Wednesday, September 21, 2011

GUEST POST: A Mostly Speculative and Acerbic Look at the Fall 2011 Pilot Season

by Ben BenAry

I do not have cable, though I am a fan of television. My favorite current shows are Louie, Breaking Bad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Parks and Recreation, and Mad Men. Though I have not seen, nor plan on seeing most of these new shows, I feel compelled to predict their potential as hits. Only time will tell how accurate I can be without having to subject myself to this dreck.


Playboy Club - I'm anticipating strong initial ratings because of the lure of the Playboy brand, which will dissipate at the same rapid rate as viewers' hopes of seeing some nips. Also there's only so much room for Mad Men imitations, and that spot belongs to Pan Am.
Cancelled after one season.

Prime Suspect
- Will Maria Bello's indie film street cred translate to TV star power? Maybe, but with police procedurals already accounting for half of all scripted television, this one about a lady detective in New York City isn't likely to stand out. She doesn't even talk to ghosts.
Cancelled after one season.

Grimm - Grimm is a modern retelling of Grimm's fairy tales. I think. I'm not going to do further research on this. I will not watch this show. If people didn't flock to see a Matt Damon/Heath Ledger retelling of these stories, why should this be any different?
Cancelled after half a season.

Up All Night - Raising Hope got a second season for some reason, and this "unfit parents raise a baby" comedy is more agreeable tonally. I like the actors. It's produced by Lorne Michaels. I'll probably never watch it, because my standards are just one notch higher.
Modest hit by TV standards, enough for NBC though. Two seasons until the Arnett curse runs Wilde.

Free Agents - An apt title considering what the career status of the actors on this show will be in about a month. Zing!
Cancelled like right now.

Whitney -
This is a picture of Whitney Cummings who got her very own sitcom on NBC.
2011 will be remembered as the year of Whitney Cummings. For some reason this poor man's Sarah Silverman got her own sitcom vehicle and another show she's producing. I predict that this one will be cancelled for being done in an outdated format while also starring Cummings who is neither funny nor likable.
Cancelled after one season, a full season because Cummings is apparently the most powerful woman in television.


Pan Am - I don't know anything about this show other than what I've seen on a few promos. It looks like Catch Me If You Can. I'm on board.
Hit! 5 seasons.

Charlie's Angels -
Ben prefers Barrymore.
What did people like about the first movie? Bill Murray, and probably one of the three girls, depending on your type. I'm partial to Barrymore myself. This version has none of that. The time tested formula of hot girls kicking ass is wearing a bit thin, though this may get a second season just because Disney owns the property and why not?
Cancelled after two seasons.


Person of Interest -
Jim Caviezel solves crime while nailed to crucifix.
As I understand it, this is some kind of high tech spy thingy. Starring Jim Caviezel (Jesus) and Michael Emerson (the best actor on Lost) and on the network that can't make an unpopular crime show. I think this is going to be a full-fledged hit, if not necessarily with anyone you know personally.
Hit! 8 Seasons, 1 spinoff.

2 Broke Girls - I actually watched the pilot. It's not my thing, but it might appeal to fans of The Big Bang Theory, which I also find unwatchable. I remembered one joke, told by the sage, white haired black man/one liner delivery machine who performs some unspecified job at the diner. "You're just like the night maid at the Schwarzenegger house: screwed." Studio audience ate that shit up.
Hit! 6 Seasons (they can't stay broke forever) plus TBS syndication.

How to be a Gentleman -
Gentlemen don't eat burgers.
I have only seen the poster for this show. It stars Kevin Dillon (Johnny Drama) as the guy who doesn't know how to be a gentleman, and a bland guy who plays the guy who does know how to be a gentleman.
Cancelled after half a season. Can't win 'em all CBS.


The New Girl -
Dooey Zeschanel is so adorkable it'll make you vomit.
I watched the pilot with my dad. Neither of us laughed. I think he smiled twice. I like Zooey Deschanel as much as the next red blooded American white guy, but never before has a project banked solely on her likability (or adorkability as FOX's marketing suggests). She plays this girl who breaks up with her stupid boyfriend and then moves in with three stupid guys for some reason. One of the guys is also getting out of a relationship, and is not merely a caricature, so he'll be dating Deschanel's character after about 6-8 episodes of "will they? won't they?" story lines. The other white guy is the douche bag, which is reinforced by him doing douchey things like taking off his shirt in mixed company, and everyone close to him constantly telling him he is a douche bag. The black guy yells a lot, and is played by a Wayans son, ushering in a new era of Wayanses.
This show made me legitimately sad, because it will be a hit. It is also considered quite good, with the critical consensus being that "The New Girl" is the most promising comedy of the season. But it is not good. The situations are contrived, the relationships phony, the characters cardboard demographic representations. Toward the end of the episode, Zooey's three new roommates find out that her rebound date has stood her up while they are about to get into the big party they've been waiting for all year. What do they do? They abandon their supposedly important plans in order to cheer up their new weird roommate for some reason. They arrive at the white tablecloth restaurant, serenade her (as you do), and all four are told to leave. Why do they care so much about her? She's adorkable.
Hit! 7 Seasons, until Zooey Deschanel loses her taste for money.


  1. Did you decide to give the networks attention in inverse proportion to their ratings success in recent years?

  2. Very astute. This is why you're the blogger, and I'm the guest poster.