A Second Opinion: Fall Shows We’re Undecided About


You’ve read his take on the most promising fall shows and least promising ones. Now, in what we promise is our final look back at the Network’s UpFront offerings comes our very own Ken Tucker in-training Aleks Chan, with a look at the shows that fall somewhere in-between.

After the horridly ill-conceived COURTING ALEX, Jenna Elfman returns to the small screen as Billie, a San Francisco film critic who hooks up with a younger guy and – surprise – gets pregnant. Pregnancy as a premise hasn’t always worked, and the clips don’t really provide much hope that AOP will be any different, but Elfman is one deft comedienne, so if anything, it’ll be tolerable. 

Also known as Charmed Lipstick Housewives and the City. Based on the John Updike novel about three women (Lindsay Price, Rebecca Romijn, and Jamie Ray Newman) who are imbued with magical powers, it looks as tawdry and superfluous as I remember CHARMED ever was – not that there’s anything wrong with that.  

Everyone in the world blacks out at the exact same time and for the same duration, during which they see a few minutes into their futures. The preview opened with a “From the network that brought you LOST,” which only prompted the following afterwards: this is going to be convoluted, tricky show, and if they don’t do it right, will be painful to traverse.  

Julianna Margulies plays victimized really well, so it should suit her well in this drama where she plays the wife of a politician (Chris Noth, very much channeling Mr. Big) who takes after Eliot Spitzer, forcing her to return to her work as a lawyer after taking 13 years off. As long as they don’t fall into a procedural trap, could be a rich piece of drama.  

Mark Valley stars in this adaptation of the DC Comic, about a private investigator/bodyguard who works by impersonating people close to his clients. A lot of explosions and running around in the trailer – could be campy fun as long as it keeps itself from going too far over the top.  

It’s the GREY’S ANATOMY spin-off nobody asked for: a hospital drama about “feisty” and “complicated” nurses who can save others, but can barely save themselves. The cast (which includes newcomer Taylor Schilling, MEN IN TREES’ James Tupper and GOSSIP GIRL’s Michelle Trachtenberg) could save it from being utterly insufferable.  

The first of what I expect to be many spin-offs of the popular procedural that everyone seems to be watching but not talking about. The backdoor pilot already aired a few weeks back on NCIS, and looks to be about the same: the cast (which includes Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J) is perfectly capable, the stories nice and easy, and the tensions is about as tight as seatbelt – comfortable. It’s perfectly harmless TV. That’s either good or bad, depending on how old you are.  

Based on the 1989 Ron Howard film starring Steve Martin and Dianne Wiest, it sounds exactly like what it’s about, and marks NBC’s second attempt to launch this series, its previous foray having been swiftly cancelled in 1990 (but coincidentally starred a then unknown Leo DiCaprio). This one looks more promising (and stars Peter Krause and Maura Tierney), if a bit of a BROTHERS & SISTERS knockoff.  

Tyler Labine (REAPER) plays oafish sporting goods store employee Ron Snuffkin, who is hired by three boys to play their father after their own is sent to jail. Also reminds me of MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (appropriately seeing how MITM’s Todd Holland directed the pilot), it will be entirely up to Labine, who’s shown his comedic chops before, to keep interest from waning.

I don’t why the CW didn’t just call it a MODELS INC. remake, because it’s essentially what THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE is: Pretty young models livin’ really hard, really expensive lives, except this time in New York.

FAMILY GUY’s brand of irreverent, arbitrary, largely childish humor looks as if it will serve this spin-off well. Starring the otherwise harmless second banana Cleveland Brown, it follows him and his son as they start their new life with their new family. Just like FG, you’ll laugh, but it will probably be twice as empty.

  • Lily

    Sons of Tucson – C before S, just like the city. You spelled it “Tuscon” in the post and “Tuscan” in the tag. 🙁

  • Lily


  • Thanks for the correction Lily 🙂

  • Nick

    Beautiful Life is going to be incredible. Sleeper hit of the season.

  • The concept for Accidentally on Purpose is better than I first thought, but I’m not a fan of Jenna Elfman, CBS, or four-camera/live-audience sitcoms. So, I won’t watch it, but I’ll bet there might be an audience out there for it (can anyone really explain who watches shows on CBS?).

    Flash Forward looks intriguing enough to try, but it’s too vague to fully pre-judge.

    I like the concept of Human Target but didn’t see the preview until just now. I’m very encouraged by the great casting of support characters, but I’m still worried about Mark Valley in the lead role. I’ve always found him to be — as Spike from Buffy:tVS would say — Captain Cardboard.

    Eastwick: Looks bad.
    The Good Wife: Too dull for any other network; perfect for CBS.
    Mercy: Decent cast; decent concept, but writing looks shaky; sets look low-budget; preview could have used much better music

    I lost the willpower to watch the other previews. 😉

  • Josh Emerson

    Accidentally on Purpose has Ashley Jensen, who was hilarious on Extras and Ugly Betty (the two times she was on screen). If the show uses her well, it’ll be worth watching.

    Sons of Tucson looks awful to me. Tyler Labine was good on Reaper but this show just irritates me.

  • Ace

    I’ll probably watch the piolet of a few others, but the only ones that have me excited are Flash Forward and Human Target. Esp since with LOST gone after this season, there won’t be much TV that my husband enjoys!

  • I will watch PARENTHOOD because of the cast, hopefully it will be a good family drama.

    FLASH FORWARD is intriguing but the preview I saw in YouTube made me think that this could work out better if a movie or mini series only but then again I’ll watch this for sure

  • luvinx

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  • Ryan Walker

    I loved the Accidentally on Purpose pilot! Definitely watching that show this season!!!

  • Ryan Walker

    Check out this clip I found from tonight’s episode of ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE. So funny, I love this show! Check it out Mondays at 8:30 pm on CBS.