After comedy stole the spotlight at the L.A. Screenings last year with breakout hits 2 Broke Girls and New Girl, dramas are returning to center stage during this week’s affair, where international buyers are gathering to sample the new crop of U.S. series. While several series are gathering buzz, there don’t seem to be big standouts at the screenings, which are still going on in Los Angeles. (at right: a photo from Warner Bros’ party Wednesday night.) Maybe it was the recent series finales of Desperate Housewives and House fresh in his mind, but a Western European buyer spoke nostalgically of the 2004 L.A. Screenings that featured Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, House and Lost. “We haven’t had such a strong group of new shows since,” the buyer said.
Among the new shows gettings thumbs-up is Warner Bros’ superhero CW drama Arrow. “It was surprisingly good,” said Ruediger Boess, head of acquisitions for Germany’s ProSiebenSat1. “It’s darker and older than the standard CW shows, and its very well cast.” Two other dramas — HBO’s The Newsroom from Aaron Sorkin and Fox/Warner Bros’ The Following starring Kevin Bacon — have made an big impression too. The Newsroom, which screened two episodes Sunday that were introduced by Sorkin, received applause from the audience. Boess called the series, set behind the scenes at a cable news network show, “an outstanding masterpiece of television.” The issue with The Newsroom and the violent The Following, described by a buyer as “a darker Criminal Minds,” is that they can’t be shown on free TV networks, at least not before 10 PM.
Overall, buyers like the production values of the upcoming U.S. drama series though there is some concern over increasing serialization that could make scheduling more difficult and ratings returns less certain. The J.J. Abrams-produced NBC/Warner Bros action drama Revolution, which Boess described as “Lost without an island,” has garnered buzz, along with Shawn Ryan’s ABC/Sony TV actioner Last Resort.
Of the slew of new soapy shows, ABC/Lionsgate’s Nashville is one that has some buyers excited, while others are on the fence. An Eastern European buyer complained that too many dramas this year are “too American” and don’t translate well to the rest of the world. Оf the procedurals, CBS/CBS Studios’ Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary is getting very strong reviews across the board. Some buyers also said they liked the NBC firefighter drama Chicago Fire, while others found it overly heroic.
Not a lot of buzz on the comedy side: Two new broadcast shows with gay characters, CBS/Warner Bros’ Partners and NBC/20th TV’s The New Normal, have fans, along with ABC/ABC Studios’ alien family comedy The Neighbors, which has been garnering laughs. (Some buyers also liked Mindy Kaling’s Fox/NBCUniversal comedy, while others found it strange.) Also getting attention is FX/Lionsgate’s new Charlie Sheen comedy Anger Management. Some buyers loved it. Boess was not quite sold. “I like Ashton Kutcher better,” he said, a reference to Sheen’s replacement on Two And A Half Men.