It really is a tradition unlike any other: each fall during the NFL season (and on Fox, during the MLB playoffs), the league’s TV partners show way too many ads for new television shows. In fact, a hilarious compilation video of Joe Buck reading promos for some of these new and returning shows was uploaded to YouTube two years ago before unfortunately being made private.
A lot of the ads and promo reads for the shows are similar: “TV’s #1 new (genre)!,” “from the creator of (other show on the network you’re vaguely aware of,” “(broad description of the main character without actually describing the show),” “(various scenes from the show with no description of what the hell is going on),” and so on and so forth.
This is one of the most memorable (for all the wrong reasons) ads, for a Fox show called Skin that lasted just three episodes.
So far this season, through just two weeks of the NFL season, we’re starting to see way too many ads for these shows. If you’re watching games at a bar or somewhere in public, you can easily just turn to another TV or talk to someone (especially if the game you’re watching has no sound) to avoid these ads, but if you’re at home, it’s more trouble than it’s worth to constantly mute the TV, focus on something else, or walk out of the room, so you’re getting beaten over the head with these promos.
Here are five shows that I’m sick of seeing ads for, arranged by network. I’m not going to watch them, and I’m fully expecting to keep seeing ads for them week after week unless my eyes start bleeding.
- Prodigal Son, Fox. The description of this show on Wikipedia is one sentence long.
- “The series centers on a young profiler, whose father is an infamous serial killer known as “The Surgeon”.”
- FEEL THE DRAMA! He’s a profiler…with a secret! That’s never happened before! Hey, I bet he gets conflicted about his past, has a unique connection to the cases he investigates, and ends up…as a killer himself! We’ve never seen that before!
- Bluff City Law, NBC. The world did not need another courtroom drama. Yet, here we are. Again, via Wikipedia.
- “Set in Memphis, Tennessee, “the series follows the lawyers of an elite Memphis law firm that specializes in the most controversial landmark civil rights cases, led by legendary lawyer Elijah Strait and his brilliant daughter, Sydney.”
- This isn’t *just* a legal drama. It’s a legal drama with an extremely tight focus (“landmark civil rights cases” in Memphis?) and of course, an added family element to ratchet up the drama even more. What a unique, interesting courtroom drama that everyone was clamoring for (nearly 30 years after Jimmy Smits left LA Law). The ads seem to focus *way* more on the family element rather than the legal proceedings themselves, and shouldn’t it be the other way around? If only there’s a promo where someone screams “HER FATHER IS A PARTNER OF THE FIRM!”
- Bob (Hearts) Abishola, CBS. I’ll give CBS credit for actually having a longer description of the series on Wikipedia.
- “Bob runs his family’s successful, highly competitive sock company with his mother Dottie, sister Christina, and younger brother, Douglas. When the stress of the job lands him in the hospital, he meets Abishola, his kind, hard-working nurse who he’s immediately drawn to. Now all Bob needs to do is convince her to give him a chance, which will take some doing since they couldn’t be more different. After coming to America from Nigeria to find a better life for her and her son, Dele, Abishola lives in a small apartment with her super-protective relatives, Auntie Olu and Uncle Tunde. Undaunted by Abishola’s lack of initial interest or the vast differences in their backgrounds, Bob is determined to win Abishola’s heart, in this comedic examination of immigrant life in America.”
- You’ll be shocked to learn this is a Chuck Lorre joint. The promos do a horrible job at spelling out what the show is actually about, but you’ve heard the premise before: two people from wildly different backgrounds inevitably get drawn to each other under bizarre circumstances. There are unexpected challenges that they deal with in an (allegedly) humorous manner. A larger narrative about current events is sloppily weaved into the show’s plot. You know what’s next here.
- Mixed-ish, ABC. A show I’ve never watched (largely because Anthony Anderson will *always* be Antwon Mitchell from The Shield to me) gets a spinoff after five seasons. Great. Wikipedia also slid in the “kinda sorta based on a true story!” hook.
- Loosely based on Barris’ real-life wife, the series chronicles the early years of Rainbow Johnson as she recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the 1980s and the dilemmas they faced over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves when her parents move from a hippie commune (that was raided in 1985) to the suburbs.
- I really don’t have much of a take here. I think it’s weird that ABC took a filmed episode of Black-ish, didn’t air it, announced a spinoff, and turned it into the pilot of Mixed-ish. The promos for this also don’t show much of anything from the show itself, so it’s tough to get riled up.
- Stumptown, ABC. You’ve probably seen ads for this one on Monday Night Football and on various college football games this year, and you’re probably already over it. I know I am after reading Wikipedia’s description.
- The series centers on a sharp-witted military veteran who becomes a private investigator in Portland, Oregon, where she also takes care of her brother.
- Veteran? Check. Quasi cop drama? Check. Family issues? Check. Based on a comic book? Check. At least try to venture out your network’s comfort zone next time?
These shows will join the major networks’ loaded schedules, which include cop dramas, legal dramas, medical dramas, adult-oriented animation, competitive reality shows, singing reality shows, wacky comedies, workplace comedies, reboots, and of course, 60 Minutes.
In the era of peak content, where you can watch pretty much anything you want, whenever you want, networks need to branch out and create content that is unique and interesting. From what we’ve seen of this year’s overplayed promos for new shows (and the overplayed ones for returning shows….Law & Order SVU, New Amsterdam, 9-1-1, and The Masked Singer, I’m looking at all of you), that seems like something we won’t see any time soon from the broadcast networks.