Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Fried and Top Coppers, BBC Three's Ambitious New Comedies

At the end of summer, BBC Three, the youth centred network which is set to close by next year, premiered two new ambitious comedy series.

Top Coppers premiered on August 19 2015 on BBC Three and follows the adventures of cops John Mahogany (Steen Raskopoulos) and Mitch Rust (John Kearns) as they attempt to rid the fictional world of Justice City from its deranged criminal underworld.
The universe and its characters are derived from the conventions of American and British cop shows of the 70s and 80s, from Starsky & Hutch to The Professionals, but is set in no specific time or country.
The home of the show is Justice City Police Department, again, inspired by cop shows of the 70s and 80s; the Station Floor, Chief's office, Interrogation Room, Helga's Lab, The Locker Room, The Car, Mayor Brady's office, Prison Cell.
The series was created by Cèin McGIllicuddy and Andy Kinnear. While the series is stylistically attractive and the sets used are profound when compared to other BBC sitcoms, the show's humour often falls flat. 

Unfortunately, the weakest links tend to be the two starting characters, John and Mitch who are neither appealing, relatable or funny. They are the usual slackers who somehow manage to muster the effort to complete their job of tackling crime and arresting criminals by the end of the episode all while avoiding being fired. 
In fact, in the first episode, the cop duo manage to cause thousands of pounds worth of damage in the only funny moment in the show in which they chase a ice cream truck which eventually explodes.
Just like any other cop spoof comedy, the chief has to be an angry black man. In some cases, like in the superior Brooklyn Nine-Nine which stars Andre Braugher, the chief in Top Coppers is played by Donovan Blackwood who manages to convey as surprisingly convincing American accent.
While Top Coppers has amazing cinematography, sets and production in comparison to other British sitcoms, especially BBC Three shows, Top Coppers fails to arrest any jokes or truly funny moments. 
Fried is the second sitcom BBC Three premiered at the end of summer. This Croyden set show is based in a fried chicken shop called Seriously Fried Chicken and follows the working and personal lives of it's eccentric employees. 
The six episode series comes after a successful 2014 pilot episode which aired on BBC iPlayer and later on BBC Three as part of the Comedy Feeds initiative. The series was created by brothers Henry and Jack Williams. 
The series stars Katy Wix as insecure boss Mary, Simon Greenall as shady second in command Derek, chicken mascot Ed played by Imran Yusef. Some Girls alum Mandeep Dhillon plays easily agitated new employee Anal, a possible love interest for the young and awkward Joe played by William Melling. Rounding out the cast is the assertive Jamaican employee Shontal played by Llewlla Gideon. 
The first episode centred on manager Marg going undercover as a new Spanish male employee to weed out the staff meme et who made complaints about her to head office.
While the writing in the first episode of the series is creative, charming and results in several moments throughout, some characters seem one dimensional and borderline annoying. It's fantastic seeing a Jamaican character in a British sitcom, especially one set in an urban London area like Croyden although, Shantal is mostly seen shouting or yelling at someone or something. 
The most annoying aspect of the show is the character Ed who's only redeeming quality is the fact he spends most of the episode in a chicken costume with shifts covered. The Ed character is our comic relief character we have seen several times before. The socially awkward guy who believes he is far more popular and sexually promiscuous than he actually is. The writing doesn't allow Ed to be original, likeable or relatable in any way. 
The original pilot which aired in 2014 seemed to set up the show as a coming of age story for Joe and his budding relationship with Anal, who also starts working in the pilot episode. Despite this being another used story line, it would have given Joe something significant to do during the premiere episode and made Anal more than just the frustrated newcomer who manages to work a night shift by herself.
The episode's highlights are whenever the naïve and eager to please boss Mary is on-screen with Derek, a meek deputy boss who is clearly frustrated by Mary's job position. Their weird relationship which consists of a combination of a feud/best friendship is a welcomed silver lining of originality and humour. The more conflict between both characters, the funnier Fried will become. 
Both Fried and Top Coppers are ambitious sitcoms which aim to refresh the British comedy landscape by aiming for youth viewers. While Top Coppers is mostly disappointing, Fried has the potential to become a hilarious weekly must see if BBC Three decides to keep it around after their move to online programming! 

Monday, 14 September 2015

NBC Renews The Carmichael Show, Cancels Mr Robinson

NBC has given a second season renewal to freshman summer comedy The Carmichael Show while opting to cancel Mr Robinson. 

The decision comes after both series aired two episodes from a six episode order on Wednesday nights leading out of America's Got Talent. While both series had fairly similar ratings, NBC opted to renew The Carmichael Show due to it's more positive reception in comparison to the negative reviews Mr Robinson received. 

This marks the second consecutive season where NBC renews a summer show. Last season, NBC renewed freshman drama The Night Shift and comedy Undatable, which is the only returning drama on NBC's fall schedule. 

The Carmichael Show received positive reviews from critics and drew comparisons to All in the Family due to the socially conscious discussions on the show such as race, politics and religion.

According to NBC, The 9 PM edition of The Carmichael Show (1.1 rating in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers in Live+Same Day) was the most-watched summer comedy on the Big 4 networks in eight years and tied for the No. 1 summer comedy over that span in adults 18-49. 
While The Carmichael Show showed a week 2 increase in ratings, Mr Robinson showed a decline after a promising debut.

“We’re extremely proud of The Carmichael Show, and Jerrod’s voice and point of view is a breath of fresh air in a comedy series,” said Jennifer Salke, President of NBC Entertainment. “This show made a big impact with viewers and critics because it’s funny and relatable but also because it’s fearless about discussing issues that are significant in the world today.”
nbclogo__130422182418-150x150Both The Carmichael Show and Mr Robinson took the long road to development. The Carmichael Show was given a pilot presentation order in 2014 but was ultimately not ordered to series. Due to the strength of the pilot, NBC bosses ordered an additional pilot last summer before scoring a full series order earlier this year.
The Carmichael Show is based on Jerrod Carmichael's stand-up and follows his relationship with his girlfriend and family. Jerrod Carmichael also serves as a co-creator and producer on the show.
Mr. Robinson which started The Office alum Craig Robinson was originally ordered to pilot in 2013. Greg Daniels served as executive producer. A year after the original pilot order, NBC ordered the show to series with Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen as the new creative team.
Here are the official descriptions of both shows: 
the series also starred Ben Koldyke as Jimmy Hooper, Brandon T. Jackson as Ben RobinsonSpencer Grammer as Ashleigh FellowsAmandla Stenberg as Halle Foster, Peri Gilpin as Principal Eileen Taylor[
Mr Robinson stars Craig Robinsonas a middle school music teacher and part-time musician. the series also starred Ben Koldyke as Jimmy Hooper, Brandon T. Jackson as Ben Robinson, Spencer Grammer as Ashleigh Fellows, Amandla Stenberg as Halle Foster, Peri Gilpin as Principal Eileen Taylor
Inspired by Jerrod Carmichael’s relationship with his say-anything contrarian father, his therapist-in-training girlfriend, his ever-hustling brother and his mother who is always, always, always right with Jesus,The Carmichael Showstars Carmichael, David Alan Grier, Loretta Devine, Amber Stevens West and Lil Rel Howery. The series, from 20th TV and Universal TV, is exec produced by Carmichael, Nick Stoller, Ravi Nandan and Sanchez-Witzel.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

E4 to Broadcast Rush Hour TV Series and Containment

The hub for all the latest US TV shows E4  has closed a deal with Warner Bros. which are set to air the two new dramas in 2016. Containment from The CW and Rush Hour from CBS.

Containment opens as an epidemic breaks out in Atlanta, To combat the outbreak, a large city wide quarantine is quickly enforced, leaving those stuck on the inside to fight for their lives. 

The drama is produced by Warner Bros Television and stars David Gyasi, Christina Moses, Chris Wood, Kristen Gutoskie, Claudia Black, George Young, Hanna Mangan Lawrence and Trevor St. John. The Vampire Diaries’ Julie Plec penned the script and will executive produce alongside director David Nutter.

The series is set to premiere as a mid-season replacement on The CW in 2016.

