NBC: ‘Smash’ Canceled… YES, Canceled


OK, here’s the thing about networks: they’re glad to tell you about their successes but they NEVER will admit failure.  This is why they have such ridiculously glowing press releases issued for when a show gets renewed, but nary a peep when a show gets canceled… except if you read between the lines… which is exactly why you come here… so we can separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

"Hey... where'd my show go?"

“Hey… where’d my show go?”

Here’s how it works: when a show is canceled due to poor ratings (unless it’s a long-running show that’s just run its course) one of two things will occur.  In the first scenario a press release focusing on schedule changes will be issued and buried in that release among other schedule changes will be a change indicating that the timeslot that “X” show was in has been filled with “Y” show with no mention of the previous existence of “X” show.  This is similar to how Stalin dealt with political enemies; he erased them from existence.

Scenario two (what’s happened with Smash) also involves a

"Sorry, 'Smash,' but I can only keep this up for about 12 more weeks..."

“Sorry, ‘Smash,’ but I can only keep this up for about 12 more weeks…”

schedule change press release but instead of erasing show “X” from existence from a timeslot, the announcement instead indicates that the show has been moved to Saturday nights.  This approach is effectively scheduling a date to have your cat put down.  Yeah, it’s still alive at this very moment but there is a very definite timer on that life… in this case, the remaining episodes of Smash‘s second and final season, beginning April 6th.

We (and when I say we, I mean every outlet that covers television) call it “Saturday burn-off.” The reason it’s called that is because networks don’t schedule standard first-run prime-time scripted shows on Saturday for the simple reason that no one watches television on Saturday night (well, at least no one in the coveted 18 – 49 demographic).  Despite what anyone will tell you or what the wishful-thinking types over at the Huffington Post would like to suggest, it’s not a matter of the show technically NOT being canceled because the word “canceled” isn’t used, it’s a matter of semantics.

As noted, networks don’t admit failure so it’s rare that a series is ever actually announced as canceled with a press release but announcing a Saturday burn-off is code for: “no one is watching this show so we are airing all the remaining episodes on Saturday nights until they are all gone because it can’t do much worse on Saturday night than re-runs of She’s The Sheriff and then you’ll never see another episode again” or, in layman’s terms “it’s canceled.”

So, sorry, folks but Smash has been canceled.  Oh, and by the way… if you want to know why Smash was really canceled as opposed to the nonsense showrunner Josh Safran suggested in the HuffPo piece about it being in a bad timeslot or not having The Voice to help it out, read our review from last year of Smash, here.  It’s a harbinger for exactly why this show has failed.

Via Press Release:

NBC Schedule Changes

NBC has announced the following schedule changes:

Ready For Love

Will now air Tuesdays, beginning April 9 (9-11 p.m. ET) following “The Voice.”

CELEBRITY Apprentice

Beginning April 14 (9-11 p.m ET) will be expanded to two hours through the end of May.

The Voice

Will air encore episodes on Sunday, March 31 and Sunday, April 7 (7-10 p.m. ET), leading into original episodes of “The Celebrity Apprentice” (10-11 p.m. ET)

Go On

Moves to Thursdays on April 4 and April 11, which will be the season’s final episode. Both episodes will air at 9:30-10 p.m. ET following “The Office.”

The New Normal

One-hour season finale on Tuesday, April 2 (9-10 p.m. ET) following “The Voice.”


Moves to Saturdays at 9 p.m. beginning April 6 and will air its entire season of 17 episodes.


Will have a one-hour season finale on Wednesday, March 27 (8-9 p.m. ET).

NBC Announces Midseason Schedule, ‘Community’ and ‘Smash’ Return Dates Announced

Congratulations, whiny Community fans!  You got the Thursday, 8:00 p.m. slot and it only took the cancellation of slightly poorer performers to get you there!

Via Press Release:



— New Drama “Deception” (Formerly “Infamous”) January 7

— New Comedy “1600 Penn” January 10

— New Relationship Series “Ready for Love” from Eva Longoria March 31


— “The Voice” Begins Fourth Cycle March 25/26

— The Season’s Newest Hit “Revolution” Returns March 25

— “The Biggest Loser” Weighs in January 6/7 with Return of Jillian Michaels

— “Smash” Dances Back to the Schedule February 5 with Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson

— “Community” Returns February 7

–“The Celebrity Apprentice” Debuts March 3

— “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” Comes Back January 8

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – October 30, 2012 – NBC today announced changes to its 2013 primetime mid-season schedule highlighted by the premieres of three new series, including comedy “1600 Penn,” from one of the architects of “Modern Family”; an intriguing drama “Deception” (formerly “Infamous”); and producer Eva Longoria’s big reality relationship show “Ready for Love.”

