Judging the Fall Season: CBS’s New Shows

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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CBS made its presentation of the network’s fall TV schedule on Wednesday, and the network has released trailers of its new shows. Let’s look at them with a sharp eye. Note: All judgments are based solely on the clips, and are not reviews of entire episodes, which are not yet available.

MacGyver

From the folks who brought you the re-make of Hawaii Five-O comes the remake of MacGyver, whose logo uses a Swiss Army knife for the “v” in its title, so you know it’s clever. Star Lucas Till looks impish in this trailer, and whether that will remain charming over the long haul is the big challenge for a show based entirely on its star and his gimmicky inventiveness.

Training Day

I like Bill Paxton, you like Bill Paxton, who doesn’t like Bill Paxton? Well, maybe some of us, in this particular role. He’s taking the Denzel Washington part in this TV adaptation of the movie, as a tough L.A. cop training a rookie, played by Justin Cornwell. But because this is weekly television on CBS, Paxton’s cop can’t be as brutally corrupt as Denzel’s was, so in this trailer he’s branded as merely a “rogue.” Which, along with all the wisecracks and would-be catchphrases here (“I’m the test nobody passes”), could be tedious very quickly.

Bull

Michael Weatherly is playing a version of the young Dr. Phil in this new drama — Dr. Phil was a trial consultant before he was an Oprah-fied TV star. The trailer is notable for a couple of things: it seems to give away an entire episode, from trial to verdict (spoiler alert?), and Weatherly talks in a low rumble throughout. Is this the way he’s going to distinguish himself from his NCIS role? A mumble and some stubble?

Pure Genius

A tech billionaire funds his own hospital to do cutting-edge medical procedures. He hires Dermot Mulroney—playing a distinguished doctor—to join his project. The young billionaire, played with a brave lack of charm here by Augustus Prew, is clearly going to clash with Mulroney’s doc just on a personal-style level — the rich kid is touchy-feely; Mulroney’s character is stiff and proper. Honestly, if I didn’t know this was overseen by producer Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights), I’d have dismissed it after seeing this trailer, which seems edited to be intentionally maudlin.

The Great Indoors

Joel McHale as a rugged outdoorsman who’s a reporter for an (online-only?) magazine, culture-clashing with his much-younger, indoors-y staff. See, the humor comes from the fact that the young staffers all think Joel McHale is old! Hilarious, right? There’s a level on which this sitcom is just a reworking of Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing. There’s another level on which this is just a lousy-looking sitcom. Still, I’m glad to see McHale and the great Stephen Fry (who seems to be a publisher or something) making big, fat CBS salaries.

Man With a Plan

Matt LeBlanc plays a guy new to being a stay-at-home dad—or, to judge from this trailer, new to parenthood itself. The laughs here are built around the idea that he’s shocked to discover his kids are spoiled, non-communicative, internet-addicted whiners. LeBlanc is as likable as always, but did you laugh much? I didn’t. (Note: Jenna Fischer who appears in the clip, has exited the show and that role will be recast.)

Kevin Can Wait

Kevin James is awfully good at reproducing everything he did in King of Queens, so it’s a little pointless to say that Kevin Can Wait — in which he plays a cop taking early retirement — isn’t exactly a cutting-edge sitcom. If you like James, you’ll like this show, don’t you think, after seeing the joke-packed trailer? Well, maybe not the Taylor Swift joke, which seems kind of out of character for James, but perhaps they had to throw in something different so you knew you weren’t watching a King of Queens rerun.