BRC hosts latest Fall TV weigh-in

Mediaweek's Marc Berman and TV columnist Bill Brioux had a thing or two to say about the Fall TV sched at the Broadcast Research Council's summer gala this week.

The Broadcast Research Council’s annual Fall TV gala took a closer look at new broadcast content premiering this fall, both for US and Canadian markets. There to provide their insights into the new programs’ potential for survival in North America were TV columnist Bill Brioux for Canada and Mediaweek senior editor Marc Berman (also knows as ‘Mr. Television’) for the US market.

Looking at Monday’s broadcast sched (a competitive night in Canada), comedy newbie Accidentally on Purpose, airing at 8:30pm on Citytv, didn’t get the nod from Berman. ‘When it comes to comedies, you want to have characters that we can relate to, characters we like: this seemed forced to me. I don’t like it and I don’t think it has a long-term future on CBS,’ said Berman. Brioux agreed, though added that the growth of viewers looking for a comforting show these days might work in its favour. ‘If you think in those terms, there’s maybe a window for this show to fall through, but this isn’t a whole lot of laughs.’

Tuesday night’s new show, the LL Cool J-starring NCIS: Los Angeles airing on Global at 9pm, got a unenthusiastic thumbs up. ‘It’s a little disappointing,’ said Berman, ‘because it’s like all the other [shows of this genre]. It’s not original but it’s going to work, this will absolutely stay on the air, and it’s going to work for CBS really well.’

Also new on Tuesday night, The Good Wife, airing in Global’s 10pm slot, got the nod. Speaking from the US market perspective, Berman said, ‘I think the pilot was very good, it’s airing on CBS in an hour that’s not competitive, it has very good leaps forward and that’s more reason to think it’s going to work,’ he said, though adding that the show will likely skew older: ‘I don’t think it’s going to skew any younger than Without a Trace or Judging Amy so the question is, is CBS going to want to keep [it] or not?’ Brioux also gave the show the thumbs up. ‘I like all the actors and writing; it was a very entertaining, very well-made pilot. I think this will be a very strong show.’

Clips from Wednesday night’s new comedy, Modern Family (9pm on Citytv) featuring three families facing suburban struggles, got laughs from the gala crowd, and nods from both experts. ‘A really promising, funny show,’ said Brioux. ‘The writers from Arrested Development are on this; it’s smart, funny. There’s a little of everything.’

The return of Courteney Cox Arquette to network TV with Cougar Town, which follows Modern Family (also on Citytv) got the nod as well. ‘Well cast,’ said Brioux. ‘I liked this more than I thought and it’s well paired with Modern Family. It’s another good pickup for Citytv: two comedies back-to-back.’

But Brioux and Berman disagreed when it came to the musical comedy Glee, airing on Global at 9pm. ‘It was a good pilot,’ said Berman, ‘I just don’t think it’s going to hold.’ Brioux held a different viewpoint: ‘It’s a long shot, but here’s why I think this is different: it’s a breath of fresh air. It has a different vibe, it’s not a crime drama: it’s celebrating something, it’s so positive; it’s an easy show to embrace.’

Comparing views on Melrose Place, which follows Glee, also on Global, Brioux said to a roar of laughs, ‘It’s a bunch of people having sex and texting each other. Looks like Gossip Girl,’ he said. ‘But on CW,’ interjected Berman, ‘it’s a show [the network] needs because that’s their image, so it does have a shot.’

Over on A in the 10pm slot, the big-budget drama from the decade-old film, Eastwick got lukewarm approval, though both experts acknowledged the network took a bold step this year in going with all-new shows for its prime-time slot (8-11pm).

For Thursday night, ‘CTV has a wealth of riches,’ said Brioux, citing CSI, Grey’s Anatomy and The Mentalist, which follow the new Vampire Diairies airing at 7pm on the net. ‘If you’re a Degrassi fan (which also airs in that slot), that’s probably where you’re going to look for your next big show,’ said Brioux. ‘It seemed to me it was written spinning together 20 [Tweets] – the script is that simple – a lot of clichés. But by the production values – it looks like a movie: very atmospheric, the kids are all amazing, how can you lose?’

Flash Forward, of which clips were also shared with gala guests, had the experts expressing excitement. ‘It definitely has the feel of something that could work,’ said Berman of the A net’s 8pm drama.

Berman also gave the nod to the night’s only new comedy, Community, on Citytv at 8pm, starring Chevy Chase and a group of zainy community college misfits. ‘I like it and I think it could work,’ said Berman and Brioux agreed adding, ‘I think this is a smart show: it reminds me of Arrested Development but it may be a more accessible show. I think if you’re a fan of The Office or 30 Rock, you’re going to love this show.’

The one new offering on Friday nights, The Ron James Show, the standup comedian’s sketch comedy series airing on CBC at 8pm, received neutral acknowledgement, as reviews reached the tail end of the night, as did the pubcaster’s Sunday night novelty, Battle of the Blades.

As for Saturday’s only new show, Glenn Martin DDS, a stop-motion animation series on Citytv at 8pm, Brioux had reservations. ‘It’s a funny show,’ he said. ‘But it’s stuck on a Saturday night.’