May 1, 2020
Hit or Miss? Predictions for every new show on CBS this fall
Next week is “Premiere Week,” when the four major broadcast networks launch the bulk of their freshmen shows for the fall season. Which ones are worth your valuable time and DVR space? All this week, Agony Booth will fearlessly predict the fate of each newcomer, network by network, starting right now with CBS:
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young Sheldon (premieres Monday, Sept. 25)
Much like Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, this Big Bang Theory prequel gives us a Sheldon Cooper who is nine years old and learning to survive as a gifted outcast stuck in an impoverished backwater where most people have a shockingly warm stance on slavery. Chuckle with merriment as this young genius struggles to bond with anyone in his family or community because his mother never followed up with that specialist in Houston who might have explained to her what Asperger’s is. Narrated by adult Sheldon, Jim Parsons.
Jordan: Sigh. Sheldon is a great character. He’s the only one on The Big Bang Theory who has really grown as a person. That means a prequel has to deliver him to adulthood as an emotionally stunted, narcissistic virgin, just like the rest of us. But aside from the logistics, this clip wasn’t funny. Why am I watching a sitcom that’s not funny? I’m not. CANCELLED
Tyler: What the hell kind of tone are they going for? This is Wonder Years with no nostalgia, Malcolm in the Middle with no jokes, and Big Bang Theory with no Big Bang Theory (never a bad way to go, IMO). It sucks, and will inevitably be RENEWED.
Susan: I have to give Chuck Lorre some credit. It would have been so easy for him to turn this into another multi-camera sitcom scored to canned laughter, but it seems like he’s putting in the effort to put actual heart into what is The Big Bang Theory‘s most cartoonish character. It’s good material for a spinoff, and it’s got a built-in fan base. It will probably be RENEWED.
Thomas S.: I have a confession to make: I have never, in my life, watched an entire episode of The Big Bang Theory so the character of Sheldon is barely known to me outside of a few pop culture references. So I’m looking at this series largely as an outsider looking in. I suppose if kids talking about testicles makes you laugh then this is the show for you, but I think the studio is just milking the “Bang” train a little too much. CANCELLED
Julie: The Anakin Skywalker reference above is pretty spot-on actually, especially seeing as Sheldon Cooper has been notoriously reported to be “one lab accident away from becoming a super villain.” The Big Bang Theory has been around for an insanely impressive ten seasons so far. Needless to say, a lot of that longevity can be contributed to the oddly and lovably brilliant bundle of neuroses that is Sheldon Cooper. So, I think it’s a safe bet that name recognition alone will be enough to gain this one a second season . . . even if it does give off more of a “gee-aww-shucks” schmaltzy The Wonder Years’ vibe than its slapstick-happy sitcom predecessor. RENEW!
Winston: CBS’s inexplicably successful The Big Bang Theory gets its own single-camera prequel, which might be the weirdest tonal shift between a series and its spinoff since Lou Grant went from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to his own hard-hitting drama. Despite the lack of a laugh track, this looks to be every bit as unfunny as Big Bang, and the way this promo suddenly shifts into sappy acoustic guitar mode when Sheldon tries to communicate with his father means this is a terrible comedy that’s also going to try to tug at our heartstrings. It looks awful, but it plays right into CBS’s demographic, so I unfortunately have to say RENEWED.
Odds of Survival: 67%
Me, Myself & I (premieres Monday, Sept. 25)
Can’t get enough boy geniuses growing up in the ‘90s? CBS keeps ‘em coming with this time-hopping sitcom that’s its own prequel and sequel. We watch one brilliant inventor at three points in his life: as a 14-year-old in 1991 who just moved to L.A., a 40-year-old in 2017 who just got divorced, and a 65-year-old in 2042 who just retired. The middle-aged version is SNL vet Bobby Moynihan and the senior citizen is Night Court’s John Larroquette.
