Judging the Upfronts By Their Cover: NBC

Every spring, each major television network announces its primetime schedule for the next fall. Many new shows will premiere, but few will make it past November. Here at Celebuzz, we know your time is valuable so we’re picking which of these new shows is worth your time, completely site unseen.

The Blacklist

What’s it about?: Raymond “Red” Reddington is government agent turned criminal. After decades on the lam, he turns himself in to the FBI offering to help take down a veritable who’s who (blacklist, if you will) of criminals, but only if he can work with newbie agent Liz. Everyone’s motives are slowly revealed.

Who’s involved?: James Spader plays Red and Megan Boone (Step Up Revolution) plays Liz. The writers and producers are alumni of trillers like Alias and Taking Lives.

When will it air?: Monday at 10:00 EST

The Verdict: A slowly unfolding story about a worldwide network of criminal masterminds? From the writer of Taking Lives? With James Spader? Yes. Watch this.

About a Boy

What’s it about?: Based on the Nick Hornby book (and the Hugh Grant movie), a man-child and a child-child become friends. Everybody grows up.

Who’s involved?: From the producer of NBC hits Parenthood and Friday Night Lights, David Walton (Bent; The New Girl) stars in the Hugh Grant role. Minnie Driver plays the real child’s mother.

When will it air?: Tuesday at 9:00 EST, as a midseason replacement

The Verdict: After a best-selling book and an Oscar-nominated film it doesn’t really feel like the world needs one more About a Boy. But Minnie Driver is a delight and David Walton has had terrible luck with television shows in the past — both Perfect Couples and Bent were canceled in their first season. This show will be canceled quickly as well, but watch it while it lasts, Driver and Walton deserve more success.

The Family Guide

What’s it about?: A wacky family grows closer after mom and dad divorce.

Who’s involved?: J.K. Simmons (Law & Order; Spider-Man) plays the blind father. Parker Posey (Party Girl; Waiting for Guffman) played the mom in the pilot, but left the show and the role has yet to be re-cast. Jason Bateman narrates as the all-grown-up version of the family’s son. David Schwimmer directs. Everyone is in this.

When will it air?: Tuesday at 9:30 EST, as a midseason replacement

The Verdict: Posey’s departure spells trouble. And the show’s “look how wacky we are” description is too in your face. This show looks like a disaster. Plus, Tuesday nights are already ruled by Fox. [ADD LINK]


What’s it about?: Another crime procedural about a overly dedicated cop in the New York Police Department. This time, though, he’s in a wheelchair.

Who’s involved?: Blair Underwood (L.A. Law; Dirty Sexy Money) plays the justice-loving police officer.

When will it air?: Wednesday at 10:00 EST, after Law & Order: SVU of course

The Verdict: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. This is just another Law & Order franchise in a different suit. Yawn.

Welcome to the Family

What’s it about?: Two families (one white and one Hispanic) must come together when their teenaged children become pregnant and get engaged.

Who’s involved?: From Mike Sikowitz (of Friends fame), this show has a pretty exciting cast: Mike O’Malley (Glee), Mary McCormack (The West Wing), Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives), Justina Machado (Six Feet Under), Joseph Haro (Awkward.) and Ella Rae Peck, whose other NBC show, Deception, is not returning for a second season.

When will it air?: Thursday at 8:30 EST

The Verdict: Despite a strong cast, this show is a front-runner for dumbest new show of 2013. A show about the trials and tribulations of families of different races getting along in 2013? Come on, NBC.

Sean Saves the World

What’s it about?: A gay father has to balance work and home life when his teenaged daughter moves in with him. Surprise! He has an over-bearing mother.

Who’s involved?: This shows marks Sean Hayes’ (Will & Grace) big return to NBC. Linda Lavin (Alice) is on hand to surely deliver some quips at Hayes’ expense.

When will it air?: Thursday at 9:00 EST

The Verdict: So pandering it’s offensive. There show will try to balance being quirky/funny with being heart-warming, it will be neither.

The Michael J. Fox Show

What’s it about?: It’s Michael J. Freaking Fox, what else do you need? Okay fine, Fox plays a former newscaster who leaves work to spend more time at home after he’s diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. But after a five year absence, he’s back on the job.

