My network was called NBS, the National Broadcasting System, and it housed a full schedule of shows, from cop shows to nighttime soaps to dramas and actioners and a slew of sitcoms. At one time, I had all the shows, along with casts and synopses and even ratings (to be fair, some of my shows were hits and others were flops), written down in one of many notebooks I kept as a kid on different subjects (a habit I still carry on, but that is another story for another day). Sadly, those notebooks vanished over time (who the hell knows what happened to them) and I have very little recollection of this short-lived (just two seasons until I tired of the game) television network. The only shows I really remember well are a sitcom called Daniel Boom, about a sad sack old west sheriff and the townful of loonies surrounding him (a sort of old west Mayberry, but lacking the Andy Taylor-esque sensible character), and a nighttime soap called The Love of Life (a show idea that I would later transform into a snarky daytime soap called Pathos Hospital, but more on that in a future post). Everything else I created seems to have vanished from my memory just as those aforementioned notebooks have vanished from existence. Gone to the four winds or wherever lost things go.
But not to worry faithful readers and true believers, for Must-See TV (I didn't steal that moniker, did I?) is back. In an updated version, I am bringing NBS back onto the air (or whatever we call it these days). For the first time since its initial two season tryout (1980-81 and 1981-82, though I seem to remember it dying off around midseason of the second year), the National Broadcasting System is back on the air. So without further ado, as the networks are apt to do around this time of the year (and I'm getting mine in before any of the big networks), I give you the new Fall 2014-15 NBS primetime television schedule. And you might even see some old favourites in there. Well, at least one old favourite. Anyway, here is that schedule for which you have all been waiting.
7:00 - The Sunday Evening Variety Hour - The cornerstone of NBS's Sunday night family line-up, this show will feature singers, dancers, actors, acrobats, jugglers, comics, animal acts, and a slew of new vaudevillian performers. The show will be hosted by a rotating emcee. Already scheduled as hosts for the first three episodes are Michael Buble, David Hyde Pierce, and Tim Curry. In the tradition of such classic variety shows like The Ed Sullivan Show, Your Show of Shows, and The Dean Martin Show, the show will feature both celebrity acts and unknown performers.
8:00 - The Ken Jennings Trivia Challenge - NBS has quiz shows too. This one is a trivia show hosted by the Jeopardy trivia champion Ken Jennings, and will have celebs and regular folks going up against each other.
9:00 - The 54th Floor - A silly ensemble piece, set in a posh restaurant on the 54th floor of an L.A. high rise. The cast is headlined by David Hyde Pierce as the uptight restaurant manager, Isla Fisher as a wacky cocktail waitress, Bobby Cannavale as the cocksure bartender, and James Michael Taylor, the hapless Gunther from Friends, going from working in a coffee shop to being the maitre d.
9:30 - The Jan Smithers Show - With a nod (at least in its madcap style if not in storyline) to Here's Lucy, Jan Smithers of WKRP in Cincinnati fame, comes out of a twenty-five year show biz retirement to star as a former television star and recovering alcoholic (a former wild child who's explosive lifestyle ruined a once promising career) who suddenly finds herself, after her daughter follows in her footsteps and runs off to find herself at thirty-two, having to raise her now-abandoned twelve-year-old grandson and fourteen-year-old granddaughter. Julia Duffy and David Spade costar. Former WKRP co-stars will surely make appearances on the show as well (foreshadowing the television return of Gary Sandy). The show will act like a classic sitcom, with corny introductions and everything. You'll love it!
10:00 - Lisa Kudrow Does It All - This hour long sketch comedy show (as should be obvious from the title) is headlined by former Friends star, Lisa Kudrow. In the same vein as shows like The Carol Burnett Show, Lisa Kudrow Does It All, is filled with tons of fun sketches. Kudrow's supporting players include former SNL'ers Abby Elliot and Paul Brittain, comic and The Daily Show contributor, Kristen Schaal, and funnyman Rob Riggle, who has been part of both SNL and The Daily Show. There will also be guest stars, and yes, we may see some ex-Friends show up at some point over the season.
