Fox's New Show Trailers: A Critic's Ranking

The Passage - H Publicity 2018
Courtesy of Fox
[Time for your regular reminder that over the next four days, I'll be giving my quick reactions to the trailers presented to advertisers in New York City. These aren't formal reviews. How could they be? I haven't seen the darned shows. They're just gut responses to sales pitches. If advertisers can pony up billions based on these clips, I can tell you if they're good or bad. My annual Take Me to the Pilots series will begin in a month and then real reviews will start in September. It's a marathon, not a sprint.\

If Fox intended its 2018 upfront presentation as a prelude for what New Fox will look like after the Disney deal goes through, the results were a little unsettling.

The upfront started late, included a completely untethered and bonkers appearance by Jamie Foxx, ground to a halt as Joe Buck and various Fox Sports analysts talked about nothing in particular for what felt like a half-hour, let Tim Allen ramble for a few uncomfortable minutes and ultimately only featured clips for four new shows, yet still ran long.

For all of that, I think several of Fox's new shows look more promising than stuff NBC showed at the day's first upfront, though that could fall on the two networks' respective marketing teams.

So let's get to my quick Fox trailer rankings. And again, even if they may look better than the NBC trailers, none of these look like must-watch shows to me.

4) The Cool Kids | If you put David Alan Grier, Martin Mull, Leslie Jordan and Vicki Lawrence in a show, I'll watch a couple episodes. I'm not seeing anything hugely fresh in this Three Grumpy Old Men and a Grumpy Old Lady conceit, but the trailer shows how all four stars are hitting even tepid punchlines with enthusiasm. I don't get what's happening with Grier's hairpiece here, which looks like they took it from the set of the upcoming oldsploitation basketball movie Uncle Drew. Anyway, the best I can say is that I wasn't cringing through the entire trailer.

3) Proven Innocent | We've had a few comparable shows in recent years, dramas set either literally at The Innocence Project or at law firms with similar, fictional goals. This looks like a decent leading role for Rachelle Lefevre and the supporting cast is very good, starting with Russell Hornsby. I think I sneezed through Vincent Kartheiser's one line of dialogue in the trailer. Not great, Bob! I like Brian d'Arcy James much more when he isn't playing one-dimensional straw man villains, which is what network TV seems mostly to let him do and what this looks like it will be. The trailer is middling, but it shows the bones of a potentially decent procedural.

2) The Passage | I read the first book in Justin Cronin's series when it came out and if you'd shown me this trailer completely blind, I don't think I would have been able to guess that it was an adaptation of The Passage. The book is an interesting blend of cinematic and internal, and there's very little in this trailer that looks cinematic or visually interesting in any way. It looks like The Gifted (or NBC's very short-lived Believe), only with a virus that makes people veiny. But if the goal of a trailer is to make me want to watch more, I guess this succeeded in making me want to see what the full pilot looks like, how the various reshoots and reconceptions have come together as a hopefully coherent whole. (The drama was redeveloped from last pilot season, when it narrowly missed the cut.) Stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Saniyya Sidney look like they should be a pretty good pairing. Maybe in full context, it'll seem more like the book. Or more like its own thing, whatever that is.

1) Rel | Fox has half the cast of The Carmichael Show. I wish Fox just had The Carmichael Show. In lieu of The Carmichael Show, this looks like a good vehicle for Lil Rel's comedic voice. Outside of stand-up, I've never seen Lil Rel as the lead in anything, and the trailer doesn't quite erase my concern that he's better as a scene-stealing supporting actor than as a leading man. Since he's playing multiple characters — his "preacher" get-up also looks like it was stolen from the set of Uncle Drew — we may get to see how he does in both capacities at the same time. And ... Sinbad! This feels like a comedy that was a better fit with Old Fox. And I mean that as a compliment.

Check back tomorrow when ABC gets its upfront on!

Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR's scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW and all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark