Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Fall Lineup Frenzy: Midseason Edition Part I (NBC, ABC, and The WB)

As promised, here is the first of two posts with my thoughts about the midseason shows announced by the networks in their upfront presentations. If you want to know what I thought of the fall 2005 lineups check out the links for NBC, ABC, The WB, CBS, UPN, and FOX. All information in this post (as well as all the others) was taken from The Futon Critic, a site which I found via DeAnn's Blog.


"FOUR KINGS" -- Emmy Award winners David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, creators of the award-winning comedy "Will & Grace," present "Four Kings," an exploration of four lifelong friends on the cusp of adulthood: Barry (Seth Green, the "Austin Powers" franchise, "The Italian Job"), Bobby (Shane McRae, "One Life to Live"), Ben (Josh Cooke, "Committed") and Jason (Todd Grinnell, "The Dangling Conversation") couldn't imagine life without one another. Since childhood, these bosom buddies haven't spent so much as a birthday apart, but when Ben's grandmother, who dubbed them the "Four Kings of New York," passes away, Ben inherits her apartment and decides to share it with his lifelong friends. But despite the comfort of their posh new surroundings and efforts to cling to their youth, adulthood begins drawing these Four Kings knee-deep into situations that aren't always easy to escape in this honest exploration of life-term friendship. "Four Kings" is produced by KoMut Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are the creators and executive producers. James Burrows ("Will & Grace," "Friends") directed the pilot.

"THICK AND THIN" -- From multi Emmy-Award winning producer Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video Television comes this half-hour comedy about Mary (Jessica Capshaw, "The Practice"), a formerly fat woman who embarks on a new journey as a fit and newly single woman. That's easier said than done, however, when Mary's family and friends still see her as her former self. They include her overweight mother (multiple Emmy winner Sharon Gless, "Cagney and Lacey"), her overweight younger sister (newcomer Amy Halloran), her father (Martin Mull, "Roseanne"), and her weight-loss program buddy (Mel Rodriguez, "Panic Room"). But it is at the pool-and-spa company franchise she owns in suburban Florida that she finds her most unlikely confidant, her brother-in-law (Chris Parnell, NBC's "Saturday Night Live"), the company's "leotard-ed" spokesperson named "Captain Chlorine." When a cringe-worthy misstep lands her in bed with her ex, she realizes that getting thin was less about pleasing others -- and more about being comfortable in her own skin. Emmy Award winner Paula Pell ("Saturday Night Live") is the series' creator and writer of the pilot. The executive producers are Lorne Michaels (NBC's "Saturday Night Live") and JoAnn Alfano ("The Tracy Morgan Show"). Gail Mancuso ("Roseanne") directed the pilot. "Thick and Thin" is from by Broadway Video Television in association with NBC Universal Television Studio.

My Thoughts: The premise of Four Kings makes me think of Living Single...only all male and white. Living Single was about a group of African-American women who were friends (although a couple of guys were always around). In the show, three of the four friends shared an apartment. Living Single actually predated Friends. Anyway, there are some good people involved in Four Kings so I hope it will turn out to be pretty funny. At best, this show could be exactly the kind of comedy NBC needs. Thick and Thin, on the other hand, doesn't really sound that great. There are already people protesting the show because of its portrayal of being overweight. Considering that the show probably won't air for at least six months, that's not a good thing. When will Lorne Michaels learn that the only show he can produce well is SNL?


(Note: ABC's Monday night midseason shows were already discussed in the ABC post because of the unique situation of Monday Night Football.)

“Crumbs” (half-hour comedy) -- Family is enough to drive anyone a little crazy. Children keep secrets from their parents so they won't upset them, dads leave for other women and moms try to run over dads with the car. Actually, that was the point that the Crumb family realized Mom was crazy.

Estranged brothers Mitch and Jody Crumb reunite in their small hometown to deal with their mother, Suzanne, who is being released from a psychiatric country club and has yet to discover that her ex-husband, Billy, is about to have a baby with his new girlfriend. They have issues… major issues. Central to everything is the dynamic between these two brothers: Mitch is the prodigal son who is returning home after a failed Hollywood career, and Jody is the older brother who has stayed in the confines of their small New England town to run the family business. Together for the first time as adults, this family will have to stick by one another despite their combustible relationships.

The creator of “Caroline in the City” mines his own WASP family for comedy that's smart, funny and surprising. The series stars Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”) and Jane Curtin (two-time Emmy Award winner for “Kate & Allie,” “SNL,” “3rd Rock from the Sun”) and is from the producers of “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill.”

Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”): Mitch
Eddie McClintock (“The Sweetest Thing”): Jody
Maggie Lawson (“Pleasantville”): Andrea
William Devane (“Knot’s Landing”): Billy
Jane Curtin (“SNL,” “3rd Rock From the Sun”): Suzanne

Executive Producer/Writer: Marco Pennette (“Caroline in the City”)
Executive Producers: Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola -- (“Smallville,” “One Tree Hill”)
Production Company: Touchstone Television

“The Evidence” (one-hour drama) -- People lie. The evidence doesn't. It's the foundation of every conviction – with evidence, justice is possible; without evidence, guilty men walk free.

Acclaimed producer John Wells, (“ER,” “The West Wing,” “Third Watch”) and director Gary Fleder (“Blind Justice,” “Runaway Jury”) put a twist on the standard police procedural. At the top of each episode, all of the clues (a locket, a phone, a severed finger) are revealed in a videotaped evidence log. The show then flashes to the day the crime was committed and invites viewers to play along with the heroes as they find each clue, determine its meaning, put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out who done it.

No one knows the importance of evidence more than Inspector Sean Cole. After he lost his wife in a brutal murder, the only evidence the cops had was accidentally destroyed, and it ruined his faith in the system. Fortunately his partner and best friend, Bishop, is there for him, pulling him back to work, pushing him forward, as they both try to solve these complex cases set against the beautiful streets of San Francisco.

Orlando Jones (“Mad TV,” “Runaway Jury”): Cayman Bishop
Nicky Katt (“Boston Public”): Inspector Sean Cole
Martin Landau (“Ed Wood”): Dr. Sol Gold

Executive Producers/Writers: Sam Baum, Dustin Thomason
Executive Producer/Director: Gary Fleder (“The Shield,” “Runaway Jury”)
Production Company: John Wells Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television

“In Justice” (one-hour drama) -- There are a lot of procedurals on the air that focus on putting people in jail. This is a show about getting them out.

Every year, hundreds of innocent men and women get convicted of crimes they didn't commit. Sloppy police work. False testimony. Biased juries. In the blink of an eye an innocent man can lose his life to the mistakes of an imperfect system. And every year the number of innocents who live without hope behind bars multiplies, while the real criminals walk free.

The innocent have finally found a champion in a blustery but charismatic attorney named David Swayne. A legendary litigator, Swayne is the head of the Justice Project, a high-profile, non-profit organization made up of hungry young associates who fight to overturn wrongful convictions, liberate the falsely accused and discover the identity of those really to blame. Whether the ego-driven Swayne is doing this in the pursuit of justice or publicity remains to be seen. Thank goodness he has his partner, crackerjack investigator and ex-cop Charles Conti, to keep him honest. He's the serious to Swayne's swagger, and together they work to rectify the mistakes of the justice system one case at a time.

Using real life stories as inspiration, the producers of “life as we know it” have created a legal drama reminiscent of “Reversal of Fortune,” in which clients who are presumed guilty must ultimately be proven innocent.

Jason O'Mara (“The Agency”): Charles Conti
Kyle MacLachlan (“Twin Peaks,” “Sex and the City”): David Swayne
Constance Zimmer (“Good Morning, Miami”): Brianna
Daniel Cosgrove (“Beverly Hills, 90210”): Jon
Larissa Gomes: Tina

Executive Producers/Writers: Robert King and Michelle King
Executive Producer: Stu Bloomberg (“life as we know it”)
Production Company: Touchstone Television

“The Miracle Workers” (one-hour alternative series) -- “The Miracle Workers” are an elite team of physicians who embrace revolutionary medical treatments many never knew existed. Each week, the show will focus on a single patient with a serious medical condition and follow as this dream team of medical professionals changes his or her life forever through treatment. The team will utilize their extraordinary expertise in cutting edge medical technology to restore not only the health but also the hope of the patient. Each episode will feature some of the world's most renowned medical experts performing breakthrough procedures to heal those who need it most, making possible what was previously thought impossible. For individuals who otherwise would never have access to elite medical specialists or the ability to afford costly procedures, “The Miracle Workers” will make possible what was previously thought impossible.

Executive Producers: Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, co-heads of DreamWorks Television; David Garfinkle and Jay Renfroe from Renegade 83 Entertainment
Co-Executive Producer: Bill Guttentag
Production Companies: Dreamworks Television and Renegade 83 Entertainment

“Sons & Daughters” (half-hour comedy) -- Family is always unpredictable, so why write a family comedy when you can live dangerously and improvise instead? Like real families, you never know what will happen when you give characters total freedom.