8:00 - Chloe at Sixteen - A hybrid that plays at being a comedy and a drama, and even with a satiric reality show bent, that follows the life of sixteen year old budding movie star Chloe Randall as she lives her life in L.A. The show stars Chloe Grace Moretz playing what is basically a semi-satiric version of herself. The show also stars Justine Bateman as Chloe's over-protective mother, Renee Olstead as her older sister, and sometimes biggest adversary, Nichole Sullivan as Chloe's rock and roller aunt, and Joel Murray as Chloe's rather inept and often drunken agent.
9:00 - Homestead Days - This dramedy is about three gay couples in a small Maine town who get married after the state allows gay marriage, and how their neighbours and co-workers deal with them. There are both good and bad reactions, and the show revolves around how these reactions affect each couple. The show stars Taylor Kitsch, Johnny Weston, Penn Badgley, Trevor Donovan, Clea DuVall, and Sofia Black D'Elia.
10:00 - Life with Charlie - Filmed in conjunction with the California Corrections Department, this show takes iconic and infamous killer Charlie Manson, and puts him in a house with thirteen contestants. The premise is to show how living in lock down inside a house with Charlie Manson can be the best of times and the worst of times. Each week, a contestant is kicked to the curb by a viewer phone-in vote, until week twelve, when the last two contestants are pitted against Manson in a series of bizarre contests. A midseason spin-off is already in the works. Celebrity Life with Charlie will pick up where this show ends, and will feature such C-list celebs as Gary Busey, Amanda Bynes, soon-to-be ex-New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, former Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, and (of course) Andy Dick.
8:00 - Hangin' at the Comic Shop - With nerds being in these days, NBS places this situation comedy smack dab in nerd central - the local comic shop. The show revolves around the shop's regular menagerie of fanboys, and your token nerdy fangirl as well. The show stars Miles Teller, as well as some brand new faces to TV, and will feature appearances from the likes of Stan Lee, and other comic book-related celebs, as guests in the shop.
8:30 - Holy Hannah - A sit-com about a naive girl who grew up in a convent, and is now trying her hand at being a singer. An old school style multiple camera sit-com, Kate Micucci (Raising Hope, Big Bang Theory) stars as Hannah. Her inability to know how to deal with the outside world gets her into silly predicament after silly predicament. The show also stars Laurie Metcalf as the stern but eventually forgiving Mother Superior who raised her, and still looks after her.
9:00 - The Cop Show - Literally exactly how it sounds. This is a cop show. In the tradition of police sitcoms such as Car 54 and Barney Miller, this show revolves around a small precinct in Lower Manhattan. It stars former child actor and cop show alumni (but on the more serious side of cop shows) Rick Schroder as the precinct captain and Zack Braff as the cocky star detective, who actually sucks at his job, and co-stars such sit-com royalty as Patton Oswalt, Peri Gilpin (Roz on Frasier), David Faustino (of Married With Children fame), Lecy Goranson (the other Becky on Roseanne), and Lecy's old co-star, John Goodman, as the Chief of Detectives.
9:30 - The Middle Age is All the Rage - This situation comedy is set sometime during the Middle Ages, in a land full of kings and queens, knights and sorcerers, monsters and dragons. Think Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but with a comedic bent. The show stars Oliver Platt as King Harold the Eleventh, Portia de Rossi as Queen Hesther, Johnny Knoxville as not-so-brave Sir Trumbly, Stephen Baldwin as the royal wizard Sojourn, pop star Ariana Grande as the beautiful teenage Princess Juniper, Logan Lerman as her poor farm boy lover, Flan, Tracy Morgan as rival King Blotto the First, and Jeffrey Tambor as the mysterious hermit known only as Flummox the Odd.
10:00 - The Magic Man - A drama about a cheesy B-celeb magician who also happens to be the gatekeeper for the underworld, charged with keeping the evil that lurks down below from escaping and wreaking havoc on the human world. He also has the problem of keeping the evil which lurks inside himself from escaping and destroying all he holds dear. The show stars former Saved by the Beller Dustin Diamond (Screech himself in an atypical dark role) as the titular Hellion, Staci Keanan (from My Two Dads and Step by Step) as his on again off again girlfriend, and Jenna Von Oy (Six from the show Blossom) as the Angel of Death.