The series version of Rush Hour is Based on the feature film of the same name, which follows a stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer who is assigned to a case in Los Angeles where he’s forced to work with a cocky African-American LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner.
The drama is produced by Warner Bros Television and stars Justin Hires, Jon Foo, Aimee Garcia and Wendie Malick. Bill Lawrence & Blake McCormick penned the script and will executive produce alongside Arthur Sarkissian, Brett Ratner and Jeff Ingold.
Containment and Rush Hour will join a huge slate of first-run acquired US series on E4, the youth skewing sister network of Channel 4. These original US series include The Big Bang Theory, Nashville, 2 Broke Girls, Baby Daddy, Melissa & Joey, New Girl, The Mindy Project, The 100, Supernatural, Jane The Virgin and Fox’s hit music drama Empire, which is returning to the channel for a second season this Autumn.
UPDATE: The Rush Hour TV series will premiere on E4 on Tuesday 19th March 2016!

Comedy Central UK Acquire UK Broadcast Rights to Bob's Burgers

Bob's Burgers fans rejoice! After being dropped by original UK broadcaster E4 three years ago, the cult animated comedy will be making it's return to UK 

Comedy Central UK has closed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution to acquire the UK rights to the third season of Bob’s Burgers. Broadcast first reported the news.

Bobs BurgersBob’s Burgers follows a third-generation restaurateur as he runs his own burger joint with the help of his wife and their three kids. The animated series features the voice talents of H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal.
The first two seasons previously aired on E4 but the show was ultimately dropped due to poor ratings.
Comedy Central UK’s deal with Fox also gives the channel the rights to complete series of Malcolm In The Middle
Bob's Burgers is the latest sitcom to be acquired by Comedy Central UK. Te British network just announced that Friends would be airing reruns on the channel until at least 2019.
The broadcaster also made it clear their intentions to acquire an addition US comedy following the conclusion of Two and a Half Men earlier this year. However, it is unclear whether this new sitcom will be from the 2015-16 season or a classic sitcom. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Second Chance | Review (Fox)

Second Chance  (Formerly Known as The Frankenstein Code and Lookinglass)
The pilot was written by Rand Ravich (Life, Crisis, The Astronaut’s Wife). Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Co-produced by Howard Gordon (Homeland, 24, X-Files, Buffy, Angel) & Hugh Fitzpatrick (Tyrant). Directed by Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Six Feet Under, Dexter, True Blood, Elementary). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television & Teakwood Lane Prods.


Ray Pritchard, a morally corrupt retired cop, is given a second chance at life when he is brought back from the dead by rich, genius twins Mary and Otto Goodwin. Now younger, healthier and ten times stronger, Pritchard will have to choose between his old temptations and his new sense of purpose, the family he never took care of and this job he loved so much but couldn’t do the right way…

Although a new television drama based on the iconic character Frankenstein may initially sound interesting, judging by the trailer for the pilot episode, Lookinglass  does appear to be as thrilling or eccentric as one would believe. The pilot is essentially another cop/police procedural show with a twist – this time, Ray Pritchard (Rob Kazinsky) plays an unlikely, tortured hero who helps the cops solve crimes. Plus, I’m pretty sure every possible crime has already been investigated by the likes of CSI and NCIS, and judging by the Frankenstein, the resurrection gimmick is not enough to make the show interesting in the long run.

The pilot focuses on how Pritchard was a deadbeat father and cop who was killed by burglars and then given a second chance at life. The only interesting aspect of the show may be the scientists (who neither of which are called Frankenstein) reveal their hidden motives and the lengths they’ll go to find a cure for the female scientist’ disease.

UPDATE: as if the show couldn’t become even less interesting, FOX announced the show would change its title from The Frakenstein Code to Lookinglass.

UPDATE: The show now goes by the name Second Chance.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

FOX's Lucifer Was Sent from the Depths of Hell


Lucifer Logo

Written & produced by Tom Kapinos (Californication, Dawson). Based on characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth & Mark Dringenberg. Co-produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cold Case, Without a trace…), Jonathan Littman (CSI, CSI Miami, Cold Case, Hostages) & KristieAnne Reed (CSI Cyber, Chase, Miami Medical). Directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld, Die Hard 4, Sleepy Hollow, Hawaii 5-0). For FOX, Warner Bros. Television, DC Comics, Jerry Bruckheimer Television & Aggresive Mediocrity.

