The Future of US TV – NBC

Last week while we weren’t at Cannes, America’s big networks unveiled the shows they will be launching this Autumn. Some will be cancelled after a handful of episodes and others will run for years and years. Either way they will trickle through to the UK, filling up the endless digital channels and providing an alternative to yet more Two Pints of Lager. Every day this week we’ll look at each network’s new shows to prepare you for your channel hopping future.

Today we begin with NBC, currently with a strong comedy block made up of Community, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and The Office. With only a few successful dramas they have gone mad with the new shows.

The Playboy Club
What it is: Amber Heard stars as a naïve young woman working in the Playboy Club in the sixties. After some flirting with a weak Don Draper imitation she accidentally kills a very dangerous man.
Our verdict: The Mad Men vibe is hard to resist, as is Amber Heard, but a TV series set in the Playboy Club shown on a channel that can’t have swearing or nudity is an odd concept.
On the digibox: Probably Sky One or Sky Atlantic, this mainstream Mad Men won’t get lost in the higher channels.

Up All Night
What it is: Christina Applegate and Will Arnett are a couple adjusting to life with a baby. Like a single camera Mad About You.
Our verdict: The video below isn’t too inspiring but there’s plenty of comedy pedigree on board. Worth a look, at least before it gets cancelled halfway through the second season.
On the digibox: E4 or Comedy Central. Maybe Five at a push.

Free Agents
What it is: Remake of the underrated Channel 4 sitcom, with Hank Azaria replacing Stephen Mangan as a man in crisis after the breakdown of his marriage. Anthony Head (a Mild Concern favourite) reprises his role as the overly sexual boss.
Our verdict: We liked the original and this remake looks like it understands what it’s doing. Plus, who can say no to Anthony Head? Unless it’s Merlin of course.
On the digibox: Channel 4 or E4, it’s their bastard child after all.

Prime Suspect
What it is: A very American remake of Helen Mirren’s iconic crime series, but with infinitely more episodes.
Our verdict: It looks like it’s trying a bit too hard to be gritty. They lost me at the gun in the taxi.
On the digibox: ITV1,2 or 4. Another UK remake that may stay close to home.

Whitney
What it is: A “unique” pair bring a “hilarious” perspective to life as a couple.
Our verdict: Painful. Studio audience comedies are starting to feel very dated. Each line is delivered a bit too forcibly.
On the digibox: Nowhere I’d hope. FX perhaps?

Grimm
What it is: Just as Buffy was destined to slay vampires, a modern-day Grimm is destined to fight the supernatural forces that inspire classic fairy tales.
Our verdict: Definitely worth a look, Buffy meets Supernatural is essentially Supernatural.
On the digibox: ITV2? Sky if it gets enough buzz.

Smash
What it is: A drama about the production of a stage musical. Fame meets Glee via Studio 60. Stars Jack Davenport, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston.
Our verdict: As a sucker for anything involving the behinds the scenes of anything involving scenes, I can’t not watch a few.
On the digibox: E4? They’re about to lose Glee, Ugly Betty is over and Desperate Housewives is looking desperate.

Awake
What it is: Jason Issacs is a cop whose wife and son get in a car accident. In one reality his son is dead, in the other his wife is the deceased. Isaacs moves between the two when he sleeps, working different cases at work as his two realities interlink.
Our verdict: Very intriguing. The novelty could easily wear off after a while but the first season is bound to be a corker.
On the digibox: This is what Sky love and they need to fill their mystery quota now Lost has gone.

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea
What it is: A biopic sitcom of Chelsea Handler starring Donna from That 70s Show.
Our verdict: Terrible. From the clips below it’s hard to see how it got commissioned.
On the digibox: Somewhere up in the 200s? Easily cancelled.

Bent
What it is: A typical romantic comedy stretched into a series as Amanda Peet and some bloke play two conflicting characters that somehow are attracted to one another.
Our verdict: Inoffensive but hardly ground-breaking.
On the digibox: Sky One or Comedy Central. Could easily air right after Modern Family.