Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles
Welcome to the season finale/Upfront edition of our Week in Review, recapping one of the busiest weeks of any TV year. Every day a different splashy song and dance (in some cases, literally) heralding the new shows that are going to save network TV, while at night the season-ending sweeps frenzy means potentially game-changing moments on show after show. The irony is that Upfront week is also a social week, with parties and other commitments keeping a loyal viewer away from the TV for too many precious hours. Still, I managed to get through much of my playlist, so here goes.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
You know you're at the CW Upfront when the flamboyantly dressed woman in front of you turns out not to be a particularly funky ad rep but a gyrating hip-hopping audience plant who's part of LMFAO's opening number. You also begin to realize that you may not exactly be in the mini-web's target demo anymore.
Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles
Supernatural (Friday, 8/7c, The CW)
The good news is that fans don't have to sweat this cult show's future. It has been picked up for a seventh season. The bad news: Sam's life becomes a living (and possibly literal) hell in the second of two back-to-back episodes constituting the season finale. Series creator Eric Kripke wrote the final hour, during which the wall in Sam's head cloaking his bad memories finally collapses, and the poor boy is none the better for the experience. While Dean and Bobby feel helpless as Sam breaks, the battle for heaven reaches a turning point...
With CBS, it's not the shows that surprise us, it's the moves. Like uprooting CSI from its decade-long anchor position on Thursdays, making room for a new crime drama — you were expecting something else? — while bolstering Wednesday night (not unlike Survivor's move last season) by taking on the even longer-in-the-tooth Law & Order: SVU at 10/9c. Or moving its most acclaimed drama, The Good Wife, to become the centerpiece of the high-profile Sunday lineup. (Yes, viewers affected by fall football overruns will have to cope, but if any show benefits by being watched live, it's this modern masterpiece)...
Rachael Taylor, Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh
Through the first two days and three networks of the upfront week, a nagging thought keeps occurring to me. When people ask me what to look forward to in the fall, I fear my answer is going to be: Just wait until midseason!
Once again, as with Awake and Smash on NBC and Alcatraz on Fox, some of my most visceral and enthusiastic knee-jerk responses ...
There's not much that Fox, sitting so pretty, and coming-from-behind NBC have in common. But as each network demonstrated in their noisy Upfront presentations on Monday, music is key to their future.
NBC has The Voice and the midseason musical drama Smash. Fox has Glee (which opened the Upfront with a Warblers number and a diatribe by Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester), American Idol (which closed the show with a medley sung by this season's also-rans, accompanied by So You Think You Can Dance veterans) and the upcoming fall "tentpole" The X Factor, which will take over Idol's Wednesday and Thursday berths. This newest network singing competition was the centerpiece of Fox's event, with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and the rest of The X Factor talent taking the stage — with Randy Jackson tagging along until Simon shooed him off, and Paula Abdul cooing "I love you, Simon," when prompted to speak.
The Peacock has finally found its voice. But as a critical new season of rebuilding beckons, they've got to be careful not to wear it out.
That was the takeaway from NBC's cautiously optimistic kickoff to Network Upfront Week on Monday, as new NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced, "Today is the start to the road to recovery," while warning the turnaround could take years. Unspoken was the acknowledgement that it could hardly get worse. While not everything on the new season's slate looks like a winner, NBC is once again showing signs of life. And by midseason, when the new shows look to be much stronger, the buzz is likely to get much louder.
Even with so many season finales and cliffhangers clamoring for our attention this month, I doubt you'll find two hours of TV more riveting, harrowing and inspiring than Freedom Riders, the latest triumph from PBS' American Experience series.
As heralded recently ...
Jason Clarke and Matt Lauria
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Question: The recent cancellation of almost all of Fox's bubble shows seems to stem at least partially from a lack of "shelf space," since they don't program shows in the 10 pm/ET hour. My question is, why not? There must be a story here, though being 22, I haven't been watching adult-skewing prime-time shows long enough to remember it, so please enlighten me. I am ...