Description: a bored and unhappy Lucifer Morningstar, the Lord of Hell, has resigned his throne and abandoned his kingdom for the gorgeous, shimmering insanity of Los Angeles, where he has opened an exclusive nightclub called Lux. When an ex-lover of his turned pop star is shot dead in front of him, he decides to investigate on his own but police officer Chloe Dancer keeps on standing in his way and getting on his nerves. They have no choice but to reluctantly collaborate, something they might find quite tasty after a while. Lucifer now gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals…

With Tom Ellis (Miranda, Rush, The Fades), Lauren German (Hawaii 5-0, Chicago Fire), Nicholas Gonzales (The OC, Resurrection Blvd., Melrose Place 2009), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus, The Librarians, Single Ladies), D.B. Woodside (Suits, 24, Buffy, Single Ladies), Rachael Harris (Very Bad Trip, Suits)…

Gregory’s Thoughts

During development season, Lucifer was one of the few projects which I was intrigued by. I am not a major fan of DC comics (which serves as the source material for Lucifer) and am only familiar with the major characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc. therefore, hearing about a comic book interpretation of Lucifer (aka the devil himself) was something I had never seen nor heard before. However, in February, FOX revealed a slight change to the premise of the show. Rather than Lucifer running his own lounge bar like he does in the comics, Lucifer would now be helping the police department solve crimes in his spare time “for fun”. Lucifer instantly went from an exciting project to another police procedural with a devilish twist.
On the other hand, the trailer appears to show a more sexy, fun and thrilling aspect of the tired cop show model, Tom Kapinos’ dark and twisted brand of humour which used to the individual quality of FOX for both its dramas (House) and comedies (Family Guy)

I should have predicted Lucifer would have an English accent. Americans seem to love British villains. Maybe our accent makes dry humour and dark comedy all the funnier. Tom Ellis is a young, handsome lead whom I’m sure many females – and males – will be instantly attracted to, alongside his British accent. Lucifer’s supernatural powers of locking eyes with others to reveal their deepest desires make the character even more attractive, and will also be a useful tool when investigating criminals.

Lucifer is a very fun pilot filled with witty one liner’s, funky rock music and an ensemble of devilish characters with lots of room for development. It’s a shame the show will not place heavy focus on the mythological aspects of hell and the otherworldly origins of Lucifer, but the show still manages to bring a unique interpretation of the standard cop show.
Edit: 26 January 2016, following a brand new episode of The X Files, Lucifer premiered to a solid 2.4 rating in 18-49 and 7.2 million viewers, tying Rosewood as Fox's highest-rated series launch this season. Lucifer more than doubled the premiere of Minority Report.

UPDATE: Lucifer has been renewed for a second season!

FOX's Minority Report Is Worth A Watch

Written & produced by Max Borenstein (Godzilla 2014). Executive produced by Justin Falvey (Falling Skies, Under The Dome, Extant), Kevin Falls (Franklin & Bash, Sports Night, The West Wing) & Darryl Frank (The Americans, Under The Dome, Smash). Directed by Mark Mylod (Entourage, Shameless US, Game Of Thrones). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television, Amblin Television & Paramount Television.

Description: small screen follow up to the 2002 feature. The year is 2040 and three young siblings, Agatha, and identical twins Dash and Arthur, have the unique ability to see the future, specifically murders before they are committed, and researchers are closely monitoring their every move. Fast forward to the year 2064, the siblings are now in their 30s, and Arthur has been separated from his brother and sister for quite some time. Dash believes his brother is nearby and he is determined to be reunited with his twin. Meanwhile, Dash would like nothing more than to do something to prevent the horrible murders that he knows are about to occur. Circumstances partner him with Detective Lara Vega, and they become a formidable secret crime fighting team.

With Meagan Good (Deception, Californication, My Wife & Kids), Stark Sands (Inside Llewyn Davis, Generation Kill), Laura Regan (Mad Men), Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show, Awake, From Dusk Til Dawn), Daniel London (Minority Report), Li Jun Li (Damages, The Following)…

Firstly, I have nver seen – or heard of – Minority Report before the television project was bought by FOX late last year.

