A quick review of tonight's "United States of Tara" coming up just as soon as I leave you there like a cone...
Day one of Upfront Week is over, and if there's never again two of the major networks in one day(*), it'll be too damn soon.
(*) For those who care, this weird double-booking came about because NBC - which traditionally owned Monday of Upfront Week, while Fox went Thursdays - had the brainstorm a few years back to do an "infront" in April instead of an upfront, at which point Fox decided to claim the vacant Monday date. Then when NBC realized this year that the infront was just as pointless as Leno-in-primetime, neither network wanted to blink on Monday, so we got them both. And boy am I tired.
I've avoided attending the formal upfront presentations in recent years, in part because the dog-and-pony show aspect bores me (as it should, since these things are geared towards ad buyers and not people like me), in part because I'd rather watch the pilots as pilots, and not as cut-downs that give away all the best jokes and/or biggest surprises. But most of those cut-downs now wind up online within minutes after each upfront ends, and starting a new job gave me an excuse to go across the river and try to view Upfront Week with fresh eyes.
Early returns: I'm reminded of why I stopped going, but I also saw a few trailers with promise.
Some highlights and lowlights of NBC and Fox's presentations coming right up...
A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I review pictures of people I've killed...
Fox has been the number one network on television for six years in a row, thanks largely to "American Idol." But with "Idol" slipping in the ratings this year - and facing a life without Simon Cowell next year - and with other Fox hits either aging ("House") or going away altogether ("24"), the schedule the network announced for upfronts has some more urgency than usual about developing new hits.
"Glee," which was the network's biggest success story this year (when "Idol" overruns weren't messing with people's DVR recordings of it), will be asked to stand on its own in the fall, and be rewarded for that with the post-Super Bowl timeslot. "House" will lead into a pair of new dramas in fall and spring, and "Glee" and then "Idol" will be used to try to get Fox its first live-action sitcom hit since "Malcolm in the Middle" went away.
And in response to viewer complaints about the lack of songs in the Tuesday "Idol" performance show and the padding in the Wednesday results show, Fox execs allege that they're going to stretch the former out to 90 minutes on a regular basis and compress the latter to 30. Given the number of previous times Fox has reneged on its promises for a half-hour "Idol" results show, I will believe that only when three of those air in a row, and possibly not even then.
The new shows, meanwhile, have a good pedigree, including a sci-fi epic from Steven Spielberg and rookies from the creative teams responsible for "The Shield," "Party of Five," "Arrested Development" and "My Name Is Earl."
Fox's schedule - and my thoughts on it - night-by-night:
Welcome to Upfront Week, boys and girls. The network upfronts unofficially began last night when NBC did their press conference call because they're sharing Monday with Fox, and I'm going to be incredibly busy between today and Thursday attending the various upfront presentations, doing press calls, etc.
And that, unfortunately, means that some of the usual business of the blog - i.e., all the reviewing - is going to be put on hold this week. I'll have reviews of everything I've seen in advance (i.e., "Chuck" and "United States of Tara" tonight, "Justified" tomorrow, etc.), but other than "Lost," I don't know how much I'll be able to write about new episodes that I'll have to catch live from tonight through Wednesday night. So "HIMYM" and "Parenthood" may have to take the week off, for instance. If I get to watch them, I'll do quick, "What did you think?" posts, but that's about the best I can do, unfortunately. Upfront Week comes at a really lousy time for anyone who wants to watch TV in addition to covering the news about the business, and sacrifices need to be made.
Off for the NBC/Fox double-header (and will write up my analysis of Fox's schedule sometime in mid-afternoon), and I'll have a review of the season's penultimate "Chuck" at 9.
A review of tonight's "Treme" coming up just as soon as I abdicate as the parent of a 15-year-old girl...
A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I have a license to bitch and moan...
A review of "The Pacific" finale coming up just as soon as I use a punch properly spiked...
A year ago, NBC proudly announced that it was reinventing the broadcast television model by giving Jay Leno a dirt-cheap primetime showcase five nights a week at 10. But the broadcast model (particularly the local network affiliate stations that are a part of it) wasn't much interested in being reinvented, and the colossal failure of "The Jay Leno Show" meant that NBC had to enter Upfront Week with a fall schedule that looks far more traditional - as well as one with more new shows than usual because of all the holes Jay left when he went back to "The Tonight Show."
The fall schedule NBC announced today features seven new series, including new shows at 10 on four of the five nights Leno briefly owned. (And the fifth, Tuesday, is occupied by "Parenthood," which only debuted a few months ago.)
"The thing that we learned from this year is that if you're going to compete at 10 o'clock, you have to put your best content on," said NBC CEO Jeff Gaspin, who took over the network after Leno-in-primetime had already started to go south. "There's too much competition from cable and from DVR's."
And counting midseason, NBC will unveil at least 13 new shows, including five comedies and seven dramas, from name-brand producers like JJ Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer and David E. Kelley. In the process, the network will say goodbye to several marginal ratings performers, most notably the original "Law & Order," which won't pass "Gunsmoke" to become the longest-running primetime drama ever, but may get some kind of closure as part of the new "Law & Order: LA" spin-off.
("Heroes" is also kaput, though there may be a two-hour wrap-up movie.)
The line-up - and my thoughts on it - night-by-night:
A quick review of tonight's "Doctor Who" coming up just as soon as I respect the thing...