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NBC relies on old pros and old ideas in new fall series

Alan Pergament

This is another in a series of columns about new broadcast network shows premiering this fall .

NBC is borrowing a page from CBS and trotting out new series with recognizable faces and names, including Jimmy Smits, Bradley Whitford and Kal Penn.

The names should get people to watch the first episode but after that it is anybody’s guess.

Here are mini-reviews of the three new shows:

“Bluff City Law,” 10 p.m. Mondays, Sept. 23: Another show about an angry woman with daddy issues. This time daddy is a widower played by a graying Jimmy Smits. Caitlin McGee plays his daughter, a brilliant lawyer who sees things others can’t and who initially defends heinous clients. However, she didn’t want to work for his law firm in Memphis because he wasn’t the best husband in the world. He wants to win her back, telling her if she joins his firm, she “can change the world” for the greater good. “I want you fighting for what’s right,” he tells his daughter. “I don’t like you dad,” she replies. Of course, you know she will come around and work for daddy and upset some of the lawyers in the firm.

You’ll Like It If: You enjoy legal shows and are a big fan of Smits.

You’ll Hate If: You hate dialogue loaded with clichés, like daddy telling his daughter: “The world is running out of heroes.”

Outlook: Despite the clichés, I sort of liked it because, well, I would watch Smits read the phone directory – if there still was one. It won’t change the TV world, but it is passable entertainment. 2½ stars out of 4

“Perfect Harmony,” 8:30 p.m. Thursday: A graying Bradley Whitford (“West Wing”) is the star of this goofy comedy about a cynical, sarcastic former Princeton music professor who was fired because students hated him and doesn’t want anyone in his new Kentucky home to realize he really has a big heart. He is a widower with a Simon Cowell-attitude who moves to his wife’s native state and is convinced to teach a local church choir of misfits how to pronounce “Hallelujah” and sing “Eye of the Tiger” in a choir competition. Anna Camp (“Pitch Perfect”) co-stars.

You’ll Like It If: You are a fan of series about a diverse and strange group of people who team up to have a “Rocky”-like moment and give the teacher some lessons about positivity.

You’ll Hate It If: There really isn’t much to hate as even Whitford’s character is won over by the sweetness of the choir members who need life lessons as well as music lessons.

Outlook: It is far from perfect, but I liked it more than I expected. The ending of the pilot was music to my ears. Hallelujah. It is a keeper. 3 stars

“Sunnyside,” 9:30 p.m. Thursday: Set in Queens, it is about a lazy, disgraced politician (played by Kal Penn) who gets on the road to redemption by teaching immigrants to become citizens after he wasted his political career by getting drunk, throwing up in a moment that goes viral and being arrested.

You’ll Like It If: You enjoy old school comedies that put together a diverse cast of goofy characters and throwing out constant jokes in the hope a few will land.

You’ll Hate It If: You hate any show that thinks an Anthony Weiner joke is funny and occasionally and awkwardly stops to preach how great America is despite its flaws and its current disgraceful treatment of immigrants.

Outlook: The pilot is all over the place, loaded with cliches and predictable jokes and Penn isn’t charismatic enough to pull it off. 2 stars


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