Trailer-Review-a-Palooza Fall 2019 (PART II): Oh God, more of these? MORE OF THESE!


Hello! Welcome to Trailer Reviews™, a series of articles where a couple of TVMaze writers watch nothing more than the trailer for a new show and then pass judgment, making snap decisions about whether to bother watching something with only 2-3 minutes of network-approved content.

Last week, we reviewed seven upcoming mainstream network shows.

These first two articles cover a more traditional TV model – where mainstream networks present viewers with a Fall television season of sorts. But, soon, the Peak TVpocalypse will be upon us as we continue to review pilot trailers up through December and, honestly, probably beyond that forever.

This week, we tackle eight freshman shows for some reason, with our first non-network premieres (Netflix, Epix) and shows from three network stations (NBC, CBS, FOX).

08) Perfect Harmony - NBC - Sep 26

Cadence: I don’t think this is going to be amazing, but it is 100% made for me. I love Bradley Whitford (star of The West Wing, Studio 60, my heart), I like Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), and I LOVE musicals and uplifting choir competition underdogs. It’s a single-camera sitcom (usually identifiable by a total lack of studio audience and multiple angles shot with one camera), which is basically a prerequisite for me to enjoy comedy at this point in my life (think Community, The Good Place, The Office).

The premise, as set up in the trailer, also suggests a potentially darker vibe (Bradley Whitford’s character is clearly depressed in retirement), so, hopefully, it will be both funny and poignant – like Matthew Perry’s Go On (a sitcom about a support group where Perry’s character’s wife has recently passed).

Will I watch it? YES. Will I enjoy it? YES! Should you check this out? MAYBE.

Tim: I’m 100% with you. Whitford was so good in The Handmaid’s Tale latest season, so a more prominent role can only be a good thing. I’ll pretty much watch any show with people singing (Glee, Empire, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), but the comedy is right up my alley as well. Whitford’s character doesn’t seem to care what he says, much like Ricky Gervais in After Life. I’m also excited that Geno Segers (Banshee), Rizwan Manji (The Magicians) and Will Greenberg (Wrecked) are part of the ensemble. I’ll be checking out this show for sure and I’m hoping the characters really just work well together.

09) Carol's Second Act - CBS - Sep 26

Tim: From the get-go, this show looks like a lot of fun. I’m excited to see Patricia Heaton (The Middle, Everybody Loves Raymond) in a “real” lead role. Carol, a new medical intern, must navigate working with both people her own age and millennials in the best way that she can. After her marriage breaks down, she has a midlife crisis and decides to get back into the workforce – as a doctor.

The show is advertised as a comedy, but from the looks of the trailer, it shows a more dramatic side to Heaton that I hope that will be explored throughout the series. With a supporting cast including Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Portlandia, Desperate Housewives), Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Baby Daddy) and Ashley Tisdale (Young and Hungry, Hellcats), let’s hope this show gets time to develop into a long-running sitcom - something that Heaton is so good at. I’ll definitely be checking this show out.

So Cadence, are you planning on giving Carol a second of your time, or are you giving it a miss?

Cadence: No thanks, not for me. Heaton has been great in everything and MacLachlan is delightful, but this trailer feels a bit tired. I mentioned single-cam sitcoms before – sitcoms that can tell different jokes beyond the usual ‘setup à punchline à pause for laughter’ – well, this is a more traditional multi-camera sitcom, canned laughter and all. That’s just not my thing, especially since most of the jokes in this trailer essentially repeat the same punchline about Carol’s age, over and over. So like, haha, I guess?


10) Sunnyside - NBC - Sep 26

Cadence: This sitcom has a lot going for it; it’s a single-cam starring Kal Penn written by Mike Schur (Parks and Rec, The Good Place) with a political message about immigration and inclusion that I hope will resonate. However, I didn’t really laugh – the trailer featured weak lines and deliveries, so I just hope these were not their best jokes. If I’m being honest, I want Sunnyside to reach the kind of audience that could stand to build more compassion for migrants and refugees – but they’re not usually the target of single-cams. For this show to be politically effective, it might have made more sense as a multi-cam, live studio audience and all, even though I might (personally) find it less comedically interesting.

Meh, I’ll watch the pilot.

