When the season finales begin to air, then you know that it’s only a matter of time before the network upfront presentations begin. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the upfront, it’s when the networks formally roll out their fall schedules, providing advance warning about the slate of new programming for the next season, thereby allowing for several months of snarky comments about series which no one has even seen yet. Give credit to NBC, though: they’ve actually offered up clips for virtually every one of their new shows in order to get the buzz going as quickly as possible…be it positive or negative. Check out what they’ve got to offer, then let us know what you think!
8 – 9 PM: Chuck
9 – 10 PM: The Event: an emotional, high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, “The Class”), an Everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée, Leila (Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history. Sean’s quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including: newly elected U.S. President Martinez (Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”); Sophia (Emmy Award nominee Laura Innes, “ER”), who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Sean’s shadowy father-in-law (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”). Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind. Ian Anthony Dale (“Daybreak”) and Emmy winner Željko Ivanek (“Damages”) also star in the ensemble drama. Stark (“Medium,” “Facing Kate”) serves as executive producer, Evan Katz (“24”) serves as executive producer/showrunner, Nick Wauters (“The 4400,” “Eureka”) is creator/co-executive producer and Jeffrey Reiner (“Friday Night Lights,” “Trauma”) is the director/executive producer.
10 – 11 PM: Chase: a fast-paced drama that drops viewers smack into the middle of a game of cat-and-mouse as a team of U.S. marshals hunts down America’s most dangerous fugitives. Kelli Giddish (“Past Life”) stars as U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, a cowboy boot-wearing deputy whose sharp mind and unique Texas upbringing help her track down the violent criminals on the run. Cole Hauser (“K-Ville”), Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”), Rose Rollins (“The L Word”) and Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives”) also star as members of Frost’s elite team. Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” films), Jonathan Littman (“CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race,” “Cold Case”) and Jennifer Johnson (“Cold Case”) serve as executive producers, while KristieAnne Reed is co-executive producer. David Nutter (“The Mentalist,” “Without a Trace” “The X-Files”) directed and is executive producer of the pilot, which was written by Johnson.
8 – 10 PM: The Biggest Loser
10 – 11 PM: Parenthood
8 – 9 PM: Undercovers: a sexy, fun, action-packed spy drama that proves once and for all that marriage is still the world’s most dangerous partnership. Outwardly, Steven Bloom (Boris Kodjoe, “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Vacation,” “Soul Food,” “Resident Evil: Afterlife”) and his wife, Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Dr. Who,” “Bonekickers”), are a typical married couple who own and operate a small catering company in Los Angeles — with help from Samantha’s easily frazzled, handful of a younger sister, Lizzy (Jessica Parker Kennedy, “Smallville,” “Kaya.”). Secretly, the duo were two of the best spies the CIA had ever known, until they fell in love on the job five years ago and retired. When fellow spy and good friend Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre, “American Heiress,” “Nip/Tuck”) goes missing while on the trail of a Russian arms dealer, the Blooms are reinstated by boss and agency liaison, Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney, “Deadwood,” “Jericho”), to locate and rescue Nash. With assistance from resourceful CIA field agent Bill Hoyt (Ben Schwartz, “Parks and Recreation,” “Bronx World Travelers”), whose professional admiration for Steven isn’t hard to miss, the pair is thrust back into the world of espionage, disguises and hand-to-hand combat. Following leads that take them to cities spanning the globe, Steven and Samantha quickly realize that perhaps this supercharged, undercover lifestyle provides exactly the kind of excitement and romance that their marriage has been missing. J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek,” “Fringe,” “Lost,” “Alias”) directed the pilot and co-wrote it, along with Josh Reims (“Brothers and Sisters,” “What About Brian”). They also serve as executive producers along with Bryan Burk (“Fringe,” “Lost, “Alias”).
9 – 10 PM: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10 – 11 PM: Law & Order: Los Angeles: The new “LOLA” (“Law & Order: Los Angeles”) is a procedural crime drama that will follow the theme and storylines similar to the “Law & Order”-brand series on the streets of Los Angeles.
