Friday, September 2, 2011

The 2011 3 Ep Test

Sometimes things just don't work out quite the way you planned.

Last year, about this time, I released my annual look at which shows I felt were worth testing out for the new TV season. (2010 3 Ep Test)

The result?

Aside from me crying tears of anguish having to sit through a full three episodes of most of them (including my most anticipated "No Ordinary Family", which was inexplicably horrible.) I have once again lost faith in the competency of the US Network executive.  Of my list only Hawaii 5-0 is still on the air, and I quit watching that about the time I realized it was just another crime procedural with mediocre actors, but this time with beaches! (Wait, doesn't CSI: Miami have those?)

What's baffling is that the year before, the 2009 3 Ep Test had three legitimate home runs.  Modern Family, Glee, and Community are all shows that are still going strong.  I'm guessing at the end of the day the execs really don't know what will work so the just hope to get lucky.

With that in mind, I assume this year, like so many others (2008 3 Ep Test, 2007 3 Ep Test), will be a game of blind darts in which some shows will hit the bulls-eye (like Chuck, the longest living alumni of the 3 Ep Test) and some will miss the board completely, ricochet into a passerby, knock them into traffic causing a vehicle to swerve into a pet store releasing thousands of rabid animals into an unsuspecting public, resulting in a new strain of virus that will wipe out 90% of the population and possibly create a zombie like apocalypse (I'm looking at you "Outsourced")

Here are the 13 (yes, 13!) new shows that will get the 3 Ep Test this year in order from my least anticipated to my most anticipated.

Let's hope for the best.

Free Agents (NBC)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10:30/9:30c

Truthfully I'm just curious to see if Hank Azaria can pull off a sitcom.  I've enjoyed him immensely in smaller roles and thought he did great playing Mitch Albom in the "Tuesdays with Morrie" movie.  My guess though is that he should just stick with the litany of voices he does on the Simpson's and keep cashing that pay check for the next 20 years.

Allen Gregory (Fox)
Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 30 at 8:30/7:30c

Speaking of The Simpsons, there are two sections of the broadcasting week that get an automatic bid into the 3 Ep Test.  The first is any comedy NBC slots into a Thursday night, and the second is the FOX Sunday night animation. That doesn't mean they will be good (I fled Family Guy and American Dad pretty quickly) but it does mean the history of success is worth the risk (I still miss King of the Hill).  Allen Gregory appears likely to fall on the fail side of the line, but I'll give it it's shot.

A Gifted Man (CBS)
Premieres: Friday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c

It's not like we haven't seen the premise before.  Someone is dead and they are communicating with the living to find closure.  Sixth Sense comes to mind (spoiler alert) and my favorite example, the underrated "Frighteners" helmed by an at the time unknown Peter Jackson.  It's not even a new idea for TV (wasn't this the whole premise of Ghost Whisperer?) Point being, if this is to have any staying power, they better nail the character work, or it will seem all too familiar.

Grimm (NBC)
Premieres: Friday, Oct. 21 at 9/8c

Not sure how, or why, it happens, but the pop culture cosmos often emits things in pairs.  Volcano movies, asteroid movies, and animated bug movies are now joined by "TV shows about fairy tales being real" in the "we swear, it was our idea first" historical record.  Grimm would definitely be the darker of the two and looks to feel like CSI meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The later part of that equation is no surprise as it comes from a couple of former Buffy producers.  Without Joss Whedon though, let's just say I'm intrigued but not hopeful.

Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 23 at 8/7c

The other fairy tale... uh... tale also has an interesting pedigree in that it is being written by some LOST alums. In this one famous characters are stuck in the real world and our heroine Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison who you may know as Cameron from House) must solve that mystery with the help of a 10 year old boy.  I have a 10 year old boy in my house, and unless solving the mystery involves covering the floor with strewn clothing or forgetting to do homework she may be in trouble.

Unforgettable (CBS)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 10/9c

This one centers around a woman who literally remembers everything she sees or knows.  If that gimmick is enough to set it apart from the glut of crime procedurals on the air then it might have a chance.  I have a feeling though that it will just make me miss "Lie to Me" even more then I already do.

Last Man Standing (ABC)
Premieres: Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8/7c

I'm assuming the title Home Improvement 2 must have been taken.  Tim Allen is back on TV and if there is one thing that can make me grit my teeth and withstand a laugh track it's my nostalgia and love for Home Improvement.  If Tim brings back half the charm and fun of that show I'll stick around a bit.  On a side note, did you ever wonder if the reason Wilson (the Home Improvement neighbor) only showed half his face is because his lower face was disfigured in a freak microwave popcorn accident?  Yeah, uh...  me neither.

Up All Night (NBC)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10/9c

If Will Arnett isn't enough (and he apparently wasn't for last season's short lived "Running Wilde") then maybe Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph will do the trick!  I know big names don't necessarily mean big laughs, but I'm hoping this one works out for Will.   I've been rooting for him to land since Arrested Development gave up the ghost, but if not, at least he has a great career ahead of him in voice overs.

Whitney (NBC)
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9:30/8:30c

I'm so torn on this one. Pro - Thursday night, NBC, good track record.  Con - appears to have a laugh track.  Pro - Whitney Cummings may actually be extremely funny. Con - Did I mention it might have a laugh track?

New Girl (Fox)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9/8c

"Zooey Deschanel is a cutie." I may or may not have uttered this sentence to my wife after watching her in "500 Day of Summer" or "Yes Man" or maybe it was "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy".  So now when her name comes up, my wife will say something like, "oh, you mean the cutie?" ...sigh... I just meant that she's got that girl next door, quirky, adorable thing going on.... I'm not helping myself here am I?  Also probably not a good sign that I just recalled her filmography off the top of my head.  OK, if anyone asks, I'm only interested in this show because it has Damon Wayans, Jr. in it.  And those Wayans brothers are hilarious.  Am I right?

The X Factor (Fox)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 8/7c

Is there room for another singing competition on TV?  When it reunites Simon and Paula (somehow I actually am excited to see her) there will at least be a little bit of buzz.  I'm always up for a good singing competition (I still think "The Voice" was an ok show that missed being an amazing show because it didn't have enough confidence to follow through on its premise) and the fact that the X-Factor prize is a staggering $5 MILLION adds a little bit of oomph.  Reality TV is always a bit of a crap shoot, but I'm in for at least the first three episodes.

Person of Interest (CBS)
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9/8c

Are you for real?! J.J. Abrams is teaming with Jonathan Nolan (aka Christopher's brother) for a show with Michael Emerson (Ben from LOST) and Jim Caviezel (Jesus from the Bible) that is conceptually like Minority Report?! Does TV do call ahead seating?! DICER TABLE FOR TWO!!!! (breathe in.... breathe out...) Consider me interested.

Terra Nova (Fox)
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 26 at 8/7c

Jurrasic Park on TV, except the Dinos aren't coming to our world, we are going to theirs (and they don't seem happy about it).  With the Steven Speilberg name behind it and years of anticipation built up for it Terra Nova might be my most anticipated show since another show that shot on Hawaii started a few years ago.  That time the roars on the Island ended up being a shape shifting cursed man in black who wanted to escape the island and the teasing and endless board games with his brother, this time its dinosaurs.  Well, that's a bit simpler, huh?