Jordan: I want to like this show, I really do. It looks like the creators really care about the characters. The time-switching hook is a real stretch. I mean, it’s like asking us to believe transporters are real or that Captain Hook lives in Maine or that most people lose their virginity before they’re thirty. I don’t think I’ll watch his, but it looks good enough to be RENEWED.
Tyler: The bare minimum needed to make this premise work is to find three actors who look enough alike that they could be the same person at different ages. If you can’t get that right, why should we trust you do anything else? CANCELLED
Susan: Individually, one of these stories could have carried a whole show—a nerdy preteen moves to LA in the ‘90s and comes of age, a middle-aged man’s life is falling apart as he tries to find the one invention that can pull everything together, and a guy in his 70s gets a second shot at love and life—so it feels like a bad idea to cram them all in 22 minutes. CANCELLED
Thomas S.: I was fully expecting to think this idea was lame, but honestly I think it’s kinda sweet. Looking at a man’s life in three different time periods might be interesting. I don’t think it’s going to be as funny as they hope, but I do think it could potentially find an audience for people nostalgic for their ’90s childhoods, empathize with the modern adult, and look forward with just a touch of trepidation. RENEWED
Julie: Let’s refrain, for a second, from talking about how that Young Adorable Upstart Teen Actor whose name I can’t recall, Bobby Moynihan, and John Larroquette, as a trio, couldn’t look less like the same person at different ages if any one of them were replaced by a busty-but-physically-fit 25-year-old African-American woman. I love the idea of an older version of myself somehow being able to communicate with me, at key points in my existence, just to say, “Stop, don’t do that! It will ruin your life!” And I get how early puberty and retirement age are key points in human existence that undoubtedly impact who we are as people forevermore. But why on earth, of all possible ages, did the writers choose to highlight age 40 (apart from the fact that Bobby Moynihan looks to be around that age and the showrunners really wanted to cast him in this)? Seriously, does anyone actually look back at their lives and say, “Man, my early 40s…those were wild and crazy times! If only I could do that again!” No? CANCELLED
Winston: I’ll set aside the fact that this entire promo hinges on a scene of a breath mint flying from one kid’s mouth into another’s, and just note that (despite NBC’s recent success with the similarly time-tripping This Is Us) high concept shows like this rarely last long, and I’m sure the prequel/sequel idea as well as all the “wacky” inventions are going to get old fast. Expect some serious retooling in midseason that drops most of the flashbacks and flash-forwards (or maybe they’ll just focus on the kid?) before this show gets mercifully CANCELLED.
Odds of Survival: 33%
9JKL (premieres Monday, Oct. 2)
A newly divorced actor moves into the Manhattan apartment that neighbors his parents on one side and his brother’s family on the other. Hijinks ensue. Starting that dude from Royal Pains, the mom from Arrested Development, and Monica & Ross’s dad from Friends.
Jordan: Wha? What the hell was that? Actors I’ve seen do great things reduced to the shlockiest level of shlock? Why would anyone even take that pilot? Remember how good David Walton was on New Girl? Dammit, I saw Linda Lavin on Broadway. They deserve better than this. We deserve better than this. We deserve to lose our virginity after marriage. I shook Eliot Gould’s hand once. That used to mean something. CANCELLED
Tyler: I would rather watch kittens get nail-gunned to death than a single further second of whatever was happening in that trailer. Sadly, what’s probably going to sink the show is the clunky title. “9JKL“? What are you watching, an email password? CANCELLED
Susan: God, this looks so bad I’ll be surprised if it’s not CANCELLED by the end of this sentence.
