May 15, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look at NBC’s New Midseason Comedies – 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.

ARE YOU THERE VODKA?  IT’S ME, CHELSEA (not yet scheduled):  On first glance, this comedy inspired by Chelsea Handler’s bestseller (Laura Prepon plays the Chelsea character; Handler herself will be in some episodes as Prepon’s sister) seems fairly promising.  The bar setting is familiar, but Prepon is funny and the tone a little sharper than most sit-com stuff (the script is by Dottie Dartland Zicklin & Julie Larson).  The best scene in the clips is the one between Prepon and Handler, so it’ll be interesting to see how much Handler is going to appear in the show.  Prepon’s deadpan wryness wears well in the extended trailer, and although the material probably would have been better suited for cable (remember NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt hails from Showtime), this show has potential.
BENT (not yet scheduled):  Amanda Peet and David Walton play a contractor and client who can’t stand each other when they first meet, so I think we all know where this is going.  The clips, a little strangely, focus on Walton’s character and his relationship with his dad (the always-welcome Jeffrey Tambor) much more than Peet’s, so it’s hard to tell if that accurately reflects the show or if the Peet sections were too weak to showcase.  Walton still bears some unfortunate Perfect Couples echoes, especially since his character here seems similar to the guy he played in that show; we’ll have to see how he and Peet work as a comedy couple.  The writer is Tad Quill, who was a longtime writer on Scrubs, so there’s reason to be hopeful.  The trailer suggests that more time spent with grating characters isn’t necessarily quality time.
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (not yet scheduled):  What appears to be an extremely female-skewing sitcom, written by and starring Jessica St Clair and Lennon Parham.  The title pretty much describes it, and clearly the two star/writers have great comic rapport together, but so far they’re not presenting any footage that would make a guy want to come within 10 feet of a TV showing this.The network didn’t present a trailer for this pilot; make of that what you will.




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."