Who’s involved?: Michael J. Fox is involved. Please stop asking.

When will it air?: Thursday at 9:30 EST

The Verdict: Watch this. Michael J. Fox is a treasure and we’re lucky to have him back on television. Plus, the show’s plot seems interesting (and personal to Fox) enough to make a solid Thursday night show.


What’s it about?: NBC heard you liked Twilight so here’s some crap about vampires.

Who’s involved?: Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays the iconic character and the show is produced by Gareth Naeme who’s responsible for getting Downton Abbey made.

When will it air?: Friday at 10:00 EST

The Verdict: Naeme certainly has a way with British period dramas and sexy/dangerous is sort of Rhys Meyers’ bread and butter. Give it a shot, what else are you doing on a Friday night?


What’s it about?: Pirates of the Caribbean. Well, not those pirates and not that Caribbean. This is also not the Michael Bay pirate show that’s coming to Starz soon.

Who’s involved?: John Malkovich stars as Blackbeard, the pirate in charge on New Providence, the first democracy in the Americas. The producers behind Gladiator and Men in Black are in charge.

When will it air?: Friday at 10:00 EST, as a midseason replacement

The Verdict: Malkovich as a pirate? You bet you’ll be checking this out. It could be great, or it could be the new Smash.


What’s it about?: From the minds of Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams, a story about a young girl with special powers and those trying to protect her.

Who’s involved?: As previously mentioned Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and Abrams (Super 8) are in charge here. Both have proven their talents on projects involving young children and supernatural events. Newcomer Johnny Sequoyah leads the cast which includes Kyle MacLachlan (Sex and the City; Twin Peaks)and The Real World’s most successful alumna Jamie Chung.

When will it air?: Sunday at 9:00 EST, midseason (NBC is holding this show to premiere during the Winter Olympics)

The Verdict: This looks good. It could be terrible, but we suggest you give it a chance.


What’s it about?: The children of some of the nation’s most powerful people are taken hostage. Will they stand strong together? Or break ranks to protect their own interests?

Who’s involved?: Scully is back! Gillian Anderson stars alongside Dermot Mulroney along with Rachael Taylor (Transformers) and Lance Goss (House of Payne).

When will it air?: Sunday at 10:00 EST, midseason (NBC is holding this show to premiere during the Winter Olympics)

The Verdict: NBC is putting a lot of eggs in one Winter Olympiad, Sunday night basket. They’re clearly confident in this show because their new Thursday night lineup sure isn’t going to fix their reputation as the worst network on television. Go ahead and give it a shot though it feels like there could be some problems turning this idea into an episodic story.

NBC also picked up American Dream Builders, a Nate Berkus-lead home design reality show. The network has not yet announced whether or not it will pick up Hannibal or The Celebrity Apprentice (poor Donald) for new seasons.

Here is the complete schedule:

8:00-10:00 PM THE VOICE (fall)
10:00-11:00 PM THE BLACKLIST (new; fall)

8:00-9:00 PM THE BIGGEST LOSER (fall)
9:00-9:30 PM THE VOICE (fall) / ABOUT A BOY (new; midseason)
9:30-10:00 PM THE VOICE (fall) / THE FAMILY GUIDE (new; midseason)
10:00-11:00 PM CHICAGO FIRE (fall)

8:00-9:00 PM REVOLUTION (fall)
9:00-10:00 PM LAW & ORDER: SVU (fall)
10:00-11:00 PM IRONSIDE (new; fall)

8:00-8:30 PM PARKS AND RECREATION (fall)
8:30-9:00 PM WELCOME TO THE FAMILY (new; fall)
9:00-9:30 PM SEAN SAVES THE WORLD (new; fall)
9:30-10:00 PM THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW (new; fall)
10:00-11:00 PM PARENTHOOD (fall)

8:00-9:00 PM DATELINE NBC (fall)
9:00-10:00 PM GRIMM (fall)
10:00-11:00 PM DRACULA (new; fall) / CROSSBONES (new; midseason)

Encore programming


SUNDAY (midseason)
9:00-10:00 PM BELIEVE (new)
10:00-11:00 PM CRISIS (new)