8:00 - Scavenger Hunt - This is a reality game show where contestants must go on scavenger hunts. Simple as that. Though the show isn't really all that simple, since many of the items on the scavenger hunt may have to be procured through means that are both death defying and illegal. The show is hosted by Michael Rooker.
9:00 - Candice - TV legend Candice Bergen is back, and stars in this situation comedy as Candice Cooper, a high powered CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who must deal with back-stabbing underlings, inept employees, and often angry stockholders, as well as her competition. The show also stars Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks) and Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) as a pair of Candice's inept junior execs, and Pierce Brosnan as her biggest corporate rival, and love interest. This show is expected to be one of the smarter sit-coms on television this season. There are also plans to have a slew of famous cameos on the show, mainly playing rival execs. Donald Trump and Richard Branson have already been announced.
9:30 - Private Dick - This situation comedy revolves around a private eye, or private dick, if you will, and the outlandish cases he takes on. Done as a somewhat dark and noirish show, Private Dick may be a comedy, but it is a dark humour indeed. A smartly written comedy, the show stars Sam Pancake as Bill Blake, a Marlowe-esque private eye. The show also features Megan Mullally and Jerry Stiller.
10:00 - Fright to Stardom - A show about a Harrisburg Pennsylvania rock band, who have been struggling to hit it big for years, who also just so happen to be monster hunters. Gary Cole stars as the band's manager and long-time monster hunter. He leads his rock band, all of whom are relatively new to the monster hunting game, into all kinds of horrific adventures.
8:00 - Daniel Boom - The longest running series on NBS (technically in its 3rd season) is back after 30+ years. The original show starred Richard Mulligan as the titular bumbling old west sheriff, Stockard Channing as his sassy, smart-mouthed wife, and Honeymooners alum, Audrey Meadows, as the mother-in-law from hell. Of course now it's thirty years later, and two of the stars are dead, so the show has been updated. The setting is still the 1870's Arizona Territory town of Boggle Bluff, but now it is Daniel Boom's son who is the lawman in town, but instead of bumbling like his dad, he is merely way over his head as town sheriff. Played by Jason Bateman, who actually played Mulligan's eleven year old son in the original series, Boom is a frustrated lawman surrounded by idiots and imbeciles. The show also features Bateman's Arrested Development co-star, David Cross, as the town's shady saloon keeper, Jack McBrayer as Boom's not-so macho deputy, Patrick Warburton as Boom's rancher nemesis, and Roseanne and Scrubs alum Sarah Chalke as the town madame. Channing also reprises her role as the now-mother of sheriff Daniel Boom.
8:30 - Margo & Me - This situation comedy stars Judy Greer as brilliant-but-flighty best selling novelist Margo McNeil, and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) as her put-upon personal assistant, Suzie Tanner, the titular Me. The show revolves around Suzie trying to keep Margo on track for her new novel, as well as her personal appearances, all the while attempting to keep the star writer from doing the stupid things she is prone to do. The show also stars Jason Alexander as Margo's demanding, self-centered publisher.
9:00 - The Reality of It All - This is a sit-com about a reality show and those who star on it and those who run it from behind the scenes. Sort of a 30 Rock-ish take on the reality show. The show revolves around a Big Brother/Real World like reality show, and those running the show. Jim J. Bullock makes his triumphant return to primetime network television, playing the befuddled exec producer of the show. The Reality of It All, also stars Patton Oswalt (the busiest guy in show biz) as the head writer, Katie Holmes as the show's director, and Emily Rutherford ("New" Christine from The New Adventures of Old Christine) as the show's diva-esque reality TV star.
9:30 - The Dead Life - Ever wonder why there has never been a zombie situation comedy on American television? Me too! This single camera sit-com takes place after the coming Zombie Apocalypse, and follows some Walking Dead-like survivors as they wander through a broken civilization, trying to evade those undead flesh-eaters. Unlike The Walking Dead though, The Dead Life is all comedy, baby. The show stars Oliver Hudson, Cobie Smulders, Michael Chiklis, Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner from Full House), Thomas Lennon, Dave Franco (James' little brother), Chris Hardwick (the nerds in the audience know), Snoop Dogg (that's right), Friends alum David Schwimmer, and nut job royale, Gary Busey. Yeah, baby!
