By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2010 — Have you noticed how two of the new NBC dramas this fall have central characters at the very pinnacle of the U.S. government? Do you find this even remotely credible or believable?
Jimmy Smits plays a Supreme Court justice in this new series called “Outlaw.” The title indicates that he’s kind of a rebel. In fact, for some reason, he quits the Court because he figures he can do more good for society doing something else. Therefore, the premise makes no sense. Few callings on Earth give a person a better opportunity to effect change than sitting on the Supreme Court. Whatever.
The other show is this serialized drama called “The Event,” in which Blair Underwood plays the President of the United States. It’s one of these dramas, so in vogue on the networks these last few years, in which the future of the country, if not the entire planet, is threatened by forces no one understands for at least half the season or more.
When I was 14, this was the kind of stuff I would have liked. Ooh, I might have said in conversations with my 14-year-old pals, Jimmy Smits is playing a Supreme Court justice and Blair Underwood is the president on NBC.
Well, for those of us who are no longer 14, these shows are not really cool-o or neat-o anymore. I don’t know why NBC refuses to develop dramas about real people. Presidents and Supreme Court justices? Memo to NBC: Nobody cares about them. And Blair Underwood and Jimmy Smits are not believable in either role, despite their best efforts.
And the titles of these shows brings me to another thing NBC seems to have decided, in the network’s continuing efforts to simplify its programs as much as possible for the benefit of its audience.
It’s the preponderance of one-word titles. Have you noticed this? This season alone, we have “Outlaw,” “Undercovers,” “Chase” and “Outsourced.” They join a lineup that already has “Chuck,” “Parenthood” and “Community.” In previous seasons, NBC had shows such as “Trauma” and “Heroes.”
The network has plenty of titles that are almost one word, except for the word “the” — “The Office,” “The Event,” “The Apprentice.” Thank heaven for “30 Rock,” which NBC has yet to shorten to just “Rock.”
Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com