Initially, I thought “maybe I should try and see the movie before watching the trailer for the TV show in order to gain some backstory for the project” and I was tempted to watch the movie trailer, just to gain some context as to when, where the story is set and the possibilities for a TV series. In the end, I decided it was best to approach the project without seeing or knowing anything about Minority Report because, a large majority of viewers of the TV show probably haven’t seen the movie either.

The television pilot looks just like a big blockbuster movie (okay, maybe not as big as a movie but, it looks pretty good for a TV show). The special effects and futuristic sets are astounding although,  I doubt this level of special effects can be maintained for a weekly series. Plus, the more expensive a television show is per episode and the lower its ratings, the more likely it is to be pulled from the schedule without much hesitation (Almost Human).

Although, for a television show to please its viewers, not only are special effects important but the content of the show is also vital. From what I understand, Minority Report is about special humans called “pre-cogs” which have the psychic ability to see the future. The police worked with pre-cogs in order to prevent crimes by arresting the perpetrators before they commit a crime. At some point, one of the pre-cogs used the program for their own personal gain leading to the program to be discontinued (although pre-cogs continued to exist). The three main heroes are pre-cogs who are secretly using their abilities to prevent crimes.

While Minority Report is at its core a police procedural cop show, the strength of the cast, especially Meagan Good as Detective Lara Vega and Stark Sands as Dash who make a likeable combination on screen. The science fiction elements also create outstanding science fiction focused special effects, and the future element also leads to quite a few jokes (like thelong running sitcom The Simpsons). It will be interesting to see how long Minority Report lasts before becoming ‘boring’ or longwinded and how long the producers can keep up the fantastic special effects and futuristic sets.

NBC Travels Back to Chicago For More Drama in Chicago Med

There's even more drama and trauma happening in Chicago for Dick Wolf to turn into a weekly drama. This time, we'll be trusted into the world of Chicago Med.If there is at least one new fall show NBC should have complete faith in is upcoming Dick Wolf produced medical drama Chicago Med.

The new series is yet another spin-off from NBC’s hit drama Chicago PD which is itself a spin-off of Chicago Fire. Despite NBC failing to find hit shows as of late, the Chicago franchise from one of televisions biggest procedural producers has proved to keep a healthy number of viewers entertained each week.

Chicago Med is described as “an emotional ride through the day-to-day chaos of the city’s most explosive hospital and the courageous team of doctos that holds it together”. It is no surprise that the characters from Chicago Med will also be interwined with characters from Chicago Fire and Chicago PD.

Chicago Med does not bring anything new to the table of medical dramas. We all know the doctors are going to stuggle to keep their emotional, romantic and professional relationships in check all while trying to reattach an arm and a leg to the victim of the week. However, based on Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, which aren’t bad shows, Chicago Med may offer the same level (albeit predictable) thrills each week.

Blindspot May Become the NBC's Next Big Hit

Blindspot can be described as a mixture of all the best thriller aspects of NBC’s hit drama The Blacklist and the tattoo motif from Prison Break.
In the show Jamie Alexander plays a mysterious tattooed woman (known as "Jane Doe") who is found in a duffle bag in the middle of Time's Square, New York City. Jane Doe as lost her memory and does not know her own identity. The FBI discovers that each tattoo contains a clue to a crime they will have to solve.
The project hails from Greg Berlanti who also producers The CW’s hit superhero dramas The Flash and Arrow. Although the show does seem exciting at first, the producers and writers will have to find ways in order to make the outlandish plot work over an entire season.
Showslike Blindspot which track a mysterious character as they begin to discover themselves while the viewers also discover more of the character can easily become lost and result in nonsencical plots to keep the show going (like NBC’s cancelled drama Believe). Luckily for Blindspot, it has the police procedural/FBI aspect which contrasts the serialised revelations of ‘Jane Doe’ in order to keep audiences interested for the long haul.
Blindspot has the potential to become NBC's much needed next big hit drama. After The Blacklist's hype died down exponentially after the first season, the weight is even heavier on Blindspot to become a success.