The series is from executive producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order”) and Blake Masters (“Brotherhood”).
8 – 8:30 PM: Community
8:30 – 9 PM: 30 Rock
9 – 9:30 PM: The Office
9:30 – 10 PM: Outsourced: a workplace comedy series where the Midwest meets the Far East in a hilarious culture clash. The series centers on the all-American company Mid America Novelties, which sells whoopee cushions, foam fingers and wallets made of bacon — and whose call center has suddenly been outsourced to India. Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport, off-Broadway’s “The Gingerbread House”) is the new company’s manager who learns that he’s being transferred to India to run the operation. Overwhelmed, Todd discovers that his new staff needs a crash course in all things American if they are to understand the U.S. product line and ramp up sales from halfway around the world. But as strange as America seems to his eclectic sales team, Todd soon realizes that figuring out India will be more than a full time job. Rizwan Manji (“Privileged”), Sacha Dhawan (BBC’s “Five Days II”), Rebecca Hazlewood (BBC’s “Doctors”), Parvesh Cheena (“Help Me Help You”), and Anisha Nagarajan (Broadway’s “Bombay Dreams”) also star as members of Dempsy’s off-shore team; Diedrich Bader (“The Drew Carey Show”) and Jessica Gower (Network Ten’s “The Secret Life of Us”) additionally star. Robert Borden (“The Drew Carey Show” and “George Lopez”) is executive producer/writer. Ken Kwapis (“The Office”) developed the project and serves as executive producer/director. Alex Beattie serves as co-executive producer.
10 – 11 PM: Love Bites: an hour-long romantic comedy anthology series featuring three loosely connected, modern stories of love, sex, marriage and dating. Each episode contains multiple vignettes all illuminating the theme of love with an edgy, irreverent spin. Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”) stars as Annie and Jordana Spiro (“My Boys”) stars as Frannie, the last two single girls standing after all of their friends get married. Annie is an infectiously bubbly optimist and Frannie is an always-a-bridesmaid realist. Their story will anchor the series, while other romantically challenged characters will come and go each week. The pilot’s guest cast includes Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Ghost Whisperer”), Greg Grunberg (“Heroes”), Craig Robinson (“The Office”), Jason Lewis (“Sex and the City”), Lindsay Price (“Lipstick Jungle”), Larry Wilmore (“The Daily Show”), Charlyne Yi (“Knocked Up”), Pamela Adlon (“Californication”), Stacy Galina (“Hidden Hills”), Brian Hallisay (“Privileged”), Kyle Howard (“My Boys”) and Steve Howey (“Bride Wars”). Cindy Chupack (“Sex and the City”) is creator, executive producer and writer. Emmy Award-winning producer-director Marc Buckland (“My Name Is Earl”) is executive producer and also directs the pilot. Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan and Shelley McCrory are executive producers.
8 – 9 PM: Who Do You Think You Are? / School Pride: a proactive, alternative series from executive producers Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Denise Cramsey (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “True Beauty”) that tells the stories of communities coming together to renovate their aging and broken public schools. While transforming the school, the community also restores its sense of value and school pride. The cameras follow students, teachers and parents as they roll up their sleeves and rebuild their own schools, concluding with the unveiling of a brand new, completely transformed school. They are motivated by a quartet of community organizers and personalities — SWAT Commander Tom Stroup, interior designer Susie Castillo (“House of Payne”), comedian and former substitute teacher Kym Whitley (“Til Death”) and political correspondent Jacob Soboroff (“AMC News”). Together, the team of experts will lead the community through the makeover process. Months later, cameras will revisit the school to discover the lasting effects of the transformation — a renewed sense of school pride and an increase in student achievement scores.
