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NBC New Shows: First Impressions Of 2013-2014 Pilots

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We've seen the pilots of NBC's new shows, and while they're not for review (things often change drastically before the shows are set to premiere), we do want to share our first reactions to what's coming in the fall and midseason.

This quick guide is designed to get you excited for some new shows ... and to warn you to curb your enthusiasm for others. Just keep in mind that we'll have full reviews of the final pilots closer to airdate. For now, here are our snap judgments of NBC's new shows for the 2013-2014 TV season.

SEE NBC'S FULL FALL SCHEDULE HERE


There are 10 new scripted shows coming to NBC that were ready to preview. Does Michael J. Fox's much-anticipated return to TV live up to expectations? And is James Spader TV's best new bad guy? HuffPost TV staffers Maureen Ryan, Maggie Furlong, Jaimie Etkin, Chris Harnick, Alex Moaba, Laura Prudom and Leigh Weingus had plenty of varying opinions.

Here's how we broke them down:
  • Watch It - awesome show, can't wait for more
  • DVR It - there's potential, will give it a second chance
  • Skip It - it's either horrible or just totally not their thing

FALL 2013:


"THE BLACKLIST"
Read more about "The Blacklist" and watch a preview here
Ryan: DVR It
James Spader gives his usual creepy-weird performance in this thriller, but it seems like the kind of show that could quickly become formulaic. Promising, but we'll see.

Furlong: Watch It
Spader enjoys every second of playing the bad guy (possibly) turned good in this FBI thriller, and there are plenty of layers set up in the pilot to hold my interest. The twist ending corrected any doubts I had about bit players.

Etkin: DVR It
James Spader is delightfully devious as one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives and the momentum of the pilot held my attention more than any other dramas I've seen did. "The Blacklist" definitely has potential to succumb to some of the same issues "The Following" did, but so far, it's my favorite new drama.

Harnick: Watch It
James Spader is at his creepy best. There's just the right amount of mystery to keep you guessing and wanting more.

Moaba: Watch It
One of the better pilots of the season. Spader does his creepy-cool Spader thing, and it’s an engaging premise that pulls you in from the first scene.

Prudom: Watch It
James Spader has oodles of charisma as a Hannibal Lecter-esque criminal with far too many secrets up his sleeve. The show presents some interesting mysteries that I'm curious to see solved. As long as it doesn't get bogged down in procedural elements, I'll keep tuning in.

Weingus: Watch It
Action-packed dramas aren't really my thing, but this one caught my attention. Megan Boone is a convincing FBI agent with some good moves -- maybe they'll be great eventually, but the pilot takes place on her first day -- and James Spader makes a great (and creepy) fugitive.


"IRONSIDE"
Read more about "Ironside" and watch a preview here
Furlong: DVR It
I adore Blair Underwood, but this "don't call it a remake" remake is just missing something in the jumble of trying to do a lot of things. Ironside is fighting his own demons, working cases like a boss and wooing the ladies ... Underwood's appeal is evident enough to not need so much time dedicated to the latter.

Etkin: Skip It
There wasn't anything particularly wrong with this show -- it was pretty well acted, the storyline wasn't overwrought and the flashbacks were well placed. Yet, the pilot barely kept my attention. It could use a few lighter moments and a little less Spencer Grammer, who worked far better as the anti-sorority girl on "Greek" than she does as an elite detective.

Harnick: Skip It
NBC tries its hand at another gritty cop drama, this time sans fedora (RIP "Prime Suspect" hat). There was nothing here that made me want more.

Moaba: DVR It
An interesting police procedural that could have some “House” potential because of Blair Underwood’s performance.

Prudom: DVR It
Because I have no patience for procedurals, this will probably be a Skip It for me, but for fans of the genre, it's a solid effort, and Blair Underwood is a compelling lead as the eponymous cop.

Weingus: Skip It
"Ironside" was just ... boring. Although I enjoyed the soundtrack, particularly when Eminem made it into the mix.


"THE NIGHT SHIFT"
Read more about "The Night Shift" here
Furlong: Skip It
I love medical dramas and I'm from Texas (where "Night Shift" takes place) and I still couldn't get behind this one, but I do have a note for casting agents: If you cast an Irishman in the lead, maybe just let him play Irish? Muddled accents and hospital jargon don't mix.

Etkin: Skip It
The Peacock network is still desperate to find "E.R." 2.0 and "The Night Shift" falls very short. It tried to do too many things and even the medical cases weren't interesting. And this is all coming from someone who still watches "Grey's Anatomy."

Harnick: Skip It
So many cliches, too few compelling characters. If the kinks get worked out, this could be good for NBC -- that is, if NBC lets the show find its footing.

Moaba: Skip It
Another cookie cutter doctor show that doesn't bring anything new to the table.

Prudom: Skip It
Another generic medical show with generic "Grey's Anatomy"-style kookiness, centered around a generically handsome, rule-breaking white guy instead of a generically neurotic, rule-breaking white woman, and featuring generically forgettable supporting characters. Snore.

Weingus: Skip It
Make way for the poor man's "Grey's Anatomy." There are way too many storylines, and I'm no expert, but I highly doubt hospital night shifts bear any resemblance to this abomination.


"WELCOME TO THE FAMILY"
Read more about "Welcome to the Family" and watch a preview here
Furlong: DVR It
The soon-to-be-blended family at the heart of this show isn't nearly as quirky, quick, or charming as "The New Normal" bunch, but they're not half-bad. I'll keep checking in to see if they can set this show apart somehow.

Etkin: Skip It
There's nothing more tired than a teen pregnancy storyline and at this point, I really don't want to see Mike O'Malley do anything but parent Kurt Hummel and cheer on pre-teens climbing the Aggro Crag.

Moaba: Skip It
Welcome to the cancellation bubble.

Harnick: Skip It
Not my favorite type of comedy, but it will likely please lovers of family sitcoms.

Prudom: Skip It
Completely unremarkable. I wish that in 2013, we could've moved past networks thinking that "Caucasians and Latinos are so different -- put them together and watch wackiness ensue!" was an acceptable concept for a comedy. Since that's basically the whole plot, I hope the show will at least be able to explore racial and class divides with some nuance, but from the one-note pilot, I'm not holding my breath.

Weingus: Skip It
Two unrealistic teenagers plus four ignorant parents equals a disastrous TV show. Skip it if you plan to stay sane this TV season!


"THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW"
Read more about "Welcome to the Family" and watch a preview here
Ryan: DVR It
This show has a comic master at the center -- why is it trying so painfully hard? I'll give it a few more chances, but the pilot is annoyingly overeager and brittle.

Furlong: Watch It
I knew Michael J. Fox wouldn't return to TV without a great premise and pilot script, but I also just assumed he'd steal every scene ... and I was wrong. The show is charming, but it's the whole new TV family that makes it a must-see.

Etkin: DVR It
There are some not-so-convincing family dynamics on this show and a few cliches (see: slutty spinster aunt), but I've gotta give Fox props for making fun of his Parkinson's -- one particular overt jab is one of the pilot's few laugh-out-loud moments. I didn't love this show, but I'm excited to see where it goes.

Harnick: Watch It
Of all the family comedies that are being stuffed down our throats this season, "The Michael J. Fox Show" is probably the strongest. Fox is the star, sure, but don't underestimate Betsy Brandt and Katie Finneran.

Moaba: DVR It
I like how closely the show's slightly fictionalized premise mirrors Fox's own comeback story. It seems authentic enough that you don’t feel bad laughing at the Parkinson’s jokes.

Prudom: Watch It
I would watch Michael J. Fox read the phone book, and this is charming -- I'm in.

Weingus: DVR It
I enjoyed Fox's performance, but the plot was all over the place at times -- especially when it came to his kids and sister. But I'll give it a few episodes. "The Michael J. Fox Show" could hit its stride.


"SEAN SAVES THE WORLD"
Read more about "Sean Saves the World" and watch a preview here
Furlong: Skip It
Can someone save me from THIS? Multi-cam, laugh track, predictable at every step, Sean Hayes at his most cliche gay. NBC needs to stop trying to make Sean Hayes happen again.

Etkin: Skip It
I was happy to see Linda Lavin (a.k.a. The Nana) and that Sean Hayes's Sean is slightly less stereotypical than Jack McFarland was on "Will & Grace." Progress? But the writing on this one is weak. I barely cracked a smile.

Harnick: Skip It
This was rough. Sean Hayes basically plays Jack from "Will & Grace" without the snark and rampant vanity ... it's not a good look.

Moaba: Skip It
Sometimes it’s hard to describe what makes a show bad, but you’ll know it when you see it.

Prudom: Skip It
Broad, lazy and just not funny.

Weingus: Skip It
Sean Hayes is funny at moments, but the combination of bad chemistry between the cast and overacted scenes makes "Sean Saves The World" grating.

MIDSEASON 2014:


"ABOUT A BOY"
Read more about "About a Boy" here
Ryan: Watch It
David Walton is perfectly cast as a charming, feckless bachelor in this comedy, which has a strong cast and a great deal of potential. Lots of fun.

Furlong: Watch It
I was skeptical, considering I adored the book and movie, but the pilot plows through a lot of what the movie covered, leaving new stories to be told. Plus, I love David Walton, and I don't care who knows it.

Etkin: Watch It
As a fan of the movie adaptation starring Toni Collette, Hugh Grant and young, bowl-cut-sporting Nicholas Hoult, I was nervous about this. But "About A Boy" had me smiling consistently and the dynamic between Will (David Walton) and Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) was right on. I'm not sure Minnie Driver was the best choice for Fiona, but a certain One Direction moment warmed my heart. Jason Katims, you never let me down.

