Ranking the Weirdness of the New Shows Coming to Network TV This Fall

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For TV junkies, Upfront Week is one of the most exciting weeks of the year. You mourn/celebrate what got renewed, you mourn/celebrate what got cancelled, and you wait for the trailers of what’s new to hit the Internet. These trailers are when the networks get their first chance to sell you on their upcoming programming, and it’s not always easy when all you really have to work with is a pilot.

Every year there’s some good and bad, but the 2016 upfronts have many shows that just have us scratching our heads. Real companies are spending real money to bring some of these programs to life, and these are the weirdest things that each of the Big 4 are hoping you’ll watch next season.

4. CBS: MacGyver
What You Might Hate Watch: Bull
What Might Be Good:Doubt?

CBS is playing it safe with its new shows, which means it doesn’t have anything that stands out as truly off the wall, but it also means that it doesn’t really have anything particularly interesting to offer up either. There’s nothing wrong, exactly, with a new MacGyver, but this trailer isn’t especially inspiring. The acting and the CG are both pretty rough, and his improvised devices just seem kind of lame. Plus, there’s no way Patty and Selma are falling in love with this pretty boy.

As for the rest of CBS's lineup, does the world really need a show based on Dr. Phil? I cannot wait to see who Bull eventually casts to play not-Oprah a few seasons down the line. Doubt has Laverne Cox and Dule Hill in the cast, so they’ve got that going for it at least.

3. NBC: Timeless
What You Might Hate Watch: The Good Place
What Might Be Good: Powerless

Timeless looks exactly like the type of show a network that thought the world needed more Heroes would pay for. In a year when three of the four networks have time travel shows coming, Timeless looks to go out of its way to look like the most generic of the options, although it’s a pretty close race between it and Time After Time. But kudos to addressing the racism question in the trailer, even if Making History does it better.

I want to like The Good Place, but really, I can’t help feeling I’d rather just see a remake of Defending Your Life. It just feels like maybe it’s trying a bit too hard, and I’m not sure the concept has enough depth to carry more than a few episodes. Even without a trailer, Powerless seems pretty can’t-miss; while DC has had its issues on the big screen, the TV side of things has been doing good things. How long before it crosses over with the DC CWverse?

2. Fox: Son of Zorn
What You Might Hate Watch: Prison Break
What Might Be Good: Making History

Well, it looks like Adult Swim is leaking. Son of Zorn looks like a pretty good SNL digital short, although I can’t imagine it working at episode length. I don’t hate the idea, and I do think the jokes in it are solid enough, but I can see the gimmick wearing thin pretty quickly. Still, I’ll give anything Lord and Miller put together a shot, for better or worse.

Speaking of, I really dig the Making History trailer, although I can also see the gimmick wearing thin quickly, but the joke about white people and black people at the end is just enough to make me feel more positive than negative about it. Actually, Fox has a lot of potential this season: The Exorcist, unnecessary as it may be, and Pitch both look like they have potential. As for Prison Break, how do these guys keep ending up in prison? How?

1. ABC: Downward Dog
What You Might Hate Watch: Imaginary Mary
What Might Be Good: Designated Survivor

Let’s start with the good: I’m fascinated by the ideas of designated survivors, so I’m intrigued by Designated Survivor, even if it is weird to see Kiefer Sutherland on TV not punching people in the face.

As for everything else, ABC really wanted the title of “weirdest network” this year. Holy hell, I didn’t think you could get weirder than Imaginary Mary, but my God, I don’t even know where to start with Downward Dog. The Downward Dog trailer is like the perfect trailer mocking rom-coms and Internet dog obsession, only it’s a real show that’s actually going to air on real TV. I’ll admit, I smirked at the end and I did like the vacuum joke, but there’s something so weird and creepy about this entire thing. How long can they play "will they or won’t they" with the dog and the owner?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

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