9 – 10 PM: Dateline NBC
10 – 11 PM: Outlaw: a new drama from executive producer John Eisendrath (“Alias,” “Felicity,” “Playmakers”), starring Emmy Award winner Jimmy Smits (“NYPD Blue,” “West Wing”). Cyrus Garza (Smits) is a U.S. Supreme Court justice who abruptly quits the high-level position. A playboy and a gambler, Garza had always adhered to a strict interpretation of the law until he realized the system he believed in was flawed. Now that he’s quit the bench and returned to private practice, he’s determined to represent “the little guy” and use his inside knowledge of the justice system to take on today’s biggest legal cases. And he’s making plenty of powerful people unhappy along the way. Jesse Bradford (“West Wing”), Carly Pope (“24”), Ellen Woglom (“Californication”) and David Ramsey (“Dexter”) also star. Eisendrath is executive producer along with Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda,” “Reservation Road”), Conan O’Brien, Jeff Ross and David Kissinger (“Andy Barker, P.I.”). “Outlaw” is written by Eisendrath and directed by George.
SUNDAY (through February 2011)
7 – 8:15 PM: Football Night in America
8:15 – 11:30 PM: NBC Sunday Night Football
SUNDAY (beginning March 2011)
7 – 8 PM: Dateline NBC
8 – 9 PM: Minute to Win It
9 – 11 PM: The Celebrity Apprentice
* Law & Order
* The Marriage Ref
* Parks and Recreation
New at midseason:
* America’s Next Great Restaurant: a new alternative-competitive series from Emmy Award-nominated executive producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz (“Project Runway” and “Top Chef”). Critically acclaimed celebrity chef/restaurateur Bobby Flay (“Iron Chef America: The Series”) is one of four investors, judge and sometimes mentor to the zealous contestants who are vying for arguably the biggest prize in reality show history — the opportunity to open a new restaurant chain in three cities across America.
The contestants’ fate will be decided by the investors who will put their own money in the final restaurant chain, and has a huge stake in the game’s winner. These larger-than-life personalities will offer the hopeful restaurateurs their expertise, support — and the kind of tough love it will take to overcome great odds. Ultimately, after much-heated debates, the panel will choose the winning concept and decide which idea will become America’s newest restaurant chain.
* The Cape: a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons (“ER”) as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, “Life on Mars”) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, “Flash Forward”). Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Vince Faraday becomes “The Cape” – his son’s favorite comic book superhero – and takes the law into his own hands. Rounding out the cast are James Frain (“The Tudors”) as billionaire Peter Fleming – The Cape’s nemesis – who moonlights as the twisted killer: Chess; Keith David (“Death at a Funeral”) as Max Malini, the ringleader of a circus gang of bank robbers who mentors Vince Faraday and trains him to be The Cape, Summer Glau (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) as Orwell, an investigative blogger who wages war on crime and corruption in Palm City; and Dorian Missick (“Six Degrees”) as Marty Voyt, a former police detective and friend to Faraday. The faces behind “The Cape” are executive producer/creator Thomas Wheeler (“Empire”), executive producer/director Simon West (“Con Air”), the executive producing team of Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun (NBC’s “Mercy”), and executive producer Gene Stein (“Accidentally on Purpose”).
* Friends With Benefits: a half-hour comedy from Oscar and Emmy winner Brian Grazer (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Arrested Development”) revolving around a group of twenty-something singles as they navigate the difficult, and often confusing, world of dating. Ben Weymouth (Ryan Hansen, “Party Down”) is on the hunt for the perfect woman who meets his unique set of standards, while his best friend, Sara Maxwell (Danneel Harris, “One Tree Hill”), is just looking for a man to settle down with and raise a family. Ben and Sara have fallen into the habit of turning to each other for moral and physical support as they wait for Mr. and Ms. Right to arrive. Their friend Aaron (Fran Kranz, “Dollhouse”), a romantic at heart, doesn’t approve of Ben and Sara’s complicated friendship, but he, along with womanizer Hoon (Ian Reed Kesler) and straight shooter Riley (Jessica Lucas, “Cloverfield”), are all distracted with their own dating trials and tribulations. David Nevins (“Lie to Me,” “Arrested Development”) joins Grazer as executive producer. Also serving as executive producers are David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”), who directs the pilot, writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“(500) Days of Summer”), and Jeff Kleeman.