Adult siblings Cameron, Sharon and Jenna have many years of shared history in this small town. Like every other family on the planet, their history includes many mistakes. This is proven by the multiple marriages and many children in their close extended clan. Sharon has postponed her mid-life crisis for the sake of her kids, but her sexless marriage, slacker son and nosey daughter don't make things easy for her. Jenna, the youngest, wanted to be a singer, but instead is a single mom who still lives at home. Luckily her parents love babysitting their grandson. Middle child Cameron, despite having kids from two marriages and a difficult relationship with his oldest son, Henry, is the glue that holds the family together. With all the messy interpersonal relationships, rivalries and religious differences, everyone needs someone to be the family's designated driver.

Leading this three-ring family circus is executive producer Lorne Michaels, the comedy veteran behind the long-running “Saturday Night Live.”

Fred Goss (“Significant Others”): Cameron Walker
Gillian Vigman (“Mad TV”): Liz Walker
Alison Quinn: Sharon Fenton
Jerry Lambert: Don Fenton
Desmond Harrington (“Taken”): Wylie Blake
Corri English: Jenna Halbert
Dee Wallace (“ET, the Extra Terrestrial”): Colleen Halbert
Lois Hall: Aunt Rae
Noah Applebaum: Ezra Walker
Alexandra Gold Jourden: Marni Walker
Trevor Einhorn (“BASEketball”): Henry
Eden Sher: Kerry
Greg Pitts: Tommy White
Max Gail (“Barney Miller”): Wendal Halbert

Executive Producers/Writers: Fred Goss, Nick Holly
Executive Producer: Joanne Alfano, Lorne Michaels (“Saturday Night Live”)
Production Companies: Broadway Video in association with NBC Universal Television Studio
Director: Fred Goss

My Thoughts: You know how they always say there is no such thing as new ideas? Well, this midseason slate from ABC proves it. Virtually every single show on this list reminded me of something else. Crumbs sounds a lot like Titus. The Evidence reminded me of The Jury. Will The Judge be far behind? The Miracle Workers might as well be called Extreme Health Makeover. In fact, even though The Miracle Workers will probably do some good for the patients involved, the idea that terminally ill people (and their plight) are going to be exploited for reality TV just plain sickens me. Sons and Daughters is another wacky family sitcom that will probably borrow liberally from Arrested Development. And Lorne Michaels' involvement isn't necessarily a good thing. All in all, ABC's midseason slate doesn't look all that great right now.

The WB


Feature film star and supermodel Rebecca Romijn (“X-Men, ” ‘Just Shoot Me”) stars as Pepper Dennis, a beautiful and ambitious reporter with her sights set on anchoring Chicago's top-rated evening news broadcast. Pepper's career is her top priority, but she does have close friends, especially the station's makeup artist Kimmy (Lindsay Price, “Beverly Hills, 90210”) and cameraman Chick (Rider Strong, “Boy Meets World”), who has a secret crush on Pepper. Complicating Pepper's daily life is the fact that her spoiled, needy and recently separated sister Kathy (Brooke Burns, “North Shore," ”‘Baywatch”) has moved in with her. Worst of all, the hot guy Pepper woke up with this morning, Charlie Bishop (Josh Hopkins, “The Perfect Storm, ” “Ally McBeal”), just showed up in the newsroom, grabbed her dream job and is now practically her boss. She's trying to despise him, but Charlie is smart, handsome, funny, available and interested. Office romances can be so complicated. From 20th Century Fox Television and writers/executive producers Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts (“Wonderfalls, ” “Roswell, ” “Beverly Hills, 90210”) and director/executive producer Shawn Levy (“The Pink Panther, ” “Cheaper by the Dozen, ” “Big Fat Liar”).


“The Bedford Diaries” explores contemporary New York City-based college life through the unique prism of a provocative Human Behavior and Sexuality class. Controversial and charismatic Professor Macklin (Emmy Award-nominated Matthew Modine, “And the Band Played On, “ “Any Given Sunday”) will challenge and inspire the show's youthful ensemble of students as they explore their identities, relationships and sexuality in the most exciting city in the world. Among the students is the smart and attractive Sarah (Tiffany Dupont, “Cheaper by the Dozen”). Sarah has everything going for her until her brother Owen (Penn Badgely, “The Mountain”) walks into class. It's one thing to share in class, but Sarah hadn't planned on discussing her sexuality in front of a sibling. Owen's new class partner is Natalie, “The Jumper” (Corri English, “The Dale Earnhardt Story”). Two years ago, Natalie had a change of heart mid-dive off the roof of the Student Union. Now physically recovered, she has to face the gossip mill and her ex, Richard (Milo Ventimiglia, ‘Gilmore Girls, ” ‘American Dreams”). The quintessential Park Avenue bad boy up until the moment his girlfriend jumped, Richard is now a semi-changed man – sober, attending class and editor-in-chief of The Bedford Bugle. In stark contrast is the working-class Lee (Ernest Waddell, ‘As the World Turns”), who has a noble heart, an artistic soul, a serious girlfriend and a fascination with Zoe (Victoria Cartagena, ‘Baby Fat”). Zoe talks a fast, flirty and kinky game, but despite her brash veneer, she's still a virgin. Also starring Audra McDonald (‘Wit, ” ‘Law & Order”) and Peter Gerety (“The Legend of Bagger Vance”). From HBO Independent Productions, Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. and The Levinson/Fontana Co. with executive producers Tom Fontana (“Oz, ” “Homicide: Life on The Street”), Jim Finnerty (‘The Jury," “Oz") and Julie Martin (‘Homicide: Life on the Street”), along with executive producer Barry Levinson (“Rain Man, ” ‘Diner”).


