It’s once again time to annihilate—I mean evaluate all the fun fall TV pilots that were on display at the Upfront presentations last week. It’s the time when networks get to preview their brightest and dumbest TV shows for media and advertisers and, thanks to the internet, we get to see and pan them as well.
The 2018 pilot lineup (for the fall and winter season) makes it clear that the Trump era of television is upon us. We’ve got shows targeted to *buzzword buzzword* *middle American working class families*, as well as shows about the power of religion, the usual medical and cop dramas, and lots of laugh tracks, which I still can’t believe are back.
(All plot “premise” summaries are pulled from the networks’ official sites and/or YouTube pages.)
Premise: “When Flight 828 lands in New York after a turbulent but routine flight, all 191 souls on board are astonished to discover they’ve been missing for five years, their friends and families moved on without them, and their lives will never be the same.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Doubtful.
A revealing line from the trailer: “You’ve all been missing, presumed dead for five-and-a-half years.”
My review: I’ve needed a good plane-related show ever since everybody on Lost died, so this concept intrigues me, except it’s not a frustrating, complex enigma like Lost. These missing people will have to readjust to their loved ones having moved on without them, which means it’s definitely going for This Is Us-level maximum crybaby emotion.
Should you watch? Pass.
Premise: “A high-octane, hour-long action dramedy that follows the adventures of tough but tender FBI super-agent Will Chase (codename: “Whiskey Cavalier”), played by Scott Foley.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Jake from Scandal, Tyler James Williams, The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan
A revealing line from the trailer: “Lotta sexual tension in the car.”
My review: The award for worst title of the bunch (on the heels of last year’s Jeremy Piven vehicle, Wisdom of the Crowd) goes to this show, in which Scott Foley again plays a government agent. He appears to offer a healthy dose of charm and humor.
Should you watch? Yes, for zaddy Jake.
Premise: “THE PASSAGE focuses on Project Noah, a secret medical facility where scientists are experimenting with a dangerous virus that could lead to the cure for all disease, but also carries the potential to wipe out the human race.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Zack Morris!
A revealing line from the trailer: “He’s immune to disease, lethal, and ugly as hell.”
My review: Ah, science. It could be good, it could be bad, right? I feel greatly attracted to this, since I’m into movies and shows about viruses that could wipe out the world—or save it! (À la Contagion.) This seems sad, sinister, and possibly gripping.
Should you watch? Yeah. Would love to see Zack Morris fighting viruses.
Premise: “A humorous, uplifting drama about Miles Finer, an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him”
Anyone in it that I care about? Brandon Micheal Hall from The Mayor and Search Party
A revealing line from the trailer: “Call 911!”
My review: We already know God is prob lurking on social media as we speak, so why not make a show about it? Hall could be funny enough to carry this.
Should you watch? Yes, thou shall.
Premise: “A multi-camera comedy about a rag-tag group of friends living in a retirement community who are willing to break every rule in order to have fun—because, at their age, what do they really have to lose?”
Anyone in it that I care about? Ummmm...
A revealing line from the trailer: “Who are you guys? The cool kids?”
My review: Okay, this looks incredibly goofy, but it is a show about old people—the most delightful demographic in the world.
Should you watch? One episode and that’s it.
Premise: “Set in the 1970s, this ensemble comedy follows a traditional Irish-Catholic family, the Clearys, as they navigate big and small changes during one of America’s most turbulent decades.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Not seeing anyone...
A revealing line from the trailer: “That’s phony news!”
My review: They say the kids are alright and yet they’re eating tide pods!! The redhead kid on this show seems more likable than most TV children. Still, this show seems packaged for people who voted a 250-year-old pumpkin into office—there’s even mention of the times being “tense and divisive.” I couldn’t tolerate it.
Should you watch? I suggest resisting.
Premise: “Starting over isn’t easy, especially for small-town guy John Nolan who, after a life-altering incident, is pursuing his dream of being an LAPD officer. As the force’s oldest rookie, he’s met with skepticism from some higher-ups who see him as just a walking midlife crisis.”
