This fall, CBS will launch four new series that hope to blend familiar formulas with fresh, modern twists. Some of its series have already begun to generate impressive buzz.
With “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” anchoring their spot at the top of the reality game, CBS chose to focus on scripted television, introducing two half-hour sitcoms and three hour-long dramas.
The dramas may err on the side of caution. All three new shows — “Blue Bloods,” “The Defenders,” and “Hawaii Five-0” are grounded in the legal system, whether the protagonists are police officers or lawyers. Cop shows are always relevant, but do we really need more of them?
On the other hand, CBS is taking some risks with its comedies. Already home to some of the most beloved comedies on television, like “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “How I Met Your Mother,” the network has chosen two highly unconventional shows to complete its fall line-up. “$#*! My Dad Says” is not only the first TV show adapted from a Twitter feed, but it’s also the first network show whose name can not be spoken on-air. “Mike & Molly” is a fun rom-com about two very overweight lovebirds.
Zap2it checked out previews of the series at the CBS Network Upfronts in NYC on May 19. Here are our first impressions.
Out of all the dramas presented by CBS, this is the one we find most intriguing. Today’s cop show tends to focus on the workplace, only giving us glimpses of our characters’ families when they’re relevant to the case. “Blue Bloods,” however, seeks to show viewers the police force through the unique perspective of a multi-generational family of dedicated NYPD officers. Tom Selleck is as compelling as ever in the glimpse we got, but we couldn’t help but focus on Donnie Wahlberg’s character, a detective, and Selleck’s son. Wahlberg’s character was unapologetically violent, to the point where we wanted to turn our heads as he smashed a perp’s face into a toilet seat. This is definitely where it belongs in the Friday night 10 p.m. timeslot. We’ll definitely be tuning into this one, because while the brutality makes us squeamish, we’re interested to see if it can maintain a balance between a character-driven show and a typical cop procedural.
If Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi don’t exactly scream “serious courtroom drama” to you, don’t worry. “The Defenders,” which is set in Vegas, has exactly as much comedy as you’d expect from these two. Their characters, criminal defense lawyers, navigate the often blurry line between right and wrong with an impressive repertoire of witty insults and slapstick moments. “It’s told through the eyes of these two guys who are, uh… they’re crazy,” O’Connell says in the preview. We don’t doubt it. Still, in order to keep us engaged, there will have to be some heart amidst all that Belushi-brand humor.
When we first found out that Alex O’Loughlin had signed on to this “Hawaii Five-0” remake — or “reboot” as CBS insists we refer to it — we groaned. “Hawaii Five-0” was cheesy when it peaked in the ’70s, and we weren’t sure that any amount of rebooting could make it relevant. That said, we’ll try anything once, especially for Alex O’Louglin. There’s some potential here. The series plays to nostalgia a bit: the theme song is still familiar, and O’Loughlin’s character did say, “Book ’em, Danno!” in the teaser. The rest of the show definitely got a facelift, though. The stunts are fantastic, the setting is beautiful, and there are a bunch of hot girls kicking butt in bikinis. Every 14-year-old boy on the planet is going to love this show… and the rest of us might, too.
“$#*! My Dad Says”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, William Shatner is back. Once again, he’s breaking new ground as the lead in a show whose name you’re not even allowed to say on air (or, for that matter, on Zap2it.com). The preview that we got to see did have some laugh-out-loud moments. We particularly chuckled when Shatner said sincerely, “I’m sorry I was rude to you. You seem like a very nice homosexual.” And again, when he scoffed, “The house is clean enough! We didn’t accidentally kill a hooker; we had dinner.” Still, part of what’s funny about the twitter feed this comedy is based on (click at your own risk; coarse language lies beyond the link!) is the lack of context for some of the tweets. When a joke is clearly set-up and we’re waiting on the punch line, it sometimes lacks… well, punch.
“Mike & Molly”
This comedy comes from Chuck Lorre, who is at the wheel of two little shows you may be familiar with: “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory.” We’d be tuning in just based on his track record alone, but this series seems genuinely engaging even without the Lorre name behind it. Mike (Billy Gardell) is a cop who meets Molly (“Gilmore Girls” Melissa McCarthy), a school teacher, at an over-eaters anonymous meeting. While their love story is sweet, hopeful, and refreshing, we’re most looking forward to seeing what comes next from Mike’s partner, Carl (Reno Wilson). He had some of the best lines in the preview, including, “That’s not a meal! That’s suicide with meatball bullets,” and “Jesus, it’s like hugging a futon.” Is America too sensitive for a show that’s chock-full of fat jokes? We sure hope not.
Photo credit: CBS