* Harry’s Law: a series from Emmy Award-winning creator David E. Kelley (“The Practice,” “Boston Legal”) about fate and the people it brings together, starring Academy Award winner Kathy Bates (“Misery,” “About Schmidt”). Harriet (Bates), Matthew (Ben Chaplin, “Me and Orson Wells”) and Malcolm (Aml Ameen, “Kidulthood”) couldn’t be any more different. Harriet is a curmudgeonly ex-patent lawyer who, having just been fired from her cushy job, is completely disillusioned with her success and looking for a fresh start. Her world unexpectedly collides with Malcolm’s—a young man trying to figure out life. When he finds out Harriet is a lawyer, he begs her to represent him in an upcoming criminal case. Matthew, a dreamer at heart and also recently fired from his job as a high school teacher, is introduced to Harriet through Malcolm, a previous student of his. When these three cross paths, they realize they’re all looking for a fresh start. Now, the most unlikely of people are starting a law practice in the most unlikely of places–a rundown shoe store. “Harry’s Law” also stars Brittany Snow (“Hairspray”) as Harriet’s assistant, Jenna Backstrom and Beatrice Rosen (“Dark Knight”) as Eve, a high school French teacher. David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal,” “The Practice”) and Bill D’Elia (“Boston Legal,” “The Practice”) serve as executive producers. D’Elia also serves as director.
* The Paul Reiser Show: a new single camera comedy from Emmy and Golden Globe nominated comedian-author-producer-actor Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”) and writer-producer Jonathan Shapiro (“Life”). The show stars Paul Reiser as…Paul Reiser. It’s been a few years since Paul’s hit TV series went off the air. Since then, he’s been enjoying the quiet life at home with his lovely wife and kids and generally minding his own business. Lately, however, Paul has been thinking that it’s time he did something new, something meaningful. As to what that next thing might be, he has no idea. In his quest to figure it out, Paul is helped and hindered by his new “friends.” Like most men his age, Paul didn’t choose these friends. They’re the husbands of his wife’s friends, the dads of kids that his boys go to school with. Thrown together by circumstance, Paul and his friends form an unlikely comradeship — and a horrible basketball team. In addition to Reiser, Ben Shenkman (“Angels in America”) stars as Jonathan, Omid Djalili (“The Infidel”) as Habib, Duane Martin (“All of Us”) as Fernando, Andrew Daly (“MADtv”) as Brad, Amy Landecker (“A Serious Man”) as Claire, Brock Waidmann as Zeke and Koby Rouviere (“Greenberg”) as Gabe. The pilot is executive produced and written by Reiser and Shapiro, produced by Craig Knizek (“Mad About You”), Merri Howard (“Cold Case”) and Peter Safran (“Heist”), and directed by Bryan Gordon (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”).
* Perfect Couples: depicts the misadventures of three engaging couples as they struggle to find out what makes the ideal relationship — and how to maintain it through humorous trial-and-error. The series explores their heroic journey in search of the perfect relationship without destroying each other in the process. Dave (Kyle Howard, “My Boys”) and Julia (Christine Woods, “Flash Forward”) are the relatable, normal couple, but Julia’s hope of remaining the cool, low-maintenance chick is tested by Dave’s attempts to keep both his wife and his needy best friend Vance (David Walton, NBC’s “100 Questions”) equally happy. Vance, along with the neurotic Amy (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), are the high-passion, high-drama couple who bring out the best and worst in each other. The third duo features Rex (Hayes MacArthur, “She’s Out of My League”), a reformed party guy, and, and his wife, Leigh (Olivia Munn, “Attack of the Show”), who considers herself as the group’s mother hen. Believing that they are relationship experts, Rex and Leigh have attended every class and seminar on relationships — and regard themselves as the “perfect couple.” Jon Pollack (“30 Rock”) and Scott Silveri (“Friends”) are the executive producers while Andy Ackerman (“Seinfeld,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) is the director.