In addition, several of the network’s biggest hits will return, including “The Voice” with new coaches Usher and Shakira; fall hit “Revolution”; “Smash,” featuring Jennifer Hudson; and “The Biggest Loser,” with some innovative changes to the format and the return of Jillian Michaels.

Further scheduling announcements will be forthcoming.

Following are the highlights of the changes:


The new drama “Deception” – starring Meagan Good (“Think Like a Man”), Victor Garber (“Alias”), Tate Donovan (“Damages”) and Katherine LaNasa (“Alfie”) in a dark family murder mystery — debuts on January 7 (10-11 p.m. ET). Preceding “Deception” is the new season of “The Biggest Loser” which returns with a two-night premiere on Sunday, January 6 (9-11 p.m. ET) and Monday, January 7 (8-10 p.m. ET), and will continue on Mondays (8-10 p.m. ET) until the return of “The Voice.”

“The Voice” maintains its momentum as it returns March 25 for a fourth season (8-10 p.m. ET) and Tuesday, March 26 (8-9 p.m. ET). It continues its two-night Monday/Tuesday schedule as it did this fall. “Revolution” — the season’s only bona fide new hit series — will return and follow “The Voice” on March 25 (10-11 p.m. ET) when it concludes its current fall broadcast dates in November.


Last year’s acclaimed musical drama “Smash” makes its much-anticipated return with a two-hour episode on February 5 (9-11 p.m. ET) — with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson — and will resume on Tuesday, February 12 (10-11 p.m. ET) in its regular day and time. “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” premieres on January 8 with back-to-back episodes (8-8:30 p.m. ET and 8:30-9 p.m. ET) and will continue in that hour each Tuesday.

“The Voice” also will return on Tuesdays on March 26 (8-9 p.m. ET).


The new comedy “1600 Penn” — starring Bill Pullman (“Independence Day”), Jenna Elfman (“Dharma and Greg”) and Josh Gad (Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon”) as a typical American family who just happen to live in the White House — debuts on January 10 (9:30-10 p.m. ET). Jason Winer, Emmy-winning director of “Modern Family” is co-creator and director. The critically hailed comedy “Community” returns on February 7 (8-8:30 p.m. ET). “Parks and Recreation” moves up one hour on the Thursday schedule to 8:30-9 p.m. (ET) on January 17.


The new alternative series “Ready for Love” — an innovative and dramatic new relationship show about making real connections with executive producer Eva Longoria – premieres Sunday, March 31 (8-10 p.m. ET). Donald Trump’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” resumes with an “All-Star” edition of former celebrity contestants on March 3 (9-11 p.m. ET) for four weeks before continuing in one-hour episodes on Sunday, March 31 (10-11 p.m. ET).

For embeddable clips from the NBC shows, please visit: http://www.nbc.com.

For artwork and complete press kits from the shows, please visit the NBC Universal Media village website athttp://www.nbcumv.com/mediavillage/.

Please follow us on http://www.facebook.com/NBC and at http://www.twitter.com/NBC


REVIEW: Smash (NBC – Monday, 10:00 p.m.)

“Smash” is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire – to be a “Smash.” The series centers on a desire to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe – written by the successful songwriting duo of Tom (Tony Award nominee Christian Borle, “Legally Blonde: The Musical”) and Julia (Emmy Award winner Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”). Julia recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband Frank (Tony Award nominee Brian d’Arcy James, “Shrek the Musical”) of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. A rivalry soon forms for the lead role between a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty Karen (Katharine McPhee, “American Idol”) – who is trying to find fame in the big city against all odds – and stage veteran Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty, “9 to 5: The Musical”), who’s determined to leave the chorus line and finally get her big break. A tenacious producer Eileen (Oscar winner, Anjelica Huston, “Prizzi’s Honor”) discovers the “Marilyn” project and jumps on board with a brilliant director, Derek (Jack Davenport, “Pirates of the Caribbean” films) – whose talent is matched by his cunning and egocentric amorality. Jaime Cepero (“Porgy and Bess”) stars as Ellis, and Raza Jaffrey (“Sex and the City 2,” “MI-5”) stars as Dev. – ABC