Anyone in it that I care about? If you’re not a Castle or Firefly head, you recognize his face, but don’t know his name. (It’s Nathan Fillion.)
A revealing line from the trailer: “You were really...brave.”
My review: Rarely is there a cop show that engrosses me enough to invest in it, so if it’s not New York Undercover, I don’t want it.
Should you watch? Nah.
Premise: “Inspired by Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in America, this unique medical drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the institution’s newest medical director who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Maybe.
A revealing line from the trailer: “Ebola.”
My review: Who doesn’t love a doctor who aims to “tear up the bureaucracy”? HOUSE, anyone???
Should you watch? I won’t, but you should.
Premise: “Continuing the legacy of its predecessors, COSMOS: POSSIBLE WORLDS will translate the revelations of science into a lavishly transporting experience, taking audiences on a series of spiritual voyages of exploration.”
Anyone in it that I care about? DAD.
A revealing line from the trailer: “If you want to know how matter was turned into consciousness, you have to go all the way back to the beginning of our world.”
My review: This is exactly what I need in my life.
Should you watch? Absolutely, you geek.
Premise: “Attorney and author Marcia Clark co-writes and executive produces a new legal drama about Maya Travis, an L.A. district attorney who suffers a devastating defeat when prosecuting an A-list actor for double murder.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Robin Tunney. Robin Givens!
A revealing line from the trailer: “He did it again.”
My review: Um, on this show a black movie star gets off for the stabbing murder of his ex-wife, and the prosecutor MAYA steps up after he allegedly murders again. Sound familiar? Kinda sounds like Marcia Clark playing out a fantastical revenge fantasy? Marcia Clark is savage.
Should you watch? Yes, with popcorn.
Premise: “Emet is the perfect mom, boss, wife, friend and daughter. Okay, she’s not perfect, but figuring it out like the rest of us. Nobody can have it all and do it perfectly. Emet’s just going to have to learn to be perfectly okay with being imperfect.”
Anyone in it that I care about? If you know Sarayu Blue
A revealing line from the trailer: “Oh my god, is he motor-boating her?”
My review: Although the “Men. Amirite?” “Women. Amirite?” conceit could get tired quickly, I’m betting on the lead Sarayu Blue to at least make the comedy sharp and charming. “Hel-lo, diversity!” an NBC exec screamed into the ether when they saw this.
Should you watch? Sure, check it out.
Premise: “They say friendship isn’t one big thing, it’s a million little things; and that’s true for a group of friends from Boston who bonded under unexpected circumstances.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Berger from Sex and the City, Romany Malco
A revealing line from the trailer: “You’re not gonna believe this.”
My review: As opposed to the usual situational comedy about friends that takes place around an ugly couch, this is a dark shot of realism that focuses on how a group of friends cope with loss and depression.
Should you watch? If your heart is up for it. Mine isn’t.
Premise: “As we move toward the series’ 30th anniversary, the revival will offer fans a look at how Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) tackles the current state of cable news, clickbait, and a very different political and cultural climate.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Candice Bergen and the others
A revealing line from the trailer: “It’s our civic duty.”
My review: I liked the original Murphy Brown just fine and highly doubt I can watch an entire show that mirrors our real-life political media landscape.
Should you watch? Nope.
Premise: “Here’s a comedy about what happens when the friendliest guy in the Midwest moves his family (the Johnsons) to a neighborhood in Los Angeles where not everyone looks like him—or appreciates his extreme neighborliness.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Tischina Arnold, Cedric the Entertainer
A revealing line from the trailer: “That lil boy name is Grover Johnson.”
My review: The whole concept is black people being amused with the idea of what looks to be a very white family moving into their neighborhood. Oops, there goes the neighborhood getting gentrified by white people who will surely ruin everything. Although I love the idea of a show about white people-ing (also, Tischina Arnold is a gem), this is a sitcom with a laugh track and I didn’t find myself laughing much, so I don’t know.