If You Liked HTGAWM, You'll Love ABC's Quantico

Imagine How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) set in an FBI Training academy...
The show you're imagining would probably resemble ABC’s new drama series Quantico created and produced by Joshua Safran and Mark Gordon (and surprisingly, no Shonda Rhimes). I say “surprisingly” because the Shondaland formula is extremely evident in this new thriller that you’d be easily forgiven for thinking it was joining the TGIF line p this fall., here's why...
The new series follows a group of young Federal Bureau of Investigation recruits, who are training at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. However, one of the new FBI students is secretely a terrorist who is preparing to unleash the biggest attack on America since 9/11.
The similarities between Shonda shows and Quantico are by no means a handicap and actual work well as a great starting off point for what could become a major ratings winner for ABC in the same way Grey’s Anatomy was is, as well as newer inductees into Shondaland like Scandal and previously mentioned How To Get Away With Murder. 
Priyanka Chopra plays Alex Parrish, the star of the series. While Chopra is a newcomer to American television, she is a talented and well known Bollywood actress in her native India. Chopra protrays Alex as a confident, strong and unapologetic woman who is also passionate and strong-willed. The first time we meet Alex, she is in the middle of a sexual tryst with Ryan Booth played by Jake McLaughlin (the best part of NBC’s cancelled thriller Believe) who may or may not be Alex’s love interest. One of the most striking and unavoidable aspects of the show is the character Nimah Anwar (played by Yasmine Al Masri) who wears a headscarf.
Quantico is definitely thrilling, ambitious and sexy but will have to try and find its own voice if it wants to be successful in the long run. Thrillers like Quantico can either lose steam or become so staturated with outlandish plots, the show becomes less enjoyable for viewers. With adequate direction, focus and writing, Quantico can become the focal drama for ABC.

Ignore the Viscous Title Blood &Oil Actually Quite Good

Despite the cringe worthy title, Blood and Oil looks like a promising drama.

Created by Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne, the ABC drama follows a young couple, Billy and Cody LeFever (played by Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse) who move to Williston, North Dakota, after the biggest oil discovery in American history. The series features a large ensemble cast headed by Don Johnson as oil tycoon Hap Briggs.

In the past few seasons after many mishaps in the drama department including the quickly cancelled Mind Games and Killer Women, ABC has found their niche of soapy dramas with lots of infedility, drama, lust and violence which their audiences respond too, Blood and Oil is no exception.

Blood and Oil also stars Amber Valletta as the socialite wife Carla, Scott Michael Foster plays Hap Briggs’ vilanous son who will probably try to kill his father by seasons end. Miranda Rae Mayo plays Hap Briggs’ illegitimate mixed race daughter Lacey who (you guessed it) is also having an affair with Hap’s personal driver).

As you can see, the set up of the series is for Billy LeFever is Hap’s ideal son and the conflicts his’adopted’ and biological sons have.

Unfortunately, Blood and Oil has been subjected to the Sunday 9pm slot following Once Upon a Time. The timeslot was previously occupied by Revenge which never had large ratings. A drama like Nashville seems like a more suitable pair rather than new drama Quantico which may also experience the same viewership problems as Blood & Oil.

Blood and Oil will have to engage its audiences from the get go and maintain the fast paced, thrilling and soapy storytelling to keep viewers interested in the characters. As long as oil remains a backdrop while sex, lies, deceit and secrets continue to be at the forefront, I'm sure Blood & Oil will become a must see Sunday night appointment.

CBS' Supergirl Has a Long Way To Go Before Reaching Full Altitude

By Gregory Robinson

Comic book adaptations are the new police procedurals. Every network wants at least one or two on their schedule. It’s no surprise – most comic book to movie adaptions do exceptionally well (apart from Green Lantern and the recent Fantastic 4 reboot) with audiences in the US and around the globe. Who can blame CBS TV execs from wanting a Supergirl slice of the action?