65 out of 100

For several years, NBC has been trying to make its programming stand out in an increasingly competitive market and for the most part they’ve been failing miserably. Generally speaking, their scripted television has been beyond uninspired, clinging to old franchises such as the tired Law & Order offerings and introducing lame, cookie-cutter procedurals and comedies that we’ve all seen before and frankly have no interest in.  The mantra at NBC has been apparently to milk a concept to death and hope for the best.  At one point a couple of years ago, you’ll recall they even went so far as to abandon scripted programming altogether at 10:00 p.m. and replace it with five nights of Jay Leno, who, as proven, was far more suited for late-night than prime-time.  This disastrous decision not only hurt the status of the The Tonight Show, but it further damaged the status of the struggling network as a whole.

Another strategy that they’ve tried is to attempt to recreate the success of other networks’ offerings by bringing their own version of a genre show to their network.  The first go at this was last season’s miserable failure, The Event, which was described as a combination of  Lost and 24.  The problem with this approach, besides the fact that the show was ridiculously convoluted and was a pure SciFi show in an era where SciFi is dead, is that NBC was making the mistake of trying to recapture the success of two shows that had been canceled and the reason that they had been canceled is because audiences had evolved and the popularity had waned.  As much as we loved Lost and 24, in our first post ever, right in the first paragraph, we noted that the end of these two iconic series marked an end of an era in television.  So, the lesson here for NBC is that if you’re going to emulate successful programming on other networks, emulate programming that is currently successful.

Well, it seems that they finally figured that out with Smash.  Smash is NBC’s Glee… period.  That’s what they wanted and that’s what they got; a musical with a rich cast of characters that’s highlighted by fantastic musical numbers during every episode. Now, that’s about where the similarities end as far as plot is concerned but as different as the two musical shows are, there are a lot of things going on in Smash that made us stop watching Glee to begin with.

Don’t get us wrong, we do like Smash, but as unique as it tries to be, it regularly falls into the same trappings that most scripted shows on television do, and as good as it is, it’s not nearly as good as the critics have claimed it is.

First, the biggest problem we have is that the show seems to take a while to go anywhere.  It’s kind of like 50 minutes of a whole-lot-of-nothing and then the last 10 minutes there are some developments in the episode and of course a big musical number that makes you excited enough that you forget about the first 50 minutes and can’t wait for the next episode.  We like a lot of complexities all the way through our serial dramas and Smash just doesn’t deliver that.

Another issue we have is that we don’t know what’s more melodramatic, the fictional musical Marilyn that the show is based on, or the show itself.  From what we’ve understood, the point of this show was to try to paint a realistic portrayal of the process that goes into the production of a Broadway musical and as good as the performances are by the all-star cast, the characters are written so over-the-top as to not be believable.  This combined with the fact that the premise of the show is very niche to begin with (on its face, how many typical viewers would really have any interest in the inside-baseball of Broadway to begin with?), makes the show come off as very pretentious, at times.

You too can write in Hollywood.

At the same time, the show often can’t help but to fall back on the Mad Libs-style of writing that we’ve been so critical of in the past.  Over the first seven weeks, we’ve had Ivy (Megan Hilty) the female lead of the musical sleeping with the director (Jack Davenport) to get a part, Michael Swift (Will Chase), the male lead sleeping with the married co-writer of the show (Debra Messing) and both the director and the co-writer want to fire the actor that they are nailing because of their own personal feelings.  The deciding vote, of course goes to the other co-writer, who we forgot to mention is the stereotypical token gay character that any television show surrounding musical theater must include (apparently there is a law).

To top it off, the ultimate insult was the appearance last week of Bernadette Peters, as Lee Conroy, the Tony award-winning actor (because we can’t call women actresses anymore) who happens to be the mother of our lead, Ivy, and of course stops by for the entire episode for the sole purpose of stealing the spotlight from her daughter and praising everyone else in the production but her.  We finally threw up in our mouth at the end of the episode when Ivy confronts her mother about her treatment towards her and mom’s response is the typical, “I’ve only been hard on you your whole life because I never wanted you to go through the same pain that I did.”  Then of course years of family dysfunction is resolved as the daughter finally understands.


