May 15, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look at NBC’s New Fall Dramas – UPDATED

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Written by: Mitch Salem


DISCLAIMER: These initial impressions are based on the clips (usually 3-5 minutes) released by the networks to use in their Upfront presentations and for promos.  They’re chosen to sell the show, not to accurately represent it.  So take the reactions below with a large satchel of salt–we may well feel differently about these shows once we see the full pilots.  That being said, it’s also true that these clips are carefully selected to give the best impression possible of a show–if it still doesn’t look great, that may not bode well.
Clips are available, among other places, at

UPDATE 5/16:  NBC has now released the longer–and slicker–trailers for the shows that were unveiled at today’s Upfront presentation.

THE PLAYBOY CLUB (Monday 10PM):  One of the two new shows this season that will try to exploit the mid-1960s nostalgia stoked by Mad Men (the other is ABC’s PanAm).  Although the clips look visually stylish, and there’s nothing at all wrong with the sight of Amber Heard in a bunny outfit, the script by Chad Hodge appears to be very standard soap, not about the rise of the Playboy empire at all but just romance and crime at a club.  It needs to be very careful not to start looking like the recent loser movie Burlesque. The extended trailer plays up what are clearly terrific production values, and adds the fun of a Club appearance by “Ike & Tina Turner” intercut with the action.
PRIME SUSPECT (Thursday 10PM):  This is the Americanized version of the British cop series that gave audiences Helen Mirren’s most iconic performance.  Clearly the strength of the NBC show is going to be Maria Bello in the Mirren role–even in the brief clips, she has the strength and focus to pull the part off.  What remains to be seen is how Alexandra Cunningham’s script will compare to the original–sequences showing Bello as the target of jealous male officers and her facing off against her boyfriend’s ex-wife are broad and obvious.  It’s also not clear how compatible the show will be with the youngish comedy Whitney before it. The trailer is mostly made up of same scenes from the clips, but it features some action footage as well.
GRIMM (Friday 9PM): NBC’s oddest drama pick-up is still hard to get a handle on after viewing the brief clips.  There are werewolves and trolls, and our hero is a “Grimm” who can see things others can’t, and…?  Tone is everything on fantasy shows like this, and for now we’ll just have to hope writers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf (both veterans of the terrific Angel, among other shows) can make it work.  This is the show that benefits most from the extended trailer:  we get a much better feel for the way the hero’s abilities will help him solve crimes, as well as the Whedonesque humor that will pepper the action.  Still not sure why NBC is throwing it against Fringe, but the show itself looks promising.





About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."