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NBC's limited fall lineup relies on 'Will & Grace'

A year after "This Is Us" illustrated that network television still can deliver a hit, viewers may look at NBC's fall schedule and ask: "This Is It?"

With the NFL taking Sunday and Thursday nights for much of the early season, NBC is premiering only three new series this fall and one of them, "Will & Grace," is a reboot of a series that ended in 2006 and another is a "Law & Order" spinoff.

The bulk of its new arrivals are in midseason after football season ends.

The reboot of "Will & Grace" has already been renewed for a second season, but that won't mean much if America doesn't watch this season's 16 episodes.

I haven't seen the new "Will & Grace," but it will be pretty review-free since name recognition will lead viewers to the first few episodes.

Here is a brief summary of the new shows:

"The Brave," 10 p.m. Monday after "The Voice": It is the third patriotic series to air this fall, joining "Seal Team" on CBS and "Valor" on the CW. Anne Heche stars as the deputy director of "America's elite undercover military heroes" who proclaims "we have to be as ruthless as they (the enemy) are."

A kidnapped hostage has to be rescued in a pilot that has a strong female element. It is a tense hour with a good twist that easily makes it the strongest of the three patriotic shows. 3 stars out of 4.

"Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers," premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday: It apparently was inspired by the success of the Emmy-winning FX series, American Crime Story: "The People v. O.J. Simpson. Edie Falco ("The Sopranos") stars in an eight-episode series that dramatizes calm Lyle and emotional Erik Menendez, who (spoiler alert) were ultimately convicted of the brutal 1989 murders of their wealthy parents in Beverly Hills, and the media circus that followed.

The project has attracted a cast that includes such recognizable names and faces as Falco, Elizabeth Reaser, Josh Charles, Heather Graham, Lolita Davidovich and Sam Jaeger. Jaeger ("Parenthood') plays a cynical detective who wisecracks about the rich, which is something "Law & Order" episodes often do.

Falco plays curly-haired Los Angeles defense lawyer Leslie Abramson, who supposedly instantly knew the brothers killed their parents and felt parental abuse might have been a motivation. Through a series of damning black and white flashbacks, the brothers' abusive and successful Cuban-born father is as much on trial here as the killers.

Falco is terrific as usual, but doesn't have much to do in the pilot. There is one moment in episode two that may amuse Buffalo viewers -- Lyle planned to open several restaurants serving Buffalo chicken wings before he was imprisoned.

This series has at least one thing in common with the Simpson series – it makes high-profile attorney Robert Shapiro look like a fool. The series is as involving as a typical "Law & Order" episode. But I doubt Buffalo or America will be as interested in this story as they were in Simpson's, partly because the brothers weren't fallen heroes like the former Buffalo Bill and also because the case doesn't have the cultural and racial significance of the Simpson case. 2.5 stars


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