Should you watch? Once, and go from there.
Premise: “A comedy about a 30-something happily married couple who begin to reconnect with their younger, cooler selves when Cooper (Felix Mallard), an exuberant young pop star drawn to their super ordinary suburban life, unexpectedly moves in with them.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Damon Wayans Jr., Amber Stevens West
A revealing line from the trailer: “Are we too lame to be here?”
My review: This looks cute enough, plus the presence of Damon Wayans Jr. leads me to believe the ridiculous jokes and pop culture references will land, not to mention there’s a clueless sexy pop star in it.
Should you watch? Yeah.
Premise: “Based on the life of Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out,” “Insecure,” “The Carmichael Show”), REL is a multi-camera comedy starring Howery as a loving husband and father living on the West Side of Chicago, who finds out his wife is having an affair. And not just any affair. An affair with Rel’s own barber.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Rel and freaking Sinbad
A revealing line from the trailer: “Rel, I love those kicks.”
My review: This is a show that’s basically Rel making jokes. Picture his character in Get Out but on a sitcom.
Should you watch? For sure.
Premise: “This ensemble comedy follows a group of single parents as they lean on each other to help raise their 7-year-old kids and maintain some kind of personal lives outside of parenthood.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Taran Killam, Leighton Meester
A revealing line from the trailer: “Your pants are making my baby cry.”
My review: This is another show centered around a group of friends that doesn’t take place around an old dusty couch. It’s hitting on several cylinders: the parenting angle, the single and dating angle, and the kids angle.
Should you watch? Give it a shot.
Premise: “This is a modern take on the classic series and stars Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator in Hawaii.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Yes. The Happy Endings guy
A revealing line from the trailer: “Go home, Magnum.”
My review: Never watched Magnum P.I. personally, but apparently Magnum is a person? What I want to say is stop 👏🏾reviving 👏🏾these 👏🏾old shows. But then I saw That Hot Guy and the dude from Happy Endings and thought maybe this will work.
Should you watch? Maybe.
Premise: “Eva Longoria executive produces this bold, provocative drama set at the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Eva Longoria and a bunch of sexy people
A revealing line from the trailer: “You look tired.”
My review: This runs deep on the soap opera spectrum, which means lots of melodrama, gossip and secrets, something like a hotel-set version of Empire.
Should you watch? Wine not.
Premise: “A fast-paced drama about the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Nope.
A revealing line from the trailer: “Evacuate this building.”
My review: Do you feel like watching another show about the FBI?
Should you watch? No thanks.
Premise: It’s a remake of Charmed for CW.
Anyone in it that I care about? That chick
A revealing line from the trailer: “Wait, so I’m a witch?”
My review: This Charmed reboot is leaning hard into inclusion and feminism. Even though I never watched the original, from the outside it seemed like a fun spooky time. These girls are using their witch powers to try to solve the mystery of who killed their mom.
Should you watch? I dunno.
Premise: “Spencer James is a rising high school football player and A student at South Crenshaw High. Compton is the place he calls home. But when Beverly High School’s football coach Billy Baker recruits him to join his team in Beverly Hills, Spencer’s mother, Grace, and his best friend, Coop, convince Spencer it’s an opportunity he has to seize.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Our friend Taye Diggs
A revealing line from the trailer: “You wouldn’t know a damn Crip walk if it hit you in ya white ass.”
My review: Hmm, a football show. Is this like Friday Night Lights? Lotta sexy people with nice bodies in this (it is CW), and I do like a good sports drama; however, I know I won’t make time for this.
Should you watch? You know you won’t either.
Premise: “PROVEN INNOCENT follows an underdog criminal defense firm led by MADELINE SCOTT, a fierce and uncompromising lawyer with a hunger for justice. There is no one who understands the power of setting an innocent person free more than Madeline.”
Anyone in it that I care about? Don’t think so.
A revealing line from the trailer: “No, please!”
My review: The first 25 seconds had me like goodbye.
Should you watch? Pass.