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NBC Pilots Snap Judgments: Our First Reactions to the New Shows

by Maggie Furlong, posted Jun 16th 2011 12:00PM
NBC Pilots: Smash, Grimm & Up All NightWe've seen the network's new fall pilots, and while they're not for review (things often change drastically before the shows are set to premiere), we do want to share our first reactions with you.

This is designed to get you excited for some new shows ... and to warn you to curb your enthusiasm for others. Just keep in mind that we'll have full reviews of the final pilots closer to airdate in the fall or midseason. For now, here are our snap judgments of all of NBC's new shows for the 2011-2012 TV season. (Read up and watch previews here)

There are nine new scripted shows -- the good (we want 'Smash' now!), bad (the 'Grimm' headline writes itself) and holy-hell-remember-how-funny-Will-Arnett-is ('Up All Night' is a delight) -- and plenty of varying opinions from Mo Ryan, Maggie Furlong, Jean Bentley, Chris Harnick, Alex Moaba and Laura Prudom.

Here's how we're breaking these down:
Watch It - awesome show, can't wait for more
Skip It - it's either horrible or just totally not their thing
DVR It - there's potential, will give it a second chance

FALL 2011
'Free Agents'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: Watch It
Funny, well-acted and I'd happily watch more episodes.

Furlong: DVR It
I wasn't nearly as underwhelmed as I thought I'd be, so that's ... something.

Free Agents
Bentley: Watch It
Surprisingly amusing. Has plenty of potential.

Harnick: Watch It
Much more charming than the key art lets onto, this show would be a better fit on Thursdays with 'The Office' and 'Parks & Recreation.'

Prudom: Skip It
Even Hank Azaria and the awesomeness that is Anthony Stewart Head can't save this pilot from mediocrity. Far from the worst new comedy this season, but I didn't laugh once -- I might check back after a few episodes.

'Grimm'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: Skip It
It felt as though this pilot was twice as long as it actually was. Tedious.

Furlong: Skip It
I'd say 'Grimm' is just not my thing, but I don't think it's anyone's thing. Feels like it should've been a made-for-Syfy movie.

Grimm
Bentley: Skip It
I couldn't even sit through the entire thing. I usually steer clear of this type of mediocre sci-fi, and 'Grimm' is no exception.

Harnick: Skip It
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I was entertained here and there, but I don't see a lot of potential. Prove me wrong!

Prudom: Skip It
I wanted to like this spooky procedural, but 'Supernatural' already cornered the market on hot guys who hunt monsters as the family business. 'Grimm' sadly brings nothing new or exciting to the table.

Playboy Club'The Playboy Club'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: Skip It
What would happen if you removed all the quality and subtlety from 'Mad Men' and added a murder mystery? This would happen. No.

Furlong: DVR It
What's all the fuss about? This show is nowhere near scandalous or sexy enough for all the controversy surrounding it. Sadly, it's also not that interesting.

Bentley: DVR It
Like a boring version of 'Mad Men' with a ridiculous murder/mob side plot. But since I'm a sucker for the slick period costumes, I'll probably give it another chance.

Harnick: Skip It
I laughed many times ... because it was comically bad.

Moaba: DVR It
If you can get past the hokey Hef impersonator narrating, the Playboy Club offers plenty of network-grade eye candy, some mafia intrigue and might have some 'Mad Men'-very-lite potential. Then again, maybe I'm just feeling sympathetic after Hefner got dumped Tuesday.

Prudom: DVR It
On the surface, 'The Playboy Club' seems like a shallow concept, but this pilot has hidden depths and plenty of potential. It's definitely not risqué enough for any affiliate to be boycotting it, though.

Prime Suspect'Prime Suspect'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: DVR It
The Helen Mirren original is incomparable (NBC should not have used that name), but despite some clunky elements, Maria Bello is very good in this.

Furlong: Skip It
Just a few of my issues with this one: Bad accents; tough boss lady painted as bitch; dumb police investigation in the pilot; not a single truly likable character; not starring Helen Mirren.

Bentley: DVR It
I enjoyed this a LOT more than I thought I would (though not enough to tune in every single week). Maria Bello can be my badass cop heroine any day.

Harnick: Skip It
I was bored, then into it, then confused, into it and then super bored again. Too uneven and too over the top with the boys club police department. Was there even another female officer shown? What year is this?

Prudom: DVR It
The "tough-as-nails female cop trying to make it in a man's world" concept isn't nearly as groundbreaking as it was when the Helen Mirren original first began, but it's well acted and smartly written, so fans of procedurals should enjoy it.

