May 15, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look at NBC’s New Midseason Dramas

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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.

SMASH (midseason Monday 9PM):  Pretty much what you’d expect  musical numbers (hit songs in audition scenes, new songs from the show-within-the-show), a striving ingenue, showbiz professionals being witty.  Theresa Rebeck’s script seems more grounded than Glee‘s often wildly cartoonish storylines, and the huge question for NBC is whether that will help or hurt with viewers.  Series like this aren’t necessarily hard to promo–there’ll be plenty of distinctive visuals to choose from–but they can be hard to sell.  It has a bang-up trailer, as you’d expect, and Katherine McPhee seems to have the goods as the heroine.  No expense is being spared on the network’s big gamble of the season.
THE FIRM (midseason Sunday 10PM):  This show hasn’t been cast or shot yet, so there are no clips available.  NBC is putting it on the midseason schedule on the strength of its bestselling title and the 22-episode commitment they’ve made to produce it.

AWAKE (not yet scheduled):  The clips basically just set up the show’s complicated premise, with cop Jason Isaacs suffering a terrible accident and then existing in two separate realities:  one where his wife died, the other where she lived but his son didn’t survive.  There’s just a brief hint at the way the two worlds will overlap, presumably including some connection to the crimes he’ll be solving.  The writer is Kyle Killen, who wrote the critically-praised (and audience-ignored) Lone Star, so this could be worth the trip.  The interesting thing about the trailer is its tone:  despite the police background, the show is essentially being sold as a psychological soap, with Isaac’s character agonizing over his two lives.  The question will be whether there’s an audience for that story.





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."