Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 73: Upfront Week, part 1: NBC, FOX & ABC

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 73: Upfront Week, part 1: NBC, FOX & ABC

Alan and Dan talk about the first few days of the network upfronts

The

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:

NBC's Upfront -- 06:00 - 36:40
FOX's Upfront -- 36:45 - 53:30
ABC's Upfront -- 53:35 - 01:20:30
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>Courteney Cox and the &quot;Cougar Town&quot;&nbsp;gang got some surprising scheduling news about next season.</p>

Courteney Cox and the "Cougar Town" gang got some surprising scheduling news about next season.

Credit: ABC

Interview: 'Cougar Town' producer Bill Lawrence on the mid-season move

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.

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<p>Jason Clarke and Delroy Lindo in &quot;The Chicago Code.&quot;</p>

Jason Clarke and Delroy Lindo in "The Chicago Code."

Credit: FOX

'The Chicago Code' - 'Greylord & Gambat': The cop who came in from the cold

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?

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<p>The Arcadian comes down in the &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

The Arcadian comes down in the "How I Met Your Mother" season finale.

Credit: CBS

'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Challenge Accepted': Don't make me puke

A bumpy season comes to a bumpy end

A review of the "How I Met Your Mother" season finale coming up just as soon as I speak conductor...

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<p>Christina Ricci in ABC's &quot;Pan Am.&quot;</p>

Christina Ricci in ABC's "Pan Am."

Credit: ABC

ABC's 2011-12 schedule: 'Charlie's Angels,' 'Pan Am' and many more

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.

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<p>Toni Collette on &quot;United States of Tara.&quot;</p>

Toni Collette on "United States of Tara."

Credit: Showtime

'United States of Tara' - 'Chicken 'n' Corn': My enemy, my alter

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?

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<p>Jason Isaacs in NBC's &quot;Awake.&quot;</p>

Jason Isaacs in NBC's "Awake."

Credit: NBC

Upfronts 2011: Highlights and lowlights from NBC and FOX

'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.)

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<p>What will Morgan (Joshua Gomez)&nbsp;be up to during the final &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;season?</p>

What will Morgan (Joshua Gomez) be up to during the final "Chuck" season?

Credit: NBC

Interview: 'Chuck' co-creator Chris Fedak post-mortems season 4

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...

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<p>Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski)&nbsp;and Chuck (Zachary Levi)&nbsp;rehearse their vows in flashback on &quot;Chuck.&quot;</p>

Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Chuck (Zachary Levi) rehearse their vows in flashback on "Chuck."

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger': Saving Sarah

The season - but thankfully not the series - ends on a high note

"Chuck" just aired its season - but thankfully not series - finale. I just published my interview with Chris Fedak about the ramifications of the finale, and I have a review of said episode coming up just as soon as I sweep the leg...

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<p>&quot;The Finder&quot;&nbsp;will fill in for &quot;Bones&quot;&nbsp;midway through the season.</p>

"The Finder" will fill in for "Bones" midway through the season.

Credit: FOX

FOX's 2011-12 schedule: Banking on 'Terra Nova,' 'X Factor' and returning hits

A logical schedule left no room for this season's marginal performers

FOX has been the top-rated network on TV for seven seasons now, and will likely remain so until "American Idol" falls completely off a cliff. There are seasons where the network takes advantage of its inevitable top-dog status to take big risks, and then there are seasons where FOX execs play things conservatively.

The 2011-12 schedule the network announced Monday morning looks at first glance to be one of the conservative ones, with few of the huge mid-season changes that usually appear at upfront time (and are usually changed six or seven more times before mid-season actually starts). Simon Cowell's new singing competition "The X Factor" takes over the exact real estate that "Idol" holds in the spring, which means the FOX fall schedule looks very similar to the FOX spring schedule. There are at least seven new shows debuting at some point during the season, but most are in protected timeslots and designed to maintain a conssitent scheduling flow.

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