This week the five major broadcast networks revealed their fall 2016 lineups at the annual Upfronts presentation for advertisers in New York. There were 33 trailers released, with only a few midseason programs not offering up a sneak peek.
If you haven’t gotten caught up yet, you can watch all the trailers here: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW. But if you want to save time and cut to the meat of the new shows, Zap2it is here to help by picking out the best and the worst of the bunch.
A couple of notes — Zap2it made its selections democratically, with everyone voting independently. Also, none of us have seen any pilots for these shows, so the voting is based strictly off of the trailers. Which means that we have inevitably picked one or two that look bad or good that turn out to be the opposite. But in 2015, Zap2it hit about .800 in its trailer choices, which is pretty good.
With no further ado, here are the five best and five worst trailers, plus some honorable mentions and a few shows that received votes in both categories.
1. ‘Designated Survivor’ (ABC, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)
This was the only unanimous vote-getter from best or worst. Zap2it gives a hearty thumbs up to watching Kiefer Sutherland go from being a low level Cabinet member to the president after a deadly terrorist attack on Washington DC during the State of the Union. The trailer has both an interesting premise and paints a thrilling picture.
Where a show like this goes two or three seasons in is a looming question, but for now we're all in to find out. We also love that as president, Kiefer's job responsibilities now involve chewing out this show's version of Jack Bauer when he goes against protocol.
2. 'This Is Us' (NBC, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Nearly unanimous, this drama from the man behind "Crazy Stupid Love" looks like a family drama akin to "Parenthood" in a lot of ways, with the added twist of a "Sense8" plot device in that the main characters all share the same birth date.
3. 'Frequency' (The CW, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.)
In an era of reboots and remakes, "Frequency" is the kind of property that should be targeted -- it's based on a modestly successful movie (not a beloved classic or major hit) that will actually benefit from an expanded mythology and dozens of hours over which to tell the story. The trailer is also just plain great. If the show turns out to be a clunker, major props to whoever edited the trailer together because the show looks really good.
4. 'Pitch' (FOX, Thursdays at 9 p.m.)
There's a lot to like here and not just for sports fans. It's a classic David & Goliath story with the added feature of being "a true story on the verge of happening," as the trailer touts. It's not wrong -- sports reporter David Epstein recently told Sports Illustrated that he thinks a woman will be playing major league baseball within 50 years and several of his colleagues from ESPN, FOX Sports and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch agreed with him.
But on top of that great story, there's the added bonus of a "Field of Dreams"-like thing happening here -- does anyone else get the feeling from the trailer that Ginny's father is deceased? -- and the fact that the show chose the San Diego Padres for the team that calls Ginny to the majors. Why is that interesting? Because the Padres play in the National League, which means no designated hitter -- which means Ginny will also have to take major league at-bats.
5. 'The Good Place' (NBC, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.)
This basically looks like the very funny 1991 film "Defending Your Life" for TV. Ted Danson is fun as the Good Place concierge and you can't go wrong with Kristen Bell, she's one of the most winsome people in show business. This show also pairs extremely well with "Superstore," an underrated NBC comedy that deserves more viewers because it's very funny. Great 1-2 punch on Thursday nights.
The following shows received more than one "best" vote, but couldn't quite crack the Top 5: "Downward Dog" (ABC, 3 votes), "Prison Break" (FOX, 2), "Shots Fired" (FOX, 2) and "24: Legacy" (FOX, 2).
Finally, "Rocky Horror Picture Show" on FOX is not an on-going series, but a teaser trailer was released as part of Upfronts and it looks awesome. We are shivering with antici ....... pation.
1. 'The Exorcist' (FOX, Fridays at 9 p.m.)
Whereas "Frequency" is remaking a modest success with a story that benefits from a TV format, "The Exorcist" is taking one of the greatest horror movies of all time and turning it into a TV show on a broadcast network -- which means standards & practices will be mucking up a lot of what made "The Exorcist" so scary in the first place. Also, this trailer is just bad. Bad, bad, bad. The only redeeming quality is that it finally gets a little scary toward the end, but by then it's like, "Who cares?"
