TV Upfront

Ad Age Picks TV's 2014-15 Hits and Misses

'State of Affairs' and the Next NCIS Spin-Off Look Like Hits

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Now that the broadcasters have revealed their slate of new shows for the upcoming season, here are our network-by-network picks for what will last ... and what will quickly fade away.


NCIS: New Orleans" (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.):
Okay, so this is a cop-out. Despite the running joke that CBS is becoming the "colon" network due to all of its "NCIS" and "CSI" spin-offs, the shows continue to be among the highest-rated on TV. The latest iteration of the franchise should do just fine slated in between the original and "Person of Interest" on Tuesday night.

Runner up: "Stalker" (Wednesdays, 10 p.m.): It's rare to see upfront attendees become completely engrossed in the lengthy trailers shown during these presentations, but "Stalker" had the audience's attention throughout. It's a fresh take on procedurals, with more of a horror/thriller vibe, about a team that hunts down stalkers.

"State of Affairs" (Mondays, 10 p.m.):
"Grey's Anatomy" alum Katherine Heigl returns to the small screen as a CIA analyst who compiles the President's daily briefings on threats to the country. While they go about their jobs, they are both focused on avenging the death of the President's son and Heigl's fiancé. A compelling trailer and lead-in from "The Voice" bodes well for the drama, as long as you can ultimately believe Ms. Heigl in the role.

Runner up: "A to Z" (Thursday, 9:30 p.m.): This romantic comedy starring Cristina Miloti, who played the mother in CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" seems charming. The series will focus on the entire relationship of Andrew and Zelda from the day they meet to their breakup. One obstacle it faces: going up against "Scandal."

How to Get Away With Murder" (Thursdays, 10 p.m.):
It's easy to bet on Shondha Rhimes. She has a track record of creating series that stick. Starring Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder" is a legal thriller about a law professor who becomes entangled with four students from her class and who eventually need to apply what they learn in class to real life. "How to Get Away With Murder" gets a prime lead-in from "Scandal," and should do well as long as viewers don't tire of a night dedicated to Ms. Rhimes.

Runner up: "American Crime" (Sundays, 9 p.m., midseason): If it turns out to be as good as the pilot looks, "American Crime" from John Ridley has the best chance of standing up against some of the grittier cable hits. With a top-notch cast than includes Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton, "American Crime" explores racial tensions following the attack on a young couple.

Gotham" (Mondays, 8 p.m.):
The trailer for the Batman prequel has already been viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube. It's possibly the most-hyped new series of the season, starring Ben McKenzie as Detective Gordon. One potential hiccup is early criticism about a Batman show that doesn't feature the caped crusader himself.

Runner up: "Empire" (midseason): The drama from Lee Daniels and executive producer Brian Grazer will go behind the scenes of a hip-hop empire as its leader finds out he is dying and his three sons and ex-wife battle for the throne. The series, which will feature original music from Timbaland and other musical performances, looks different than anything else on broadcast TV right now.


The Mysteries of Laura" (Wednesdays, 8 p.m.):
Debra Messing returns to the peacock network after the failed musical dramedy "Smash" as a detective who juggles crime solving and being a single mom to twin boys. It's difficult to see Ms. Messing playing the role of kick-ass detective, and based on the trailer, the light-hearted drama appears neither very compelling nor very funny.

Scorpion" (Mondays, 9 p.m.):
Dubbed a genius drama, CBS alluded to the success of "The Big Bang Theory," which is also about a group of genius misfits, in explaining why it decided to go with "Scorpion." These eccentric genius help the government fights crimes, but to compare it to "Big Bang" seems like a stretch. "Scorpion" doesn't seem like a typical CBS show, which could be a good thing, but based on the trailer it just doesn't seem like the chemistry is there.

Selfie" (Tuesdays, 8 p.m.):
A story about a girl, Eliza Dooley, who has plenty of online followers but no real friends, it's dubbed as a modern-day "My Fair Lady" or Pygmalion. Eliza gets marketing guru Henry to rebrand her self-obsessed reputation and teach her how to connect in the real world. Kicking off Tuesday nights in the fall, it's unlikely to be the lead-in ABC needs, or to become anything close to a self-starter.

Mulaney" (Sundays, 9:30 p.m.):
Coming from "Saturday Night Live" writer John Mulaney and producer Lorne Michaels, you'd tend to think hit, but the jokes in the trailer of this show about an up-and-coming stand-up comedian didn't play at the upfront. There was near-silence at Fox's upfront while the trailer played, never a good sign for a comedy.

More misses: I'd also be surprised if NBC's "Bad Judge" and ABC's "Cristela" make it far beyond their pilots. Even without seeing a trailer yet, based up Matthew Perry's track record post-"Friends" it would also be surprising if CBS's remake of "The Odd Couple" is a success.

How did we do last year?

We went four for four in picking the biggest flops, correctly identifying NBC's "Sean Saves the World," Fox's "Enlisted," ABC's "Trophy Wife" and CBS's "We are Men" as shows that wouldn't get a second season.

But we had less success when it came to the hits. We accurately called out NBC's "The Blacklist," CBS's "The Millers" and ABC's "Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as series that would live on beyond one season, but totally missed the boat with NBC's "The Michael J. Fox Show," Fox's "Almost Human," ABC's "Super Fun Night" and CBS's "The Crazy Ones." Though, in our defense, "The Crazy Ones" did come out of the gate strong and was one of the shows on the bubble until the end.

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