Tim: I’m totally with you on this one. It has a lot of potential with Mike Schur at the helm and starring Kal Penn (Deadbeat), but that’s where it ends. I’m happy to see Diana-Maria Riva (Man With a Plan, Telenovela) in a new role, but I don’t know if it will be enough to keep me around. I’m not a fan of the two millennials either. I’ll be checking out the pilot only because of Schur and Penn, but if they want to keep me around, they need to actually make me laugh – it is supposed to be a comedy after all.

11) Evil - CBS - Sep 26

Tim: I love the look of this show - and with creators Michelle and Robert King (The Good Wife, The Good Fight), how could I possible say no? From the look of the trailer, it seems similar to Mindhunter, but with a supernatural twist. The lead is Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) who must decide whether her patients are truly evil or possessed.

The Kings use the courtroom elements from the shows they are so well-known for to tie in with the prosecution side of the show. I think this will balance well with the other, weirder, elements. With a supporting cast that includes Mike Colter (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones) and Michael Emerson (Person of Interest, Lost), Evil, looks to be a perfect successor to Criminal Minds when it ends next year. I’ll be tuning in to see how this show develops its main characters.

Cadence, are you a fan of shows with mixed genres, or do you prefer straight-forward genre shows?

Cadence: I really do love weird mashups – and the Kings are great at them. Their short-lived (and politically confused) Braindead was exactly that: political drama, alien invasion, musical, and more! So, with that in mind, I would watch this in a heartbeat. I don’t know how much I love the premise itself (I don’t really enjoy exorcisms outside of Supernatural), but I am more than willing to give these writers and actors (especially Emerson, he’s so good at being creepy) a chance to convince me it works.

12) The Unicorn - CBS - Sep 26

Tim: Walton Goggins (The Righteous Gemstones, Vice Principals, Justified) is really at the top of his game these days. Goggins plays Wade, the elusive “Unicorn”, a creature that every single woman is looking for: a great husband, father, all-around great guy, and (most importantly) a widower. His friends include Rob Corddry and Omar Benson Miller who both star in Ballers (in its final season). In the trailer, we see the funny side of trying to get back into dating when you have no clue what’s going on.

Wade has plenty of support from his two mates, as well as Michaela Watkins (Casual, Trophy Wife), who brings lots of laughs. His two daughters, Grace and Natalie, played by Ruby Jay and Makenzie Moss, just want the best for their dad. They are a little hesitant about him dating at first, but they warm up to the idea quickly because they know their Dad is doing the best he can for them.

I’ll be checking this out to see if the show can continue to stay funny and not drop off after a few episodes. With a strong lead and supporting cast, I don’t see this being a problem.

Cadence: I also really liked this trailer, although my primary concern will be, as you alluded to Tim, whether they show can maintain its own premise. I appreciate that it will have a mix of melancholy (as Wade, his family, and friends remember his wife) and humour (as Wade dates, badly), but will the show be more about short-term dating (which the title of the show suggests), or about serious long-term relationships? He can’t be a unicorn forever. I’ll watch at least a couple episodes, to see what it can do.

13) The Politician - Netflix - Sep 27

Cadence: Now THAT’s what a trailer should look like! BOOM! I’m a huge Ryan Murphy fan and I know you are too, Tim. For me, Glee – a show that managed to balance edgy humour with an emotional core few shows will ever find – convinced me of his genius. Happily, The Politician boasts the same behind-the-scenes team (Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan). However, Glee also walked a fine line between total incoherence and brilliance (especially in terms of character development), so I am cautious about giving this show a full-throated endorsement. But with a cast that includes (BROADWAY SUPERSTAR AND CRYSINGER SADMAN) Ben Platt (did I mention I love musicals), I will absolutely be watching. I am, however, a bit leery about giving eyeballs to something starring Gwyneth Paltrow (given her deeply harmful ‘wellness’ empire), but not everything can be perfect.

Tim: WOW!!! Within the first few seconds, I could absolutely see what you were talking about, Cadence! I’m excited to see Platt in a TV show, especially as its star. Murphy’s pièce de resistance, Jessica Lange, is back with her quick wit and perfect dialogue. The show looks to be using a similar setting to Glee, so you can probably expect the same drama and satire. The show looks like it will reflect current, real-world challenges, and, true to form, Murphy will be poking fun at it. I’ll be watching Murphy’s debut on Netflix and will most likely binge it.