2. 'The Great Indoors' (CBS, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Oh, Joel McHale. You're so much better than canned laughter and lazy jokes about millennials. With a "Big Bang Theory" lead-in, this show is almost guaranteed to do great in the ratings, but do yourselves a favor and watch "The Good Place" instead.
3. 'Kevin Can Wait' (CBS, Mondays at 8:30 p.m., moving to 8 in late October)
This is another comedy that is practically guaranteed to do well because it's getting "The Big Bang Theory" as its lead-in before "TBBT" moves to Thursdays in late October. If you like Kevin James' thing, you'll probably love this. But it looks like a dozen other sitcoms that have gone before it. The only good part of the trailer is the gyro bowl bit and we feel like a #FreeErinnHayes movement should be started ASAP.
4. 'Time After Time' (ABC, midseason)
You might watch this trailer and think it looks like goofy fun -- because it did get one "best" vote in the Zap2it offices. But it also got enough "worst" votes to firmly put it in the Top 5. There are several time-travel shows on the 2016-17 schedule and this one definitely looks like the hokiest. Sorry, Freddie Stroma and Josh Bowman. It's not you, it's the show.
5. 'Training Day' (CBS, midseason)
As with "Exorcist," this feels like an unnecessary TV adaptation of a fantastic film. The trailer is so cheesy that even Bill Paxton, whom we like a lot, cannot save this material. However, this show also feels a little bit like a case of "the trailer is bad but the show could be good." There's potential here, especially with the way the trailer ends by having Justin Cornwell's character say he's actually going to be training Paxton's character to be a better cop and a better person.
These shows all got more than one "worst" vote, though most of them feel like they have potential to be good if they're done right: "Timeless" (NBC, 3 votes), "Imaginary Mary" (ABC, 3), "Still Star-Crossed (ABC, 2)," "Son of Zorn" (FOX, 2), "Lethal Weapon" (FOX, 2), "American Housewife" (ABC, 2) and "No Tomorrow" (The CW, 2).
The divisive shows
There were a handful of shows that received ties in best and worst voting. These aren't just shows that received some votes of each -- because as mentioned above, "Time After Time" did receive one "best" vote, but it was overwhelmingly considered "worst." These shows were all evenly split among the voters that included them, which is definitely intriguing.
'Bull' (CBS, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
This show is about as CBS-y as it can get, but it's nearly guaranteed to be a hit because it has "NCIS" as a lead-in plus it stars Michael Weatherly, who just departed "NCIS." What makes it perhaps a stand-out from other procedurals is that it's solely about jury selection and manipulation, which is a very real, sometimes very troubling, aspect of the criminal justice system.
'Conviction' (ABC, Mondays at 10 p.m.)
Who doesn't love Hayley Atwell? She's great. But this trailer is terrible -- which makes "Conviction" another candidate for the "the trailer is bad but the show could be good" set.
'MacGyver' (CBS, Fridays at 8 p.m.)
This show received the most votes of any show that tied best/worst. Some think it looks fun and are giving it the benefit of the doubt. Others think it took a beloved '80s action series, gave it a super-annoying lead and sucked all the fun out of it by having it take itself too seriously. It'll be interesting to see if CBS' Friday night viewers embrace it or not.
'Speechless' (ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.)
Minnie Driver is fantastic and the young actor playing her son with special needs (Micah Fowler) also seems pretty great. Is this the next heartwarming family comedy that can do drama as well as it cracks jokes? Or is it destined to be the latest entry on the sitcom burn pile?
'Star' (FOX, Wednesdays at 9 p.m., midseason)
This drama from Lee Daniels (“Empire”) and Tom Donaghy (“The Whole Truth”) is the final entrant in "the trailer is bad but the show could be good" group. This is poised to be the new "Empire," with three unknown stars in the making as the girl group at the heart of the show and heavy hitters Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt rounding out the cast. But the trailer is not great.