Amanda Watson (Jane Leeves, ‘Frasier") was more than a little shocked to find out that all her teenage daughter Hopper (Taylor Momsen, ‘Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams") wanted for her birthday was to meet her biological father. After all, Hopper has always heard that her dad is well-bred, handsome, athletic, well-educated and a successful doctor. The only problem is Amanda never actually met him, she only knows him from the profile she was given at the Ivy League sperm bank. After discussing the situation with Horace (French Stewart, "3rd Rock From the Sun"), her best friend and co-worker at an art museum in Chicago, Amanda decides it's time to track down the father of her child and is mortified to discover that her supposedly ideal donor was not the Olympic medalist, Yale-educated surgeon that she has imagined all these years. Meet Eddie Caprio (Adam Rothenberg, ‘Coyote Beach"), a man who needed a little cash after junior college and lied about his identity. Eddie has a certain undeniable charm, yet he's too scattered and immature for Amanda's taste. He can't hold a job, he prefers beer to fine wine, and his idea of dressing up is wearing a clean baseball cap. In Amanda's eyes, Eddie is barely capable of taking care of himself, let alone Hopper. However, when Eddie tracks her down, Hopper falls head-over-heels for her fun-loving dad, and Amanda is forced to allow him to be part of their lives. Could Eddie's appeal be getting through to Amanda, too? Apparently, they're going to have plenty of time to find out. From Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television with executive producers Brian Grazer (‘Arrested Development," ‘24, ‘A Beautiful Mind"), David Nevins (‘Arrested Development," ‘24," ‘Miss Match"), Jeff Kleeman (‘Titanic," ‘Golden Eye," ‘Sleepy Hollow") and Michael Saltzman (‘The Pink Panther," ‘The Naked Truth," ‘Murphy Brown," ‘Wings").


Tim (Josh Braaten, ‘Less Than Perfect"), Kyle (Max Greenfield, ‘Veronica Mars") and Doug (Eric Lively, ‘The L Word") are childhood friends who are at different stages in their lives when it comes to women. Doug can't move on from his ex-wife, Kyle is a womanizing bachelor, and Tim's relationships keep falling apart due to...well, he doesn't actually know. Tim's sister Tina (Marla Sokoloff, ‘Desperate Housewives," ‘The Practice"), a confident young law student, tries to make him understand that today's career-minded, self-sufficient women don't need a man for support, they're looking for a deeper and more meaningful connection. Though their situations are different, each of these guys has come to the same realization -- it takes a lot more than they expected to keep a woman happy and satisfied. After getting no help from Tim's dad Tug (George Wendt, ‘Cheers"), who's stuck in the Stone Age when it comes to the opposite sex, Tim, Kyle and Doug are just desperate enough to seek the help of Dr. Stangl (guest star Wendie Malick, ‘Frasier," ‘Just Shoot Me"), a renowned life coach. Now the question is whether these guys are capable of taking Dr. Stangl's advice and applying it to their every day situations. This fresh, male perspective on modern relationships is from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer ‘CSI," ‘Cold Case," ‘Without a Trace"). Joining Bruckheimer are executive producers Jonathan Littman (‘Without A Trace," the ‘CSI" and ‘The Amazing Race" franchises) and Marsh McCall (‘Just Shoot Me," ‘The Naked Truth"), along with co-executive producers Ross McCall and Aaron Peters (‘Just Shoot Me," ‘The Simple Life"). From Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc.

My Thoughts: The WB's slate of midseason shows sound a lot more interesting than the new shows they are putting on in the fall. Pepper Dennis sounds cliche (wasn't there a movie with a similar premise?) but could be a hit. The Bedford Diaries sounds like it would be more at home on Showtime than The WB. The people behind this show produced some very good television in shows like Oz and Homicide so I am looking forward to this one. Misconceptions seems like it should be good. It feels like a good fit for The WB as it follows their trademark of dramas with strong parent/child relationships (Everwood, Gilmore Girls). Modern Men has potential but it seems like whenever a show has a "male perspective" on relationships, it doesn't last long. With shows like these, how did Just Legal make it to the fall schedule?

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