Monthly Archives: May 2007

Update

I’m seriously considering taking Da Blog off of Blogger.

My roundup of how the networks came out of upfronts will not be posted. At some point along the way, line returns got inserted in the HTML of the post, and no matter what the circumstance, Blogger converts all line returns into
tags, and that means that a table gets shoved down the page for no reason whatsoever.

Most of the time that functionality is great. (I can turn it off but that would adversely affect ALL of my posts. