New 2011 TV Shows: Future Hits or Dead on Arrival?


Over the past few weeks on Professionally Incoherent, I’ve been bringing you some stories based around the renewal and cancellation announcements coming out of the major U.S. networks. I’ve told you about why networks should stop TV shows from running until they fail, and posted my thoughts on the cancellation of NBC’s The Event. Today, I thought I’d round up some of the notable new shows that are starting up this fall, and tell you why I hope they stick around. There are some compelling concepts coming to small screen soon – some of which might become your new obsession!

Read on for more on new programs like CBS’s Person of Interest, NBC’s Grimm and others! After you check out the article, leave your thoughts in the comments, and tell me which shows you’re excited for!

I’ll start out with NBC. The network is currently running in fourth place against the other major networks (with CBS, Fox and ABC in first, second and third respectively). They’re fervently looking for a show or shows to help boost their average viewership.

"Grimm" has potential - hopefully it won't get repetitive

Grimm (Starting Fridays 9/8c) This show is being sold as a cross between a monster hunter thriller (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and a police procedural. Detective Nick Burkhardt is a cop who finds out that he is the titular “Grimm”, a member of a long line of monster hunters tasked with keeping unsavoury supernatural elements at bay. He has the power to see the creatures’ true identity even when they are hiding in human form. He teams up with his detective colleagues and an unlikely ally: a werewolf named Eddy Munroe. Think buddy-cop show meets Van Helsing (the character, not the Hugh Jackman movie). I’m curious about this show, because the concept is cool, but it’s not an instant sell for me. I wonder if a good pilot episode might lead to a villain-of-the-week syndrome, where every episode has a gimmick and a monster. In the right hands (they do have a Buffy/Angel writer on board) it could be lots of fun.

Free Agents (Starting Wednesdays 8:30/7:30c) Hank Azaria (known for his plethora of roles on The Simpsons) anchors this workplace comedy as a PR guy with a failed marriage and a love/hate relationship with a colleague played by Kathryn Hahn. Both characters are unlucky in love and end up in bed together, but must keep their feelings in check…bleurgh. Upon seeing the trailer for this one, I’d be surprised if it lasts more than a few episodes. It would take some pretty phenomenal writing to overcome this tired idea, which seems like it started out as a terrible romcom that NBC pounced on in desperation. No thanks.

On to ABC, who are doing better than NBC in the ratings, but I still think they’re in recovery after the departure of Lost (if you were hoping I’d make it through a TV commentary piece without mentioning Lost, you were sorely mistaken).

Charlie’s Angels (Starting Thursdays 8/7c) This one is pretty self-explanatory. A reboot of the beloved (is that accurate? I’m too lazy to check) 70s show with three highly trained women executing action-filled missions for the mysterious Charlie. They made two films based on this concept a few years ago, and I really don’t think the idea is relevant anymore. And as Sucker Punch showed, giving guns and explosives to scantily-clad women doesn’t necessarily result in female empowerment. Unless this show does something really offbeat with the concept, it won’t last.

Pan-Am (Starting Sundays 10/9c) Now this is more like it. Following the story of a group of stewardesses working for Pan-Am in the 1960s, this new series combines jet-setting, real empowerment, and some international intrigue. It’s actually one of a number of period dramas hitting TV in the fall, including The Playboy Club on NBC. The stewardesses come from all walks of life, and find companionship and adventure by working for Pan-Am in the Golden Age of air travel. If this show can generate some good stories within its refreshing world (it is a bit weird calling the 60s refreshing), it might be the next Mad Men.

Now to Fox, who renewed a lot of mainstays like House and cancelled Human Target and The Chicago Code. They’re in less of tight position when it comes to starting new shows, but they do have a collection of fresh ideas for the fall.

Terra Nova (Starting Mondays 8/7c) Fans of Steven Spielberg (who's on board here as a producer) have been following news of this show for months. The story follows a group of human colonists from the future travelling through a fracture in time to re-settle the Earth and prevent it from wasting away in the 22nd century. Going back 85 million years, they must tussle with dinosaurs (of course) and rival human factions. Its start was pushed back recently because of the intense special effects taking longer than expected. If the FX schedule doesn’t crush Terra Nova before it can take off, I’m excited to see what Fox can do with this show – after all, Jurassic Park 4 is taking forever, and I’m eager for some more human vs. dino action!

New Girl (Starting Tuesdays 9/8c) I’m on the fence about this one. On one hand, it stars Zooey Deschanel, who I love for her honest acting and her musical collaboration with M. Ward in the band She & Him. On the other, the show follows Deschanel as a 20-something woman who moves in with three guys after a bad breakup, and must try to find a stable relationship while keeping her sanity around her new roommates. I hate, hate, HATE sitcoms, no matter the setup, and I’m not convinced that this show will be able to escape the limits of the format. I’ll keep an open mind, though, if only for the likeability of the star.

Finally, let’s talk about the top network at the moment, CBS. Funnily enough, they’re starting the show I’m most excited about, but it’s not the only program on the slate this season.

Unforgettable (Starting Tuesdays 10/9c) Right off the bat, I really don’t think this one will work out. We have a female detective with the ability to remember every detail of her life: every feeling, event and painful moment. While there have been some compelling stories about these types of people in the news recently, the idea that they’re making a cop drama around a character like this smacks of a lame gimmick. It’s like, “Hey! Remember all those other cop shows? Well, this is like that. Except she remembers everything.” It seems like one of many police procedurals with a twist: shows like The Mentalist or Num3ers feature a non-cop with a special ability who can magically solve cases. No sale for me.

Person of Interest (Starting Thursdays 9/8c) Yes. YES. Jim Caviezel as an ex-CIA guy on the run? Michael Emerson (Ben from Lost) as the eccentric billionaire helping Caviezel become a vigilante? Sign me up. I first heard about this idea when Lost clued up and Emerson’s name was attached to this project and a buddy-cop venture with Terry O’Quinn (Locke from Lost). Person of Interest was the one that got made first, but I’m still hooked. I just hope it lives up to the hype and makes a presence for itself on CBS.

What do you think of these shows? Did I bash something you're looking forward to? Heard of any other series that will have you sitting down for some TV marathons this fall? Tell me about ‘em in the comments!