Pickup Buzz Builds in Advance of Upfronts
ABOUT THE SERIES: COMEDY
Premise: A widower wants to quit the family business and move to Arizona with his 13-year-old son, but gets pulled back when an accounting scandal freezes the family assets.
From What We've Seen: Too many characters, not enough interesting and human characters. Jason Bateman has enough smug charm to carry show and David Cross and Jeffrey Tambor are almost always hilarious, but this show will need to find a focus and some sort of through-line sensibility. Currently the humor is coming from all directions and missing frequently. Doesn't look as good as the comedy FOX has ready for a replacement, so may be in trouble. It mostly seems to be around because of the contributions of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
Stars: Jason Bateman, Portia De Rossi, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross
Studio: 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television
Producers: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer ("24"), David Nevins and Mitch Hurwitz ("The Ellen Show," "Golden Girls" )
Premise: The proud owner of a Spanish Harlem donut shop and the landlord of the building its in must deal with an eccentric cast of characters, including: an obnoxious elderly woman in a rent-controlled apartment, a delivery boy who swears he was a cardiologist back in China, a kid who harasses customers to buy items found in dumpster, his ex-wife and a daughter whose only flaw is her free-loading boyfriend.
From What We've Seen: Luis Guzman is essentially playing the off-kilter straight-man here, in a comedy that clearly aspires to a Norman Lear sensibility. The comic pacing is appealingly off-beat, with every joke aiming for a punchline and a counter-punchline, but currently too many seem to be missing. Guzman is always, without fail, worth watching, but it will be interesting to see if this show can press the right cultural buttons, without straying into easy, bland stereotypes.
Stars: Luis Guzman ("Boogie Nights" ), Jaclyn DeSantis, Diana-Maria Riva, Malcolm Barrett and Charlie Day
Studio: 20th Century Fox Television
Producers: Will Gluck ("The John Larroquette Show")
A Minute with Stan Hooper
Premise: A New York newsmagazine commentator moves to Wisconsin with his wife in search of small town life, only to quickly learn that it's not exactly what he's envisioned.
From What We've Seen: Last time Norm Macdonald did a show, it required several years of reworking and never properly gelled. This one looks doomed to a similar fate. The punchlines are played way too hard and the clips show that Penelope Ann Miller needs work on her comic timing. The advertisers were laughing their heads off at this one, suggesting that they share a sensibility with the laugh track.
Stars: Norm Macdonald ("Norm," "Saturday Night Live"), Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Lively, Reagan Dale Neis ("Maybe It's Me"), Brian Howe, Garret Dillahunt and Daniel Roebuck
Studio: Paramount Television
Producers: Lori Jo Hoeskstra, Barry Kemp ("Coach," "Newhart") and Norm Macdonald
Premise: Based on the British comedy "The Kumars at No. 42," this show blends, comedy, reality and improvisation. Hoping to encourage their young son's dream of being a talk show host, parents build a television studio in their backyard and invite celebrity guests into their home for snacks and a chat.
From What We've Seen: The clips from the first episode, featuring Denise Richards and Howie Mandel, are full of genuine laughs. The cast has an easy chemistry, which is crucial for the improv that drives this show. It may be a little too dependent of good guest stars to be successful, but it has potential to truly make NBC (which rejected the pilot) look foolish, particularly compared to the peacock network's sitcom choices.
Stars: Al Madrigal, Cheech Marin ("Nash Bridges"), Terri Hoyos and Renee Victor
Studio: Pariah and Hat Trick Productions
Producers: Wally Wolodarsky ("The Oblongs"), Gavin Polone ("Gilmore Girls"), Jimmy Mulville ("The Kumars at No. 42" ) and Denise O'Donoghue ("Whose Line Is It Anyway?")
ABOUT THE SERIES: DRAMA
Premise: Orange County, California, is an idyllic paradise -- a wealthy, harbor-front community where everything and everyone appears to be perfect. But beneath the surface is a world of shifting loyalties and identities, of kids living secret lives, hidden from their parents, and of parents living secret lives, hidden from their children.
From What We've Seen: Looks like "Beverley Hills, 90210" with a different zip code and more interesting adult characters. This may be the kind of guilty pleasure evening soap opera that "Pasadena" never got to be. The cast is uniformly attractive and solid and the production values seem high. A lot of the show will rely on unknown star Benjamin McKenzie and developing star Mischa Barton. If they lock with a young audience and Gallagher and Donovan get slightly older viewers, this one could work.
Stars: Peter Gallagher ("American Beauty" ), Benjamin McKenzie, Adam Brody ("Gilmore Girls"), Mischa Barton, Tate Donovan, Kelly Rowan, Melinda Clarke, Rachel Blison and Chris Carmack
Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Wonderland and Hypnotic
Producers: Doug Liman ("Go" ), McG ("Charlie's Angel," "Fastlane"), Davis Bartis and Josh Schwartz
Premise: Set against the backdrop of the adult film industry, two teens meet and fall in love, even as their warring families will do anything to keep them apart.
