This is the week of "Upfronts", one of the Holy Weeks of O'Bligation in Televisiology, when each day a network steps up to the plate to announce its plans for the coming season - which shows stay, which are goners, and which pilots got picked up to be offered in sacrifice to the Powers That Be (Nielsen families).
NBC was up first on Monday, and they released the following lineup for the fall TV season:
8pm: Deal or No Deal
8pm: The Biggest Loser
10: Law & Order: SVU
8pm: Deal or No Deal
9pm: The Bionic Woman
8pm: My Name Is Earl
8:30: 30 Rock
9pm: The Office
8pm: 1 vs. 100/Singing Bee
9pm: Las Vegas
10pm: Friday Night Lights
9pm: Repeats of dramas like Law & Order, etc.
7pm: Football Night In America/Dateline
8pm: Sunday Night Football/Law & Order
Sunday (after football ends):
8pm: Law and Order
10pm: Lipstick Jungle
Here are the shows that will be returning to serve the Peacock Throne:
Friday Night Lights, Law & Order, Law & Order: CI, Law & Order: SVU, Deal or No Deal, 30 Rock, The Office, Heroes, Scrubs, ER, The Biggest Loser, Las Vegas, My Name Is Earl, 1 vs. 100, Dateline, Football Night In America, Medium, and Saturday Night Live.
I suppose the two real surprises are 'Friday Night Lights' and 'Law & Order: CI', but both of them do come with conditions. 'FNL' will be shown in the telephant's graveyard - Friday nights. And 'L&O: CI' will be shown first on USA Network and then repeated on the mothership network.
To me it looks like the timeslot of 10 pm on Fridays would be good for 'Friday Night Lights'. First off, it reinforces the thought of Friday nights in the viewers' thick skulls, so it will be easier to find on the schedule. (NBC was bouncing it around a bit this past season.) And secondly, it's not likely to have much competition in that time period, one upside to the fact that a lot of the audience are out and about on a Friday night.
But what do I know? I'm the guy who proposed moving 'Lost' to 10 pm so that it wouldn't matter if they lost the audience afterwards to online speculation. And look how well THAT turned out!
The plan for 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' doesn't make much sense to me. I would have thought it would work better to premiere on NBC and then go to USA Network. Perhaps this is a way for the network to gradually shift it over to the satellite network permanently.
The Thursday night comedy lineup will go through a change, but not in content. 'The Office' will move to 9 pm to take up that legendary anchor position now that 'Scrubs' is beginning to look tired, and the medicomedy will shift back to 9:30. That means '30 Rock', one of my three favorite new shows this year, will take up residence in the 8:30 slot.
Now, in the past that timeslot has been considered cursed; that no show could carry the weight of its lead-in and then deliver the audience intact to the biggie at 9 pm. I believe '30 Rock' will be able to do that this year, however!
Here's the list of TV shows that have been cut loose by the network:
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, Crossing Jordan, The Black Donnellys, Kidnapped, Andy Barker, P.I., Identity, Raines, 20 Good Years, Grease: You're The One That I Want, The Real Wedding Crashers, Thank God You're Here.
No real surprises there at all, except maybe 'Crossing Jordan'. Most of them were already gone; the "Grease" reality show (which I will have a tenuous connection to once it opens) was always meant to be a one-time thang; and 'Thank God You're Here' served its purpose as a stop-gap, cost-cutting measure, something like the finger in the dike to prevent a few more viewers from leaking away.
Cancelling 'Studio 60' only confirmed the inevitable, and I hope Sorkin & Co. don't try to spin it so that they're not the ones to blame. Their execution of the storylines drove away the viewers after such a phenomenal pilot and they were never able to find the right balance to bring them back.
I just wish 'Raines' could have found a home at USA Network alongside 'Psych' and 'Monk'.....
In other news for NBC, 'Law & Order' will move to Sundays at 8pm (in 2008), after football season is over.
Here's a look at the new shows on the sked:
'Heroes: Origins' will be six special episodes of the series, which will air during the show's hiatus.
'The Bionic Woman' is an updating of the classic ABC show from the 70s. It stars British actress Michelle Ryan.
'Chuck' is about a computer geek who becomes a spy (somehow). It's produced by Josh Schwartz, who did The O.C., and director McG.
'Journeyman' sounds a lot like a 21st century version of Quantum Leap. It stars Kevin McKidd from 'Rome' and is produced by some of the people behind 'The West Wing'. (For me, it sounds like the description of a proposed series that would have starred Eddie Albert back in the fifties. His time-travelling journalist would have been an American 'Doctor Who' type.)
'The IT Crowd' is a new comedy that focuses on the lives of tech people. TVSquad thought it sounded like a nerdier 'Office', but to me it sounds like 'Dweebs' with a fresh coat of paint.
'Life' is a drama about a detective who spends years in jail for a crime he didn't commit and is given a second chance. It stars Damian Lewis from 'Band of Brothers'.
'Lipstick Jungle' is from Candace Bushnell, who did 'Sex and the City', and sounds similar. It stars Brooke Shields and Kim Raver, from 'The Nine'.
'The Singing Bee' is another damn singing competition. (Probably trying to capitalize on what little interest there is in spelling bees mixed with 'American Idol'.)
'World Moves' is a hip-hop competition, and is produced by 'American Idol's Randy Jackson.
'Lipshitz Saves The World' is a comedy starring Leslie Nielsen about a nerdy teen who is chosen to protect the world from danger.
[My thanks to TVSquad.com for the descriptions of these new shows.]
BTW, this marks my 1,800th post here at "Inner Toob"!