NBC Fall 2011 Previews

After the dismal failure that was the Jay Leno Show last year, NBC has a lot of open time to fill this fall, and as such, they are bringing a whole slew of new shows to the air.

The Playboy Club – Mondays 10/9c starting Sept 19

The Playboy Club is a look into the legendary 1960’s Playboy Club of Chicago staring Wes Ramsey, Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton, David Krumholtz and Jenna Dewan. The show follows the lives and dealings with the employees of the First Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963 as they interact with the city citizens and the underbelly of mob. While NBC may tout the show as a sexy compelling mystery drama, based on early previews it seems more like a generic suspense drama akin to AMC’s Mad Men.

Before the show even airs, there has been more than a lot of criticism of the show based on its risqué subject matter, with many decency groups calling for the outright banning of the series. Other groups, such as NPR’s Linda Holmes, doesn’t outright dismiss the show, but finds it “cheese more than offensive.”

Based on what I’ve seen so far from NBC promotions, I don’t have much hopes for this show. The combination of criticism plus apparently poor writing will likely land this show on the chopping block in short order.

Grimm – Fridays 9/8c starting Oct 21

In what is likely my pick of the new NBC shows, Grimm is a fantasy crime drama that follows the last of the Grimm family of supernatural hunters. Detective David Giuntoli (Nick Burkhardt) is the last of the Grimm family line, a family of hunters who protect the human world from the super natural. The show itself revolves around the premise that the fairy tales of old are actually based on true stories and that the very same creatures of the stories walk among us today.

Created by David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Grimm looks to be a possibly thrilling crime drama with a creative twist. Airing against fellow supernatural shows Fringe and Supernatural, Grimm does have its work cut out for it.

Up all NIght – Wednesdays 8/7c starting Sept 14

Lorne Michaels and Emily Spivey brings a new Will Arnett comedy Up All NIght which follows a pair of brand new parents as they attempt to cope with the new member of their family. Arnett is the stay at home dad Chris Brinkley with Reagan Brinkley (Christina Applegate) being the working mom returning to her high profile career.

The show itself seems like another attempt to capitalize on Arnett’s natural star power, but risks moving into the territory of tapping his general annoying persona that has failed him in his last television project, Running Wilde. While Arnett’s character seems to be much more mature than previous shows, he still has the same doofus persona that viewers know of him.

Considering it’s matched up against FOX’s new X-Factor, CBS’s Survivor, and ABC’s The Middle, I have very little hope that this show will survive to the winter break.

Free Agents – Wednesdays 8:30/7:30c starting Sept 14

Newly divorced PR exec Alex (Hank Azaria) stars in the latest British remake on NBC Free Agents. The series follows Alex as he attempts to return to a normal life of dating post divorce. After a drunken one night stand with his coworker Helen (Kathryn Hahn), the two form a bond where they attempt to both move on from their lost relationships despite the edging of their misguided friends.

The show’s original incarnation in Britain was a very dark comedy common on their airwaves, and as such, I worry that the Americanized version might not have the same staying power. NBC’s track record on British imports is fairly poor, with the most notable success being the long running The Office. Overall, I think the show lacks the promise and chemistry that made the British version successful. Combined with it’s scheduling against FOX and CBS’s X-Factor and Survivor respectively, I think this latest foray into a Wednesday comedy block for NBC will be short lived.

Whitney – Thursday 9:30/8:30c starting Sept 22

Whitney Cummings stars as Whitney Cummings in a new comedy airing on the NBC Thursday night comedy block. The show follows the opinionated Whitney and her boyfriend Alex as they attempt to cope with the fact that their long term relationship might be headed towards “boredom.” As such, she attempts to revive their relationship though less than normal means resulting in typical comedic outcomes.

With Whitney Cummings developing, writing, and producing the show, Whitney will likely have a very focused comedic sense that while refreshing, may become overly stale as the season wears on. With a strong but waning lead in of The Office, Whitney is positioned to do decently well against the other network’s offerings. Based on the released previews though, the show seems a bit too chaotic to maintain an audience long term, and it’s to be determined if Cummings authoritative hand will be able to keep the show interesting enough to have lasting power. Despite this, I do have some hopes for this show to be a success.

Prime Suspect – Thursday 10/9c starting Sept 22

From director Peter Berg, Prime Suspect is another British remake on NBC that follows a tough-as-nails detective in New York. Starting Maria Bello, this crime drama follows detective Jane Timoney as she battles the high crime streets as well as the male dominance of the police force.

The previews didn’t give much of a look into the show itself, but I would expect it to be similar to the British version. Going against Private Practice and The Mentalist, it may do decently enough, but I don’t expect it to win any rating awards.

Other Returning Shows

Despite all the new shows on the way, I think my biggest excitement is the return for the final season of Chuck on it’s new timeslot of Friday 8/7c and the return of Community on Thursday at 8/7c. Friday nights with the one two punch of Chuck followed by Fringe should make for a great replacement of the geek Friday night that sister channel SyFy has abandoned.

By Kien Tran

Based in Dallas, Texas, Kien Tran is an avid television enthusiast. After spending hundreds of hours wasting away on a couch, he decided to actually do something creative with his hobby and created this very blog.

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