After a frenzied week of hawking their wares to advertisers, the broadcast networks have officially locked in their lineups for the 2011-12 season. This means that ABC is apparently deadly serious about its pickup of "Work It," a sitcom about two dudes who dress up as women to land jobs at a pharmaceutical company.
After sifting through the trailers for all 40-plus freshman series, we've singled out the ten pilots we are most excited to view. "Work It," alas, isn't one of them.
Much was made last upfront season about networks being on the hunt for the new "Lost." The search failed miserably. (Thanks, NBC's "The Event.") But with two new series produced under the expensively-bespectacled eyes of J.J. Abrams on the docket, it's safe to conclude the networks are still on the lookout for more "Lost"-ian magic. Fox's "Alcatraz" has the best chance to carry the flag, given eerie similarities like it taking place on an island and featuring beloved Lostie Jorge Garcia.
"Apartment 23" (ABC)
The original title of this single-camera sitcom was "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23." We like that advertiser-unfriendly name better, but we'll settle for Krysten Ritter, the scene-stealing "Breaking Bad" actress who plays the (still witchy) lead character. The sitcom also earns our interest due to the involvement of James Van Der Beek, who seems highly capable of playing himself.
Boasting arguably the strongest trailer of the season, "Awake" stars British actor Jason Isaac -- Lucius Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" film series -- as a police detective whose reality splits into two after he and his family are involved in a traumatic car accident. In one world, his wife has lived and his son has died; in the other, he plays out the opposite scenario. Psychiatrists in each world attempt to talk him through it while he attempts to solve crimes in both realities. Cue the "Sliding Doors" reference here, even though Gwyneth Paltrow is nowhere to be seen.
"How to Be a Gentleman" (CBS)
The CBS sitcom that generated the most buzz at its upfront was "2 Broke Girls," a multi-camera half-hour about two sassy waitresses. But CBS's "How to Be a Gentleman" intrigues us more, given the gifted comedy team involved. Created by and starring David Hornsby (from FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), the sitcom also features the tried and true comic timing of Kevin Dillon ("Entourage"), Dave Foley ("Kids in the Hall" and "NewsRadio"), Mary Lynn Rajskub ("Mr. Show") and Rhys Darby ("Flight of the Conchords").
"The New Girl" (Fox)
Yes, Zooey Deschanel plays the same kind of character as always: a charmingly loopy woman-child who is a tad unlucky in love. But get beyond the clunky premise of a recently cheated-upon woman moving in with three male roommates out of convenience, and the ambitious comedy should give her a platform to woo American hipsters on a weekly basis [video after the jump].
"Person of Interest" (CBS)
Abrams' other network pickup is nothing like the first. Sure, star Michael Emerson -- playing a mysterious billionaire who hires James Caveziel's ex-CIA mercenary to thwart crime -- would naturally cause any "Lost" fan to get excited, but "Person of Interest" has more in common with Christopher Nolan's Batman films. Makes sense, considering that the pilot was written by Jonathan Nolan, Christopher's brother.
"Ringer" (The CW)
This season brings a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" resurgence, highlighted by the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to network television. In "Ringer," which the CW picked up after CBS passed, the Buffster plays a troubled woman on the run from the mob who finds no safety in a peculiar hiding place: her estranged and presumed-deceased twin sister's identity.
"The River" (ABC)
Back in 1999, NBC got blinded by the "Blair Witch Project" phenomenon and soon tapped its creators for "FreakyLinks," one of the sorrier dramas ever attempted. "Paranormal Activity" may be cut from a similar cloth as "BWP," but "The River," produced by the viral film's writer-director, Oren Peli, has promise. A cinema verité series about the search for a lost adventurer (played by Bruce Greenwood), it has all of the trademarks of the "Paranormal Activity" series -- jerky handheld cameras, unseen ghost-like assailants and lots of screaming. We have hope that it will also deliver genuine scares, something that has been lacking from television for far too long.
"Terra Nova" (Fox)
The oft-delayed project about humankind's relocation to a primitive planet features some of the most vibrant special effects of any network television series ever -- and plenty of dinosaurs. You'd expect nothing less from a show executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the guy who helmed "Jurassic Park."
"Up All Night" (NBC)
Sitcoms are tough to judge through a three-minute clip because all of the good lines get stuffed in and you don't know how much dead time awaits you when you see the full deal. But we'll expect laughs galore with "Up All Night," which stars Will Arnett and Christina Applegate as party animals struggling to adjust to life as parents of a newborn. NBC must be thinking the same thing, as they're using it to launch a Wednesday night comedy block.