With the cancellation of shows like “State of Affairs” and “Constantine,” and the end of “Parenthood,” NBC had room in the schedule to launch five new dramas. The network chose an interesting mix, ranging from popcorn action romps to gritty morality tales. There are the expected cop and doctor characters, but also a few surprise stars and unusual twists on standard TV fare. Here’s an early look at what NBC hopes will be a winning fall schedule. Streamers: check out this page to see where these shows might be available to stream.
I’m not a fan of the “dead wife” scenario for motivating heroes, but this crazy adventure from the producers of “The Blacklist” could be a fun ride. The bizarre plot features unusual high-stakes gambling run by dealer Cassandra (Charity Wakefield) and pit boss Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes). These two front a shadowy group of individuals who bet on whether a former military operative, now security expert (Philip Winchester), can stop some of the biggest crimes imaginable without getting himself killed.
Winchester got his action cred from Cinemax series “Strike Back,” but viewers may also remember him swinging on jungle vines in NBC’s short-lived “Crusoe.” With Winchester’s sexy tough guy hero alongside Snipes’ smooth and sinister manipulator, the network could have another entertaining hit on its hands. Take a look at the trailer for a quick introduction to the major players.
“Shades of Blue”
This new police drama boasts a heavyweight cast with experience in crime-related roles. Jennifer Lopez (yes, that Jennifer Lopez) stars as a detective and mother who runs with dirty cops until she’s forced by the FBI to inform on them. Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”) is Lt. Bill Wozniak, acting as protector to his squad while ferociously trying to dig out the mole. Drea de Matteo (“Sons of Anarchy”) completes this trifecta as a brash, paranoid cop and mother of three.
Producer Barry Levinson is clearly hoping to achieve the critically-acclaimed success of his ’90s drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.” This early preview of the show offers insight from the actors and a peek at Liotta’s quietly menacing demeanor. As the title indicates, the series will explore morally gray areas as these characters struggle to decide what’s truly right and wrong.
This medical drama from NBC is based on a real woman, the brilliant and tough heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato. As one of the few women in her profession, she battles skepticism and sexual harassment on her path to success.
“I had to be twice as good to get half the credit,” Magliato said about the boys club in medicine. “But it didn’t discourage me. It just made me stronger.”
The new series aims to capture the skill, wit, and passion of this talented doctor as she juggles a career, bureaucracy, and her personal life. Unfortunately, the trailer is more unintentionally comical than impressive. Melissa George (“The Good Wife”) feels more like the hair-twirling CIA analyst Katherine Heigl played in the cancelled series “State of Affairs.”
The show hits the feminism note a bit too loudly in this sneak peek, and George’s breathy delivery of supposedly cutting one-liners doesn’t help.
When news of this series first broke, it sounded like one of NBC’s best ideas in a long time. Now that the trailer is out, that suspicion is confirmed. Jaimie Alexander (“Thor”) stars as a woman who wakes up naked in a duffel bag in Times Square. Her memory’s been wiped and her body is covered in fresh, intricate tattoos. One of those spells out the name of an FBI agent, Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton).
Alexander is a compelling lead with the right background for a role that combines kick-ass action with emotional vulnerability. Stapleton is, like “The Player” star Winchester, a veteran of military drama “Strike Back.” If the two heroes have good chemistry, it should be fun to watch them work together and slowly decipher the mystery of Alexander’s Jane Doe. I’ll add an extra shout-out for the awesome Marianne Jean-Baptiste of “Without a Trace” fame.
“Game of Silence”
There’s no trailer yet for this series, leaving the overall impression as shadowy as the mysteries lurking in its plot. David Lyons (Monroe from “Revolution”) stars as Jackson, a lawyer with a perfect life that’s disrupted when an old group of friends from 25 years ago turn up. Together they hope to “right the wrongs of their shared past,” but buried secrets like this lead to suspicion, deception, and dangerous revenge.
Claire van der Boom (“Love Is Now”) will play law partner and fiancé to Jackson. Larenz Tate (“House of Lies”) and Michael-Raymond James (“Once Upon a Time”) also star. Carol Mendelsohn, producer for each of the “CSI” franchise series, brings her successful drama cred to NBC.
With the exception of “Heartbreaker,” which has room for improvement, I think NBC has some strong offerings in store for the new season. A lot will depend on how the plot secrets and mysteries hold up over time, and how strong their competition is in each time slot. Which shows will you be watching?
Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC