Fox and NBC have announced their fall lineup, and it’s hard not to notice some similarities between their offerings. Even beyond the standard “here’s a family comedy! Here’s a parenting comedy! Here’s some new police procedurals!” the premises of these shows are remarkably similar.
So similar, in fact, that it’s like Armageddon and Deep Impact happening right in your living room.
For example, both networks have…
1. A Show Based on a 90s Interpretation of a 19th Century Novel
Over at Fox, we have Sleepy Hollow, about how the Revolutionary War soldier Ichabod Crane is somehow brought back to life in modern times to fight the Headless Horseman in a modern day Sleepy Hollow… probably. It’s honestly pretty difficult to make it through that whole trailer without cringing, but it does seem to be taking its cues from Tim Burton’s 1999 Sleepy Hollow flick, in that both change Crane’s career from schoolteacher to something more badass (Soldier and Police Officer, respectively), both open their trailers with Ichabod Crane introducing himself, and both are shot through a really heavy blue filter.
While over on NBC, they have Dracula, which is… a drama about Dracula? Really, nothing is made too terribly clear in the awful, awful trailer except for the fact that Mina Murray is clearly supposed to be a reincarnation of Dracula’s bride — an idea that isn’t in the book and was, in fact, created for Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992).
Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are nowhere to be found, though, so it’s got that going for it at least.
2. A Comedic Re-Telling of Romeo and Juliet
“Ever notice how sometimes when people date, their families don’t get along? I bet we can squeeze an entire series out of that.” — At Least Two Different People.
Over at Fox, we have Us & Them, a comedy about a family of city people who have to overcome their differences to get along with… country people (Maybe? Not city people? Suburbanites?) because their kids met playing Dota 2 (okay, so they don’t specify how they met, so we’re going with that).
Meanwhile, over at NBC, we have Welcome to the Family, a show about two different families who have to overcome their differences and get to know each other because their kids are getting married. Oh, and in this one, everyone is pregnant — seriously, two of the three female characters are pregnant by the end of the trailer. God help them once the show actually starts.
Seriously, take away the “wacky mismatched family” angle, and both these shows are just about attractive people who have sex with each other, and we can already get that for free on the internet. Or we pay for it. Whatever, no one’s judging here.
At any rate, I wonder if they got the idea from Modern Family and its monumental success.
3. A Show About How Single Dads Suck
Both Surviving Jack and Sean Saves the World are based on the clever observation that single dads are hilariously incompetent, despite the fact that Michael Keaton said everything that needed to be said on that topic back in the 1983.
To be fair, this one has a little diversity. Surviving Jack has twists like “it takes place in the 90s” and “the mother is going to law school”, while Sean Saves the World seems more dedicated to having just the worst goddamn jokes you’ve ever heard. Actually, both shows seem irritated that they’re even being asked to write jokes at all. They’d be happier just shouting their premise at you for forty minutes a week. Seriously, compare these two interactions:
Daughter: What’s happening right now?
Father: I’m single parenting!
Father: I’m in charge of parenting from now on.
Son: Sounds exciting.
You can tell exactly where both shows are going: how will the dad balance work and fatherhood? Obviously, by putting fatherhood first and not actually achieving a balance at all, thus setting an impossible standard that no one in real life could live up to and teaching kids across America to resent their dads for not being around as much as the ones on TV.
1. A Show About a Disabled Loose Cannon Cop
Over at NBC, we have the cop drama Ironside which, sadly, does not star Michael Ironside but which does feature a tough cop disabled by a bullet in the back while on duty, who’s so grizzled and badass that he’ll even tell his lieutenant to “shoot the hostage” even if he’s in a situation where that seems like an absolutely terrible idea.
Then on FOX we have Almost Human which is also about a tough cop disabled by a bullet in the back while on duty, who’s so grizzled and badass that he’ll shove his partner out of a moving car if he talks smack.
To be fair, that’s not as bad as it looks — his partner is fine because he’s a robot, so… wait a minute, his partner’s a robot? This show’s about a cop and a robot fighting crime?
Never mind. Snark gone. This may just be a TV version of Penny Arcade’s Automata but that’s completely fine, because it’s about a cop and a robot fighting crime.
J. F. Sargent is a loose cannon on the edge, but something something clever segue follow him on Twitter.