With so many great promos from Fox at Upfronts week, the bar had been raised for ABC. Fortunately, they met the challenge head on and brought us a fantastic assortment of trailers. There is a huge selection on offer: 10 in total. And there’s something for everyone: drama, crime, medical, comedy, legal, and a revival that a lot of people are very excited about. Even better than the quantity is the quality of the promos, which has gotten us very excited for pilot season.
What it’s about: A radio journalist and family man quits his job and starts his own podcast company.
What we think: I read the synopsis and was confused. Then I watched the promo and was still confused. Perhaps it’s because of the slightly messy trailer, the bizarre premise (podcast company?) or confusion of genre. Is it a family comedy? Is it a workplace sitcom? Are they trying to cram in both? I honestly have more questions than before I watched it. On the plus side, it benefits from a great cast led by Zach Braff and some very interesting characters (Cousin Eddie being my favourite). My feeling is that this is a show that needs more than 2.5 minutes to really shine, so I’m looking forward to see the full length pilot.
Excitement factor: 2.5/5
What it’s about: The lives of a small town’s residents change forever when refugees start showing up, fleeing from a war-torn American 250 years in the future.
What we think: This is probably my favourite promo of Upfronts week so far. There’s just so much to love about it. Intriguing premise? Check. Strong cast? Check. Twists and turns? Check. Badass woman with powers? Check. It’s just pure excellence from start to finish. And while that shot of all the bodies floating in the water was pretty chilling, I appreciate the beauty of it, and it was a real standout moment in setting the tone of the show. I don’t really have anything negative to say about The Crossing, apart from slight concern at it premiering Midseason instead of Fall. But if the pilot is as good as the promo, it will be worth the wait.
Excitement factor: 5/5
What it’s about: A superstar magician teams up with the FBI to catch criminals and solve crimes that defy explanation, using his powers of illusion and deception.
What we think: If “Now You See Me” was turned into a TV show, it would be this. Personally, I loved that movie, so I’m pretty excited for this series. I’m a sucker for a good magic trick, and there were plenty in this promo. For me, the idea that illusions and magic are at the centre of this show makes it stand out from the crowd of trailers at Upfronts week. Whilst benefiting from a strong premise, Deception also has a great cast. Jack Cutmore-Scott and Ilfenesh Hadera make good leads, but it’s the supporting players I’m really interested by. Vinnie Jones, Lenora Crichlow and Amaury Nolasco have all proven their value in multiple shows over the years, so I’m both annoyed that they weren’t featured more heavily in the promo and excited to see their characters develop in the pilot. With one of the most entertaining trailers of the week, Deception has a lot of potential.
Excitement factor: 4.5/5
For The People
What it’s about: Follows the personal and professional lives of lawyers working for both the prosecution and defence, handling the most high profile and high stakes federal cases in the country.
What we think: It has everything you have come to expect from a Shonda Rhimes show; snappy dialogue, beautiful smart characters, complicated relationships, and of course, people making morally dubious decisions. Because it’s a legal drama, it will no doubt draw the most comparisons to How to Get Away with Murder. Whilst “For the People” focuses more on the actual legal side of things which might be quite interesting, it lacks that exciting hook that HTGAWM has. In fact, the whole trailer seemed to lacking something. I mean, it’s a Shonda show with a brilliant cast, solid premise and witty one-liners, so I’m obviously going to watch it. I just hope the pilot gives us more than the promo.
Excitement factor: 3/5
The Good Doctor
What it’s about: A young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome relocates from his quiet country life and begins working at a prestigious hospital.
What we think: I was pretty skeptical about this before seeing the promo. While I loved the representation of a character with autism and savant syndrome, having it as a typical medical drama seemed like a waste. There are quite a few medical dramas around at the moment, so to capture audience interest, a show needs to be nothing short of brilliant. It seems as if The Good Doctor took on this challenge and won, giving us a fantastic trailer. It has a very talented cast (it was great to see Misfits’ Antonia Thomas on our screens again), led by Freddie Highmore. We all know Highmore can act, but boy does he show it in this promo. He really sells the show, and I think it’ll be worth tuning into the pilot if not just for him. I also like the way they deal with the idea of his autism and how it affects his work. He has his supporters but also a lot of detractors, which seems realistic. It’s such an important issue, and if they can maintain the quality they had in the promo, I think they’ll be able to do it justice.
