Judging a series based on an upfront sizzle reel is probably just as ill-advised as judging that same show by its pilot, but like upfronts and pilot season, such knee-jerk reactions are a TV tradition that our rapidly accelerating TV culture has yet to evolve beyond. As part of The A.V. Club’s continuing upfronts coverage, Erik Adams, Sonia Saraiya, and Todd VanDerWerff will be weighing in on these trailers all week long, fully aware that a new favorite may be hiding behind bizarre editing choices or poorly emphasized jokes. Today: The CW. (Previously: Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, TNT/TBS.)
Sonia Saraiya: The CW’s Arrow has been a commercial and critical success—quietly telling a smaller story from the DC comic book universe while Marvel movies and series take up space on ABC and in theaters. Now The CW is following up with The Flash, about a young cop who becomes, through a freak accident, the fastest human being on earth. He and Arrow’s hero, Oliver Queen, both work in Starling City—and in the trailer, they even hang out, which promises to be loads of fun. Grant Gustin, who plays Barry Allen a.k.a. THE FLASH, has already been on Arrow a few times. But you may also recognize him as Sebastian from Glee. The Flash’s trailer is rather strong—it offers all the bones of the superhero origin story without getting bogged down in the details, and Gustin’s wide-eyed excitement seems on the mark. Bonus: Jesse L. Martin as his gruff superior on the force, Detective West.
TV: The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes—probably because of his geekily fun 1990 TV series—but I remain confused as to why Gustin was chosen for this role. He’s so flat, both in the times we’ve seen him on Arrow and in this (otherwise impressive) trailer.
Jane The Virgin
TV: The CW often ends up with these tiny little trailers that are basically commercials, and that’s what we have here: a 30-second spot that relates the premise of Jane The Virgin and not a lot else. The cast looks like fun, and the show has a weird, religious paranoia that seems like something I might enjoy. But even in a 30 seconds designed to make us interested in watching the series, the show can’t quite overcome the fact that its premise—a woman is accidentally artificially inseminated?—is pretty bizarre. I’m guessing the religious paranoia is why she doesn’t have an abortion, but how on Earth does she not sue? Because it would get in the way of the goofy, potentially heartwarming tone, I’m guessing. Also: If this show runs for seven seasons, I wonder if the title will remain true throughout, or if they’ll change it to something lascivious and awful should her status ever change. (What? They did it for James At 15. This is the only James At 15 reference you will read today, Internet. Guaranteed.)
SS: I object to this hokey title and the idea that accidental pregnancy, especially by accidental artificial insemination, is a comedy plot. I do not object to the casting of this show—especially the lead, Diane Guerrero, who played Maritza on Orange Is The New Black. Apparently this is based on a novel of the same name. And someone read through it and proclaimed that it would be the perfect sitcom.
The CW also announced two more shows—iZombie and The Messengers—but so far trailers are not available for them. Which is too bad, because iZombie sounds amazing.