The buzzword at the NBC Upfront on Monday (May 13) at Radio City Music Hall was “classy.”
NBC bosses Bob Greenblatt and Jennifer Salke used it to refer to their new dramas, their new showrunners, their whole 2013-2014 lineup. In order to achieve this classy new programming slate, Salke said, they emphasized law enforcement characters and procedural dramas, as opposed to the serialized fare like “Deception” and “Do No Harm,” which failed to find audiences this year.
“The Blacklist,” starring James Spader as Red, a criminal mastermind whose face is plastered on “wanted” ads all over the city, is first up, set to air in the network’s prime spot following “The Voice” on Monday nights. Red turns himself in to the FBI because he needs their help to take down another dangerous criminal element — in fact, he’s got an entire list of bad guys he’s willing to help the cops eliminate. With one caveat, of course… he’ll only work with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a first-year profiler with no known association with him. The series has shades of “Hannibal” (minus the people-eating, which we’re not sure counts as classy), with a procedural, bad-guy-of-the-week element.
There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and as we wait for news as to whether “Hannibal” will be picked up, it even seems a bit redundant to NBC. Still, there’s no denying that Spader is a compelling actor and that high-action procedurals have been successful for NBC in the long term. We’ll definitely be tuning in for the pilot, though on a night as packed as Mondays, it might be relegated to the end of our DVR list.
Blair Underwood stars in “Ironside,” a remake of the ’60s TV series starring Raymond Burr. Underwood’s Ironside is a tough, bristly detective (think Dr. House, minus the jokes and the pain meds, plus a gun) who is relegated to a wheelchair after being shot. Ads for the show tout its “unique perspective,” and they mean that literally — sometimes Ironside catches things other cops don’t due to his lower-to-the-ground vantage point. Like “The Blacklist,” the biggest thing “Ironside” has going for it is its lead star. We’re just not sure how many seriously-he’s-really-good-even-though-he’s-in-a-wheelchair moments can happen before we get tired of them go looking for a new schtick. Just from the trailer, the show (and the character) seem determined to prove that his “disability” is a non-issue, and… we believe him. There’s no need to keep proving it.
NBC has been looking for a fun genre show to pair with “Grimm” on Friday nights, and they’ve found it with “Dracula.” Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Alexander Grayson — the titular iconic vampire — the series is a supernatural period piece from the team behind “Downton Abbey.” The trailer is packed with super-sexy imagery (but classy, guys, still classy — you can tell by their fancy old-timey costumes) and tantalizing phrases like “empire of lies” and “love is his obsession.” Salke teased the show by telling us, “Vampires never seem to get old,” and while that’s literally true, we’re not sure it’s true the way she meant it. Did TV really need another vampire show, particularly one on a broadcast network where things can get sexy, but not too sexy? We’re intrigued by the flashback moments in this promo trailer more than anything else.