| NBC unveiling "Revolution" at their May 2012 upfront.|
How'd that work out for ya?
I've been busy the last couple days trying to get a few weeks ahead on my 25 Favourites list, and I completely forgot to write anything about last week's upfronts, in which the major U.S. television networks unveil their fall schedules in front of advertisers in New York City. Some scheduling decisions intrigue me, some seem utterly ridiculous. Let's go network by network: all the fall shows are listed in bold and new shows will hyperlink to a trailer whenever one is available.
Despite some modest hits, ABC finishes in fourth place for the second year in a row, partly due to recent NFL/spinning chair-induced ratings inflation at NBC. They still have some dependable veterans like "Castle" and "Grey's Anatomy," and the rise of sophomore "Scandal" was the surprise of the season. But overall, their scheduling is probably on the less great side of this season's upfronts.
|ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."|
|"Super Fun Night"|
"The Middle" has been fairly consistent launching compatible comedies, turning its leadout "Suburgatory" into something of a success these last couple years. The same can't be said for "Modern Family," which ABC keeps trying to use to launch twentysomething hangout shows that the "MF" audience isn't sticking around for. Here's a crazy stat I heard this week: the biggest thing killing ABC's post "MF" 9:30 timeslot is not competition from the other networks: it's people rewatching "Modern Family" immediately after on their DVRs. If you love the show that much, go with God. But seriously, guys. "Happy Endings". Oh yeah, and "Nashville" returns at 10pm.
|"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland"|
On Friday, the venerable "Shark Tank" and "20/20" return at 9 and 10pm respectively. Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing" also returns at 8pm, now paired with the second season of "The Neighbors". Multi camera and single camera comedies generally don't play nicely together, but the traditional comedy in these two shows could make for an unlikely but solid pairing. ABC will carry college football games on Saturdays in the fall, then reruns and movies in the spring. Sundays will also stay relatively the same. "America's Funniest Home Videos," "Once Upon a Time," and "Revenge" all return in their current slots from 7 to 10. At 10pm, new drama "Betrayal" premieres - because if you like revenge, why wouldn't you like betrayal as well? This once strong night took some hits this spring as "OUAT" and "Revenge" took extended rerun breaks and the time change sent television viewers outdoors. Who knows if it can rebound in the fall when we're all safely back inside, out of the sun's menacing glow.
Premiering at midseason: A recently divorced woman rises through the ranks of the Texas Rangers on "Killer Women". Christian Slater and Steve Zahn play douchey con men brothers on "Mind Games". "Mixology" follows young, attractive singles over the course of a one night adventure at a bar. And freaky things happen when a dead kid reappears in his hometown 30 years after he drowned - Omar Epps of "House" and Kurtwood Smith of "That 70s Show" star in "Resurrection".
Returning at midseason: "The Bachelor," "Suburgatory," "The Taste"
Not returning: "666 Park Avenue," "Body of Proof," "Don't Trust the B," "Family Tools," "Happy Endings," "HtLwYPftRoYL," "Last Resort," "Malibu Country," "Private Practice," "Red Widow," "Zero Hour"
Ah, CBS. Reliably the number one rated network, and yet they always seem to shake things up the most at upfront time. The big story of their fall will be an expansion to four comedies on Thursday nights, in perhaps the first attempt to break a lineup that NBC was once able to accurately promote as Must See TV. ("Parks and Recreation," you're must see TV in my heart.) Otherwise, fairly straightforward CBS-y stuff.
Tuesday remains largely the same - "NCIS" and its spinoff "NCIS: Los Angeles" make up the first two hours of the night. Thursday veteran "Person of Interest" moves to Tuesday at 10pm after CBS passed on a third "NCIS" spinoff, "NCIS: Red". Seems like a solid move - as a result, the three highest rated dramas on television will now air back-to-back-to-back, which apparently hasn't happened since the era of "Dynasty" on ABC. Also staying the same for CBS is Wednesday night - "Survivor" at 8, "Criminal Minds" at 9, and "CSI" classic at 10pm.
|"The Crazy Ones"|
The last few nights of the week remain fairly steady. "Undercover Boss" and "Blue Bloods" return to bookend Friday nights at 8 and 10pm respectively. "Hawaii Five-0" moves in to the 9 o'clock hour where it will presumably live out its remaining years (it's not near death, but it has nothing to prove ratings-wise anymore). Saturday is reruns, and Sunday stays exactly the same as last year - starting at 7: "60 Minutes," "The Amazing Race," "The Good Wife," and "The Mentalist" all return in the same timeslots.
Returning at midseason: "Mike and Molly"
Not returning: "CSI: NY," "Golden Boy," "The Job," "Made in Jersey," "Partners," "Rules of Engagement," "Vegas"
I don't watch anything on The CW, so this will be a fairly short section. Even still, I have an issue or two with their schedule.