Up All Night'Up All Night'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: DVR It
The new-parents humor seemed a little tired, if you will, but I like the stars, Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, so I'm willing to give it a chance.

Furlong: Watch It
I adore this pilot. ADORE. It's hands-down the best we've seen Will Arnett and Christina Applegate in a long time, and I can't wait to see more.

Bentley: Watch It
If this doesn't go on forever and ever and ever, I'll probably cry myself to sleep every night for at least a month.

Harnick: Watch It
Any show that gives me Maya Rudolph in a fun, hammy role is fine in my book.

Moaba: Watch It
The funniest, most enjoyable, real-feeling pilot I've watched so far.

Prudom: Watch It
I didn't laugh as much as I was expecting to, but the cast is so charming that I can't help wanting to spend more time with them. And let's face it, Will Arnett needs the work.

Whitney'Whitney'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Ryan: DVR It
It's a little shrill and sitcom-y, but it has potential.

Furlong: Skip It
Can someone just cancel this one now? Is that an option?

Bentley: Skip It
None of the leads are appealing, and it goes for the obvious joke every single time. I use the term "joke" loosely.

Harnick: Skip It
Bleh.

Moaba: DVR It
It was a slow to get started, but by the end it had me chuckling.

Prudom: Skip It
Enough said.


MIDSEASON 2012
Awake'Awake'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Furlong: Watch It
Yes, yes, yes please. This pilot was the one I was most excited about, and it still surpassed my expectations. Great acting, intriguing plot and enough layers to keep viewers guessing for seasons.

Bentley: Watch It
Can't wait to see more. Fingers crossed they won't screw it up! Also: B.D. Wong probably should've been a shrink in real life, because he's awesome at playing one on TV.

Harnick: DVR It
I'm intrigued and I hope launching in midseason gives the writers and producers enough time to plan this show out wisely. There's a chance for a lot to go wrong here.

Prudom: Watch It
Such a fascinating, bold concept, it engaged me from the first moment. I hope the audience gives it a chance to reel them in despite the heartbreaking, complex storyline.

Bent'Bent'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Furlong: Watch It
This show isn't gonna knock anyone's socks off or win any awards, but I genuinely liked all the characters and the pilot kept me entertained.

Bentley: Watch It
Amanda Peet perfects her "domineering professional lady with a soft side" character. It works ... so far.

Harnick: Skip It
Not necessarily bad or good, just kind of ... there.

Prudom: Skip It
The best thing I can say is that it's not as terrible as 'Whitney'. It's inoffensive, but also not that funny.

'Smash'
[Get the synopsis & watch a preview here]
Furlong: Watch It
This show makes me wish I had some secret machine that could set every DVR in America to record it. One viewing and you'll be sold, I swear. Fabulously paced, well acted, 100% original.

Bentley: Watch It
Smart, funny, and totally appealing even if you don't love musicals. Katharine McPhee is wonderful, but Megan Hilty is even better.

Smash
Harnick: Watch It
Watch it twice. No, three times! I've been singing the songs for days now. 'Smash' needs to be on my TV ASAP.

Moaba: DVR It
I'd recommend it to my parents.

Prudom: Watch It
My favorite pilot from any network by a wide margin. If it keeps up the exhilarating momentum of the first episode, it has the potential to be everything 'Glee' wishes it could be but often falls short of.


Read our pilot snap judgments for ABC, Fox, CBS and The CW here, and keep up with all things Fall TV at aoltv.com

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June 17 2011 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vesselin Bakov

Given how succesfull was your prediction of Lone Star ("the best show in a long time" according to most of the previews here), I'm very hopeful for Grimm and a little worried about Awake (since they are the two shows that interest me the most from the NBC lineup.

June 16 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vesselin Bakov's comment
TVFan20

"little worried about Awake"

The main difference between Awake and Lone Star is that in Awake the audience is sympathetic to the main character because he lost his wife in one reality and his son in another. Whereas, in Lone Star, the main lead was cheating on both of his girlfriends without them knowing it.

They both have a guy living different realities, but one character is much more relatable to a mass audience (Awake) than another (Lone Star) is.

June 16 2011 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TVFan20's comment
Vesselin Bakov

I didn't compare Awake and Lone Star because of their plots, but because Lone Star was a critics darling and failed miserably. Now, surprisingly (for me), Awake is also accepted quite well by the guys and girls at this website, and that's what's causing my worry.

Besides, my first post was more of a joke, sorry if I didn't make it clear the first time.

June 17 2011 at 8:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
CdrIvanova

SMASH looks fantastic!!

June 16 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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