NBC’s Fall 2008 shows

The pick of the Peacock

NBC have been difficult this year. They’ve messed around with the whole concept of upfronts, which isn’t helpful. They also haven’t really got round to filming any proper pilots, which isn’t helpful either.

All the same, they have given us some info about what shows they are going to make as well as a single solitary, slightly weak video to back it up. Let’s look at the highlights – including Knight Rider, Top Gear, a remake of Kath and Kim, Sean Bean in Crusoe and Christian Slater trying to be Jason Bourne – and that poor lonely little vid.

Knight Rider
We’ve already had the TV movie, now here comes the series. They’ve got a show-runner, the guy who wrote The Fast and the Furious and the big news is that he thought the TV movie kind of sucked. So he’s busy retooling it to make it as ‘cool’ as The Fast and the Furious. Apparently, he has something that’s never been done before with cars that’s going to blow our mind. As of yet though, we’ve no footage to compare the series proper with the TV movie.

My Own Worst Enemy
Christian Slater in his first TV series (as the lead, anyway). Here, complete with the incidental music to prove it, is a cross between Jekyll and Hyde and The Bourne Identity.

Henry Spivey (Christian Slater, “Bobby”) is a middle-class efficiency expert living a humdrum life in the suburbs with a wife, two kids, a dog, and a minivan. Edward Albright is an operative who speaks 13 languages, runs a four-minute mile, and is trained to kill with his teeth. Henry and Edward are polar opposites who share only one thing in common — the same body. When the carefully constructed wall between them breaks down, Henry and Edward are thrust into unfamiliar territory where each man is dangerously out of his element. “My Own Worst Enemy” explores the duality of a man who is literally pitted against himself. And it raises the question: who can you trust when you can’t trust yourself? The series is produced by Universal Media Studios. Jason Smilovic (“Kidnapped”) is the executive producer; David Semel

It sounds dafter than a box of frogs, but could prove endlessly entertaining, if only because of Slater – who might be persuaded to do his Jack Nicholson in The Shining if we ask him nicely.

It’s actually a British production made for NBC, which is something of a rarity to the say least. Sean Bean and Sam "did you say international co-production funding? Then count me in" Neill are heading the cast, but this sounds a bit like the scriptwriters might have had too much of the sun. The footage does make it look like they’ve spent some cash on it, though.

Based on the legendary novel by Daniel Defoe, this is the tale of Robinson Crusoe. A young man leaves his true love to embark on an adventure — only to end up shipwrecked on a remote tropical island for 28 years, completely detached from the life he once knew. His desire to return to his wife and his strong and unlikely friendship with Friday are the only things that keep him sane. While stranded, Crusoe encounters enemies and braves the elements. Equal parts "MacGyver," "Castaway" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," this series is an inspirational tale of survival rife with action and comedy. Power Entertainment produces "Crusoe."

The Listener
And this one, just to be equally surprising, is a Canadian show. In all probability, that means it’s probably going to be rubbish, and the show certainly looks too touchy feely and derivative to be of real interest. But you never know if it’s going to be the next The Border or jPod.

Toby Logan is a 24-year-old paramedic living with a secret: he can read people’s minds. This telepathic procedural takes viewers into the heart of a tortured hero who struggles to solve crimes with his unique gift. Week-to-week, The Listener balances high-stakes drama with irreverent humor and sends Toby on an intellectual and emotional adventure.

Kath and Kim
It’s a remake of the famous Australian comedy series. I’ve always disliked Kath and Kim, since it has all the subtlety of a klaxon being sounded in your ear, but others believe differently. All the same, I believe this is going to be a big pile of rubbish starring Selma Blair.

They’re the most dysfunctional duo in suburbia. Kath Day (Molly Shannon, NBC’s "Saturday Night Live") is the mom, a foxy, 40-something divorcée who finally has time for herself and her valiant search for love. Kim Day (Selma Blair, "Hellboy," "Hellboy II") is the daughter, a self-absorbed princess recently separated from her husband who finds consolation in stuffing her face. When Kim decides to move back home, Kath reluctantly agrees — but to Kim’s chagrin, Kath is not about to cater to her every whim as she has in the past. Based on the most successful comedy in Australia of the same name, Kath and Kim are two brassy women who prefer the finer things in life like acrylic nails, big hair and faux diamond chips. The series is produced by Universal Media Studios and Reveille. The executive producer/writer is Michelle Nader ("The King of Queens") and the executive producer/director is Paul Feig ("Freaks and Geeks," "The Office"). Gina Riley, Jane Turner and Rick McKenna also are executive producers.

The Kitchen
Marco Pierre White, clearly jealous of former employee Gordon Ramsay, took over from him in the UK version of Hell’s Kitchen. Now he’s chasing him over the Atlantic to do something that look suspiciously similar – but isn’t because that would obviously infringe on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen hosted by a certain Mr Gordon Ramsay – and is busy trading on the fact that he made Gordon cry. Except he didn’t. Or something.

What if America were a monarchy? What if its king were Ian McShane and he was really based on King David from the Bible? Am I interested? No.

Top Gear
Do I really need to explain this to you? The British version is brilliant and has three hosts; the US version has no footage yet and appears to be hosted by just Adam Corolla, who admittedly is more or less the US version of Jeremy Clarkson. Who wants to bet there’ll be a single bad car review the entire series though?

There are also two mini-series that can probably be safely ignored, but who knows: there’s 13, which involves a presidential assassination but someone only called 13; and there’s The Last Templar, which is basically The Da Vinci Code but with Mira Sorvino instead of Tom Hanks. Which is an improvement of several magnitudes, I guess.

Here’s that lovely video then.