Today’s unveiling of trailers for seven new fall series (9JKL, Me Myself and I,SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery, S.W.A.T., Wisdom of the Crowd and Young Sheldon)on CBS/CBS All Access revealed shows that fit the network’s particular mold exceptionally well – except for Discovery, which feels like Star Trek more than anything else.
Here are my gut reactions to the trailers for this shows…
- 9JKL – This comedy series about a man who has to move into the apartment between his parents and his broth and his wife and baby stars Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains) – which I thought would make it worth a look. Add Linda Lavin (Alice), Elliott Gould (M*A*S*H, Ray Donovan), David Walton (Brockmire, Masters of Sex) and Liza Lapiri (NCIS, Dollhouse) and you’ve got a lot of talent on hand.
What you get for that talent is a series of bad jokes about boundaries and testicles. If these are the bits that are supposed to make me want to watch this show, then I can’t imagine how bad the rest of pilot must be.
- Wisdom of the Crowd – Jeremy Piven is back with a show that takes the eccentric tech billionaire from Pure Genius and turns him into a crimefighter. Like that show, our hero’s motivation is understandable, but the execution – an algorithm that follows everyone, everywhere, to find clues to solve his daughter’s murder (which sacrifices privacy for expediency – like is already happening in the real world without the purity of motive) just seems a step too far; but it’ll go down a bomb with a certain crowd that doesn’t worry about niceties guaranteed by the Constitution.
The result – at least in this trailer – is heartstring tugging so blatant that it feels like I need a shower after watching it.
- Me, Myself & I – telling its protagonist’s story from three points of view: as a fourteen-year old boy, a forty-year old man and as a 65-year old man is a cute idea – and Bobby Moynihan (SNL, The Awesomes) is perfect as 40-year old Alex. The problem is that I just didn’t care about young Alex (Jack Dylan Grazer) or, worse, 65-year old Alex – who is played by comedy legend John Larroquette (Night Court, The Librarians).
- SEAL Team – Just as the Navy Seals are America’s elite special ops teams, there’s an elite Navy Seals team – the best of the best. SEAL Team is about them – led by Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz). This is a show looks to be split between gung ho action and tug-at-your-heartstrings family drama. Following the trailer I can honestly say that my heartstrings were pulled.
I don’t know if we really another show like this (History’s SIX has already staked out this turf with the amazing Walton Goggins), but enough of this trailer worked for me that I’m willing to watch it until it ticks me off.
- Young Sheldon – the story behind the legend, or How Sheldon became Sheldon. This Big Bang Theory spin-off is kind of like The Wonder Spectrum Years: Jim Parsons’ Sheldon narrates the story of how he became the man he is today. The trailer suggests that while there might be a lot of easy jokes available here, they’re not going to be used (until the temptation is just too great).
It’s a bit jarring that Young Sheldon is a single-camera show while its progenitor is a three-camera show, but the writing seems pretty sharp and Iain Armitage is pretty good as young Sheldon. Kudos to the casting director for casting Laurie Metcalfe’s daughter to play the role that Metcalfe plays on the mother ship.
That sweet moment between Sheldon and his dad at the end of the trailer points to a show that will have as much heart as humor – but it makes me wonder how the writers will handle Sheldon’s dad’s death…
- S.W.A.T – the show that I most expected to hate turns out to have a trailer that makes me very curious to see if the show can match it. Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds) plays the new head of the S.W.A.T. team, Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson after the former commander (Justin Louis) accidentally kills a black youth.
The new S.W.A.T. comes from Shawn Ryan (The Shield), a guy who knows his way around unorthodox cop shows – and the cast (Stephanie Sigman, Alex Russell, Jay Harrington, Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Peter Onarati) is first rate. Plus, the trailer treats every character as a real person with individual traits (no cookie cutter stereotyping!), so that’s a plus.
1. Star Trek: Discovery – science fiction isn’t out of place on CBS (see: Person of Interest), but it’s not the network’s go to. Which is probably what Star Trek: Discovery is on CBS All Access.
The trailer is incredibly cinematic, but looks aren’t everything. What’s also important – especially for a Trek series – is intelligence and wit. In that sense, the trailer is not found wanting – a lot of thought has gone into what we are being shown – James Frain as Sarek, father of Spock, hits precisely the right notes as a Vulcan; Doug Jones’ Saru is a unique new alien with a particular gift; the new Klingon design is as scary as we could ever hope for.
There’s not a lot of action – Trek was never an action franchise, after all – but it has a pair of very capable Starfleet officers at its core in Michelle Yeo’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham. Two women of color in leadership roles? Very Trek!
The effects are, for TV, truly dazzling, the cinematography is beautiful and the two-and-a-half minutes we get to see of the show really feels like a good vintage of Trek. A bit more action would have been nice, though.