Clearly on some sort of success-of-Outsourced-fueled, critic-baiting bender, NBC has picked up three shows today that are all, at first glance, awful. Look, we try not to indulge in knee-jerk negativity around here—though admittedly, we fail more often than not—but honestly, what are we supposed to do with the announcement that NBC will make another comic-book drama starring Heroes’ Milo Ventimiglia, a one-hour comedy about a “straight male hairdresser in his 50s who is struggling to stay young” from Sex And The City writer Michael Patrick King, and a sitcom based on Chelsea Handler’s Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea? All that’s missing is an adaptation of a middling movie, a “gritty reimagining” of a 1960s or ‘70s TV show, or something based on the Internet from our “Automatic Hackle-Raising” checklist. Look at our hackles! They’re at half-mast, at least. But okay, if only for the sake of breaking with expectations, let’s try to inject a bit of the old "cautious optimism" and find some silver linings here.
Ventimiglia will produce and star in Rest, an adaptation of a comic book he helped create (and which he served as the model for) about a guy who becomes a test subject for a drug that eliminates the need for sleep, which leads him to discover a shadowy global conspiracy during his many waking nights. As premises go, it’s pretty sound—even though TV could definitely use a break from global conspiracies—and prolonged sleep deprivation seems like an excellent excuse for Ventimiglia’s usual vacant-glare-with-slightly-pursed-lips approach to acting. That absolutely no one else from Heroes seems to be involved is also a plus.
Michael Patrick King is responsible for some of the most unbearably frothy puns ever committed to celluloid, and certainly setting a show within the world of Beverly Hills hair salons would seem to offer temptation to retreat into another Bellinis-and-bitchy-comments sass-fest. That it plans to “explore men’s struggles with aging just like Sex And The City did with women's fears of getting old” similarly feels like an invitation for lots of jokes about Botox and skinny jeans. And then there’s this inevitable truth: Said straight male hairdresser will be frequently mistaken for gay. You know he will. Hilarity will ensue, surely. However, for all his past predictability, Michael Patrick King was also behind The Comeback, the underrated Lisa Kudrow sitcom that similarly dealt with fears of growing old and irrelevant, and it was often pretty funny.
Finally, the adaptation of Chelsea Handler’s autobiography will focus on “a twentysomething woman named Chelsea who won't have the same profession as comedian/author Handler but will carry a lot of the traits in her character”—so it will be about an average, ordinary girl with a penchant for drinking a lot and having casual sex, who then shoehorns references to her drinking a lot and having casual sex into her spontaneous, pun-filled conversations. It will not necessarily be about an average girl who somehow wrangles a career out of said references by also sleeping with the head of a television network, although that is definitely the subtext. On the positive side, it will not star Chelsea Handler. That’s about all the optimism we can offer. Frankly, we're exhausted now.