Honestly, if they’re using this type of crap this early in a series it does not bode well as a harbinger for future seasons.  That’s the kind of tripe that writers spit out when the well has dried up.  That being, said, audiences will no doubt ignore things like that and focus on the fluff that they like about the show and for the most part, the series is mildly compelling and that should be enough to keep it going for a while.  Smash is currently NBC’s highest rated scripted show and as we noted in our piece the other day, has already been picked up for a second season.

So, the final verdict here is that Smash is a good show and will probably be very successful for a few years on NBC but viewers shouldn’t go into this expecting more substance than style because it simply doesn’t offer that.

Watch complete episodes of Smash, here.

NBC: ‘Smash’ Renewed For Second Season


In news that comes as a surprise to no one who hasn’t been living in a cave, NBC has renewed their broadway musical themed hit series, Smash, for a second season. Smash is NBC’s highest rated scripted show so this really is a no-brainer.

In news that will come as no surprise to our readers, this entire article was written and published from the toilet using an iPhone.

Via Press Release:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – March 22, 2012 – NBC has renewed its critically acclaimed musical drama “Smash” (Mondays, 10-11 p.m. ET) for a second season, it was announced today by Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment.

“Smash” is NBC’s #1 drama in adults 18-49 and total viewers. “Smash” is up 160 percent in 18-49 versus NBC’s season average in the time period prior to “Smash” (with a 2.6 rating vs. a 1.0, “live plus same day”) and in total viewers, “Smash” has improved the time period by 100 percent (7.7 million vs. 3.9 million).

Among the many positive notices the series has received, USA Today wrote, “‘Smash’ pulls out all of the entertainment stops and succeeds… just the kind of gloriously entertaining, wildly ambitious network series you hope for each season…” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “…‘Smash’ is a triumph.” And EW.com referred to “Smash” as “…one damn lively show with a lot of promise.”

NBC’s “Smash” – which debuted February 6 — celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire – to be a “Smash.” Evolving from an idea of executive producer and multiple Emmy and Oscar winner Steven Spielberg (“ER,” “Schindler’s List”), the series unites the hit-making Broadway writing team of Julia Houston (Debra Messing, Emmy winner, “Will & Grace”) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle, “Legally Blonde: The Musical”) with producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston, Oscar winner, “Prizzi’s Honor”) to create a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, and seasoned chorus girl Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty, “9 to 5: The Musical”) vies with newcomer Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee, “American Idol”) for the role of a lifetime.

The cast also features Jack Davenport (“Pirates of the Caribbean” films), Raza Jaffrey (“MI-5,” “Sex and the City 2”), Brian d’Arcy James (“Shrek the Musical”) and Jaime Cepero (“Porgy & Bess”). In addition to Spielberg, the executive producers include Theresa Rebeck (“Mauritius”), David Marshall Grant (“Brothers & Sisters”), Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“Chicago,” “Hairspray”), Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey (“United States Of Tara,” “The Borgias”) and Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray,” “Catch Me If You Can”). The first three episodes were directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer.

“Smash” is a production of Universal Television in association with DreamWorks Television and Madwoman in the Attic.

Meet NBC’s New Shows For 2011 – 2012 (VIDEOS!)… And Watch How We Tear Them Apart (Preview – Review)

“The ‘Tastic Says: You FAIL!”

As promised, The ‘Tastic is proud to present the first-look trailers for all of The NBC’s new shows what little there are. Yes, we are aware that we are late to the party on this, but NBC released their schedule last Sunday, and they didn’t include any trailers on YouTube. Along with synopses and videos, in true TV-Tastic-style we’ll give you a preview assessment of each of the new series (in other words, we plan to pretty much rip most of them apart) letting you know what we think about them and if it’s worth your time to check them out this Fall and just to give everyone a heads up: it looks really good for NBC.

Also, since we didn’t do it initially, here are some programming notes:

  • Comcast has sunk an extra $200 million into NBC’s programming for this season. Whether or not this means that the quality of the programming will increase remains to be seen.
  • NBC is doing a lot of  rebooting of other shows or carbon copying other networks’ programming this Fall in their dramas and comedy.  It’s kind of weird but it actually looks like it may work.
  • These new shows are all very diverse in content and should attract a very wide audience.
  • Without a doubt, overall, (amazingly enough) NBC has the best-looking new programs on network TV.  We sincerely hope that the new shows will be watched.


