Predicting the Success of New Fall TV Shows Based Solely on the Promo and Title – Part 1

Read the rest of my predictions in Part Two, here.

Fall will be here before we know it, and with the arrival of cooler weather and beautiful leaves arrives something else almost as beautiful: New TV shows.

We all recognize that network TV is slowly dying, but let’s enjoy it while we can by making snap judgements on all the new shows that will air this fall and deciding right here and now if they’ll make it past episode 2 or become the next This is Us and give all the network presidents hope that the television business is totally fine and they can keep their jobs forever. (Spoiler alert: It’s not and they can’t.)

Before we begin, a quick note: Many years ago I worked for ABC Television and I saw the screener for all the new pilots that year. Among the collection of new shows was a drama  called Six Degrees about a bunch of strangers connected by mysterious circumstances (clearly piggybacking on the success of LOST,) as well as a little show called Ugly Betty.

I watched these screeners and loudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that Six Degrees was a goldmine and would go on to win Emmys, and that Ugly Betty was hands-down one of the worst shoes I’d ever seen and it would easily get cancelled before episode 4 even aired.

Ugly Betty
Quick history lesson: If you flip those two predictions, then I would’ve nailed it.

Suffice it to say, I don’t have a great track record with predicting these sorts of things. But I sure do love watching TV. Here we go!

CW logo

Valor

There’s a military helicopter, with a brunette girl and a blonde guy. The girl looks vaguely familiar, like all CW stars, and I’ve definitely seen that blonde guy as someone who murdered his wife on Bones. His hair is also all over the place, which doesn’t happen in the military. The helicopter goes down.

They’re back in civilian life and it looks like during that helicopter crash, members of their team went missing. They are assigned to rescue the missing people and it’s very clear our lead duo was involved with their disappearance.

Blondie’s hair remains a trainwreck. Every other male has close cropped military hair.

Summary: A Quantico knockoff, which isn’t a great plan since Quantico isn’t that good.

Thoughts: This doesn’t appear to be a comic book story, a drama with a supernatural element, or a teen drama. The CW is clearly trying to branch out, but why? Stick to what is successful. I just can’t see their demo watching this. I mean, if they cast Colton Haynes or some hot former Disney girl in the lead, I would get what they’re trying to do, but… Nope.

Survival: Runs out its entire first season, doesn’t get renewed for season 2.

Fox logo

The Gifted

Okay, so this is an X-Men thing, directed by Bryan Singer. A bunch of teenage mutants, including a girl who looks like Chloe Grace Moretz, are having trouble controlling their powers in high school. Chloe’s mom is played by Coulson’s cellist girlfriend from Agents of SHIELD whom I saw at a grocery store last week.

Apparently Chloe kept her mutant powers a secret from mom because dear ole’ dad, aka The Governor from Walking Dead, “puts people like us in jail.” It’s also important to note that Jesse from Burn Notice is there.

But Dad picks family over his job and it becomes a whole battle to protect the mutant kids. All of whom are identified by their comic book names, like Polaris and Blink, and… Lauren Strucker? That’s a terrible superhero name.

Summary: This it the show The CW should have gotten. It’s literally X-Men: Teenage Years.

Thoughts: I really can’t get over how this isn’t a CW show. Teen Wolf is ending, y’all. You need this. It’s a bunch of attractive 20-somethings playing high schoolers and having supernatural fights with established actors playing the adults. Literally the building blocks of a successful CW show. I guess they can’t afford Marvel, what with all those DC shows.

Survival: Gets a second season and a packed house at Comic Con 2018.

The Orville

Seth MacFarlane and Jon Favreau got a bunch of their vaguely famous TV friends to make Star Trek: The Comedy. MacFarlane stars as a Captain Kirk assigned to the Starship Orville by Sydney Bristow’s dad. His co-captain and ex-wife is Tara from Friday Night Lights / Bobbi from Agents of SHIELD.

Adrianne-Palicki-shield.jpg
Bobbi, come back to SHIELD. We miss you. You deserve more than this.

Together, they form a motley crew aboard the spaceship – some humans, some aliens, all actors you’ve seen in other TV shows – and they run into lighthearted trouble in between couples counseling.

Summary: Star Trek, but a TV sitcom.

Thoughts: A whole-hearted “meh.” I can see how some of it, maybe, would be funny, but all in all… It’s dumb jokes in a new format. Not Big Bang Theory levels of bad or anything, but not fantastic. Also, I just feel like any joke you could make, Space Balls already did, but it better. Could go either way, though – don’t know if MacFarlane fans will care about watching him as opposed to his cartoon, since his movies haven’t exactly been hits. I feel the same way about this one as I did about Making History – could be funny, execution could make it terrible.

Survival: Should be cancelled after a few episodes, but the big names behind the show keep it alive for a full season. No second season.

Ghosted

Craig Robinson and Adam Scott are two clueless guys who investigate paranormal activities. Like if Ghostbusters were a TV show, but not as cool.

Summary: Brooklyn: Nine-Nine, but with ghosts.

Thoughts: It’s literally a buddy cop comedy with funny ghosts instead of funny criminals. Nothing is high-stakes. Scott and Robinson are charming and funny enough to make people tune in. It will be legitimately funny.