Thomas S.: Yeah, call me a prude but they lost me with all the talk about people’s balls. I think some producer at CBS has some sort of fetish. It looks like a lame premise anyway. CANCELLED
Julie: Good lord, this looks awful! You know what you should do when you are in your 30s and your chips are down, both in terms of your career and romantic prospects? Move to the Hamptons, just like that character Mark Feuerstein played on that other show (i.e., Royal Pains)…the one that lasted eight seasons. You definitely shouldn’t move next door to your obnoxious parents and even more obnoxious brother…like the character does on this show…a show, which, unlike Royal Pains, will probably last less than one season. CANCELLED
Winston: I only made it as far as Linda Lavin saying, “Those little balls have been inside me.” CANCELLED
Odds of Survival: 0%
S.W.A.T. (premieres Thursday, Nov. 2)
Sexy, manly men do sexy, manly things to keep their families, communities, and country safe from bad guys as elite members of Los Angeles’s SWAT Team. Guns are fired, loyalties and principles are put to the test, and worried yet supportive wives kiss their husbands goodbye each morning not knowing if they’ll make it back home that night. All missions are based on you only having a loose understanding of what a SWAT Team actually does. Starring that hot guy from Criminal Minds.
Jordan: I remember watching S.W.A.T. in the ‘70s and thinking it was cool. This show looks kind of cool. It also looks kind of tired and formulaic. I don’t know if the storytelling is good enough to rise above the mediocrity of the premise, like a 46-year-old man struggling to lose his virginity. I like Shemar Moore; we were Bar Mitzvahed together. But this show will be CANCELLED.
Tyler: This series seems to want to address some of the systemic problems in American law enforcement but gets hamstrung by cop-show convention. Given the age and political leanings of CBS’s audience, any suggestion, however gentle, that the American cop is anything other than an incorruptible superman is likely to kill it. CANCELLED
Susan: It’s a cop drama on CBS. Next year we’re going to be seeing SWAT: Los Angeles and SWAT: Miami and a bunch of other spinoffs. RENEWED
Thomas S.: I grew up watching Roberts Stack and Urich kick ass every week; that theme song to me was one of the coolest ever. So honestly this series has a lot to live up to, in my opinion. That being said, I like Shemar Moore and color me cautiously optimistic but I think this is going to find an audience, especially fans of Criminal Minds’ Shemar Moore. RENEWED
Julie: Maybe I’m just getting jaded and grouchy in my-not-quite-middle-age. But nothing in this trailer remained in my memory, a mere two minutes after I watched it. It was kind of eerie actually, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless TV Promo. I vaguely recall that a hot guy drove a fast car and shot at some bad guys a lot, but mostly missed? Anyway, you’ll need more than that in this day and age to win a Season 2 in primetime television, so CANCELLED.
Winston: Remaking S.W.A.T. and not using its theme song (seriously, it’s one of the few TV theme songs to reach #1 on the pop charts, putting it in the esteemed company of “Miami Vice Theme” and that song from The Heights) pretty much says it all: this is going to be nothing more than Generic Police/Military Procedural #3,456 for CBS. The good news is, that usually works for CBS, so I’ll say RENEWED.
Odds of Survival: 50%
SEAL Team (premieres Wednesday, Sept. 27)
Sexy, manly men do sexy, manly things to keep their families, communities, and country safe from bad guys as elite members of America’s SEAL Team. Guns are fired, loyalties and principles are put to the test, and worried yet supportive wives kiss their husbands goodbye each morning not knowing if they’ll make it back home that night. All missions are based on you only having a loose understanding of what a SEAL Team actually does. Starring Angel from Buffy.
Jordan: Hey, it’s that guy from Bones who didn’t like being forced into counseling, playing a guy in the Navy who doesn’t like being forced into counseling! You don’t need counseling just because war is hard, just like you don’t need it just because you’re 46 and still a virgin. Still, I liked the SEAL Teaming parts of this show. I didn’t like the worried wives and disappointed kids and haunted soldiers parts. If they can steer toward that, they’ll have a good run. RENEWED
Tyler: See, S.W.A.T., this is how you do it. TV isn’t the place to turn the sanctioned purveyors of state violence into multifaceted human figures. Much better just to show tall, strong, white American archetypes shoot scary brown people. No way this’ll fail to get RENEWED.
