NBC announced their new fall shows over the weekend, and fortunate reporters got to screen clips and some shows in full during the network's Upfronts ceremonies, held in New York City. Though I have not returned to the wormy, mealy Big Apple to attend such an event, I was still granted the opportunity to take a look at what's to come, in order to offer you my five cents. But if you don't want to just take my word for it, take a look at the clips below and judge for yourselves.
Perfect Couples depicts the mid-season misadventures of three engaging couples as they struggle to find out what makes the ideal relationship...and how to maintain it through humorous trial-and-error. The series explores young couples that are comprised of Kyle Howard and Christine Woods, David Walton and improv genius Mary Elizabeth Ellis, and Hayes MacArthur and Olivia Munn as they subtly compete for the "perfect" relationship without destroying each other, and their friendship, in the process. Execs from Friends and 30 Rock helm this show, with direction from The New Adventures of Old Christine's Andy Ackerman. Thankfully, this smart comedy is being held until the mid-season, when it has a real shot at finding an audience and a marketing campaign instead of getting lost in the riffraff craziness of the full push.
See a clip of Perfect Couples here.
Outsourced is a broad, exploitational sitcom where the Midwest meets the exotic East in a stereotypical culture clash. The series centers on the all-American company that sells gag gifts, and whose call center has suddenly been outsourced to India. Todd Dempsy (TV newcomer Ben Rappaport) is the new company's manager, who learns that he's being transferred to India to run the operation. Overwhelmed, Todd discovers that his new staff needs a crash course in all things American if they are to understand the U.S. product line and ramp up sales from halfway around the world. Enter expected mispronunciation misunderstandings and mishaps. Those who just want something they can zone out to might chuckle over this uninspired production.
See a clip of Outsourced here.
The Paul Reiser Show is yet another mid-season new single-camera comedy from once NBC star Paul Reiser, attempting his own "Comeback" of sorts as...Paul Reiser. Like Men of a Certain Age, but based on happenings from the actor-author-producer's own life, this show focuses on friendships over the age of forty and what to fill one's days with after one has achieved greatness. After all of these years, Reiser is still quick-witted and sharp-tongued, but unfortunately his version of a mid-life crisis is not all that relatable, as especially in these tough economic times, most Americans can't just go out and do anything they want.
See a clip of The Paul Reiser Show here.
One more time for the cheap seats in the back! Mid-season (may) bring Friends with Benefits, a romantic comedy as transparent as its title. The characters, each of whom have a casual stance when it comes to relationships and sex, would be fresh and witty-- if this was the mid-nineties. But in the days of televised threesomes and swapping-partners on youth-friendly CW shows, nothing about this one seems anything but "been-there-done-that-so-what?" From Brian Grazer, this is a half-hour comedy revolving around a group of twenty-something singles as they navigate the difficult, and often confusing, world of dating. Ben (Ryan Hansen) is on the hunt for the perfect woman who meets his unique set of standards, while his best friend, Sara (Danneel Harris), is just looking for a man to settle down with and raise a family. Ben and Sara have fallen into the habit of turning to each other for moral and physical support as they wait for Mr. and Ms. Right to arrive. The pilot's comedy is too broad and too stale, and it has already leaked that the third lead (Fran Krantz) has to be recast, so unfortunately all signs point to failure. I'm sorry Harris-- or, should I say, the new Mrs. Ackles-- has to forgo a honeymoon to be in New York to present this mess!
See a clip of Friends with Benefits here.
Love Bites (Working Title) is a new one-hour comedy series from Cindy Chupack that features three loosely connected, modern stories of love, sex, marriage and dating. Each episode of the series is set to contain multiple vignettes, all illuminating the theme of love with a so-called edgy, irreverent spin. Think that sounds revolutionary? It's not! Becki Newton stars as Annie and Jordana Spiro stars as Frannie, the last two single girls standing after all of their friends get married, whose story anchors the series, while other romantically-challenged characters will come and go each week. The pilot's guest cast includes a veritable who's-who of television today, including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Greg Grunberg, Craig Robinson, Jason Lewis, Lindsay Price, Larry Wilmore, Pamela Adlon, and Kyle Howard. It shows potential-- both for its names and for its unique style. Unfortunately, though, so far it is trying too hard to be Sex and the City flashy, and therefore doesn't feel as unique as the style implies.
See a clip of Love Bites here.
Thankfully for NBC, its returning Thursday night comedies are still as strong as ever, so the network has something on which to fall back! Disagree with any of my assessments? Leave your thoughts in the comments!