Prime Suspect:  Based on the critically acclaimed British television series of the same name, “Prime Suspect” has been redeveloped for American audiences by writer Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives,” “NYPD Blue”), director Peter Berg (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”) — and stars Maria Bello (“A History of Violence”) as tough-as-nails Detective Jane Timoney. Timoney finds that being a homicide detective in New York City is tough enough and having to contend with a male-dominated police department to get respect makes it that much tougher. She’s an outsider who has just transferred to a new precinct dominated by an impenetrable clique of a boys’ club. Timoney has her own vices too — with a questionable past — and she tends to be forceful, rude and reckless. But she’s also a brilliant cop who keeps her eye on one thing: the prime suspect.

The ‘Tastic says: We really liked the British version of this show and the big difference between the two is that this version is trying to be a lot more cool and fast-paced and there seems to be a very heavy office-politics angle that wasn’t present as much before.  However, it does look pretty decent, all things considering for a show that at its heart is a vanilla cop-procedural.  

The Playboy Club:  From Academy Award-winning executive producer Brian Grazer, “The Playboy Club” is a provocative new drama about a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary entrepreneur created an empire and an icon changed American culture. It’s the early ‘60s, and the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago is the door to all of your fantasies — and the key is the most sought-after status symbol of its kind. Inside the seductive world of the bunny, the epitome of beauty and service, the clientele rubs shoulders with the decade’s biggest mobsters, politicos and entertainers. Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian, “CSI: Miami”) is one of the city’s top attorneys and the ultimate playboy, rubbing elbows with everyone in the city’s power structure. With mysterious ties to the mob, Nick comes to the aid of Maureen (Amber Heard, “Zombieland”), the stunning and innocent new bunny who accidentally kills the leader of the Bianchi crime family. Dating Nick is Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti, “Take the Lead”), a bombshell and established star at the club who knows her days as a bunny are numbered and finds herself continually at odds with Billy (David Krumholtz, ”Numb3rs”), the club’s general manager. Adding to the charm of the Playboy club is Janie (Jenna Dewan Tatum, “American Virgin”), the carefree life of the party who is dating Max (Wes Ramsey, “CSI: Miami”), an overly protective bartender. Also starring are Naturi Naughton (“Fame”) and Leah Renee (“True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet”).

The ‘Tastic says:  So, it seems that since ABC jumped on the Madmen 1960’s-hip bandwagon with Pan Am everyone wants to get in on this action (NOTE: this isn’t the only time this season that NBC will follow ABC’s lead).  Heck, they even have a Sinatra song in the opening of the trailer.  TPC does look pretty interesting, though, and it seems like the kind of show that Mrs. ‘Tastic would enjoy as well.  That will increase the number to three that we share in common.  Keep it up, NBC.  You’re two for two.

Smash:  “Smash” is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire — to be a “Smash.” The series centers on a desire to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe — written by the successful songwriting duo of Tom (Tony Award nominee Christian Borle, “Legally Blonde: The Musical”) and Julia (Emmy Award winner Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”). Julia recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. A rivalry soon forms for the lead role between a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty (Katharine McPhee, “American Idol”) — who is trying to find fame in the big city against all odds — and stage veteran (Megan Hilty, “9 to 5: The Musical”), who’s determined to leave the chorus line and finally get her big break. A tenacious producer Eileen (Oscar winner, Anjelica Huston, “Prizzi’s Honor”) discovers the “Marilyn” project and jumps on board with a brilliant director (Jack Davenport, “Pirates of the Caribbean” films) — whose talent is matched by his cunning and egocentric amorality.

The ‘Tastic says: NBC’s answer to Glee with a whole lot of Fame thrown in for good measure.  Not our cup of tea by any stretch of the imagination but it seems again like it’s right up Mrs. Tastic’s alley so we’ll probably wind up watching it.  With Steven Spielberg’s name behind it, it looks like this could be a hit, but then again, it is on NBC.  But hey, Three for Three!