For the second year in a row, the majority of hours on The CW this fall will be different than the previous fall. Last season, The CW arranged its schedule in an actual sensible way: "cute doctor shows" "Hart of Dixie" and "Emily Owens, M.D." were paired on Tuesdays. Mythological "Arrow" and "Supernatural" were paired on Wednesday. It was a nice effort, but unfortunately The CW forgot that nobody watches CW shows on The CW. So this fall? Who cares - just put it somewhere.
"Hart of Dixie" moves back to its original home on Mondays, now at 8. The critically-beloved "Beauty and the Beast" moves out of the cushy post-"Vampire Diaries" slot to Mondays at 9pm. Speaking of vampires and their diaries, its spinoff show "The Originals" will air on Tuesdays at 8. Common sense seemed to suggest it would get at least a year to air after "The Vampire Diaries," but apparently there's faith that it can self start. They're probably right, but it's a case of choosing "potential small risk" over "sure thing" and I don't think it's their best move. After shuffling all around The CW's schedule, from Thursdays, banished off to Fridays to die, then welcomed back to the fold on Wednesdays, "Supernatural" returns to Tuesdays at 9pm, the timeslot it occupied in its first season way back on The WB. Compatibility in these nights? Not really! Certainly not on Monday! Next!
|"The Tomorrow People"|
Speaking of "Carrie Diaries," it somehow escaped death and returns on Friday nights at 8, which is nice because some critics who really like it were already set on eulogizing it at the beginning of the month. It wasn't until I looked at the grid above that I noticed how weird it is that The CW has two shows with the naming structure of "The ________ Diaries". "America's Next Top Model" returns at 9pm.
Premiering at midseason: The CW will bring Kass Morgan's novel "The 100" to the network. Aimee Teegarden plays a girl who falls in love with an alien in "Star-Crossed". And TMZ helps regular people become famous (the icky kind of famous) in "Famous in 12".
Returning at midseason: At some point between September and May, the final, six-episode season of "Nikita" is set to air. I believe "Top Model" is premiering in July or August so it might be off the Friday schedule early enough for "Nikita" to wrap up in 2013.
Not returning: "90210," "Cult," "Emily Owens, M.D." and "Gossip Girl"
Foxxxx. Come on. I thought we were done with wacky fall schedule changes once you got "The X Factor" to mirror "American Idol". On not just one, but two nights, Fox is planning on making changes before the fall is even over.
But on the other hand, I don't totally blame them for over-preparing. Fox is coming off of a disastrous season: after picking up barely any shows last spring, the majority of which bombed hard ("The Mob Doctor," "Ben and Kate"), Fox had nothing to replace failing shows and was relegated to just burning off their disasters. "House" was gone and "American Idol" continued to erode, causing the network's overall ratings to fall about 25% from the year before.
|"Brooklyn Nine Nine"|
Tuesday night comedies "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" retain the 9pm hour. At 8, Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi star in "Dads" as video game developers whose overbearing fathers move in with them. At 8:30, Andy Samberg returns to TV as an immature New York detective in "Brooklyn Nine Nine". The trailer for "Dads" was horrendous - apparently the only thing they could think of for regular cast member Brenda Song to do was dress up as a stereotypical Asian schoolgirl. Things looked much better for "Brooklyn Nine Nine," which was created by "Parks and Rec" writer Dan Goor and thus giving me reason to trust it will be good in episodic form.
Not much to see on Wednesdays - two hours of "The X Factor," a show that somehow continues to exist despite weak ratings and sucking. A second night of "X Factor," which will eventually become a results show for live rounds, airs Thursdays at 8 leading in to "Glee" at 9pm.
With "COPS" moving to Spike TV, Saturday night on Fox is reruns for the first time in...25 years? A long damn time. Actually this is only true for the winter, as Fox will join ABC in broadcasting college football games on Saturdays in the fall. Sunday night features returning animated comedies, starting from 8pm: "The Simpsons," "Bob's Burgers," "Family Guy," and "American Dad".
Returning at midseason: Jack's back as Fox gives the green light to twelve episode miniseries "24: Live Another Day," premiering next May. Returning during the season are "American Idol" and "The Following".
Not returning: "Ben and Kate," "The Cleveland Show," "Fringe," "The Mob Doctor," "Touch"
Moving: "COPS," to Spike TV
For a network with such a bad reputation for making idiotic mistake after idiotic mistake, NBC's fall schedule by far makes the most sense out of all the networks.
This time last year, NBC pushed a new schedule that emphasized its attempt to move away from niche comedies like "Community" and "Parks and Recreation". A year later, those two shows are the last surviving comedies on the network. Yes, we can make fun of NBC all they want for a failed experiment, but you gotta give them credit: none of their new comedies this past season worked, and they correctly realized that they were dead shows walking without any chance to rise back above the four million viewer mark, and thus dumped them all. Though I would have actually preferred a "Go On" renewal to "Community" this time around, I understand why it had to go.
