NBC entered Upfronts smarting from last year's failed schedule experiment, and it has decided to woo viewers the good, old fashioned way -- with lots of scripted programming. New shows include a spy caper from wunderkind J.J. Abrams, a new Jerry Bruckheimer drama of crime-fighting and ass-kicking, a couple of potential second-coming-of-Lost-and-Heroes dramas, as well as a slate of workplace and relationship comedies and a dollop of legal dramas.
The Event - Monday, 9pm The network hopes The Event will take the place of suck-you-in dramas like 24, Lost and Heroes. What is the event in question? We don't know -- but we know the 24-esque assassination attempt, the Lost-like disappearance and the shades-of-Heroes coverup are just side effects of the main shebang. Best we can tell, there are 97 secret prisoners in a mountain base, a disappearing cruise-ship passenger, and a whole lot of potential for calamity. Are the prisoners aliens? Travelers from the future? The last crop of independent voters? We're not sure, but we're guessing it will be fun to find out.
Chase - Monday, 10pmThe Bruckheimer-produced show follows a tough female US Marshal who always gets her man criminal. There are shades of a tempestuous back-story, plus lots of occasion for Kelly Giddish (late of Fox's Past Life) to kick ass and/or take names of the nation's most wanted criminals. As it's Bruckheimer, we're guessing explosions will also be involved. Yay, explosions!
Undercovers - Wednesday, 8pmJ.J. Abrams returns to Alias spy territory -- but the NBC suits hastened to reassure us that we'd be seeing a stand-alone adventure every week, not a hugely complex story arc confection like Lost or Alias. A married couple who had retired from "The Agency" is recruited to track down a missing colleague, and it turns out to be just the spark their marriage needed. The promo video promises "sexpionage." We're there!
Law and Order: Los Angeles - Wednesday, 10pmWe'll take a moment to mourn the passing of the L&O mothership... which was more than NBC did. The great L&O "chung-chung" travels to the West coast, but beyond shots of notorious LA-centric crime happenings -- celeb mugshots, O.J.'s slow-speed chase, Rodney King -- we didn't get anything specific. "This is Los Angeles. These are their stories. Should be a riot." Um, wow, really? A riot? That's... wow.
Outsourced - Thursday, 9:30pmThe first new addition to the Thursday-night comedy block treads on workplace comedy/fish out of water territory by following a young exec who moves to India to head up a call center for an American novelties company. Expect culture-clash jokes, paeans to rubber dog doo and humping dog toys, and yes, a hint of romance.
Love Bites- Thursday, 10pmRemember "Love, American Style?" Yeah, we didn't think so. This show harkens back to the early 70s anthology with three separate comedic love stories, featuring guest stars and series regulars. The clip we saw involved series regular Greg Grunberg playing a schlub who gets a shot at getting it on with the sole celebrity on his affair-exemption list: Jennifer Love Hewitt. As Becki Newton is another series regular, we'll be tuning in.
Outlaw -Friday, 10pmJimmy Smits is a Houseian Supreme Court justice with a yen for gambling and impulse-control issues who quits the nation's highest court to take on hard-luck cases with swagger, style and a collection of oddball associations. After we get over the fact that someone gave up a guaranteed paycheck in this economy, we could be on board.
Friends with Benefits - Midseason"When dating is hard, it's good to have friends who are easy." In this case, we're talking about a male and female best friend who tend to discuss their horrible dates in bed -- with each other. The potential for humor is high, especially since the cast includes Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars), Danneel Harris (Rachel Gatina from One Tree Hill), Fran Kranz (Topher from Dollhouse) and Jessica Lucas (Riley from Melrose Place).
The Cape - MidseasonThe last good cop in a city overrun with corruption is set up and left for dead. So naturally, he takes up with a mysterious circus of some sort, learns how to wield a spider-silk cape as a weapon, and takes the identity of his son's favorite comic-book character to fight crime. It's seems like something to fill the void that Heroes left, but with more of a sense of humor. Plus, geekbait action babe Summer Glau!
The Paul Reiser ShowIt's a show. About Paul Reiser. What more do you need? OK, fine, it involves the hilarity that ensues once a successful actor gets the wife, children and home life he's always wanted, and the friends he never anticipated.
Harry's LawDavid E. Kelley returns to quirky legal dramas with Kathy Bates at the helm of a law firm/shoe boutique populated by Kelley's patented colorful characters, including a suicidal young man trying to figure out his life and a high school teacher accused of murder.
Perfect CouplesThis relationship comedy from the folks behind 30 Rock, Friends and Seinfeld follows the love lives of three "perfect" couples -- the normal ones, the "too much passion" pair and the relationship experts who are full of advice, whether you want it or not. Current geek It-girl Olivia Munn plays against type as the straight-laced good girl.
Here's how the Fall schedule pans out:
Monday8pm: Chuck9pm: The Event10 pm: Chase
Tuesday8 pm: The Biggest Loser10 pm: Parenthood
Wednesday8pm: Undercovers9pm: Law and Order: SVU10 pm: Law and Order: Los Angeles
Thursday8pm: Community8:30pm: 30 Rock9pm: The Office9:30: Outsourced10pm: Love Bites
Friday8pm: Who Do You Think You Are/ School Pride9pm: Dateline NBC10pm: Outlaw
SundayNBC Sunday Night Football
MidseasonFriends with BenefitsThe CapeThe Paul Reiser ShowHarry's LawPerfect Couples