Sunday, May 12, 2019

Ranking the New NBC Series Based on Their Trailers

NBC has just released trailers for some of its new series for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Now, it's difficult to judge a series based on a two-minute trailer conveying the basic plot. And yet, it's what audiences have to go off of until these new shows actually debut. And so, here are some brief thoughts on how NBC's new shows look - ranked by my personal preference.

Trailers for NBC's three fall shows can be found here.

3. Perfect Harmony

Bradley Whitford has morphed into quite the appealing and versatile character actor over the last decade or so. However, this comedy looks like a less earnest and more regional-driven version of Glee. That may not be a bad thing. Glee was certainly a massive hit. It's just difficult to understand how this is the basis for a half-hour comedy. The balancing of tones will be massively important. One moment the lead is contemplating suicide and the next he is leading a local church choir to victory in a competition. There is nothing immediately here that makes me compelled to watch the pilot right away to see how it balances everything in the half-hour format.

2. Bluff City Law

This drama immediately plays as a legal procedural written by people who believe that all lawyers do is get into screaming matches in court. That has become such a troubling cliche in this particular genre for a long time. The most successful shows in this vein evolve past that very quickly even though the characters still get plenty of moments to be passionate. It seems like a fine showcase for newcomer Caitlin McGee while Jimmy Smits is an old pro when it comes to playing a lawyer. It just feels incredibly generic without the same sense of place that seems to play such a crucial role in Perfect Harmony. But hey, it's getting the prime time slot following The Voice on Monday nights. That could make it a hit even though the network has had a spotty track record at best with putting their best shows in that particular position.

1. Sunnyside

The easiest barometer to judge a comedy trailer is: did it make you laugh? With Sunnyside, it was absolutely true. It was the only new show previewed by NBC today that feels unique in a way that can still function as a half-hour comedy on a broadcast network in 2019. The Mike Schur comedic sensibility is all over this show as well - with a diverse ensemble and the storytelling urge to explore the depths of human connections. If this show can analyze issues relating to immigration in the same way that The Good Place tackles ethics, then this could be a really winning hour of programming for NBC on Thursday nights. Sure, it's immediately apparent that Kal Penn may be playing the straight man to the wackiness of the rest of the ensemble. That could be problematic as the series finds its groove. However, there is enough specificity amongst the ensemble to leave me intrigued to check out the pilot to see if that energy can be sustained. This is the only show announced by NBC today for the fall that I'm eager to check out.