This morning at Radio City Music Hall, NBC unveiled its new fall lineup with the help of a lot (a lot) of singing. Those of us in attendance were treated to a performance by "Voice" winner Jermaine Paul, a full gospel choir and orchestra backing "Smash" stars Leslie Odom Jr. and Katherine McPhee on "Stand" to close the presentation, and, to open things up, McPhee and Megan Hilty doing "Let Me Be Your Star," complete with a bit of "The Voice" judges (sans Blake Shelton) spinning their chairs for them. And then, in a pre-packaged bit, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon "found" footage of the returning shows infused with music (including "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," "Law & Order: SVU," "Meet the Press," and, most amusingly, "Grimm").
Honestly, while NBC exec Bob Greenblatt joked that a "Grimm" musical episode was a long way from a reality, it might get me to start watching that show again. The network's execs promised that their fall lineup won't be all music, but there is a lot of it, and they are going really heavy on the comedies as well. In fact, they mentioned the word "comedy" about 1,000 times in the two hours, but given that they did see fit to renew both "Community" and "Parks and Recreation," I am inclined to overlook that. However, I am not willing to overlook the fact that most of the comedies that they mentioned look mediocre and forgettable at first glance.
[Related: NBC Upfronts Red Carpet (Photos)]
"Go On (Tuesdays at 9 PM)
So a show like "Community" struggles in the ratings and got bumped to a death slot on Friday nights (after "Whitney"), but a show that seems to channel the same sort of quirky oddball group behavior gets a Tuesday night slot? This can't end well. Matthew Perry is playing a sports radio host (because radio hosts are a thing on NBC next season), and after his wife dies while texting in a car accident, he's forced into group therapy where he makes fun of other people's pain and then eventually helps them heal with the power of bracketology. Yes, really. "Playboy Club" star Laura Benanti is the group's therapist (maybe they'll need her to sing Zooey Deschanel-style at some point), along with Tyler James Williams, who has definitely grown up since "Everybody Hates Chris."
"The New Normal" (Tuesdays at 9:30 PM)
I was actually stupidly excited to see footage of this show, as NeNe Leakes has been a breath of fresh air on "Glee" lately. So the idea of her teaming up with Ryan Murphy seemed promising, but we got so very little of her in the trailer that I was pretty let down. And the plot of the show just seemed far too nice and not satirical enough for something that came from Murphy's brain. David (Justin Bartha) and Bryan (Andrew Rannells) are a gay couple desperate to have a kid; Goldie (Georgia King) is a willing surrogate hoping to someday dress as snappily as Alicia Florrick (we all have "that" dream) and provide a better life for her own pre-teen daughter; and Ellen Barkin is Goldie's bigoted grandmother who doesn't like gay people or black people or unwed mothers. NeNe appears to be the egg donor (or maybe she's just one of the guys' assistants?) and was the only thing about the trailer that even made me half-chuckle.
"Animal Practice" (Wednesdays at 8 PM)
While it was a bit exciting to see a monkey in the middle of Radio City, I can't say that it was as exciting to see a live-action show where said monkey is the star. Though, according to the execs the monkey was the highest testing character of pilot season (we only think they were kidding). Justin Kirk (the actual star of this show) looked thrilled about that. Anyway, Kirk is a veterinarian who works at an animal hospital curing all kinds of creatures ... and hooking up with the hot women who bring their pets in. He butts heads with his boss (Amy Huberman) and then they make googly eyes at each other. And certified show-killer Tyler Labine is there to behave idiotically around women. Did I mention there's a monkey in a lab coat, and he's scrubbing in to procedures?
"Guys With Kids" (Wednesdays at 8:30 PM)
Most awkward moment of the day came when this comedy was introduced as being executive produced by Jimmy Fallon, and he started clapping wildly from the wings of Radio City completely unprompted. And then the clips of this show aired, and no one in the audience laughed. Awkward. I guess that's why this sitcom got saddled with a laugh track. It's about three dude friends (Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford, and Zach Cregger) who hang out with their babies strapped to their fronts in Snuglis and complain about their baby mamas. Jamie Lynn Sigler (aka Meadow Soprano) and Tempest Bledsoe (aka Vanessa Huxtable) are two of the said moms. It's a decent cast, but a terrible and hackneyed plot. We'd rather stick with "Up All Night ."
"Save Me" (Midseason)
Anne Heche is a total drunken mess who dies eating a sandwich but is saved, gets psychic powers, starts being a real mother/less drunk human being, and declares herself a prophet of God. This show had Showtime's name written "all" over it, but somehow it landed on NBC.
"1600 Penn" (Midseason)
The actual human who tested almost as well as the monkey? Josh Gad (from Broadway's "Book of Mormon"). He's playing the president's screw-up son in this sitcom, and he's doing it in the most Jack Black-y way he possibly can. Bill Pullman is the president, Jenna Elfman is the stepmom trying to deal with his many offspring, and there's a former Obama speechwriter working on the show behind the scenes. They claimed it was perfect for an election year, but the show won't be airing until after the election is long over. So ... while it could be funny in small doses, it will have nothing to do with the election.
"Next Caller" (Midseason)
Dane. Cook. They want me to watch a show with Dane Cook. Well, I'm sure someone will, so it's probably not a bad programming strategy. I'm just dreading it about as much as the next season of "Whitney" (which is also a thing that is really happening). Anyway, Cook's playing a Howard Stern-esque shock jock (see, radio DJs ... very timely) who turns into an even bigger jerk because of a breakup, so his bosses end up hiring a peppy young feminist woman (Collette Wolfe) to be his new foil. Hijinks ensue, and Jeffrey Tambor is their boss who only sees the ratings boost and doesn't care about their feelings.