During last week's annual television upfronts, the broadcast networks unveiled their upcoming fall slate, hoping to entice advertisers to spend even more money. The biggest trends for the 2017–18 television season are also the most expected: familiarity (nostalgic revivals of classics; spinoffs of popular hits), good ol' fashioned patriotism (CBS, NBC, and the CW each have a military drama), and a gross number of series led by men—especially white men.
Sure, there are some promising previews, but what's even better are all the terrible shows that I am definitely, but regretfully, going to watch:
Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS)
Wisdom of the Crowd immediately has two strikes against it: an awful title, and Jeremy Piven. Even though this one's a remake of an Israeli show, the premise still sounds like a Silicon Valley joke gone wrong. Piven plays a tech innovator who creates a "real-time, crowdsourced, crime-solving" app to solve his daughter's murder. The police aren't happy, until people use it to use to solve other murders—presumably, a new one each week; since CBS can't have a drama without procedural elements. The problem is that it's hard to take Piven seriously, both when he's smarmily walking and talking about ridiculous technology and when he's grieving over his daughter. I doubt I'll care about the central mystery, but I'll watch to see standalone crimes solved in super tech-savvy ways (Taking a photo? Tweeting a location? Innovation!).
The only thing I love more than excruciatingly benign CBS dramas are excruciatingly unfunny CBS sitcoms—so 9JKL is right up my alley. Inspired by the harrowing time Mark Feuerstein lived in a beautiful apartment with a balcony, 9JKL dares to ask the question, "Doesn't it suck when your family loves you?" It promises hijinks with an overbearing mom who doesn't understand boundaries, "dirty" jokes involving parents, and classic mix-ups—like accidentally drinking breast milk!
Deception is about a magician who helps the FBI(!). It's basically the exact formula of The Mentalist (a psychic who helps the FBI), and Castle (a novelist who helps the FBI), and White Collar (a con artist who helps the FBI). It's also the show I'm most excited for, if only because it looks like Now You See Me as an ABC procedural. It will certainly be utterly predictable—the FBI will resent the magician, but realize they need him; he'll routinely sexually harass the hot female agent who hates magic, and they'll end up together by the fourth season; and the magician will almost definitely have some sort of dark secret lurking underneath the flashy tricks. There's a reason why shows like this last so long: They're dumb, but they're fun.
The Resident (FOX)
If I had to personally rank mindless work dramas to watch while folding laundry, medical procedurals are in second place (after police, but before legal). So The Resident should be an exciting premiere, but it's not clear what the idea behind it is. Is it about a heartless, House-esque psychopath resident (Matt Czurchy) whose unconventional methods are excused by the fact that he gets the job done? Or is it about how often doctors accidentally kill their patients and cover it up with medical jargon? If it's the latter, I'm in. If it's the former… well, I'm also in, but I won't be as happy to hatewatch.
Sadly—and, for CBS, embarrassingly—the most notable part of S.W.A.T. is that it's the only series on the network's upcoming slate that boasts a black lead. A reboot of the 1975 series (which already gave us an underrated film), S.W.A.T. stars Shemar Moore, a fantastic and compelling actor who seems to unfortunately be stuck adding diversity to humorless CBS's procedurals (he was last seen on Criminal Minds). Moore is a S.W.A.T. (this is already tedious to type) lieutenant working in his hometown; the series kicks off with the accidental shooting of a young black boy, prompting Moore to be constantly stuck in a moral conundrum between blue and black, the squad and the streets. It's easy to imagine this show running out of steam (or putting out some truly offensive episodes), but I'll angrily watch until it's canceled.
Alex, Inc. (ABC)
Even if, somehow, you can get past the fact that Alex, Inc. has Zach Braff written all over it (he's the star, director, and executive producer), it's hard to find any charm in this empty sitcom. In Alex, Inc., Braff plays the titular radio journalist who quits his job to start a… podcast company? I think? I'm not exactly sure what the company is. But it seems like one of those shows where the kids are oh-so-weird, and the wife is reluctantly supportive but just too practical to get Alex's whimsical dreams of risking his family's money to… change the podcast world? Who knows! What I do know is that television doesn't need any more comedies about white Silicon Valley dudes. Even with my tolerance for shitty sitcoms, I might not make it the whole season.
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Just when you thought NBC had completely given up on Law & Order franchise entries in favor of the Chicago _____ franchise, Dick Wolf swoops back in with Law & Order True Crime, an obviously on-trend new chapter. Focusing on the Menendez brothers—who took over Court TV and became one of the earliest true crime in real-time sensations—is a smart choice, but it's tough to see this series working well in the long run. One of the reasons why the other L&O shows work is because they make it a point to avoid true crime and instead casually rip stories from the headlines, allowing the show to take bizarre and often unintentionally funny liberties with true stories. True Crime, which is already arriving too late in the crowded true crime landscape, will likely be too straightforward and serious—but you're lying to yourself if you think you won't tune in.
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