Grimm:  “Grimm” is a new drama series inspired by the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Remember the fairy tales your parents used to tell you before bedtime? Those weren’t stories — they were warnings. Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli “Turn The Beat Around”) thought he prepared himself for the realities of working as a homicide detective until he started seeing things he couldn’t quite explain. When his ailing Aunt Marie (guest star Kate Burton, “Grey’s Anatomy”) arrives, Nick’s life turns upside down when she reveals they are descendants of an elite group of hunters, also known as “Grimms,” who fight to keep the balance of humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. As Nick digs deeper into her past, he realizes that he will have to shoulder the responsibility of his ancestors — and contend with a larger-than-life mythology of the Brothers Grimm that is now all too real.

The ‘Tastic says: NBC’s answer to both ABC’s Once Upon a Time and FOX’s Fringe.  Actually, NBC is trying to put this up against Fringe on Friday nights and that may be a very big miscalculation, going for a genre audience that is already very loyal to another series.  We think it looks like a good guilty pleasure (not sure about great, yet), but we are very concerned about this questionable scheduling.  No matter to us as we have a DVR and aren’t a Nielsen Household.  Four for Four, though in the quality department.

Awake:  “Awake” is an intriguing drama about a detective (Jason Issacs, “Harry Potter,” “Brotherhood”) who finds he is leading an arduous double life that defies reality. When Detective Michael Britten (Issacs) regains consciousness following his family’s car accident, he is told that his wife Hannah (Laura Allen, “Terriers”) perished but that his teen son, Rex (Dylan Minnette, “Saving Grace”), has survived. As he tries to put the pieces of his life back together, he awakens again in a parallel reality in which his wife is very much alive — but his son Rex died in the accident. In order to keep both of his loved ones alive at one time, he begins living two dueling realities in parallel worlds, which churns up confusion — in one moment, Michael and his wife debate about having another child to replace their son, while in the other reality, he is attracted to his son’s tennis coach, Tara (Michaela McManus, “The Vampire Diaries”), to fill the void from the loss of his wife. Trying to regain some normalcy, Michael returns to police work and solves crimes in both worlds with the help of two different partners — Detective Isaiah “Bird” Freeman (Steve Harris, “The Practice”) and Detective Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama, “That ’70s Show”).

The ‘Tastic says:  This show is one of the best-looking new shows on the entire Big-5 network primetime schedule and is by far the best looking show on NBC this season.  This is what we mean when we use the phrase, “high-concept,” not this, ABC!  It’s a bit like CBS’s new drama, A Gifted Man, in which a self-centered physician is conversing with his dead ex-wife, the only woman he ever loved, who is guiding him through his life.  In both cases, as the audience, part of the mystery is whether or not our leads are really experiencing what they claim to see or if these visions are all brought on by some sort of mental/emotional instability… or worse, if all of this is just in the imagination of a little boy with autism who stares into a snowglobe all day that has a little replica of a hospital in it.  Awake simply has so much going for it.  It stars Jason Isaacs who we think is great in everything he does plus it’s a compelling detective drama with a SciFi, metaphysical twist and it’s one of those shows like Lost where audiences will already be invested in it before they even realize it’s a SciFi show.  We can’t express how excited for this show we are.  We hope NBC is smart enough to promote the crap out of it.  A resounding five for five, NBC.

The Firm:  Based on the blockbuster feature film and best-selling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham (“The Pelican Brief,” “The Client”), “The Firm” continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel. As a young associate, McDeere brought down the prestigious Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, which operated as a front for the Chicago mob — and his life was never the same. After a difficult decade, which included a stay in the Federal Witness Protection program, Mitch and his family now emerge from isolation to reclaim their lives and their future — only to find that past dangers are still lurking and new threats are everywhere.

The ‘Tastic says:  In principle we hate this concept even worse than we hate the concept of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series and for all of the exact same reasons, just ten-fold.  Seriously this movie came out in 1993 when we were seniors in High School for goodness sake and the novel was released in 1991.  This reeks of recycling dated material.  That being said, the show description above and the John Grisham’s own video statement about the series, here, make a compelling case for The Firm as a suspenseful series.  As long as Grisham is as heavily involved as he seems to be, this should be pretty good.  Six for Six, NBC.

(Since this is a midseason replacement, NBC has not released a trailer for it yet.)