Harnick: DVR It
I've never seen the movie, but now I want to. The plot seems like a better fit for the big screen, so now I want to see another episode to see if the show can keep it going.

Moaba: DVR It
The pilot manages to finds a nice balance of humor and heart. A good one to watch with the fam.

Prudom: DVR It
It doesn't quite have the wit of the movie, or the heart just yet, but given that Jason Katims has given us "Parenthood" and "Friday Night Lights," I believe it can get there.

Weingus: Watch It
Everything about this is fabulous. Marcus (Benjamin Stockhalm) is the perfect combination of awesome and awkward, and Will (David Walton) hits all the right notes as an overgrown man-child. Easily NBC's best pilot of the season!


"GROWING UP FISHER"
(formerly "The Family Guide")
Read more about "Growing Up Fisher" here
Furlong: DVR It
In an obviously "Wonder Years"-inspired move, this show relies heavily on narration from the main kid's future self. But as much as I love hearing Jason Bateman, that's the part that's holding this wannabe-quirky coming-of-age show back.

Etkin: Skip It
Another adorable little boy, who's certainly a charmer, but not enough to make this comedy work. I fear many blind jokes and/or mishaps, but I think this one might get the axe before we have to suffer too much. Looks like J.K. Simmons will be 0 for 2 with network comedies that include the word "family" in the title.

Moaba: Skip It
There are some things to like about it, like Jason Bateman narrating and J.K. Simmons' performance as a blind dad. But Parker Posey’s departure is symptomatic of the fact that something in the show doesn’t quite click.

Harnick: DVR It
It was sweet and not nearly as obnoxious as I thought it would be. There's heart here, just needs to develop a bit more.

Prudom: Watch It
Like many comedy pilots, it's light on actual laughs, but the show does an admirable job of portraying blindness without making the disability the butt of tasteless jokes or overwhelming the story with saccharine sentiment. At its core, it's a sweetly charming family comedy with a unique twist, made more endearing by Jason Bateman's voiceover and J.K. Simmons' wry portrayal -- it'll be interesting to see whether Parker Posey's recasting changes things, but I won't miss her.

Weingus: Skip It
This pilot is sweet in its own way, but the laughs are few and far between. Unless this show has a major turnaround, it doesn't look like it will have much staying power.


"BELIEVE"
Read more about "Believe" here
Furlong: DVR It
This is this season's big high-concept pilot following people with supernatural abilities -- think "Heroes" and "Touch" -- and dammit if I didn't get sucked in a bit, even knowing that it probably won't end well. But I'll watch more to see either way.

Etkin: Skip It
J.J. Abrams will still never produce anything as captivating as the first couple seasons of "Lost," but that doesn't stop Bad Robot and NBC from trying. Still, the young actress at the heart of this show was impressive and her banter with the protagonist was pretty adorable, but it's not enough to make me come back for more.

Moaba: Skip It
I don’t believe in “Believe.” But if you want to watch a mysterious ninja squad chasing a supernaturally-gifted little girl for reasons that are totally unclear, this is the show for you.

Harnick: DVR It
I went into "Believe" fully expecting to not enjoy it. However, there were times I was genuinely filled with suspense and looking forward to the next scene. It's not great -- there are definitely problems and over-the-top tropes -- but the comic book fan in me is curious for more.

Prudom: DVR It
A high-concept, J.J. Abrams-produced, serialized mystery drama? Basically, this is everything I love to watch and everything America hates, but despite its silliness and "Touch"-esque premise, it has potential.

Weingus: DVR It
The premise isn't great -- a 10-year-old with superpowers. It's basically a scarier version of "Matilda," if you will. The one thing that could save this show is this all-powerful girl's adorable relationship with a death row inmate. Don't ask ... just DVR!


"CRISIS"
Read more about "Crisis" here
Etkin: Skip It
I'm still not sure what this show was trying to be ... or why Durmot Mulroney's hair had to look like that, but I won't be sticking around to find out.

Moaba: Skip It
"Crisis" raises some important questions, although none about the implausible mass-kidnapping plot at the show's center. Mainly: How did NBC decide to make this? And is the network holding Gillian Anderson hostage?

Harnick: DVR It
Full disclosure: I wanted to love this show. I didn't love it. But I still want to see where it's going ... at least for another episode.

Prudom: DVR It
Over-reliant on obnoxious kids and full of expository dialogue, but I'm vaguely interested in seeing where they plan to go with it. (Although "Hostages" is definitely the stronger "kidnapped family" show of the season.)

Weingus: Skip It
"Crisis" was forced, dramatic and uncomfortable ... especially when there were tracking devices planted in people's teeth. It's safe to say "Crisis" sent me straight into crisis mode. I'm sorry.

Please note: Screeners for new NBC series "Dracula" and "Chicago PD" were not yet made available to press when this published.

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NBC's New Shows 2013-2014
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