TV Upfront

TV Hits and Misses: Ad Age's Predictions for the 2016-17 Season

ABC's 'Designated Survivor' and NBC's 'This Is Us' Are Among Top Picks

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Now that the big English-language broadcasters have revealed their slate of new shows for the 2016-17 season, here are our network-by-network picks for which will last and which will quickly fade.



It may be foolish to go with the heart on this one, but you couldn't help feeling all the feelings during the trailer for "This Is Us," starring Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia. It isn't exactly clear what the series is about other than people who share the same birthday and whose lives intertwine in some way. The series is being compared to heartwarming "Parenthood," and in just 48 hours, the trailer garnered 17 million views on Facebook alone, a record for a new fall show, and was watched about 2.6 million times on YouTube.

Another contender is "Emerald City." Despite the delay (NBC originally ordered the series in 2014), the reimaging of "The Wizard Of Oz" feels epic and like something that could air on HBO. It's dark and gritty, with the trailer shown at NBC's upfront event Monday showing a Scarecrow that resembles Jesus on the cross.

And fans of "The Office" might take a liking to "Trial & Error," a mockumentary about a bright-eyed New York lawyer who arrives in a quirky small Southern town to defend a professor (John Lithgow) who is accused of murdering his wife.


"The Good Place" looks very bad. Starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, the sitcom follows a woman who dies but is mistaken for someone else and is wrongly sent to the "good place" -- a type of heaven. While you want to root for a show with leads like Ms. Bell and Mr. Danson, there's only so many times we will be able to go along with the joke of Ms. Bell's character trying to curse, but unable to pronounce bad words in the "good place."

And with so many remakes of movies coming next season, it is inevitable at least a few will fail. "Taken," the remake of the movie staring Liam Neeson, is likely to be one of them. The trailer lacked the same tension and thrill of the original movie. If there's any movie-turned-TV show at NBC Universal that is worth betting on, it's "Shooter" on USA Network starring Ryan Phillippe.



Kiefer Sutherland's return to TV in "Designated Survivor" is already receiving plenty of chatter. ABC is obviously very excited about the drama about a cabinet member who becomes president after a terrorist attack, giving the show a lengthy plug during its upfront presentation, including showing several minutes of the pilot rather than a flashy trailer. For those looking for another version of Jack Bauer, though, it doesn't look like "Designated Survivor" will deliver; the clip shown built a little more slowly than that. Oh and Kiefer Sutherland is wearing glasses.

And "When We Rise," an eight-hour event series on gay civil rights, looked powerful and emotional. There was complete silence followed by big applause after the clip; this one could be something special.

Misses: All of the alphabet network's new comedies. ABC has had some success over the past few years in adding new family comedies, but its success rate will likely drop substantially after next season. Its new crop of sitcoms, which feature an imaginary friend (who makes a macarena joke) and a talking dog, got few laughs during the network's upfront event. "American House Wife," "Downward Dog" and "Imaginary Mary" seem to be candidates for quick exits if the trailers are any indication. "Speechless," about a family including a child with special needs, may fare a bit better, but a second season still looks iffy.


Hits: It's probably safe to bet on Lee Daniels. His new musical drama "Star," featuring Queen Latifah, takes a look at another side of the music business -- new talent trying to make it big. The trailer promises the same catchy songs as "Empire," and with "American Idol" gone from the winter schedule, "Star" can help fill the music void.

And you can never underestimate horror fans. "The Exorcist" is one of the only movie remakes that stands a chance of sticking around.


With three time-travel shows on the air next season, at least one of them has to fail. It might be "Making History." Comedy is hard enough without a gimmicky storyline about the antics of three friends from two different centuries.

Aren't we done with the premise of a single woman who must become a caregiver? "The Mick" once again tackles the topic, starring Kaitlin Olson as a "brash, two-bit hustler from Rhode Island" who must assume guardianship of her sister's three high-maintenance children. As past attempts have already taught us, the set-up is tired.



"The Great Indoors" has the most potential of any of CBS's new comedies. It's great to see Joel McHale playing the old guy; his character is an adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine who must adapt to the times when he becomes a desk-bound boss managing a group of millennials in the digital department of the publication. Who can get sick of millennial jokes (other than millennials, not exactly CBS's core demo)? "The Great Indoors" is also a breath of fresh air compared with CBS's other new sitcoms, "Kevin Can Wait" and "Man With a Plan," both of which have very similar premises about dads (Kevin James in one, Matt LeBlanc in another) becoming full-time caregivers; cue the shenanigans. But you can never underestimate CBS comedies -- just look at "The Odd Couple," back for another season.


Instead, CBS's new drama "Bull" is one of the network's weaker links. Inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, Michael Weatherly from "NCIS" stars as Dr. Jason Bull, a "brilliant, brash and charming" lawyer who combines psychology, intuition and high tech data to learn what makes jurors and the accused tick. While fans of Mr. Weatherly will be happy to see him remain on the eye network, "Bull" will likely get lost in the pool of procedurals.

The CW

Sure "Supergirl" isn't a new show, but it is new to The CW, and will very likely thrive on the network. It could even attract some CBS viewers to The CW for the first time. It's a much better fit with The CW's other genre series such as "Arrow" and "Supernatural" than CBS's crime shows and comedies, and the addition of the show only sets the stage for even bigger superhero cross-overs than the Flash-Supergirl plot this season.

"Frequency" appears to be the most compelling of the time-travel series hitting broadcast next season. It's a drama about father and daughter who connect through an old ham radio, based on the 2000 movie of the same name. I'm a sucker for a complicated time-traveling scenario, and this one is certainly that.


The CW has had luck with its new comedies, like the critically acclaimed "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." But the trailer for the hour-long comedy "No Tomorrow" falls flat. The series centers on a risk-averse quality-control assessor who falls in love with a man who lives life to the fullest because he believes the apocalypse is imminent (shades of "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," the 2012 Steve Carell-Keira Knightley movie). They embark on a quest together to fulfill their individual bucket lists.

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