Whitney:  A hilarious look at modern love, “Whitney” is a new multi-camera comedy series about Whitney (Whitney Cummings, “Chelsea Lately”) and Alex (Chris D’Elia, “Glory Daze”), a happily unmarried couple. Together for five years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched. However, after attending yet another one of their friends’ weddings, Whitney realizes that she and Alex are dangerously close to relationship boredom. Determined not to let that happen, Whitney consults her close circle of opinionated girlfriends — including Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones, “The Other Guys”) and Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn, “The Starter Wife”) — and then snaps into action. A few awkward sexy costumes and one botched seductive evening later, the couple ends up in the emergency room. Even so, Whitney and Alex realize that while their relationship might not be perfect on paper, they really do love each other — and that works for them.

The ‘Tastic says:  Just when we were ready to claim that NBC had a flawless score on new pick-ups for the Big-5 networks, they hit us with this piece of crap.  Besides the fact that it’s obviously just a typically horrible sitcom using all of the standard clichés, canned laughter and plot-devices, the overall premise is simply offensive.  We don’t normally get excited about the variety of political and social messages that permeate primetime television programming but we have to draw a line here.  Where the Hell do they get off creating a series with the general premise of disparaging and minimizing the value of marriage as if it’s “no big deal.”  We hate to be the ones to break this to the producers, but marriage is far more than “just a piece of paper” and no, unmarried couples living together for five years should not be afforded the same stature in society as married couples.  Regardless of this, though, it seriously looks almost as bad as $#*! My Dad Says.  All of these characters are clones of Friends characters.  Seriously, that guy, Alex… he’s effing Chandler except he looks like he needs a bath and rehab.  The only joke we laughed at in the trailer was when they were role-playing and she gave him the new patient information forms to fill-out and the only reason that we paid attention to that is that we were completely distracted by her ass in the red panties so unless they intend to dress her in those every week, expect this show to die a quick death. Total Fail.

Up All Night:  From Emily Spivey (NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”) and legendary Emmy Award-winning producer Lorne Michaels, comes “Up All Night,” a modern take on Parenthood that shows the challenges of balancing a career, marriage and a new baby. Christina Applegate (“Samantha Who?”) stars as Reagan, a successful public relations executive, and Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) plays Chris, Reagan’s supportive, stay-at-home husband. The two have just become parents – a surprise that has set their lives on a new path as responsible adults — for the most part.

The ‘Tastic says:  Well, at least they made up for Whitney with this.  This is one of the few sitcoms that we’ve seen trailers for that actually make the show worth watching.  Anyone who is a parent can relate to pretty much everything in this show.  It’s the golden rule of first time parents:  no matter how much you think you know, no matter how much you think you’ve prepared, and no matter how much advice other parents have given you, you have NO IDEA what you’re in for.  Christina Applegate is always charming and it’s good to see Will Arnett in a role that he’s actually likable and endearing in as opposed to most of his roles where he’s usually known for being – and we’ll say it – a complete prick.  One of the few sitcoms we’ve ever actually looked forward to seeing.

Free Agents:  “Free Agents” is a crooked workplace/romantic new comedy from creator John Enbom (“Party Down”) and Emmy Award-winning director Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”) based on the cult U.K. series of the same name that explores the trials and tribulations of two public relations executives on the rebound. Alex (Hank Azaria, “The Simpsons,” “Huff”) is newly divorced and can barely keep himself together while his co-worker Helen (Kathryn Hahn, “Hung”) thinks she has it together but is obsessed with her deceased fiancé and actually is falling apart. Then a drunken Alex and Helen end up in bed together, and in the resulting sober confusion, Helen decides that they should only be friends. Meanwhile Alex’s co-workers, Dan (Mo Mandel, “Love Bites,” “Modern Family”) and Gregg (Al Madrigal, “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Gary, Unmarried”), and Stephen (Anthony Head, “Merlin,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) fail in their attempts to help him get back out on the dating scene. When Alex finally agrees to a date, Helen gets a little jealous, and he gets cold feet, so they end up back where they started — in a casual, intimate and beautifully awkward relationship.

