Lessons from Press Tour

The unveiling of the fall TV schedules by network and cable at the annual TV Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills gave shape to what looks like it won’t be a stellar TV year.

But some trends easily emerged:

  • Men have been emasculated. As if comedy writers, bereft of ideas, all attended the same matinee of “Caveman,” up to a handful of shows play on the theme of men as emasculated losers having to hew to their wives’ strengths. Not true, and it turns out, not so funny either.
  • Quirky women have a chance. Zoe Deschanel’s vehicle for Fox, “New Girl” seemed well received for its voice and adorability factor. Likewise Whitney Cummings can’t help but be a TV force this fall with two new shows on different broadcast networks  — one in which she stars, another that she helped create, “2 Broke Girls.”
  • Let’s play 60s dress up. Critics like “Mad Men” so well, let’s get our own costume department in action. But “PanAm” and “The Playboy Club” miss the point, creating thin ensemble stories that rely on unrealistic network plot points (espionage and murder).
  • More of the same. NBC hopes to conjure up Helen Mirren in a remake of “Prime Suspect,” but all it shares is a lead female detective, who seems awfully resilient to getting beat up despite being the quite fragile looking.
  • No ideas? Turn to fairy tales. Two network dramas ply on the old stories, “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time,” as if writers couldn’t come up with ideas for things like the Big Bad Wolf and Snow White on their own.
  • Dinosaurs. Fox’s has pinned its hopes on an expensive and long delayed “Terra Nova,” which so far looks no more special than “Jurassic Park, Part 5.”
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