Every May, all the bigwigs from the broadcast TV networks travel to New York for the upfronts, where they put on a whole song-and-dance routine (sometimes literally) to showcase their biggest stars and shows, unveil their fall schedules, and convince ad buyers to invest in them. And in the process, they release a glut of previews and trailers for their upcoming new programming, designed to impress those ad buyers with what to expect (and air commercials during) once September rolls around.
This year’s spoils tease a 2017-’18 TV season that’s rife with sci-fi series, a streak of new military dramas, and of course, reboots (welcome to 2017, Will & Grace!). But to help you wade through the almost 40 new trailers that are now available to peruse, we’ve conveniently sorted some of the more noteworthy examples into three manageable categories: the good, the bad, and our personal favorites, the LOL.
Good: The Mayor (ABC)
A show about an entertainer who runs for office to promote his own interests/just for the hell of it — and then accidentally wins — might hit a little close to home right now. But if you set aside the eerie relevance of that premise, The Mayor looks like it could be a lot of fun thanks to upbeat performances from Yvette Nicole Brown, Lea Michele, and Brandon Micheal Hall as the (rapping!) mayor himself.
Bad: Young Sheldon (CBS)
It’s easy to understand why CBS is so damn excited about Young Sheldon: The show is a prequel spinoff of the network’s biggest comedy (The Big Bang Theory) that tells the origin story of its most popular character (Jim Parsons’s Sheldon).
The only problem is that, based on this trailer, the show doesn’t seem sure of whether it’s a heartwarming family series or a fish-out-of-water comedy. It also doesn’t seem that ... funny? Our first impression is basically a resounding shrug.
LOL: Dynasty (The CW)
In fairness, once you hear the phrase “a CW reboot of the ’80s soap Dynasty from the creators of Gossip Girl and The OC,” you know exactly what you’re gonna get.
Good: The Crossing (ABC)
ABC is the network that gave us both Twin Peaks and Lost, so every few years it starts thinking maybe it should try another “big mystery” show, and the results are almost always awful. But this series about “immigrants” who start washing up on the shores of a small town in Washington — and turn out to be time travelers from 150 years in the future — at least looks cool. Whether the story will live up to the visuals is anyone’s best guess.
Bad: LA to Vegas (Fox)
Fox executives promised us during the network’s upfront presentation that Dylan McDermott’s performance in LA to Vegas will be as surprising and compelling a comedic turn as Andre Braugher’s performance as the fantastic, laconic Captain Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
This is, to put it mildly, setting the bar a little high, and woof, does the LA to Vegas trailer not deliver. The show’s premise is fine enough — it’s a sitcom chronicling the misadventures of a pilot (McDermott) and his crew on flights to and from Vegas — but watching this trailer is a quick and easy way to feel just as trapped as their poor sap passengers.
LOL: Will & Grace (NBC)
Make no mistake: This is a very bad trailer, but we’ve watched it multiple times for some reason, so maybe it knows something we don’t.
None of the intentional jokes land, but the unintentional ones — like Debra Messing staring at the set of the original Will & Grace (which according to this trailer is apparently being stored on a weird, unused floor at NBC’s headquarters) and hearing a dim echo of the show’s theme song in her head, or Jack and Karen apparently being real people — make us howl with laughter. And then everybody sings!
Good: Life Sentence (The CW)
Life Sentence, The CW’s midseason comedy about a woman with cancer who unexpectedly goes into remission, is the kind of show that could go horribly awry, or at least burn out after season one.
But the show’s trailer is straight-up charming. And not only does Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale get to debut the comedy muscles she rarely had the chance to flex on that long-running drama, but with creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) at the helm, Life Sentence has potential to add to The CW’s offbeat comedy slate à la Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Bad: Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS)
The first time we watched the trailer for Wisdom of the Crowd and Jeremy Piven’s beloved daughter appeared onscreen as sad piano music played, Caroline said out loud, “Oh, the daughter’s dead, huh?” And few seconds later, she was proved exactly correct.
Yet the utter bland predictability of this trailer isn’t what’s worst about it — that honor goes to the fact that we’ll soon have another TV show suggesting that America simply needs to turn over its beloved public institutions to tech billionaires in order to make them better. Two different shows — CBS’s own Pure Genius and Fox’s APB — took this theme last season. Both failed. Take the hint, CBS.
Good: Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
This trailer doesn’t really tell us much of anything, but it does successfully convey the thought that all involved probably didn’t screw up Star Trek. And that’s a relief in and of itself!
LOL: Deception (ABC)
This show is about a stage magician who becomes a detective. We will watch every episode.