The network upfronts are a special time of year when the broadcast networks showcase their shiny new wares to eager advertisers hoping that somewhere in the bunch is the next Seinfeld, Friends, CSI, or Big Bang Theory. Most of the time that’s not the case, as even successfully navigating the challenging road to becoming a full-fledged television program all the way to the fall schedule doesn’t always guarantee a show’s success. But what looks like insurmountable odds are part of what makes each new fall season (and, as is more often the case nowadays, midseason) such an enticing proposition. Humankind’s innate love of competition aside, it’s possible that even the most cynical TV-watchers still hope that every new season will bring the next must-see hit.
So far, there has been plenty to judge from and after CBS delivered its network upfront, following presentations earlier this week from NBC, FOX, and ABC, it looks like the network is looking to deliver two dramas that audiences are already familiar with. First up was MacGyver, the network’s reimagining of the TV series from the ’80s and ’90s, starring X-Man Lucas Till and former Crime Scene Investigator George Eads. While that series has all sorts of network wistfulness written all over it, the other big drama is an adaptation of Denzel Washington’s 2001 film Training Day, for which he won his second Academy Award.
As the trailer above demonstrates, this Training Day takes a decidedly different approach to the story of a corrupt Los Angeles detective and his rookie partner. This time around, Bill Paxton is in the Washington role, this time as veteran cop Frank Rourke. Pitted against him is newcomer Justin Cornwell, who takes on what would be the Ethan Hawke role as Rourke’s trainee, Kyle Craig. While the trailer does a solid job of establishing Rourke’s way of doing business in and around the mean streets of LA – always with a smirk, and sometimes with the help of a grenade launcher – the big change in the dynamic between the two leads is set up in the trailer’s closing moments when Craig professes to his wife/girlfriend Alyse (Lex Scott Davis) that he aims to rehabilitate the wayward detective, making every day Rourke’s – wait for it – training day.
That should help ease concerns for those who took the time frame in the title literally, and it also gives the series’ protagonist a goal beyond surviving the day with a crooked partner or taking him down. Whether or not it will do anything to counter the usual skepticism series based on existing properties like this are often met with will be the next question for the show to answer.
But in its favor, Training Day does look the part; it brings plenty of the hazy, golden vistas common to both the original film and several titles in producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s catalogue. Then again, perhaps that is the influence of director Antoine Fuqua who is also on board as a producer (and was initially intended to direct the pilot before scheduling conflicts put it in the hands of Danny Cannon, whose credits include Gotham and Nikita) and with any luck he will be around to guide the series and to help it maintain a look and feel consistent with his film.
While Training Day was one of the biggest trailers shown by CBS at its presentation, the network had several other offerings it wanted to entice advertisers with. Among them were the dramas Bull and Pure Genius.
“Michael Weatherly returns to CBS as the iconoclastic Dr. Jason Bull. Inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, the series follows the brilliant, brash, and charming founder of a hugely successful trial consulting firm who uses a combination of remarkable insight into human nature, three Ph.D.s, and a top-notch team of experts to create winning strategies that tip the scales of justice in his clients’ favor.”
Bull will air Tuesdays @9pm on CBS this fall.
“From the executive producer of Parenthood and Friday Night Lights comes a unique medical drama centered around a young Silicon Valley tech billionaire who builds the ultimate cutting-edge hospital that treats only the most rare and insurmountable medical mysteries—at no cost. Lending credibility to this new venture is a maverick surgeon who’s the first to discover that his boss’s mission is to get bureaucracy out of medicine, use the most forward thinkers in technology, and just save lives—including his own.”
Pure Genius will air Thursdays @10pm on CBS this fall.
CBS’s fall schedule was more focused on comedy than drama this year, as the network is looking to add three high-profile series, all with recognizable stars in the lead, to its line-up. First off is Man With a Plan, which welcomes Friends star Matt LeBlanc back to network TV for the first time since Joey. Along with LeBlanc, the network is also adding the Joel McHale-led The Great Indoors, which also features Stephen Fry and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in supporting roles, as well as the Kevin James-starring sitcom Kevin Can Wait.
Man With a Plan
“Golden Globe® winner Matt LeBlanc stars in a new family comedy about a contractor who learns that parenting his three young children may be the most difficult job he’s ever had. When Adam’s wife goes back to work, he’s overwhelmed by his new responsibilities at home, but with the encouragement of his wife and a few equally stressed-out parents, Adam regroups, lays down the law and starts figuring out his new world order.”
Man With a Plan airs Mondays @8:30pm on CBS this fall.
The Great Indoors
“Joel McHale stars in this insightful and timely comedy about a renowned adventure reporter who has spent his life exploring the edges of the earth. Now that he’s taken a desk job in the digital department of the magazine, he must adapt to the times and his new world. He’s struggling to grasp the lingo of online click-bait and listicles, but his real challenge is in understanding his staff of millenials who write about the great outdoors but never actually set foot outside.”
The Great Indoors airs Thursdays @8:30pm on CBS this fall.
Kevin Can Wait
“Kevin James returns to series television in an irresistible comedy about a newly retired police officer looking forward to quality time with his family—and his fellow retired cops. When his oldest daughter announces she’s dropping out of college to support her fiancé, Kevin knows his only choice is to move them both into his home to keep her in school. The fun has to wait…his family is his new beat.”
Kevin Can Wait airs Mondays at @8pm on CBS this fall.
Time will tell if any of these series turn into hits. CBS has had tremendous luck with its comedies as of late, so this line-up might mean the network will slowly shift away from its status as the place for CSI-like cop procedurals to become the home of multi-cam sitcoms. At any rate, the fall 2016 season is right around the corner.