At this morning’s “In Front” held in New York City before advertisers, NBC announced six new series for the 2009-10 TV season, along with four returning series pickups.
Returning are Heroes, Southland, Parks and Recreation and six episodes of Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday (NBC caught lightning in a bottle last year with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Will Ferrell as George W. Bush; we’ll see how the next batch of Weekend Updates fares). These returns are in addition to the previously announced pickups of The Office, 30 Rock, The Biggest Loser, The Celebrity Apprentice, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Friday Night Lights.
The new series include four dramas and two comedies:
Parenthood — Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are executive producers of this re-imagining of Howard’s 1989 film of the same name. Maura Tierney plays Sarah Braverman, a financially strapped single mother to two children who returns home to her parents (Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia) and siblings (Erika Christensen, Dax Shepard and Peter Krause) in Berkeley, Calif. With everyone struggling with issues of their own, it’s clear that this Braverman reunion is what they need to face the everyday challenges of modern family life. The series faced a tragic and unexpected challenge of its own last week when Nora O’Brien, Vice President of Drama Programming at NBC, passed away suddenly on the set of the pilot episode.
Mercy — Among the slate of “nurse” shows coming out this year — including June’s Nurse Jackie on Showtime and HawthoRNe on TNT — comes this series about the lives of the staff at Mercy Hospital as seen through the eyes of its nurses. Taylor Schilling stars as Nurse Veronica Callahan who returns to Mercy after a military tour in Iraq. Jamie Lee Kirchner and Michelle Trachtenberg play fellow nurses with whom Veronica navigates daily traumas and social landmines, with James Tupper as a new doctor who “complicates” Veronica’s life, Diego Klattenhoff as Veronica’s husband, and Guillermo Diaz as Nurse Angel Lopez.
Trauma — Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) is executive producer of this medical drama that is set exclusively in the field, following the lives of first-responder paramedics. Derek Luke, Anastasia Griffith, Aimee Garcia, Kevin Rankin and Jamey Sheridan star.
Day One — Premiering in 2010 with the Winter Olympics as a lead-in (is that a help or a hindrance?), this “epic event series” tells the story of life on Earth following a global catastrophe that has devastated the world’s infrastructures. An eclectic band of survivors tries to rebuild society as they unravel the mysteries behind what happened. If this sounds like a combo of Heroes and Lost, it might be because Jesse Alexander — producer of Heroes and Lost — serves as executive producer here. Adam Campbell, Catherine Dent, Julie Gonzalo, David Lyons, Derek Mio, Carly Pope, Thekla Reuten and Addison Timlin star.
100 Questions — You might have known this comedy when first announced as 100 Questions for Charlotte Payne. Or, you might have known it last year under the similarly premised CBS show The Ex List. But let’s not insult this series before even seeing it. At least this one has famed, long-time TV director James Burrows (Cheers, Friends, Will & Grace, among countless others) at the helm. The series stars Sophie Winkleman as the (formerly) titular character who is looking for love but has rejected multiple marriage proposals and has yet to meet Mr. Right. When she joins a popular online dating site, she gets some help from dating counselor Ravi (Amir Talai, who has worked this territory before by starring in, yes, The Ex List). Ravi requires Charlotte to fill out a 100-question compatibility test. The questions aren’t easy for her to answer, and each one requires her to recount a poignant and humorous time in her life with friends and lovers as she tries to find out what she really wants in a relationship. Elizabeth Ho, Joy Suprano, Christopher Moynihan and David Walton play the pals.
Community — The Soup‘s Joel McHale stars in this comedy set at a community college. From the show’s description, it might not be the most flattering portrayal of those institutions, either. Roaming the halls are high-school losers, newly divorced housewives, old people who want to keep their minds active, and Chevy Chase. McHale plays a lawyer whose degree has been revoked, who forms a study group with a band of misfits. In addition to McHale and Chase, the show stars Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Pudi and Alison Brie.
Parenthood: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
100 Questions: Chris Haston/NBC
Community: Paul Drinkwater/NBC