Disney Channel Picks Up 'Stuck in the Middle' Pilot to Series

 New series set to star Jane The Virgin’s Jenna Ortega.
Disney Channel has given a series order to family comedy pilot Stuck in the Middle, starring Jenna Ortega who plays Young Jane in The CW’s critically acclaimed dramedy Jane the Virgin.
Ortega stars as Harley Diaz, an engineering whiz who uses her inventions to navigate life as the middle child in a family of seven kids. Ortega’s TV siblings will be plated by Ronni Hawk as Rachel, Kayla Maisonet (Dog with a blog) as Georgie, Isaak Presley (Austin & Ally) as Grant, Nicholas Bechtel as Danny, Malachi Barton (Best Friends Whenever) as Beast and Ariana Greenblatt (Liv and Maddie) as Daphne.
The pilot was written by Alison Brown (Dog with a Blog) & Linda Videtti Figueredo. Figuerdo also serves as executive producer and show runner. Production begins in November and is set to premiere in Spring 2016 on Disney Channel.
Here is the official press release from Disney Channel: 
Disney Channel has ordered the family comedy series "Stuck In The Middle," starring Jenna Ortega ("Jane the Virgin") as Harley Diaz, an engineering whiz who uses her inventions to navigate life as the middle child in a family of seven kids. Playing her siblings areRonni Hawk as Rachel, Kayla Maisonet ("Dog With A Blog") as Georgie, Isaak Presley ("Austin & Ally") as Grant, Nicolas Bechtel ("General Hospital") as Danny, Malachi Barton ("Best Friends Whenever") as Beast and Ariana Greenblatt ("Liv and Maddie") as Daphne.Production begins this November for a Spring 2016 premiere.
"Stuck In The Middle," a single-camera family comedy, centers around the Diaz family and is told from the point-of-view of the middle child – Harley. Her overlooked status proves to be both a blessing and a curse as she maneuvers her way through the everyday antics that come with being part of a big family.
Linda Videtti Figueiredo ("Rules of Engagement" and "Last Man Standing") will serve as Executive Producer/Showrunner. The pilot teleplay was written by Alison Brown ("Dog With A Blog") & Linda Videtti Figueiredo and story is by Alison Brown.
Disney Channel is a 24-hour kid-driven, family-inclusive television network that taps into the world of kids and families through original series and movies. Currently available on basic cable in over 96 million U.S. homes and to millions of other viewers on Disney Channels around the world, Disney Channel is part of the Disney ABC Television Group.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Truth Be Told NBC's trying-to-hard-to-be-controversial Sitcom

TRUTH BE TOLD (formerly People Are Talking) - Multi-camera
STUDIO: Universal TV/Will Packer Productions
TEAM: DJ Nash (w, ep), Will Packer (ep), Pam Fryman (d)
LOGLINE: A comedy examining sex, race and everything else your parents told you never to talk about.
CAST: Tone Bell, Bresha Webb, Brooke Ishibashi, Mark-Paul Gosselaar

This fall, NBC are adding only one new sitcom to their anaemic line up. It is no secret that NBC has struggled to find new comedy hits after many failed attempts. Even the much loved cult comedies like Community and Parks & Recreation were not big ratings winners and only survived due to their small, but dedicated fan base.

NBC's scheduling doesn't suggest they have much faith in their new comedies or comedy at all. There is only an hour long comedy block in the graveyard Friday 8-9pm death slot.

Truth Be Told is not nearly as progressive or controversial as it thinks it is. Nor is it as funny as the actors or writers think the show is. Tone Bell seems to be just as obnoxious as his character while Gosselaar deserves a much better project than this.

The show is simply a ensemble comedy which follows the relationship between two couples. One couple is Black, the other are mixed race (Caucasian/Hispanic). With a few race jokes, and a sprinkle of raunchy nanny jokes only Ben Affleck would find humorous makes up a recipe of a pretty boring, mostly predictable, stale and dated comedy.

