The beauty of upfronts week is that every new show has a chance to be a hit — particularly when, like FOX did on Monday, you present your lineup first and the cold realities of a competitive schedule haven't set in yet.
And, to be fair, a couple of FOX's new shows for next season look like they have a chance at success. Here's a quick rundown of the five new primetime shows not named "Glee" (for more expansive thoughts on that, you can read the review of the show).
"Brothers" (watch the trailer)
A traditional, live-audience sitcom with a former NFL player-turned-actor (Michael Strahan) at its center is probably not going to be the most subtle of shows, and "Brothers" is hardly that. Strahan seems to have some acting ability, though — or at least a good enough sense of where to use his athlete's charm and when to let the more experienced actors (Darryl "Chill" Mitchell, CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers) carry things. I'm a big fan of Pounder's because of "The Shield," and I've liked Mitchell in almost everything I've seen him, so I'll at least give it a look.
"The Cleveland Show" (watch the trailer)
I've never been the biggest "Family Guy" fan — its style is a little too hit-and-miss for me. But its spinoff "The Cleveland Show" looks like it's a little bit more grounded (at least as much as a show that co-stars a family of talking bears can be), and that could draw occasional "FG" viewers in for the long haul — which is a good thing, since FOX has already ordered 35 episodes of the show for the next two seasons. There's also enough of the off-the-wall "Family Guy" sensibility for the die-hards. It's probably the network's easiest bet for next season.
"Human Target" (watch the trailer)
Remember "Keen Eddie," the short-lived FOX show that starred Mark Valley and seemed to herald his arrival as a charismatic leading man? Well, after several TV roles that didn't give him a whole heck of a lot to play, "Human Target" puts Valley back in the "Keen Eddie" vein. That plus a world-weary Chi McBride, a creepy (of course) Jackie Earle Haley and lots of stuff blowing up adds up to what looks like tremendous fun. FOX must think so too, since it's getting a big opening following an NFL playoff game in January and a post-"American Idol" slot for its regular home.
"Past Life" (watch the trailer)
Hmm. This show is going to ask you to buy into the idea that some of us — or maybe all of us; it's hard to say — have been reincarnated, and when that causes problems, a team of investigators (led by relative newcomer Kelli Giddish) can guide you through the memories of a past life to solve those problems. Somehow that feels harder to accept than the spirits of "Ghost Whisperer" or the visions of "Medium," and although Giddish looks to be a promising actress, the premise is a little too much to overcome.
"Sons of Tucson" (watch the trailer)
Tyler Labine has often been the most alive part of "Reaper" for the past two seasons, and the character he plays here is, like Sock, a charming underachiever who is just skating by. His charm is going to have to go a long way to sell the show's off-the-wall premise, in which three rich kids hire Labine's character to pose as their father while real dad's in white-collar prison. The kids come off as a little one-dimensional in the trailer; it feels like a show that might take a few episodes to find its groove.
What do you think of the first looks at FOX's new shows?