14) Bless the Harts - FOX - Sep 29

Tim: Joining FOX’s Animation Domination (hopefully for more than one season), Bless the Harts is about a family of southerners who may not have much, but at least they have each other. The show reminds me a little of King of The Hill, which was a part of the original “Animation Domination” lineup. The trailer doesn’t really show enough to get a really good idea of what’s going on, but with a cast including Kristen Wiig (The Last Man on Earth, SNL), Maya Rudolph (Big Mouth, Up All Night), Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project), and Jillian Bell (Workaholics), I’m hopeful. I’ll be giving this show a watch, but I’ll drop it after my three-episode rule if it doesn’t use its impressive voice cast to their full potential.

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show) has had his shows dominate the time slot, so Bless the Harts has a lot to live up to if it wants to stay part of the lineup (which also includes Bob’s Burgers and, of course, the long-running The Simpsons). Unfortunately, there have been too many animated shows that just haven’t been good enough to stick around for more than a season (Napoleon Dynamite, Bordertown). So, I’m hoping Animation Domination is back for a good long while instead of Sunday Funday, which happens when the lineup is a mix of both animated and live-action shows.

Cadence: Yeah, I’ve been having trouble finding a coherent trailer for this show other than just a series of one-liners. I guess it’s about a Southern Family, the end? It *should* be funny, given its cast, but I just don’t love what I’m seeing. I’ve never understood the fun in mocking poor, rural families – working-class shows need to work hard to not come across as weird or exploitative. I’d much rather just watch Bob’s Burgers. I’ll wait for mid-season reviews to decide if I should check it out, but I’m leaning no for now. More like BLESS THE FARTS, amirite :D!? (Gene Belcher gets me).

15) Godfather of Harlem - Epix - Sep 29

Cadence: Oh shit, I am ALL IN on this show. From its bonkers cast (Forest Whittaker, Giancarlo Esposito, Vincent d’Onofrio) to its politically compelling setting, this trailer had me hooked in the first 30 seconds. It’s got drama, action, and STYLE. I think, at this point, it should be pretty clear that I have a strong bias toward serialization, cable (over network) dramas, and innovative comedies – so if that’s what you want too, check this out. I don’t have anything else to add – watch the trailer, enjoy. You're welcome.

Tim: I am such a huge fan of shows based on real-life events AND period pieces, and this one looks like it won’t be an exception. It’s set in the 1960s and follows Bumpy Johnson (Whittaker), a mob boss, and an impressive supporting cast with some great veterans and up-and-comers alike. Lucy Fry (Wolf Creek, 11.22.63), Paul Sorvino (Bad Blood), Nigel Thatch (Valor) make up the ensemble, with Thatch playing Malcolm X. Ilfenesh Hadera (Billions) plays Mayme Johnson, Bumpy’s wife. So, if it wasnt clear, I’ll be ABSOLUTELY checking this show out. I’m interested to see how the story unfolds and develops.

Cadence: Welp, that’s it for this week’s Trailer Reviews! We’ll be back with EVEN MORE in Part III next Monday and most weeks after that forever until the end of time because Peak TV has neither end nor start, it is a circle that eats itself as the sun rises and the world burns anew.

Let us know what you’re most excited about watching in the comments below!

Written by TimDavidCasey on Sep 23, 2019


Cadence posted a month ago

I don't disagree. There are a few new shows I'm excited to check out (Perfect Harmony, The Politician), but for almost everything else, watching a couple of episodes will probably translate to dropping them quickly.

And while I am excited about a show like the Godfather of Harlem, I also agree about the world being dark and not needing to watch anything that's so 'gritty' anymore - like, I loved Battlestar Galactica 15 years ago, but I definitely want something more uplifting today. I don't know what that looks like, especially since I'm pretty into the trend of dark comedies that are more serious than most dramas, but I think we're seeing a turn toward more bright happy content, and less dark for the sake of dark. Maybe?

LadyShelley posted a month ago

Have to say, I'm a bit meh about all of what I've seen so far from the main five networks. I've never been much for the half hour comedy and the dramas all seem rather flat. I think I'll have to wait to see if anything generates some buzz and go from there. As for the streamers, everything seems so dark and heavy. Real life is bad enough, my TV world needs to be a bit happier.

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