Let’s play a game, shall we? I’m going to go through the press release on CBS’ new 2013-14 primetime series, as pillaged from TV Line.com, and make some predictions on how I think they will do. Ready? Here goes.
Crazy Ones (Comedy)
EP | David E. Kelley (Harry’s Law, Ally McBeal)
DIRECTOR | Jason Winer (Modern Family)
CAST | Robin Williams (Mork & Mindy), James Wolk (Political Animals), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ringer), Hamish Linklater (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Amanda Setton (Mindy Project)
Log line: A father/daughter workplace comedy set in the world of advertising.
Prediction: So we’re getting a lighter hearted version of Mad Men, interesting. Buffy fans are going to go ape shit for this series because OMG BUFFY! ZOMFG! Meanwhile, Boomers will hail the return of Robin Williams to television. Williams won’t be quite as manic (or funny) as people would hope for, but he’ll be good enough to get the show picked up for a second season within nine episodes.
The Millers (Comedy)
EP | Greg Garcia (Raising Hope)
DIRECTOR | James Burrows
CAST | Will Arnett (Up All Night), Margo Martindale (The Americans), Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl), JB Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Mary Elizabeth Ellis (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Michael Rapaport (The Mob Doctor)
Log line: The multi-cam project revolves around a recently divorced man living with his parents.
Prediction: On paper, this should work. This is a talented cast with no shortage of Emmy pedigree. James Burrows has been directing smart TV comedies for longer than I’ve been alive. The problem, as I see it, is that ABC already beat CBS to the punch on this one with the dreadful Sarah Chalke comedy, How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life). The comparisons will be inevitable, and The Millers won’t do nearly as well as it would have under other circumstances. They’ll make it to the finish line of their first season, but not even a Will Arnett chicken dance will see it to a second season.
EPs | Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker (Two and a Half Men)
DIRECTOR | Pam Fryman (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Anna Faris (The House Bunny), Allison Janney (The West Wing), Nate Corddry (Harry’s Law), Matt Jones (Breaking Bad), French Stewart (3rd Rock From the Sun), Spencer Daniels (The Office), Sadie Calvano (J. Edgar), Blake Garrett Rosenthal
Log line: A newly sober single mom tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley in the multi-cam sitcom.
Prediction: French Stewart in a Chuck Lorre series? No good can come from this. I foresee maudlin pathos grabs in every episode, ultimately leading to “feel good” comedy. Despite the fact that anybody with half a brain will see through Mom as dim witted schmaltz, it will get picked up for a million seasons and become the new Two and a Half Men.
We Are Men (Comedy)
EP | Rob Greenberg (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Jerry O’Connell (The Defenders), Kal Penn (House), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Chris Smith (Paranormal Activity 3)
Log Line: A ditched groom moves into a short-term housing complex and makes friends with some older, divorced dudes in the single-cam sitcom.
Prediction: Brosplosion! Part of me, the very dark part that feeds on the misery of others, wants to watch Jerry O’Connell-Romijn sad-sack it up. Though there will be lots of potential for smart writing, I foresee a cloud of Kirk Van Houten oafishness and some wholesale misogyny poisoning the show for anybody who isn’t a bro. It will get cancelled before it has a chance to get to the back nine.
EPs | Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI), Rick Eid (CSI, Dark Blue)
CAST | Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story), Toni Collette (United States of Tara), Tate Donovan (Deception), Sandrine Holt (House of Cards), Rhys Coiro (Entourage), Billy Brown (The Following), James Naughton (Gossip Girl), Mateus Ward, Quinn Shephard
Log Line: Based upon the Israeli format, the project centers on a family caught in the middle of a grand political conspiracy and a righteous FBI agent at the center of said conspiracy whose role will come as a surprise.
Prediction: This sounds like a network equivalent to Homeland. The cast is solid. Moreover, Bruckheimer’s reputation as an EP speaks for itself. Where ABC tried and failed with smart, high-stakes geopolitical drama in Last Resort, I anticipate Hostages will pull back a bit and let the audience latch on to individual character conflicts rather than selling the politics outright. I think this one will finish its first season, and likely get picked up for a second, if only because it will attract a following from fans of CSI and The Practice.
EPs | Michael Seitzman, David Semel (No Ordinary Family), Tripp Vinson, Rene Echevarria (Terra Nova)
DIRECTOR | David Semel (No Ordinary Family)
CAST | Josh Holloway (Lost), Marg Helgenberger (CSI), Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time), Michael Rady (Emily Owens, M.D.), James Martinez (Breaking Bad), John Billingsley (True Blood)
Log line: Centered at US Cyber Command, and focuses on a unit that has been created around one agent with a very special gift, a microchip that has been implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
Prediction: Much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think the only show that remotely qualifies as SF in CBS’ lineup will make the cut. While I blame Brandon Braga for most of Terra Nova’s failures, Echevarria’s association will be something of a poison pill. Despite featuring that guy from Lost, the pitch sounds a lot like 24 meets The Six Million Dollar Man. Genre fans will give it a go but I doubt a man with (insert ray) vision will attract enough of a broad audience to lock down a second season, at least not when people can watch Person of Interest. CBS will try to ride it out, but I expect a quiet cancellation after the finale.
And there we have it. Now to sit back and bask in my prescience, or suffer the jeers of my readers when I get everything totally wrong. Tell you what, let’s make this interesting. If I don’t bat at least .500 on this one, I shall make some sort of act of contrition, to be named by my readers, on a future podcast. My fate is in your hands.