‘Crisis’ for kids of fictitious D.C. VIPs, and a headache for creator


Dermot Mulroney as Thomas Gibson in “Crisis.” (Vivian Zink/NBC)
May 9, 2013

On Monday at Radio City Music Hall, NBC will unveil to advertisers its prime-time schedule for the 2013-14 television season. Among the new shows to be announced will be an action thriller set in Washington starring Dermot Mulroney (not to be confused with Dylan McDermott) and Gillian Anderson.

 The premise of the show, titled “Crisis,” goes like this: There’s this bus on a field trip. It’s filled with D.C. students.

 But not just any D.C. students — they’re students from Ballard High School, institution of higher learning for the children of “Washington, D.C.’s elite.”

And by “Washington, D.C.’s elite,” the network means “top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players and even the president’s son.”

Yet despite Secret Service protection for POTUS’s son, the bus driver decides to take a cruise down a rural road. But not just any rural road. A secluded rural road. Which is just asking for it. And sure enough, the teens of top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players and POTUS are taken hostage, as are their chaperones. 


Benjamin Stockham, left, as Marcus and David Walton as Will in “About a Boy.” (Jordin Althaus/NBC)

That, NBC says, ignites a national crisis, with “some of the country’s most powerful parents at the mercy of one vengeful mastermind.”

What will the country’s Most Powerful Parents do to ensure the safe return of their children? 

How many factual mistakes will CNN make as it covers this national crisis?

How many Washington Ladies Who Lunch will pester poor NBC and the show creator in hopes of getting characters named for them, and of getting children cast as the elite offspring?

We pity poor Rand Ravich (“Life,” “The Astronaut’s Wife”), the guy behind this new drama series and whose life is about to become a living hell.

Anyway, NBC assures us that, with nowhere to turn and no one to trust — really? — this “unthinkable scenario” grows until it places “an entire nation at risk.”

Superpowered tween

If that one doesn’t keep you up at night, NBC has also ordered “Believe,” a drama about a little orphan girl named Bo. Since Bo turned 2, she has mastered levitation, telekinesis and the ability to control nature and even predict the future. She’s been raised by a small group known as True Believers, who safeguarded her from “harmful outsiders who would use her forces for personal gain.”

You know, like the producers of “America’s Got Talent.”

Anyway, little Bo is now 10, which is old enough that it’s not creepy that the True Believers have decided to spring from death row a wrongfully convicted felon (Tate) because he’s the only person they see fit to be Bo’s full-time protector. 

Initially, Tate is reluctant to leave death row, NBC insists. We’d like to learn more about that, but it’s going to air on NBC, so there probably won’t be enough episodes before it’s canceled.

So we’re just going to have to take it for granted that Tate witnesses Bo in action, levitating or telekinesis-ing or whatever, and decides he will leave death row and take Bo on the road, traveling from city to city, because it’s the only way to stay one step ahead of the sinister forces who are after Bo’s power.

Tate and Bo try to fly under the radar, changing forever the lives of everyone they meet in every city they stop. No wonder NBC assures us that it will take a miracle to keep them safe forever. 

Did you guess that J.J. Abrams is involved with this one? You’re right! Ditto Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”).

‘About’ a remake

Also joining NBC’s prime-time slate: “About a Boy,” a remake of the 2002 Hugh Grant flick of the same name, which, in turn, was adapted from the 1998 Nick Hornby novel of the same name.

This time, Jon Favreau (of “Iron Man” and “Revolution” fame) is directing, which may or may not be a good thing.

And in this version, the man-child — played by David Walton — isn’t living work-free, thanks to royalties from a tacky Christmas tune his dad wrote a long time ago. This time, Man-Child has himself written a hit tune and is living off the royalties.

Minnie Driver’s got the Toni Collette role from the film, as the wacky and sometimes suicidal vegetarian mom of 11-year-old chick magnet Marcus, played here by Benjamin Stockham, whom you loved in NBC’s short-lived sitcom “1600 Penn.”

In other news, NBC has renewed its Thursday comedy “Parks and Recreation,” because it can’t cancel them all. “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “Up All Night” have already bit the dust.

Also, “Whitney” has been canceled because, duh.

Guided by ‘Family’

On the lighter side, having failed to hit a home run last fall with a comedy starring an adorable monkey, NBC will take another stab at ratings hitdom this fall with a comedy featuring an adorable yellow Lab guide dog who is stage-named Elvis.

“The Family Guide” is about a blind, divorced guy who nonetheless chops down trees and teaches his daughter how to drive, which you or I might think unwise but NBC assures us is evidence of his indomitable spirit. Mel, played by J.K. Simmons, used to be married to Joyce, played by Parker Posey, but eventually they grew apart, due to her pipe smoking and mall hopping.

As a divorcee, Joyce is experiencing a second coming of age, which makes her a contemporary of her teenage daughter, Katie, whose clothes Joyce is forever borrowing.

In the center of this maelstrom is 11-year-old Henry, who learns about his parents’ pending divorce when Dad shows up with Elvis. No doubt there’s some deeper message about wives as guide dogs in there, but we’ll think about that tomorrow. Anyway, the show is narrated by an adult Henry, played by Jason Bateman, who is one of the show’s exec producers, as is DJ Nash, whose credits include NBC’s short-lived “Up All Night” and “Guys With Kids.”

Sean Hayes’s return

Sean Hayes is back as a comedy series star on NBC — this time playing a divorced gay dad who has a pushy mom, played by Linda Lavin.

In “Sean Saves the World,” Sean has a teenage daughter who moves in with him full time, at the same time that his company’s new management thinks Sean should put in longer hours at work, putting a damper on his Pinterest-worthy family dinners. 

CW’s survivors

CW won’t unveil its 2013-14 prime-time plans to advertisers until Thursday, but it nonetheless has already plowed through its pilots and picked the survivors. They include:

●“The 100,” the number of juvenile delinquents who are sent back to Earth — like canaries in a coal mine — to determine whether the planet can be recolonized 97 years after it was rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war. Cast includes the controversial Isaiah Washington.

●“Oxygen,” about an alien high-schooler (redundant?) who falls in love with a human girl at school.

●“The Tomorrow People,” who have solved the world’s traffic-congestion crisis and our insane mobile-device bills; they possess the ability to teleport and communicate telepathically. Take that, Verizon!

●“Reign,” which looks at the sexy side of Mary, Queen of Scots, when she arrived in France as a teen, with her three BFFs in tow as ladies in waiting.

Of course, we already knew about the “Vampire Diaries’s” back-door pilot, “The Originals.” And, with the pickups of “Nikita” and “The Carrie Diaries,” CW has renewed all its current dramas for another season, although it’s unclear how many episodes each show will produce.

Jackson’s ‘Idol’ exit

Randy Jackson says he’s leaving “American Idol.”

“To put all of the speculation to rest, after 12 years of judging on ‘American Idol,’ I have decided it is time to leave after this season,” he told E! on Thursday.

Word on the street is that all the judges will be tossed as Fox and the producers look to resuscitate the show, which took a ratings nose-dive this season.

Jackson is the only member of the original judge panel to survive to this season.

Fox is scheduled to unveil its prime-time plans to advertisers Monday afternoon at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog
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