Upfronts week - the near-euphoric annual event where television enthusiasts such as you and I anticipate the new and returning fare heading our way - is upon us. Though some scheduling news has started to leak out - NBC has renewed
Medium and fan-fave bubble show
Friday Night Lights but is possibly crossing
Jordan off its list - the
official presentation of each network's fall schedule begins Monday with the Peacock showcasing its feathers, and concludes Thursday when the CW answers such questions as, "What will fill
Gilmore Girls' void?"
This here blog, my friends, is one to bookmark, as it will serve as a veritable clearinghouse for any and all news coming out of the upfronts. Each morning we will hurry to the fore the latest unveiling of network lineups, then throughout the day supplement it with expert insight from the likes of Matt Roush, Stephen Battaglio and Michael Ausiello.
With the fun about to start, I leave you with these burning questions, which will, at long last, be resolved during the week, sealing the fate of several shows and in-play time slots.
Having come out of this past season with nary a new breakout comedy, ABC is hurting for big laughs. Said to be strong contenders are Sam I Am (amnesiac woman aghast by her nasty past), Miss/Guided (former ugly duckling returns to her high school as a guidance counselor) and the GEICO ads-inspired Cavemen (this despite one online drubbing of the pilot). On the drama front, ABC has several newbies to choose from - Cashmere Mafia, Dirty Sexy Money and a new Marlowe mystery series, to name a few - but the network also must find juuuuust the right berth for the Grey's Anatomy spin-off Private Practice, which, though not spectacularly received by fans/critics, would seem a shoo-in.
The Eye has tough calls to make about its existing slate, never mind any new shows. Close to Home does "well" on Fridays, but could get bumped (by Shark, say some reports) to give Ghost Whisperer a younger-skewing lead-out. Jericho generated the Lost/ Heroes-esque sort of buzz CBS dramas traditionally lack, but never really "exploded" in the Nielsens. On the comedy front, an early Season 3 order for How I Met Your Mother has been conspicuously absent, while The New Adventures of Old Christine exposed a liability when its ratings dropped outside the après- Men comfort zone. CBS' hot pilots include the dramas Babylon Fields (starring Amber Tamblyn and a lotta back-from-the-dead townsfolk), The Man ( LL Cool J as undercover cop) and Cane (a family sudser fronted by Jimmy Smits), as well as the comedies I'm in Hell ( Jason Biggs cheats death) and The Big Bang Theory (scientist geeks wowed by hotties).
FNL? Saved. 30 Rock? To rock on. With those sitches settled, all eyes are on the original Law and Order and Criminal Intent, one or both of which could get clipped (though TNT has offered to pick up the mother ship if the Peacock takes a pass). A similar scenario is at hand with Scrubs, which may have a Season 7 savior in ABC (whose ABC TV Studios produces the laffer). New shows looking certain to make the cut include BSG boss David Eick's resurrection of Bionic Woman (starring Brit beauty Michelle Ryan), Chuck ( O.C. creator Josh Schwartz's take on a computer geek turned superhero), Lipstick Jungle (the likes of Brooke Shields and Kim Raver channel Sex and the City) and Journeyman ( Kevin McKidd time-travels to right wrongs).
Remember Vanished? Standoff? Justice, Happy Hour? Fox's batting average wasn't too stellar last fall, though the network that packs such powerhouses as House, Bones and that Idol show can suffer the occasional slip. Among the fourth network's most promising pilots are Canterbury's Law (with ER alum Julianna Margulies), Company Man ( Jason Behr as an unlikely NSA operative), Them (an aliens-among-us saga featuring one Tricia Helfer) and The Sarah Connor Chronicles (a Terminator-inspired series eyed as a companion piece to 24). Fox's surest bet, though, is Action News, a workplace comedy starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton - who between them boast a bajillion seasons of sitcom success - and which will likely be paired with 'Til Death.
The Gilmore Girls say goodbye this week, but Veronica Mars seems to have a (crime)fighting chance. And on the reality front, the CW has at least two shows in the works, one involving a farmer dating city gals, the other casting a "Pussycat Dolls-inspired" band. Already it appears that Gossip Girl (from O.C. creator Josh Schwartz) is a sure thing, surveying the world of rich Big Apple teens. And so is Reaper, a dramedy about the devil's bounty hunter. - Matt Webb Mitovich