NBC and ABC are using their ownership of Hulu as a great way to get interest in their new fall shows by releasing the pilots weeks ahead of their air dates. The 5 shows below are all well-written and well-acted, and all should be checked out on Hulu today.
Back in the Game (ABC)
Raised by a single ball player father, Terry "The Cannon" Gannon, Sr., after her mother dies, Terry Gannon, Jr. goes on to play baseball herself, until she gets pregnant in college and loses her scholarship. Now, years later, Terry and her son Danny are forced to move back in with The Cannon after her husband cheated on her.
Damaged by baseball's influence on her life, Terry is less than pleased that Danny wants to play. As it turns out, however, Danny is only trying to impress a girl at his new school. After being cut from the league, Terry steps in to coach a team of misfits name The Angles, a prank played by the head of the league. Not Terry and The Cannon will help teach these boys about life through the American pastime.
Trophy Wife (ABC)
In an odd tribute from a network that unceremoniously canceled Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night, ABC has hired several members of other Sorkin series to fill out the cast of their new comedy Trophy Wife. Starring Bradley Whitford from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as well as The West Wing as the twice-divorced lawyer father of 3 children. He has met and married Malin Akerman of Childrens Hospital fame, whose best friend and Karaoke partner is Natalie Morales from The Newsroom. Whitford's doctor ex-wife is Marcia Gay Harden, also from The Newsroom.
Now, as a major Sorkin fan, I was excited about the over-population of past-Sorkin cast. The good news is, on top of a great cast, the premise of the series is setup for ridiculous comedy. Insane ex-wives, rowdy kids and a woman who badly wants to be accepted by her new family and to live up to her new life as "mom." Oh, and Phyllis Smith from The Office is the older son's teacher.
The Goldbergs (ABC)
What happens when you combine the situation of The Wonder Years with the comedy styling of Married With Children and set it in the 80s? What if you add in some of the best situational comedians, such as Patton Oswalt, Jeff Garlin, George Segal and Wendi McLendon-Covey and put it on ABC?
You get the new sitcom The Goldbergs. Patton Oswalt narrates from the future as the youngest brother of 3 kids in the adventures of a family living through the insane 80s. The decorations, the clothes and even the hair are picture perfect for the era. More importantly, the personalities are right on. Even more importantly, the comedy is well written and delivered, even by the children. Well cast and well written.
Continuing the well-received (*sarcasm*) television tradition of remaking older series, NBC is revisiting a series that seems like a live-action adaptation of the American Dad detective series joke Wheels and the Legman. Unfortunately, Ironside is actually a 60s and 70s NBC series about a wheelchair-bound detective. The lead is played by able-bodied Blair Underwood, which has caused a lot of controversy, though the casting actually makes sense.
Like Artie from Glee, we see glimpses of a world where the character is fully ambulatory. Unlike Artie, though, these are not fantasies, but instead looks into the past, before he was shot and paralyzed. This helps establish the character as a no nonsense, anything goes guy both before and after his injury. I assume they are trying to get at the fact that not everyone turns into a jerk when their life is turned upside-down - some are born jerks.
Welcome to the Family (NBC)
When a high school graduate (barely) falls in love with a high school valedictorian, sometimes it results in pregnancy. When this scenario happens on NBC, the families don't like one another, and that is always a recipe for a good sitcom.
Mike O'Malley stars as the father who is looking forward to his renaissance, the beginning of the next phase in life without children in the house, now ruined by his daughter's pregnancy. What could be worse? Her boyfriend's father hates him. Oh, and his wife is also pregnant, unplanned. If you thought ABC was going to be the only one with a Modern Family-style show this season, you were wrong.