Susan: It’s a drama centered on soldiers on CBS. See above. RENEWED
Thomas S.: I really want to like this. I like David Boreanez going back to his Buffy and Angel days (not so much during the Bones years), and I think he is good in about anything he does. But this…I can’t find anything technically wrong with it, but I’m not feeling it. Nevertheless, I think there is a strong audience that is clamoring for a show like this. RENEWED
Julie: I was about ready to copy and paste my “review” of S.W.A.T. above. #CrimeProceduralWithaHotMaleLead, lather rinse repeat, and all that. But something about the promo gave me pause. Perhaps, it was the Buffy and Angel, David Boreanez of it all…or the recognizable appearance of that lady whom everyone hated on Mad Men because she stole Jon Hamm from the Betty Draper character (who, let’s be honest, wasn’t too much of a prize herself). In addition to the wise casting decisions, SEAL Team boasts an international War on Terrorism theme. In a world where random acts of international violence make news on a nearly daily basis and North Korea shoots “test missiles” over Guam for funsies, stories like the ones that will likely be recounted on this show are certainly more relevant then we’d like for them to be. For these reasons, I’m willing to give SEAL a tentative RENEWED vote.
Winston: So, basically Zero Dark Thirty: The Series. This would be Generic Police/Military Procedural #3,457 for CBS, and I realize I gave a begrudging pass to S.W.A.T. for the same reason, but I think having to recreate foreign locales every week is going to make this show a teeny bit more expensive and thus lead to it eventually getting CANCELLED.
Odds of Survival: 83%
Wisdom of the Crowd (premieres Sunday, Oct. 1)
Yet another TV drama about a self-made tech billionaire who responds to personal tragedy by using his invention to play superhero in a way that doesn’t involve a flying laser-shooting armored suit. This time it’s Jeremy Piven who wants to weaponize social media to solve all murders, especially his daughter’s, because it’s definitely a good idea if every idiot with a cell phone camera thinks they’re a vigilante detective.
Jordan: First of all, Jeremy Piven is bald. Bald, bald, bald. Second of all, Ben Affleck is Batman and Robert Downey, Jr., owns the role of Tony Stark. Third, my power just flickered and I almost lost everything I wrote just like one day we might all lose our virginity. It’s not just me. It can’t be just me. Last, Jeremy Piven is wearing a wig. CANCELLED
Tyler: After the cancellation of Person of Interest, the time is ripe for another show about ethically ambiguous exploits of crime-fighters armed with mass surveillance supertechnology. RENEWED
Susan: This is just a retooled version of Fox’ APB, which was quickly CANCELLED. So will this be.
Thomas S.: I confess it’s an interesting premise and the idea that a person might be able to be a part of solving a crime does sound exciting. But I’m not feeling the execution at all. I do find it funny that the multi-multi-millionaire has to set up shop in what looks like a warehouse, but that just might be me nitpicking. CANCELLED
Julie: On one hand, this is a procedural crime-solving show, and procedural crime-solving shows tend to consistently KILL on this network, whether or not they actually happen to be any good. On the other hand, the real fun of watching procedural television shows is getting to feel superior when you solve the murder on screen 30 minutes before the “highly educated and trained” investigation unit on screen does. Conversely, with this one, I suspect you are going to get a lot of crimes solved in the following way: “old homeless dude/guest star doing promotions for a new film coming out next week disarms a serial killer by putting out his foot and tripping him in an alleyway after receiving a tweet about his whereabouts and crimes from a stolen iPhone.” I don’t think our fragile egos can take this “crime solving so easy even a caveman can do it” mentality…at least not without silently revolting against it with our remote controls. Also, spoiler alert, just from the promo alone, I’m already pretty sure Jeremy Piven’s daughter isn’t actually dead. Too bad this show likely won’t last long enough to reveal this “jaw-dropping” piece of “crowd-sourced” information. CANCELLED
Winston: Oh no, someone looked at those Reddit threads where would-be amateur detectives try to solve crimes and thought it would be a great idea for a TV series. Unfortunately, the crowd has no wisdom, as the family of Sunil Tripathi would be happy to tell you. CANCELLED
Odds of Survival: 17%
Come back tomorrow for ABC’s freshman five.