was one of my favorites coming out of the upfronts. Sure, it’s the next evolution of Grey’s Anatomy, but who cares? With so many cop and legal shows polluting the fall lineup, it’s nice to see a fresh hospital drama in the mix.
We’ll add the rest of CW as soon as they are released.
Until then, fall TV stars can relax. Trailer Court is adjourned!