From What We've Seen: Overplays its connections to the Romeo and Juliet story, particularly the Baz Luhrman adaptation. Many of the shots in the clip reel are direct thefts from that film. FOX is already trying to downplay the pornography aspect of the story (the female teen's pop is an adult movie baron), which is a mistake, because without that kind of grit and detail, this is fairly straight-forward soap opera stuff. Ron Silver and Kevin Anderson are good enough actors that they can pull off even the most melodramatic moments, but the young stars will have a lot to prove.
Stars: Ron Silver, Kevin Anderson, D.J. Cotrona, Olivia Wilde, D.W. Moffett, Rachel Ticotin and Pamela Gidley
Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and Hoosier Karma Productions
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI," "Without a Trace"), Jonathan Littman and Jim Leonard ("Thieves")
Premise: A young woman learns that she can go back in time for one day to help the lives of both strangers and those close to her.
From What We've Seen: If you're sticking to a formula that mixes "Alias," "Groundhog Day" and a healthy dose of "C.S.I" style forensics, it sure helps to be able to put Eliza Dushku running, kicking and pouting in your reel. Production values look high and Dushku seems to be expanding her acting colors. It's a tough time slot, but it will offer something totally different from what the other networks are airing Thursdays at 8.
Stars: Eliza Dushku ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Shawn Reeves, Jessica Collins, A.J. Cook, Heath Freeman and Zach Galifianakis
Studio: 20th Century Fox and Original Television
Producers: Marty Adelstein, Neal Moritz, Dawn Parouse and Jon Feldman ("American Dreams," "Roswell," "Dawson's Creek")
ABOUT THE SERIES: MIDSEASON
Premise: The interactive Japanese show comes to America, inviting viewers to predict the outcome of funny and bizarre betting scenarios, such as: How long can someone shake a celebrity's hand before the star pulls away?, or Which Michael Jackson impersonator can moonwalk the fastest on an ice rink?
From What We've Seen: The clips are hilarious, mixing a Japanese game show sensibility with British-style humor. There's just something inherently funny about tying helium balloons to a chicken until it floats away and this show realizes that. There's also a competition where Todd Bridges and a dog compete to see who can dive into a pool and fetch a stick first. The show may frequently be on the wrong side of good taste, but it has cult potential.
Producers: Tim Breadin and Gary Monaghan
Cracking Up (Comedy)
Premise: An idealistic psychology student gets more than he bargained for when he moves into the guest house of a wealthy Beverly Hills family and must deal with each member who is crazier than the next.
From What We've Seen: Appears to be funnier than "Arrested Development" and it also seems to be a much better time-slot match with "Malcolm in the Middle." As you'd expect from Mike White, the punchlines come out of nowhere and the show mines a deep well of insanity that looks to be well played by Molly Shannon and Chris McDonald. This will probably be in FOX's schedule before too long.
Stars: Molly Shannon ("Saturday Night Live"), Chris McDonald, David Walton, Jake Sandvig, Caitlin Wachs ("Family Affair") and Nathan Norton
Studio: 20th Century Fox Television and Brad Grey Television
Producers: Mike White ("Pasadena"), Chris and Paul Weitz ("American Pie," "Off Centre") and Brad Grey
Still Life (Drama)
Premise: Following in his cop father's footsteps, a family's oldest son is murdered his first day on the job. Told from the dead man's point-of-view, the series picks up a year later as he watches over those he left behind from the other side of death as they reveal their true selves to him
From What We've Seen: There is a fine line between producing a mature, adult drama about family life and loss and making a mocking and exploitative drama about family life and loss. It's difficult to tell which way this one will go. Marti Noxon had a mixed track record with pathos on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and there are fans of that show who blame Noxon for the show's every misstep. Susanna Thompson and David Keith are underrated actors and Jensen Ackles seems set to break out among the teeniebopper set. The show's ability to succeed will be based entirely on how manipulative it tries to be.
Stars: Jensen Ackles ("Dark Angel"), David Keith, Susanna Thompson ("Once and Again"), Audrey Marie Anderson, Jeanette Brox and Morena Baccarin
Studio: 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television
Producers: Marty Adelstein, Neal Moritz, Kip Koenig, Dawn Parouse and Marti Noxon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer")
Premise: A twentysomething souvenir shop worker finds her life is changed forever when inanimate animal figures -- toys, cartoon images, etc. -- begin talking to her. Their cryptic messages set into motion a chain of events that invariably lead her into the lives of others.
From What We've Seen: The polar opposite of CBS' "Girl Talks to God" drama "Joan of Arcadia," finding quirky humor in the woman who begins to have conversations with inanimate objects. Caroline Dhavernes looks to be a real find and the rest of the cast also seems to have charm. However, "Wonderfalls" seems likely to be an acquired taste. The clip reel looked funny, though, and the Niagara Falls setting gives it an interesting geographic twist.
Stars: Caroline Dhavernes, Katie Finneran, Tyron Leitso, William Sadler ("John Doe"), Diana Scarwid and Adam Scott
Studio: 20th Century Fox Television and Regency Television
Producers: Bryan Fuller ("Star Trek: Voyager") and Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle")
What do you think about the new FOX schedule? What shows are you excited shows and what shows are you going to miss? Sound off on the Zap2it TV Boards with your thoughts
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