If New York City seems extra jam-packed with television stars this week, it’s because the TV network Upfronts kicked off Monday morning at Radio City Music Hall, where from NBC‘s new and returning series hit the red carpet and ad execs (and television reporters) got a first look at next season’s TV.
NBC has never been known for its dramas, with the exception, perhaps, of the “Law & Order” franchise, and in the 2012-2013 season, president Bob Greenblatt does say that the network is continuing its focus on comedy. Still, they have plugged dramas into some of their most coveted timeslots in the hopes that they can expand the reach of the network beyond the comedy scope.
Whether they’ll be successful in that remains to be seen — but in the meantime, here are our first impressions of their fall TV Drama lineup.
“Revolution”: President of NBC Entertainment Jennifer Salke says that when choosing drama, she and Greenblatt looked for “great, undeniable shows,” that are “bold and attention getting.” By plugging “Revolution” into the post-“The Voice” spot on Monday nights, they’re displaying some major confidence in the action drama from J.J. Abrams and “Supernatural” creator Eric Kripke.
The show explores a post-apocalyptic world 15 years after technology has failed. If there’s one thing that “Supernatural” fans know, it’s that Kripke has an ability to strike a match with a family tragedy and use it to fuel an epic adventure. The “help me save my brother, or get out of my way” theme is one he understands, and if the complicated mythology doesn’t get too “Lost” — pun intended — he and Abrams could have a hit on their hands. With a strong cast and some ver stunning visuals, the show that Salke calls “dangerous and uplifting” is NBC’s strongest drama offering. We’ll certainly be watching on Monday nights.
“Chicago Fire”: From “Law & Order” legend Dick Wolf comes this drama about Chicago Firehouse 55, starring “House” star Jesse Spencer and super-hot “Vampire Diaries” alum Taylor Kinney as firemen caught in a tense rivalry after the loss of a beloved member of their team. While NBC is surely targeting a male demographic here, the show certainly isn’t short on eye candy — Kinney isn’t shy about getting shirtless (or shower scenes) and even without his accent, Spencer is as endearing as ever. The truly compelling aspect of the show, we expect, will be the rise and fall of the romance between these two men, who function essentially as brothers within the family of the firehouse.
“Do No Harm”: At mid-season, NBC is introducing a character they’re referring to as “Jekyll and House.” Steven Pasquale stars as a brilliant neurosurgeon who suffers from a condition — for ten hours every night, he transforms into an evil alternate version of himself. Though he’s kept his alter-ego in submission for five years with a heavy medication that his friend refers to as his “nightly coma,” he’s developed a tolerance to the drug, and increased dosage would kill him. The show is very dark — implications of rape and other violent assault pepper the preview — and we get a sense that it will only get more brutal as we dig into our anti-hero’s terrifying past. We love what we’ve seen so far, but we have some concerns that like NBC’s more recent high-concept material — namely “Awake” — it will prove too complicated to appeal to more casual viewers.
“Infamous”: This year, viewers and critics loved “Revenge,” ABC’s drama that managed a graceful balancing act between suds and suspense. “Infamous” is NBC’s answer to that. Like “Revenge,” it focuses on a wealthy family with some very dark secrets. Meagan Good plays the daughter of their former maid. She’s now a detective, and she returns to the family she grew up with on an undercover assignment seeking information about the death of their daughter who was her best friend growing up. The father of the troubled heiress emerges as a potential suspect in her forced overdose. Meanwhile, Good’s character is occasionally distracted from her case by the revival of an old romance. It’s extremely familiar territory for those who watch “Revenge,” but we’re willing to tread that ground more than once a week if NBC can strike that precarious balance the way that “Revenge” did. Salke expects Good to be a breakout star in what she calls a “classic soap with a bit of a Hitchcockian twist.” We’ll bite when the show premieres at mid-season.
NBC has commissioned three additional shows to premiere at mid-season. “Crossbones” explores the true legend of the pirate Blackbeard and the island nation that he founded, which was said to be more “civil” than the British empire at the time. “Hannibal” is a new look at an old villain. Though the actor playing Hannibal Lecter himself has yet to be announced, Hugh Dancy will play detective Will Graham, whose complicated relationship with the sociopathic serial killer will be the focus of the series. Finally, Eddie Izzard stars in “Mockingbird Lane,” which NBC promises “won’t be your mother’s ‘Munsters.'” His portrayal of the grandfather is said to be a very different spin on the one that we saw in the classic TV show.
Which do you think you’ll check out later this year? Weigh in on your potential favorites in the comments section below.