Excitement factor: 4/5
The Gospel of Kevin
What it’s about: A selfish man on a downward spiral returns home to stay with his widowed twin sister and niece. On his first night back, he meets a celestial being who tasks him with saving the world.
What we think: I loved the promo, much more than I thought I would, but I also have a major problem with the series going into pilot season. It’s recently been announced that the show will recast the celestial being, originally played by Cristela Alonzo. Alonzo, and her chemistry with Jason Ritter, was one of the strongest things about the trailer and I was really looking forward to seeing that relationship develop. It’s highly likely that the new cast member will be great but I feel like I need to see a whole new promo to properly judge. On a more positive note, Jason Ritter is in the main role. Ritter is that type of actor that can make you burst into laughter but also break your heart, and we see a little hint of that in the trailer. In fact, the whole show has that sort of feel, similar to This Is Us and Parenthood. If they manage to maintain that balance of comedy and drama, it could be a real hit.
Excitement factor: 3.5/5
What it’s about: A young rapper runs for office as a publicity stunt and is surprisingly elected. With the help of his friend and family, he starts to transform the city he loves.
What we think: Probably the most pleasant surprise of Upfronts week, this trailer exceeded my expectations and then some. In a TV landscape where we are oversaturated with “family” comedy, this looks like a breath of fresh air. The premise is highly original, and has the potential to create a truly funny series. The promo had me laughing throughout which is what you want a comedy to do, but it also had a lot of heart, thanks to the brilliant Brandon Michael Hall. Yes, his character is a little clueless at times, but you can tell he genuinely wants to make a difference, which makes him that much more endearing. The real highlight of the trailer, however, was the relationship he shares with his mother. Hall and the incredible Yvette Nicole Brown have amazing chemistry, and their scenes together were a joy to watch. On top of a great promo, Lafayette himself (Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs) is producing the show, which can only mean good things.
Excitement factor: 4.5/5
What it’s about: A revival of the classic sitcom follows the lives of the Conner family in 2018.
What we think: Okay, I’ll admit it, I never watched Roseanne. So the announcement of a revival probably wasn’t as big a deal for me as it was for some. However, after watching the promo which featured a bunch of clips from the old series, I can see why people are excited. It seemed like a light-hearted, fun show that was perfect for family viewing. While the trailer was useful in shedding some light on what I’d missed, I wish it had given us some details on what to expect. Will and Grace didn’t have any new show footage, but they brought the cast together for a musical number, and that worked really well. It’s a shame that the Roseanne promo didn’t have something like that, but I guess it serves well to drum up interest for both old and new viewers.
Excitement factor: 3/5
Splitting Up Together
What it’s about: A couple decide to divorce but stay living together. Through splitting up their marriage is reignited.
What we think: I feel I should start this by saying I am 100% behind anything that gets Jenna Fischer back on our screens, so I may be a little bias towards this show. Even with the bias, I feel this was a pretty solid promo. Yes, it was a tad cheesy and predictable in places, but the overall product came off as sweet and endearing. My main gripe with the trailer was how Oliver Hudson’s character came across. He seemed like an ass, and Fischer’s character looked like a saint in comparison. Hudson is a great comedy actor so it seems unfair to have him in the “bad guy” role. Instead of laying blame on one character, I’m hoping that in the series they’ll explore the mistakes of each of them, and what led to the end of their marriage. On the plus side, Hudson and Fischer have great chemistry together which was enough to get me rooting for them to get back together, which I’m pretty sure is the whole point.
Excitement factor: 3.5/5
Ten Days in the Valley
What it’s about: The daughter of a TV producer goes missing in the middle of the night, mirroring the cop drama she works on.
What we think: Kyra Sedgwick is back and we’re very happy about it. This shows seems like the perfect fit for her and it’s clear from the trailer how talented she is. However, I find myself more excited for the appearance of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. He has such a great on-screen presence in everything he does, and it’s nice to see him in a main role where he can really shine. His and Sedgwick’s scenes together were a particular highlight of the promo. The rest of the cast make up friends, family and co-workers that are all potential suspects. I predict some big twists and turns with this show, (bonus points for the shocking video of the missing daughter at the end of the trailer) which should keep it pretty exciting.
At times during the promo, I found it a little confusing, not really knowing how the seemingly fictional TV show she produces related to real crime. However, the premise is interesting enough and cast strong enough that it didn’t bother me too much.
Excitement factor: 4/5