Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Fox and NBC add new shows, ask “What if The Americans, but present day?”

Illustration for article titled Fox and NBC add new shows, ask “What if The Americans, but present day?”

Fall pickup season, which kicked off Monday with Fox’s official pickup for Gotham, is in full swing, if yesterday’s news is any indication. Both Fox and NBC, which have upfronts presentations to advertisers on Monday, picked up new series, with Fox adding two new dramas to Gotham and a few series it ordered a while back, and NBC picking up three new dramas and a comedy to add to comedies it ordered to series months ago. Sadly, none of the series featured a police officer reincarnated as a talking dog, but ABC has yet to present, so don’t lose hope, Poochinski fans!


Fox’s orders mean the network has picked up all three dramas it ordered to pilot, as part of its new dream of killing pilot season, or at least minimizing it to its taskbar for a while. This is a bit of a surprise, as some wags thought Fox would pick up Gotham and one of the other two. Instead, buzz has been good enough on additional pickups Red Band Society and Empire that the network just went ahead with both, and it’ll let the chips fall where they may come fall. Red Band Society, in particular, has garnered some good buzz around town, as a sort of ersatz spin on Orange Is The New Black, except instead of prison inmates, think “kids,” and instead of “crime,” think “horrible diseases.” But it stars Octavia Spencer and is based on a foreign series that has garnered some raves, so you never know!  Fox’s other pickup is Empire, a family drama set in the world of hip-hop empires, which stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson and hails from Butler director and writer Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. The music is produced by Timbaland. We’ll freely admit we just hope this one is good so a.) TV gets more diverse and b.) we can start referring to Jonathan from Buffy as “ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL SHOWRUNNERS IN THE BUSINESS!!!” These new series join Gotham, as well as Egyptian period piece Hieroglyph and Rainn Wilson vehicle Backstrom, both of which Fox picked up months ago. (Deadline has more on these pickups.)

NBC’s pickups were led by the week’s first comedy pickup in the new series Marry Me, from Happy Endings creator David Caspe, which stars Happy Endings’ Casey Wilson and Party Down’s Ken Marino. So we know this one just shot to the top of your list. Anyway, it’s about what happens when a couple is about to get engaged, only to find the proposal is a mess. So they decide to hold off until they can “do it right.” This is what we in the business call “something that will be a hang-out sitcom by episode five,” so prepare accordingly. These two shows join NBC’s new Tina Fey/Robert Carlock project, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which was formerly known as Tookan for some reason), and its Craig Robinson vehicle, Mr. Robinson, both of which the network picked up ages ago.

NBC’s three new dramas run the gamut from a cable ripoff with Katherine Heigl in it to a cable ripoff with Hope Davis in it, with some goddamn show that will be way too fucking complicated and just tell a story about characters already, dammit, in the middle. The Heigl vehicle is State Of Affairs, which is about the woman the president calls when things get out of control. Joe Carnahan rewrote and directed the pilot, but he has to go do The Blacklist again, so it might be handed over to The Mentalist’s showrunner, if that show is canceled. Allegiance, the Davis-starring series, is basically just “What if The Americans, but present day?” It’s based on an Israeli series, but in Americanizing the concept, NBC has just made it sound really fucking goofy. It’s about Kremlin spies who were deactivated when the Soviet Union crumbled, so they just started living as normal Americans. But now Vladimir Putin has reactivated them with some spare parts he found laying around Moscow, or something, so they’re back to being spies again. Jesus. The final series is Odyssey, which is described as a “Traffic-like action drama,” and we tried to stop NBC right there, but then it was, like, “Three strangers collide! Conspiracies!” and we ran away as quickly as we could. (Deadline also has more on these pickups.) It is worth noting that all of these dramas could readily be described as “Like Scandal, but with more white people.” Your likely number one network for the 2013-14 TV season, ladies and gentlemen!

As a general reminder: All of these shows will debut in the 2014-15 TV season, which means they will debut in years that end in four and five. According to VanDerWerff’s Cyclical Theory Of Time And Everything, then, any one of them could be among the greatest TV series ever to air, as TV seasons that end in four and five have led to amazing classics in the past, including Lost, Friends, The Cosby Show, and Barney Miller. So, y’know, any of these shows could be amazing. Except probably all of those NBC dramas. Probably.