NBC’s upfronts 2019-20 – a rundown and clips from the new shows: Bluff City Law, Perfect Harmony and Sunnyside

Perfect Harmony

All through ‘upfronts’ week, TMINE will be revealing the new shows that are going to be hitting US TV screens from September 2019

It’s that time of year again – the ‘upfronts’. What’s that, I hear you ask?

What are the upfronts, TMINE?

It’s when all the US networks reveal to advertisers the new shows that are going to be hitting the TV screens some time from September 2019 through to nowish 2020. However, this isn’t the same as the international screenings, where buyers from TV networks around the world turn up to see what they’d like to acquire, so we won’t know what will be heading our way for quite some time.

Anyway, in case you missed this morning’s news of the weekend’s slaughter, US TV networks have killed off a whole bunch of existing shows (prompting howls of protest from their fans) and are about to commission a whole bunch of new shows (prompting howls of ‘you cancelled x for this rubbish?’ from said-same fans).

1. NBC’s upfronts

As per last year, it’s NBC out of the gates first. Last year, it gave us Manifest (renewed), New Amsterdam (renewed) and I Feel Bad (cancelled), although a few more arrived later in the year. This year, we’ve got more, but NBC’s roster is pretty full, so most of them are mid-season shows and don’t have trailers yet. So after the jump are:

  • Bluff City Law
  • Perfect Harmony
  • Sunnyside

And for the mid-season

  • Council of Dads
  • Indebted
  • The Kenan Show
  • Lincoln
  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

The latter list all sound better than the former, so I’ve no idea what NBC’s thinking here.

Coming in the Autumn…

Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Smits and I'm going to guess Michael Luwoye in NBC's Bluff City Law
Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Smits and I’m going to guess Michael Luwoye in NBC’s Bluff City Law

Bluff City Law  

The character-driven legal drama follows an elite Memphis law firm that specialises in controversial landmark civil rights cases. Jimmy Smits (LA Law) returns to NBC to star as a legendary lawyer. Caitlin McGee plays his daughter.

The Universal TV drama is from writer Dean Georgaris (who also has The Baker and the Beauty at ABC) and David Janollari Entertainment. The project had been among the network’s buzziest dramas during development.

Time slot: Mondays, 10pm

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: Shouty people shout in courtrooms and probably still win, despite breaking all the basics of legal practice, because they represent ‘the little guy’

Bradley Whitford and some lesser talents in NBC's Perfect Harmony
Bradley Whitford and some lesser talents in NBC’s Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony 

Bradley Whitford stars in a single-camera comedy from Disney’s 20th TV as a former Princeton music professor who unexpectedly stumbles into choir practice at a small-town church. Speechless veteran Lesley Lake Webster created the series, with Whitford and pilot director Jason Winer among the EPs.

Time slot: 8:30 pm Thursdays

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: NBC attempts to redo its usual comedy formula (cf Go On, Outsourced) but with a choir and Bradley Whitford. Not sure about option 1, but option 2 might just about make it watchable.

Kal Penn and a diverse group of people you've never heard of NBC's Sunnyside
Kal Penn and a diverse group of people you’ve never heard of NBC’s Sunnyside


The single-camera comedy from executive producer Mike Schur (The Good Place) revolves around Garrett Shah (Kal Penn), a former New York city councilman who finds his calling when faced with immigrants in need of his help and in search of the American Dream. Matt Murray (Parks and Recreation) co-wrote the script alongside Penn. The series hails from Universal TV, Schur’s studio-based Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment. 

Time slot: 9:30pm Thursdays

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: Moderately interesting look at modern-day immigration, but nothing hilarious.

J August Richards, Clive Standen and Tom Everett Scott in NBC's Council of Dads
J August Richards, Clive Standen and Tom Everett Scott in NBC’s Council of Dads

Mid-season shows

Council of Dads

Based on a memoir by Bruce Feller, this Universal TV drama from former Grey’s Anatomy showrunners Tony Phelan and Joan Rater centres on Scott (Tom Everett Scott), a father of four who’s diagnosed with cancer. He assembles some of his closest allies – best friend Anthony (Clive Standen), AA sponsor Larry (Michael O’Neil) and surgeon Oliver (J August Richards), who’s also his wife’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) best friend – to be “back-up dads” for every stage of his family’s life.

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: NBC has a go at redoing ABC’s A Million Little Things

Steven Weber, Fran Drescher, Abby Elliott, Adam Pally and Jessy Hodges in NBC's Indebted © Trae Patton/NBC
Steven Weber, Fran Drescher, Abby Elliott, Adam Pally and Jessy Hodges in NBC’s Indebted © Trae Patton/NBC


Adam Pally and Abby Elliott are parents ready to reclaim their lives now that their kids are growing up. Until his parents (Fran Drescher and Steven Weber) show up at their door, broke, and he feels obligated to take them in. Dan Levy (The Goldbergs) created the show and exec produces with Sony-based Doug Robinson.

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: I like Adam Pally, Fran Drescher and Steven Weber, but it’s an NBC multi-camera comedy. Do I need to say more?

Dani Lockett as Emma, Kenan Thompson as Kenan, Dannah Lockett as Sophie in NBC's The Kenan Show © Batzdorff/NBC
Dani Lockett as Emma, Kenan Thompson as Kenan, Dannah Lockett as Sophie in NBC’s The Kenan Show © Batzdorff/NBC

The Kenan Show 

Saturday Night Live Emmy winner Kenan Thompson stars as a father to two adorable girls while balancing his job and a father-in-law (Andy Garcia) who helps in the most inappropriate ways. Lorne Michaels and his Universal TV-based Broadway Video exec produces the single-camera comedy from writer Jackie Clarke (Superstore).

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: Will almost certainly be bad, but even I can’t tell from that description

Russell Hornsby, some bloke and Arielle Kebbel in NBC's Lincoln
Russell Hornsby, some bloke and Arielle Kebbel in NBC’s Lincoln


Based on the bestselling Bone Collector book series, the drama – a co-production of Sony and Universal TV – stars Russell Hornsby as Lincoln Rhyme, a criminologist seriously injured in his hunt for a serial killer. Arielle Kebbel plays the young beat cop who helps him hunt the killer while also taking on other high-profile cases. Justified veteran VJ Boyd and Mark Bianculli co-wrote the pilot, based on Jeffrey Deaver’s novels that also spawned a 1999 movie with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: The movie was kind of fun – this could be, too. It’s also good a decent cast. Why’s it a mid-season replacement?

Jane Levy in NBC's Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Jane Levy in NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 

A musical drama from executive producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, A Simple Favor) and writer Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl), the Lionsgate TV series is the first 2019-20 pickup from an outside studio for NBC. Jane Levy (Castle Rock) stars as a whip-smart coder in San Francisco who, after an unusual event, starts to hear people’s innermost wants and desires expressed through songs. After first questioning her sanity, she comes to realize this unwanted curse may actually be a great gift. Skylar Astin, Peter Gallagher, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Carmen Cusack and Mary Steenburgen also star.

Time slot: 9pm Sundays in early 2020

TMINE’s hottest of hot takes: Why is this a mid-season replacement? Seriously, it’s got the best idea, the best cast, Jane Levy’s great in everything. The one I’m looking forward to.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.