Survival: A hit. (Well… As much as anything is a hit these days.) Definitely gets a second season. Done and done. Moving on.

CBS Logo

Me, Myself & I

John Larroquette, whom I know as the guy who taught Chuck how to be woo a woman on Chuck, but IMDB tells me is quite famous for a few other things, Bobby Moynihan, whom I don’t think I knew left SNL, and a kid who actually doesn’t look like he’ll be a pain to watch, all play the same guy at different stages of life.

The kid was a nerd who always screwed things up when talking to his crush, the middle-aged guy was cheated on by his wife and having a mid-life crisis AND IS FRIENDS WITH STEVE URKEL, and the older version is a little wiser and a little sadder.

Summary: Clearly trying to ride the coattails of This is Us, but the story spans one entire life time… And also there’s more comedy than drama.

Thoughts: Really clever. I like the idea of showing the same person throughout their whole life –  it provides endless opportunities for running jokes with the audience. Funny but still touching. Plus, these are big names. Although… What is this doing on CBS?

Survival: Gets a second season.

SEAL Team

David Boreanaz, basically playing a serious version of Seeley Booth here, is part of a SEAL Team. The show focuses on his team, both while on a mission, and back at home.

He’s navigating PTSD and making time for family (and a wife who looks like a grown-up Supergirl) while dealing with the fallout of the life or death moments he and his team face every day.

Summary: Booth left Bones and joined the Navy.

Thoughts: The trailer looked very well done and intense – it kind of lends itself to be more of a mini series than a network TV show. Plus, Boreanaz has got this type of role down pat, so he’ll pull in viewers.

Survival: This will be Boreanaz’s third TV hit. Assuming they can keep the intensity going through the whole season, I can see a season 2.

Young Sheldon

The biggest geek from Big Bang Theory has a backstory about growing up in Texas and going to school while years younger than his peers and feeling like an outsider both there and at home. Also, Bill Ponderosa from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia plays his dad.

Somehow every member of his family has a terrible southern accent, but he has the Sheldon Cooper cadence down to a T… It’s kind of eerie how exactly this kid nailed the mannerisms and everything.

Summary: The Big Bang Theory Jr. – but instead of dating troubles, it’s family values.

Thoughts: While there are a few funny moments, for the most part I cannot stand The Big Bang Theory. None of the jokes are clever and I find Sheldon Cooper easily the most annoying part of the entire show. Yet, I didn’t immediately hate this. I think because they made sure there was a fully realized world surrounding the geek, instead of just relying the dorky jokes as the entire point of the show. Honestly, the kid kind of sells the whole thing. And he’s from Broadway, so you know he can act.

Survival: Gets a season two.

S.W.A.T.

The really attractive guy from Criminal Minds, Shemar Moore (who has either really intriguing eyes or eyebrows… I can’t really figure it out), is on a SWAT Team. It’s directed by Justin Lin aka the Fast and Furious guy.

One day one of his team members accidentally shoots a black teenager and all hell breaks loose. The man who shot the kid is fired by the dude who whipped Gale in The Hunger Games, and Moore takes over. His ex becomes the team’s supervisor and that looks interesting.

Together, everyone deals with the aftermath of the shooting and what that means for their community moving forward. Right up until the last 15 seconds of the trailer, when literally everything takes a complete 180 and it’s a bunch of women sitting in a beauty parlor making jokes about how hot Moore is. Where did that come from?

Summary: Black Lives Matter and other topical issues, turned into a procedural.

Thoughts: This is a toss-up: It’s a procedural with an attractive cast, and those usually do very well on CBS, and this one seems to have one major incident that lasts the entire season instead of just one episode. Unless the shooting is only the events of the one episode and it changes from week to week, but they hadn’t shot those episodes yet when they put the trailer together… Either way, Law and Order and NCIS occasionally do crimes of the week that relate to current events and they go well.

But I wonder if this topic is just too reflective of current society – will people not want to watch a TV show that focuses on a topic that they see on the news all the time? Will they praise the show for focusing on it or tune out because they already deal with it all the time in their daily lives?

Last season there was a TV show named Conviction that had a fantastic cast in which the case of the week was a hot topic current event, including Black Live Matter among others. It was cancelled.

Survival: If there are different cases every week, this can go on forever. If they focus on just one topic, it may not last. Either way… I say it gets a second season.

Wisdom of the Crowd

Jeremy Piven plays a rich dude whose daughter Mia is killed. He doesn’t believe the correct guy was arrested for her murder, so he invents something called “Sophe,” which is a real-time crowd-sourced crime solving website/app.

While combing through the evidence the public is giving about Mia, he and his team stumble across evidence that can close another case. So besides simply trying to find his daughter’s killer, they can do some good. Also, sometimes the public is put in danger when trying to help because they want to get involved.

Summary: This show used to be called Person of Interest. Except instead of just utilizing social media and traffic cameras willy nilly, the public actually knows they’re being used, and they’re happy to give up privacy when it means they’re solving crimes.

Thoughts: Really clever – and I didn’t even mind Jeremy Piven in the role. Could be a really cool concept… Even though we’ve seen it in various forms before.

Survival: Hit. Returns for season 2 for sure.

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