The London Olympics kicked off with Queen Elizabeth arriving at the opening ceremony in a Union Jack parachute. It was a good start to the 2012 games. For Michael Phelps, not so great.
While so much attention is focused on how Team USA will perform in this year’s Olympic Games, NBC is poised to take advantage of its broadcast rights for self-promotion.
This is the time of the year for the summer edition of the biannual TV critics press tour, where lowly scribes get the lowdown on the upcoming TV Fall season.
Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, wasted no time in telling the assembled critics at a press conference that NBC has an “incredible promotional platform with the Olympics and we’re going to take advantage of it.”
Until recently, NBC was mired in last place among the major television networks, but things have been looking up since the Spring, and even the Summer offers a ratings boost with “America’s Got Talent” and “American Ninja Warrior.”
Now the two-week run of the Olympics offers NBC opportunities to advertise their shows and even to program a few sneak peeks following nightly Olympic coverage.
The Matthew Perry comedy “Go On” will get a sneak peek commercial-free airing on Wednesday, Aug. 8, while another comedy, “Animal Practice,” gets the same treatment on Sunday, Aug. 12, following the Closing Ceremony.
Greenblatt noted that the strategy is to continue the momentum through August and into September, because the network doesn’t want to “just go dark for six weeks leading up to premiere week,” traditionally set for the end of September.
Meanwhile, NBC is betting heavily on a bunch of new comedy shows, which are always tricky at best to grab an audience, even when you have a good cast. Last year’s failure of “Free Agents” should be a reminder.
As part of the Olympic push, “Go On” stars Matthew Perry in a somewhat familiar setting, or at least a recognizable character, which he played in “Mr. Sunshine.”
Perry’s Ryan King is a recent widower and sports talk radio host ready to get back to work after the loss of his wife. But his boss (John Cho) has a different plan in store for Ryan, making him attend grief counseling before returning to the air.
A reluctant Ryan finds himself in a support group for “life change” where he meets an oddball cast of characters.
Given his rebellious nature, Ryan convinces the group to deviate from their normal session procedures, to the chagrin of the group leader (Laura Benanti). Back at work, Ryan realizes he may need the group more than he thought.
“Animal Practice,” a comedy centered on Justin Kirk’s unorthodox veterinarian Dr. George Coleman, also gets the Olympic treatment.
Dr. Coleman has a gift with animals, but his ex-girlfriend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) has inherited the family animal hospital, so you know conflict is brewing.
Tyler Labine, who has been funny in TV shows like “Mad Love” and “Sons of Tucson,” is a welcome addition to the cast as Dr. Dough Jackson, another vet better with animals than humans.
One of the big stars of this show is Crystal, a Capuchin monkey who steals the show. She was also the main attraction at the NBC cocktail party, posing for pictures.
“Guys With Kids” is a new comedy from Jimmy Fallon about three 30-something dads who try to hold on to their youth as they face the responsibilities of having small kids.
Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger try to balance work or staying at home, whether happily married or happily divorced. “Guys With Kids” seems like familiar, hashed-over turf, and as such, may prove a tough sell.
Everyone in the business thinks show creator and producer Ryan Murphy (“Glee” and “Nip/Tuck”) is a genius. So now he is trying his hand at comedy with “The New Normal.” I count “Glee” as a musical series.
“The New Normal” works off the premise that in 2012 families come in all forms – single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors and one-night-stand donors.
Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) are a Los Angeles couple and they have it all. Except, they want a baby to complete the family unit.
Along comes Goldie (Georgia King), a young single mother with a checkered past, looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother (Ellen Barkin).
Moving to L.A. with her precocious eight-year-old daughter to change everything, Goldie decides to become the guys’ surrogate because she’s broke and desperate.
“Revolution” is an ambitious one-hour drama that puts one family in a struggle for survival when every piece of technology, from computers to the electrical grid, blacks out forever.
A young woman, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), and her brother Danny (Graham Rogers) face obstacles when Danny is abducted by militia leaders for a darker purpose, and Charlie reconnects with her estranged uncle (Billy Burke), a former U.S. Marine living a reclusive life.
Living up to its title, “Revolution” is about a rogue band of survivors setting out to rescue Danny, overthrow the militia and re-establish the United States of America.
Dick Wolf’s new drama, “Chicago Fire,” may be a less large-scale drama, but it has a lot in common with the “Law & Order” brand, with firefighters now substituted for cops.
“Chicago Fire” focuses on the courageous firefighters who forge headfirst into danger. Tension arises at the firehouse when tragedy claims one of their own, and as a result conflict arises between Jesse Spencer of the Truck unit and Taylor Kinney of the Rescue Squad.
One day after the Olympics, NBC premieres a reality competition show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” that pays homage to those who serve in the U.S. armed forces.
A wide range of celebrities, from Dean Cain to Todd Palin to Nick Lachey to Picabo Street and more, will gather at a remote training facility to compete in complicated missions inspired by real military exercises.
Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.