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.)
"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...
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.
A review of tonight's "The Killing" coming up just as soon as I bone up on my Cicero...
A review of tonight's "Game of Thrones" coming up just as soon as I find the breastplate-stretcher...
I watched tomorrow night's "Chuck" season finale yesterday, after news of the show's fifth season renewal came in. And without spoiling anything about what happens, the end credits rolled and I said to myself, "Thank God NBC renewed it, because I cannot wait to see what they do after this one."
Chris Fedak, the show's co-creator, was feeling a similar excitement for the possibilities of a fifth season as he worked on the finale, even though he believed the odds were, at best, 50-50 for renewal due to the show's recent ratings dip.
I spoke with Fedak a few minutes ago, for an interview I'm going to present in two parts over two days. After the jump is Chris' reaction to the renewal, the knowledge that next season will be the final one for "Chuck," and the challenges that have come the last two seasons as NBC has ordered more episodes partway through the year. Tomorrow night, after the finale, I'm going to post both my review of the episode and Fedak's explanation for some of the things that happen in it.
Announcing NBC's schedule for the 2011-12 TV season, new network entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt tried to establish himself as a realist.
He acknowledged that getting the network out of the enormous hole it's in wouldn't happen overnight, and that therefore, "If we could do one or two things successfully, I would be thrilled." He acknowledged that "Chuck" is back for a final 13-episode season because he wanted to establish a scripted presence on Fridays but couldn't devote a lot of resources to it. He presented contingency plans for if the NFL is still locked out in the fall (though he believes they'll at most miss a few weeks) and if Donald Trump decides to run for president (though he'd much rather have him stay on "Celebrity Apprentice").
Of course, Greenblatt's predecessor Jeff Gaspin also presented himself as a realist, and he no longer has that job nor is NBC any closer to fixing the mistakes made by Jeff Zucker, Ben Silverman, et al. Pragmatism is nice - and no doubt necessary in this gig - but some hits would help.
Fienberg has the complete NBC schedule, and after the jump, I have night-by-night analysis of the schedule, along with some highlights of the conference call that Greenblatt just completed with reporters.
As I brace myself for the start of the network upfront presentations, I can't help but think of Bill Murray delivering the line, "Well, it's Groundhog Day... again" on Phil Connors' second journey through the endless marathon that is "Groundhog Day." A few minor details may change from upfront season to upfront season, but it feels like the major details repeat themselves over and over: everyone had the best development season ever, CBS execs will be asked how many crime procedurals are too many, ABC will have the exact same scheduling holes to fill, etc., etc., etc.