What’s your favourite time of year? Christmas? Your birthday? Start of summer? Mine is none of the above. Mine happens in May. Mine is a kind of a geeky choice. (No it’s not May the 4th)
Ok so what’s my favourite time of year?
Upfronts. That’s right. The week where networks announce their fall schedules and we get to see promos for their TV shows. Slightly sad I know, but I wait all year for this week. Because let’s face it promos are awesome! They’re just so full of potential. It might only last 2 minutes but in that time you can completely fall in love with the idea of a show. It’s already happened to me this year, probably about 10 times.
The only problem with upfronts is that it only lasts a week. You watch all these promos and then it’s over. And so begins the long wait pilots for these promos. And the even longer wait for next year’s promos. So to make the wait a little less painful I thought I’d review this year’s offerings, starting with Fox.
Backstrom- An offensive yet brilliant detective tries to solve cases with help from his team, while also trying to change his self destructive behaviour.
From the creator of Bones this black comedy seems to have all the elements of a winning show. The hilarious Rainn Wilson (The Office US) leads the cast which already puts it above a lot of detective shows premiering. The promo showcases the snappy wit as well as the darker aspects of the show; all in all it looks very promising. One to watch.
Excitement factor- 4.5/5
Empire- A music mogul finds out he has a terminal illness and thus begins the battle over who will take over his empire.
When I first read the plot for this show I did not expect to like it. However seeing the promo completely changed my mind. This family drama may be one of the biggest surprises of upfronts. The raw emotion you can feel from all the characters instantly draws you in, and with a strong cast I expect the performances by each will be remarkable. The show is further bolstered by having Danny Strong writing and Timbaland providing the music. There is a sense of darkness and depth in this promo which others I’ve seen seem to lack, which only serves to increase the chances of success for this show.
Excitement factor- 4/5
Gracepoint- Based on the UK series, this show centres on the murder of a young boy and the resulting police investigation that engulfs a small seaside town.
The show that Gracepoint comes from, Broadchurch, was a huge success in the UK making the expectations for this remake very high. The promo does not disappoint, showcasing David Tennant in the lead, and setting the scene for this dark drama. Already the performances by the cast look to be powerful and the subject matter moving. As with any show involving the death of a child, I suspect it will be at times difficult to watch, making it important for the pilot to be strong as possible.
Excitement factor- 3.5/5
Hieroglyph- The Pharaoh frees a notorious thief from prison in exchange for his servitude.
The show looks as if it should be on HBO or Showtime, with the promo packing lots of sex and intrigue. This intrigue is perhaps what makes me so interested in it, having watched the promo a few times, I’m still not 100% sure of what the show is about. There’s politics, romance, mystery and the suggestion of vampires? Yes vampires. There’s definitely a lot going on in this promo so we’ll have to wait and see how the show comes together.
Excitement factor- 3/5
Last Man on Earth- Pretty self explanatory; it’s about the last man on Earth searching for other signs of life.
The fact that this show is headed by Will Forte (SNL) suggests that it will be at least very funny. However the promo fails to deliver, as it doesn’t really have much content. It’s simply Forte walking around a supermarket and singing in a stadium. For me a big draw to a show is the relationships characters have with each, this will be quite hard to do when there is only one person. Whether there are other survivors or whether they will rely on flashbacks is unclear in the promo. Like Hieroglyph, from the promo it’s hard to see what the show is all about and therefore makes it hard to judge.
Mulaney- An aspiring comedian is hired to be a writer by a nightmare comedy legend.
Fox has quite a lot of drama on its roster, so this comedy is a breath of fresh air. Again SNL makes its presence known with writer John Mulaney and cast member Nasim Pedrad starring, and Lorne Michaels as an executive producer. The promo packs plenty of laughs and the casting of Martin Short as the nightmare boss is genius. With such a talented cast this show is shaping up to be comedy gold.
Red Band Society- Set in the children’s wing of a hospital a group of teenagers strike up unlikely friendships and relationships, all while battling their respective illnesses.
When I first heard the words “medical drama”, I groaned and thought not another one. But the fact that this is set in a children’s wing makes it stand out for me. Being a teenager is not easy. But being a teenager stuck in hospital is even worse. From the promo it looks as if the show will be very character driven, rather than case of the week which can get boring fast. Already I care for the characters, which is always a good starting point for a show. It will be interesting to see if it goes down the comedy or drama route, as the promo has both comedic and tragic moments.
Excitement factor- 3/5
Utopia-15 people are moved to a secret location for a year and challenged to build their own civilization.
This is different to any other shows on this list as it is a reality TV show; it’s basically a social experiment. Although sceptical of reality television, the idea of Utopia has really drawn me in. The fact that these people will have to build a society from nothing and then decide how it is run will no doubt lead to some very entertaining television. However as always with reality television there will always be questions of how real or unscripted it actually is. It’s a very interesting concept but I think we need to see how it operates in practice before making a judgement on it.
Excitement factor- 3.5/5
Wayward Pines- A Secret Service agent sets out to Wayward Pines to find two missing agents but he soon realises that the town isn’t what it seems and wonders whether he’ll ever make it out alive.
After watching this promo many people have compared this show to Twin Peaks. It certainly has that quirkiness about it. This is probably one of my favourite promos of upfronts. It really draws you into the mystery and you get the feeling that you’ll be on the edge of your seats for the entire show. There is a brilliant use of music, solidifying the show’s creepiness factor. With Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo starring this show is set to be a fascinating watch.
Excitement factor- 5/5
And Fox’s best promo and garnering the most excitement is….
Gotham- An origin story centred on Commissioner Gordon from the Batman comics and movies and his time as a detective.
So this promo actually had me squealing with excitement. I must admit, I’m rather bias on the matter. Batman is one of my favourite superheroes and Commissioner Gordon is my favourite Gotham resident, so a show based on him was always going to be a favourite of mine. Ben McKenzie, who has already shown his acting capabilities in Southland, has been aptly cast as Gordon. In addition the promo shows some of Gotham’s best loved characters in their early days, including Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler and Batman himself. I cannot convey how good this show looks in a short paragraph so I’d advise watching the promo and seeing for yourself. Also look out for the subtle images of bats throughout.
Excitement factor- Off the charts!!!!