Next season, NBC's schedule actually seems to make sense in terms of flow, even if flow and lead ins are technically dead in our DVR age. "Sunday Night Football" leads to early week reality, moving to midweek dramas and a family theme on Thursday, then closing with a supernatural-ish Friday. Some years I look at the NBC fall schedule and delude myself into thinking they'll be able to escape last place, and some years (like the last two) I've been more certain of impending disaster. But I think they actually have something here. Football, "The Voice" and perhaps a particular pair of new shows (James Spader and Michael J. Fox come to mind) will likely carry them to a first place finish in the November sweeps period (and the fall overall) once again. Luckily, they won't have to worry about repeating their disastrous fifth place finish in this year's February sweeps, as two weeks of Winter Olympics coverage should balloon them to the top. Barring unmitigated disaster (which could of course still happen), I'd be surprised if NBC did not finish in second place next year. Call me crazy, but if they get really lucky and their competitors get really unlucky, they might even reclaim the crown of America's most watched network* that they surrendered with end of "Friends" and "Frasier".
(*In adults 18-49. Simply babbling here, but I'm already curious about NBC's 2017-2018 season: they will have probably run "The Voice" into the ground by then, but the peacock will have Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl that February. But anyway, to our final night by night breakdown...)
A second hour of "The Voice" will air on Tuesdays at 9. Bookending the night are "The Biggest Loser," now down to just one hour a week at 8, and "Chicago Fire" on its new night at 10pm. The "family show" status of "Revolution" gets to put up or shut up as the show moves to Wednesdays at 8, out of the protective shadow of "The Voice" on Mondays. The fifteenth season of "Law and Order: SVU" returns at 9, followed by a reboot of "Ironside" starring Blair Underwood (of "The Event"!!!) at 10pm.
With "Parks and Recreation" as NBC's only returning comedy of the fall, Thursday night sees a major overhaul. "Parks and Rec" becomes a sacrificial lamb to "The Big Bang Theory" in the 8 o'clock slot. Three new comedies follow: "Welcome to the Family" is first at 8:30, about the resulting culture clash when a young white woman finds out she's pregnant and decides to marry her Latino boyfriend. This has all the makings of that awful Rob Schneider sitcom from last season embedded in the description, but the trailer was not as offensive as I was expecting. Is it going to be good? I still doubt it. "Sean Saves the World" follows at 9, starring Sean Hayes as a divorced gay dad raising his teenage daughter full time while also juggling a high stress job. The only multi cam comedy on this night, the trailer for the show looked pretty weak - granted I'm not a fan of the incredibly annoying Sean Hayes, but there weren't even very good attempts at jokes in it. This disappoints me because running the show is Victor Fresco, who gave me one of my favourite TV comedies ever in "Better Off Ted". I'll check it out, but I don't expect to stay long.
|"The Michael J. Fox Show"|
Okay, I'm back from weeping over this network's continued tanking. On Friday, "Dateline NBC" shifts to the beginning of the night at 8. "Grimm" stays put at 9, leading into the new vampire drama "Dracula," with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the titular role, at 10pm. I believe this is technically a miniseries and will only run for ten episodes. That could always change provided the show is a success, but for now the plan is one season and out.
Sundays after the NFL season: NBC has finally snatched the post-football Sunday night schedule away from Donald Trump, as the yet-to-be-renewed-or-cancelled "Celebrity Apprentice" is currently without a timeslot next season. The new year will bring "American Dream Builders," a home renovation show not dissimilar to "Extreme Home Makeover" at 8. Following at 9 is "Believe" from J. J. Abrams, about a wrongfully convicted prisoner breaking out of jail to protect a young girl with superpowers on the run from evil forces (I imagine it will be as nutty as that description sounds). Closing the night at 10pm is "Crisis," in which federal investigators must locate a kidnapped class of schoolchildren (including the U.S. president's son), starring Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney (not Dylan McDermott).
|"About a Boy"|
Not technically midseason, but without a specific timeslot: In late summer/early September, the high concept game show "The Million Second Quiz," which viewers will be able to follow in real time on various online platforms and such, will air over a number of nights.
Returning at midseason: "Community," "Hannibal"
Back from the dead: Following a failed experiment to expand to the entire fall in 2011, A cappella singing competition "The Sing Off" returns as a holiday event in December.
Not returning: Here we go... "1600 Penn," "30 Rock," "Animal Practice," "Deception," "Do No Harm," "Go On," "Guys with Kids," "The New Normal," "The Office," "Ready for Love," "Rock Center with Brian Williams," "Smash," "Up All Night," and "Whitney"
Renewals made by Donald Trump without the co-operation of NBC: "The Celebrity Apprentice" (yeah, who the hell knows with this one - NBC still hasn't made anything official)
The fall season officially begins Monday, September 23, but I'm sure we'll see some premieres before then.