I predict this to be the first new Fall show to be cancelled. NBC have far more interesting shows on the bench (Superstore, Hot & Bothered). Truth Be Told really shows how tragic NBC comedy development team are. To think last season they shunted Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (not the most originally or funny comedy, but very ambitious) to mid-season while shows like Undateable and Truth Be Told snatch fall slots is quite saddening for the state of comedy on network television. Let's hope NBC dumps this show and finds a new comedy hit ASAP!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

"Grandfathered" John Stamos stars as a GILF in FOX'S new family sitcom

GRANDFATHERED (ABC Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Television)
Format: Single-cam comedy
EP/ W: Danny Chun
EPs: John Stamos (star), Dan Fogelman
D: Chris Koch
Logline: A longtime bachelor's life is upended when he discovers he's a father - and a grandfather.
CAST: John Stamos as Jimmy, Josh Peck as Gerald, Paget Brewster as Sara, Christina Milian as Vanessa, Kelly Jenrette as Annelise, Ravi Patel as Ken
FOX is well known for their family comedies. From their very first comedy Married With Children to groundbreaking animated sitcom The Simpsons to new classics Malcolm in the Middle, Fox has always been at the forefront. Now Fox are introducing a duo of comedies this fall and one of them is Grandfathered.

Judging by the pilot's logline, you may be forgiven for recognising some aspects of the plot. Josh Peck (Drake and Josh) stars as Gerald, a young father who reunites with his longlost bachelor father Jimmy played by John Stamos (Full House). I don't think Grandfathered is anything special nor is the plot unique or 'noisey' enough to entice viewers to check out multiple episodes. For instance, last season FOX introduced Last Man on Earth and has dramedy Scream Queens which are far more provocative and interesting than Grandfathred. Therefore, the freshman sitcom will have to carve out its own unique voice and character dynamics beyond the grandfather-father aspect of the show if it hopes to stand out among an ever growing television landscape including it's 8:30 Tuesday rival Fresh off the Boat which is by far more unique and funny.

One aspect of the pilot which is especially successful is it's ability to set the foundations of the future relationships of the main characters. although these relationships may be a little too obvious, such as Gerald and Vanessa, Jimmy and Sara (Gerald's mother). But, the romantic elements of the Grandfathered may eventually become its strongpoints once the focus on Jimmy's shock of being not only a father but a grandfather wears off. For example, the recently cancelled The Mindy Project became a much stronger sitcom when it stopped focusing on Mindy and her numerous boyfriends but focused on her blossoming romantic relationship with Danny. So, don't be surprised to see episodes exploring the obvious romantic reunion and classic sitcom break-up between Jimmy and Sara etc. 
One lesson I have learned from television is not to make a complete judgement based on a pilot's logline. The most run of the mill storylines can turn into the most unique television. ABC's Suburgatory's fish out of water premise sounded dull and tired at first but the gone to soon sitcom had a unique voice and zany characters to make the show unlike anything I had seen on primetime in quite some time. Grandfathered has the potential to become the network's next Raising Hope, which also followed a young man raising his daughter with the help of his dysfunctional family. Although the characters appear to be standard sitcom-y characters which standard sitcom-y situations,
John Stamos is obviouslly the star of the show and Fox are banking heavily on the 90s sitcom star to not only anchor but also draw eyeballs to the show. Stamos shines as Jimmy. So much so, it wouldn't surprise me if Danny Chung created the role with Stamos in mind. Not only is Stamos charming, handsome and pleasant on screen, his invests all these qualities into his character, making Jimmy a believable yet flawed and slightly insecure playboy which viewers will eventually fall in love with as he is forced to open his heart to his new family.

The nostalgia effect may have an impact on Uncle Jesse fans but I doubt that will be enough for the show to survive. On the other hand, it has been years since Stamos had a regular starring role on a network sitcom and if Girl Meets World's success has taught us anything, is that people love nostalgia. Similarly, Josh Peck has also been absent from television since his starring in the beloved Nickelodeon sitcom Drake and Josh. Peck and Stamos not only share the fact they starred on beloved sitcoms and are now making their return to television, they both resemble and compliment each other on screen and their father-son dynamic will be key to Grandfathered's success.

Grandfathered is by no means a bad family sitcom, its just that there is now such a huge range of shows for viewers to choose from especially more provocative, unique family comedies like the previously mentioned Fresh Off The Boat. Eventually, the grandfather-father dynamic will wear thin and the strength of the ensemble cast and their romantic and work relationships will have to sustain the show for the future.