10 new US shows you will watch (and how they’ll get you)
Somewhere, not so far from a greasy office in LA and pretty far from here is a room filled with sexy decisions. A ruthless, desperately well-dressed collection of entertainment cutthroats, unaccustomed to playing nice, are sharing TV pilot ideas safe in the knowledge that whatever they come up with, we’ll gobble with disgusting aplomb.
Unfortunately as members of the general public we’ll never be privy to exactly what goes on at these über-secret meetings of the minds, but if we cross reference Internet conspiracy theories with a few of television’s recent offerings, it is possible to decipher 10 whiskey soaked gambits spawned on that fateful night. Introducing the introductions to the US TV shows that will be worming their way into your viewing-schedule over the next 12 months – and whether you should fall prey to their hazy charms.
#10.Up All Night
The Hook: Drop a baby in the mix
‘I’ve got Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Ruddoplh waiting in the wings but I’ve got nothing for them, they’re about to walk.’ Cue fervent leaning at the single utterance of inspiration: ‘baby.’ Up All Night revolves around exactly that: a baby, with Arnett on Daddy duty alongside Applegate. But here’s the twist: in addition to their seven-pound bundle of joy, they also play parent to Maya Ruddolph’s talk show host Eva. While Arnett doesn’t have the best track record with the TV cancellation gods, (an integral cog in the soon to be reunited Arrested Development machine and the leading man in the mildly enjoyable but equally cancelled oddity that was Running Wilde), he finally seems blessed with favourable reviews and strong ratings, let’s hope he saves some for the Bluth Family reunion.
The Hook: Double or Nothing
Someone over on the 57th floor, must still have a real hard-on for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Two Sarah Michelle Gellars, in fact. He – or quite possibly she – isn’t alone; who can deny that in it’s prime Buffy was huge. Spin-off huge. FANCY LUNCHBOX HUGE. Fast-forward 8 years and SMG, tired of B-listing her way through parties and film flops wanted back in on the easy-to-please television circuit. Leaving executives with the bigger question: what next? ‘I’ve got it,’ spoke up one of the rather more sizzled gentiles in the room, with an eerie gleam in his eyes ‘twins.’ Not unlike an Olsen twins movie, with SMG playing both parts. It’s hard to say what exactly Ringer is selling; some sort of ungodly mixture of limp intrigue, boring suspense and a glimpse into the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and powerful that doesn’t seem worth buying.
The Hook: Everyone loves a conspiracy
“OK, so what if there was an American POW, held hostage for 8 years only to be found in a bunker during a daring raid. The twist is, when he gets back home everyone thinks he’s this national hero but word filters down that an American POW has been turned. Duh duh duh! Now I can’t claim that idea for myself, it’s based on an Israeli series called Prisoners of War, but we’ll get one of the 24 producers on board, we’ll shoot the hell out of it and I’ll be damned if it isn’t fan-fucking-tastic.’ OK sure, we’re paraphrasing but that is essentially what happened. Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison, an exceptional CIA officer with MURKY DEMONS and the sneaking suspicion that there is more to Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) than meets the eye. Dark and sinister with great offbeat characters that bring a nice uneven energy to the substantial, meaty episodes; Homeland is great bang for your buck.
The Hook: Jurrassatar
It is no secret that high-ranking TV executives love themselves a good does of Will It Blend (http://www.willitblend.com/), which is the most likely way Terra Nova came about with a simple hypothetical musing: ‘Avatar and Jurrasic Park – will it blend?’ Several months and million dollars down the line the answer is a resounding ‘not quite.’ Prior to its release there was a huge buzz surrounding Terra Nova and with a reported budget of $4 million per episode, comparisons to big screen Dino/dino-esque creature capers were inevitable, unfortunately it fails completely to match the tone or the aesthetic of the Avatars or Jurrasic Parks. Shoddy effects and terrible decision making are the order of the day, as interesting questions and issues are left on the back burner in favour of badly etched family dynamics and flimsy teen romances. A disgraceful example of piss poor execution, Terra Nova is a criminally overpriced example of squandered promise, let down by inferior ideas that lack conviction or common sense.
#6. 2 Broke Girls
The Hook:Schedenfreude Rulez
2 Broke Girls – it’s not exactly a ground-breaking group of words, is it? Kat Dennings (the sarcastic one from Thor,) has been making a name for herself as an up and coming funny lass, so funny in fact that she might just merit her own TV show. And hey, there’s nothing more funny than poverty, right? So here it is, as painfully imagined as it is executed. The genuinely funny Kat Dennings is sadly trapped in a concept that sees her teamed up with Beth Behrs (fresh off her stint in CSI, or was it NCIS ? Does it even matter?) starring, as the title suggests, as 2 Broke Girls struggling to make it as waitresses in Brooklyn. Dennings, obviously the funnier of the duo, is a non-stop pun machine blasting out sass, sarcasm and cupcakes in equal measure, whereas the once privileged Caroline is the butt of Dennings’ jokes; struggling for second place in a dead heat competition with the horse that lives in their ‘yard’. Chances are it won’t make you laugh but it might just make you smile.
#5.The Playboy Club
The Hook: Slice the wardrobe budget
The first of two blatant Mad Men cash-ins, The Playboy Club adds very little to the sexy-60s genre, never mind what it takes away from the clothing. Revolving around the original Playboy Club and the heaving flesh and emotions within, this new drama sees The Heff himself get involved – and by that we mean he provides voice over for the first episode. Beyond that there isn’t much of note beyond weak dialogue, thin (physically and emotionally) characters and boring scheming.
The Hook: Put Mad (Wo)Men in an Aeroplane
“Let’s Do Mad Men. But on a plane. With women.” While The Playboy Club is selling sex, Pan Am is trying it’s damndest to sell feminism. There isn’t much in the way of substance here but there is a dutiful attempt from the wardrobe and music departments to capture a snippet of ‘60s glory. The inclusion of a dull and slightly muddled cold war spy subplot screams of padding and muddies the waters further still into a nasty shade of boring.
#3.Person of Interest
The Hook: Vigilantes are in, right?
“God-damn I miss LOST, what are those guys up to?” And so with everyone else in the cast busy getting their cameo on or releasing their inner film star, the honour fell to Michael Emerson. He plays the supposedly mysterious, actually creepy billionaire Mr Finch in a Jonathan Nolan/J.J. Abrams produced script that sees him recruit a former CIA operative for a vigilante crusade. Jim Caviezel is on growling duties as Agent Reese completes the duo as they flit from one mind numbingly boring case to the next. Suddenly that Playboy Mansion isn’t looking too shabby…
The Hook: ‘Look! It’s Zooey Deschanel!’
New Girl is to Zooey Deschanel what 2 Broke Girls is to Kat Dennings; giving her the perfect medium to channel all her zany, quirky affectations into the zany, quirky Jess. The title refers to her status in her new living situation; the bro-zone, population : Nick, Schmidt and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr. where did he come from?). The boys provide the majority of ‘laughs’ bolstering Zooey’s entourage on her road to break-up recovery. Painfully average, fans of Deschanel rejoice; everyone else avoid at all costs.
#1.A Gifted Man
The Hook: Speaks Ghost
“How do we top House? He’s got that cane, that attitude, those quips, occasionally Olivia Wilde”
“Yeah but…Can he argue with ghosts?”
So there you have it, where else do we go with the medical procedural? Hotshot neuro-surgeon Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson) lives a swish life of fast cars, crisp suits and swiftly applied expert medicine until his ‘gift’ arrives in the form of a chance encounter with the ghost of his ex-wife Anna (Jennifer Ehle). Unsurprisingly, his life gets thrown into splendid disarray. The afterlife element doesn’t entirely succeed in differentiating A Gifted Man from the slew of medical procedurals that came before it but it on the whole it is a sleek, well performed, impressively executed piece, entirely deserving of your attention. And there’s ghosts in it.
By Daniel Hemsley