'Dynamic stability' for the ol' reliable network
A year ago, CBS shook up both upfront week and its own conservative reputation with by far the most aggressive scheduling overhaul of any of the networks - moving "Survivor," "The Big Bang Theory" and both "CSI" spin-offs to new nights - even as the network's scheduling boss tried to sell it as "aggressive stability." Because those big moves worked out, the new CBS schedule won't be quite as radical - Kahl used the phrase "dynamic stability" this time - but still moves a few notable pieces around the week.
Alan and Dan talk about the first few days of the network upfronts
Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be two different Upfront Week editions of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, in which Dan and I talk about the many, many, many, many scheduling moves and new show clips we've seen over the last couple of days. The run-down:
Lawrence wanted to lead off an hour; ABC gave him his wish
"Cougar Town" co-creator Bill Lawrence blames himself, in a way, for the show being pushed to mid-season on ABC's new schedule, where it will air Tuesdays at 9 in between installments of "Dancing with the Stars," while "Happy Endings" takes up resident in the post-"Modern Family" timeslot Wednesdays at 9:30.
Lawrence has a development deal with Warner Bros., which means next season will likely be his last as a hands-on boss at "Cougar Town." And one of the things he wanted to accomplish before he handed the keys to Kevin Biegel was to try to establish the show as something that could stand on its own at the start of a half-hour. He'd been asking ABC president Paul Lee about it for a while; he just didn't necessarily expect it to happen this quickly, or with "Cougar Town" not airing at all in the season's early months.
I spoke with Lawrence this afternoon about the move, which he's known about for a few days, about what he learned from the seasons when "Scrubs" aired at mid-season, and about how he and the cast and crew intend to continue the guerilla marketing they did during this season's mini-hiatus. As often happens with Bill, he talks a lot and I get in a word on occasion.
Unfortunately too late to matter, the show delivers a terrific episode
I wish I had more time to write about last night's "The Chicago Code," which was the strongest episode the show has done in quite some time, and possibly the strongest of the season. This is the sort of thing Shawn Ryan shows do so well: have all the various balls that are being juggled come crashing down right on top of each other, as our heroes race to catch what they can and clean up what they can't.
If the show were coming back next year, we could look at this as a possible turning point. Instead, it's an improvement that's unfortunately too late to matter.
I'll have a longer write-up of next week's finale, but I need to get back to upfront-related madness. What did everybody else think?
A bumpy season comes to a bumpy end
Is premiering 13 new series smart strategy or a sign of desperation?
ABC is going to debut at least 13 new series at some point in the 2011-12 TV season, easily the most of the three networks to announce schedules so far during upfront week. You can look at it one of two ways. ABC entertainment president Paul Lee, announcing his own schedule with his own developed shows for the first time in his tenure at the network, tried to sell it as a lesson he learned from his cable days at ABC Family, where it was important to have new product to debut year-round, rather than just in the fall the way the broadcast networks used to do business.
Or you could look at it as the result of ABC having one flagship reality show ("Dancing with the Stars"), one relatively young hit ("Modern Family") a few aging ones ("Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives") and a whole lot of holes, and/or shows that survive largely because they follow one of the few hits.
A new alter identifies itself, and bad things happen to an old one
This is going to be another one of those weeks in the "United States of Tara" season 3 where I'm going to have to leave all the analysis to you guys, for two reasons: 1)The network upfront announcements are sucking away nearly every minute of the day, and, more importantly, 2)This is one of those episodes where I fear anything I say about the major developments will be too colored by what I know from the rest of the season.
Still, another really strong outing as the season begins to take a much darker turn from the show's first two years. So talk amongst yourselves, and I'll be more verbose about future episodes when I can. What did everybody else think?
'Awake' shone, but not a lot of overall excitement from new shows
The first, and longest, day of Upfront Week 2011 is in the books. NBC and FOX devoted close to 4 hours combined (the majority of them on NBC's end of things) trying to sell advertisers on their new shows. They tried to dazzle the crowds with singers (Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo for NBC, The Warblers from "Glee" and a bunch of this season's "American Idol" finalists for FOX), with comedians (Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon at NBC, Jane Lynch again doing a Sue Sylvester intro at FOX), and - most importantly for my purposes - with clips from their many, many, many new shows. (You can see most of NBC's clips here.)
The season - but thankfully not the series - ends on a high note
On Intersects, Volkoff's origins, cliffhangers and more
"Chuck" just ended its fourth (but not final) season, and I just posted my review of the season finale. I have the second part of my interview with the show's co-creator Chris Fedak (the first, non-spoiler-y part in which he discusses his feelings about the renewal for a fifth and final season, is here), with a lot of thoughts on the cliffhanger at the end of "Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger," the origins of Alexi Volkoff's personality shift, where the Buy More guys and other "Chuck" elements stand for next season, and more, coming up just as soon as you get me back my pants...