The ‘Tastic says:  Yet another series from the U.K. rebooted for NBC.  We’re not familiar with the U.K. version and we’re not particularly interested in this, either.  It doesn’t look horrible, it just doesn’t look original  (obviously it’s not if it’s a reboot of a U.K. series) or worth investing a whole lot of time in.  Seriously… middle-aged guy, recently divorced, going through mid-life crisis?  C’mon, now.  What is this really bringing to the table?  Also, it’s kinda hard for us to take Moe Szyslak seriously as the recently divorced stud.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea: Inspired by the best-selling book from comedienne/talk show host Chelsea Handler (“Chelsea Lately”), the new comedy “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” follows the exploits of twentysomething bartender Chelsea (Laura Prepon, “That ’70s Show”) a strong-willed force of nature who is determined to live life to the fullest and make no apologies. Her friends are along for the ride but they all know it is Chelsea’s way or the highway. Mark (Jo Koy, “Chelsea Lately”) is a charming bartender whose wit makes him the perfect foil for Chelsea while Shoniqua (Angel Laketa Moore, “ER”) is a smart and sassy fellow waitress who looks out for Chelsea’s best interests. Close friend and fellow bartender Todd (Mark Povinelli, “Water for Elephants”) has a wry sense of humor that keeps her in check.

The ‘Tastic says: Without a doubt, this is this season’s $#*! My Dad Says.  New comedy series loosely based on an observational humor book, so yep, there it is.  It looks like they may have gotten it right this time by having it be written by Chelsea Handler and her staff as opposed to $MDS in which the creator had zero experience in television writing and wasn’t responsible for the actual writing.  We shouldn’t want to like this show because it does contain all of the sitcom clichés that we always complain about, however, just from the little bit that we saw, there is no question that this show has Handler’s unique sense of humor and therefore we’ll begrudgingly watch this and see what happens.

Best Friends Forever:  “Best Friends Forever” is a single-camera comedy that takes a look at what happens when best friends promise to support each other — no matter what the cost or circumstances. When Jessica’s (Jessica St. Clair, “In the Motherhood”) husband files for divorce, she immediately seeks comfort and flies across the country to move back in with her best friend, Lennon (Lennon Parham, “Accidentally on Purpose”). Unfortunately, Lennon’s boyfriend, Joe (Adam Pally, “Happy Endings”), has just moved into the apartment and has turned Jessica’s old room into his perfect home office. As Lennon and Jessica fall into their old routines — beloved traditions, Steel Magnolia marathons and epic girl-talk sessions — Joe begins to feel as if he’s the odd man out. While Lennon struggles to find balance between her previous life with Jessica and her new life with Joe, Jessica’s reentry to single life is complicated by the unresolved feelings that an old friend, Rav (Stephen Schneider, “The Funniest Movie Ever…Just Kidding”), has for her and the fact that pleated khakis aren’t the most flattering single girl look.

The ‘Tastic says:  It’s difficult to judge this show without a little more context than the video below.  Although what can be said is that the setup for the joke at the end was very good and for that alone we’ll check it out.  No promises, though.  This goes into the column of “Maybe.”

Bent:  “Bent” is a new romantic comedy about two people who suddenly find themselves attracted to the qualities that typically repel them. On the surface, Alex (Amanda Peet, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) and Pete (David Walton, “Perfect Couples”) could not be more different. The recently divorced Alex is a resilient and tough lawyer who now is raising her eight-year-old daughter, Charlie (Joey King, “Ramona and Beezus”), as a single mom. Unwilling to let anything get in her way, she downsizes into a smaller house, and she hires Pete, a recovering gambling addict and unapologetic womanizer, as the contractor to re-do her kitchen. The remodeling job is Pete’s last chance to prove that he is no longer a screw-up — but he doesn’t know what’s about to hit him when he encounters the force of nature that is Alex — nor does she realize that she’s met her match in Pete, a man unafraid to call out her flaws. Jeffrey Tambor (“Arrested Development”) also stars as Pete’s father, Walt, an out-of-work actor, while Margo Harshman (“Sorority Row”) stars as Alex’s wild younger sister Screwsie. This romantic comedy from writer and executive producer Tad Quill (“Scrubs,” “Spin City”) and director Craig Zisk (“Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds”) will prove that these resilient characters are “bent, not broken.” The series is produced by Universal Media Studios.

The ‘Tastic says:  Well, hot damn, yet another comedy on NBC that we think actually looks really enjoyable.  Bent has an excellent cast and some really quick and sharp comedy timing as well as characters who actually – God forbid – seem well-written and likable.  Surprisingly enough, this is looks like another winner for NBC.