10:00 - Shooting Star - This is the dramatic story of a young singer, played by The Walking Dead's Emily Kinney, and her harrowing rise to stardom. Kinney plays Miranda Bright, an up-and-comer with a beautiful voice, but a woman who lacks the ability to make good life decisions. It's a rough rough road to stardom, but Miranda is determined to get there any way she can - even if it destroys her, and all those around her.
8:00 - Song & Dance - This musical comedy is set in the footlights of an off Broadway production company, and showcases both the good side and the bad side of musical theatre. The show stars Molly Shannon as the head of the company, and features Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, Jessie Martin (a Rent reunion), former Glee cast member, Ashley Fink, and Dinah Manoff of Grease fame, as an aging diva. Peter Scolari also stars as the company's square money manager.
9:00 - Tales From the Projection Room - A fantasy show with a cinematic bent. Based (kinda) on Buster Keaton's Sherlock, Jr., this is a show about the aptly named Buster, a nebbishy movie theater film projectionist, working in an old beat-up arthouse cinema where 35mm classic and cult films are still played, who fantasizes about being in old movies. Each episode will include tributes to, and reenactments of, classic and cult films, all starring Buster himself, played by SNL alum Bill Hader.
10:00 - The Bitch Squad - TV icons Roseanne Barr, Jean Smart, Christine Beranski, and Shelly Long, return to television in this biting dramedy, starring as former high school friends who grew apart after graduation, and have come back together as they all turn sixty, realizing after all these years that they can't stand each other. Think The Golden Girls meet Sex and the City and then turns into Desperate Housewives. Even before its series premiere, the show has garnered both hopeful reviews from critics and questions from those that are worried the show will be too vulgar for network television. I smell hit!
8:00 - The Phoenix - Saturday night is "Supernatural Night" on NBS, and it kicks off with this show about Miles Archer, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a man cursed to die and be reborn. Archer was once a bad man, a very bad man and he must now make redemption by doing good deeds and sometimes saving people's lives. Each time this deed is accomplished, Miles dies, and is reborn as a new person, and embarks on a new life-saving assignment. His goal is to eventually redeem himself and have the curse finally lifted.
9:00 - Wolf Hollow - Next up on "Supernatural Night" is easily the hairiest show on the Fall line-up. Set in an appropriately spooky little village at the edge of an even spookier dark forest, appropriately named Wolf Hollow, this is the tale of a family of werewolves and the hunters who aim to hunt them down and kill them. The show stars Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield) and Theresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) as brother and sister werewolves, Luke Perry as their uncle, Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead) as the werewolf patriarch, and Chris Cooper as the human destined to forever hunt his lycanthropic enemies.
10:00 - The Crooked Man - Closing out "Supernatural Night" is this creepy-ass show about a demon who has taken human form in order to feel the lust of killing. Controversial from its inception, The Crooked Man , played by Crispin Glover, goes about his murder spree with a gleeful delight, and no one is safe. There is torture and rape and even rumours of child molestation in one episode. This is a dark show, possibly the darkest on TV, and there are already those who want it pulled from the Fall line-up. Show creator Alan Smithee Jr. defends the show by saying that "It is a show about an evil demonic being, and therefore should be as dark as dark can be." Filming doesn't actually even start until June, but there is still the chance that the show will be pulled before it ever makes its debut in September.
So there you go folks. The official NBS 2014-15 Fall TV schedule. These shows will begin airing on August 31st, when The Sunday Evening Variety Hour makes its debut, and kicks off the new NBS season. And since we all want to keep up the whole illusion of this being a real thing (and it is real, dammit!), and these shows being actual shows (and wouldn't it be cool if they were - but they are - yeah, they are real, trust me), there will be reviews of these shows once they begin to air this Fall (and Late Summer) from some of the biggest and brightest TV critics out there. That's right! There might even be some ratings news as well as some inevitable midseason replacements for those unfortunate ratings losers. Until then, maybe I'll take a look at some shows from other networks (you know, the so-called real shows) and do some of my own TV criticism work. I think that outside of Star Trek and The Walking Dead, and some of the less fortunate shows in my Spectacularly Bad TV segments, I really haven't written that much on TV or TV history around these parts. I should remedy that over the Summer, and then come back here in the Fall to check out the successes and failures of the new NBS television season. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.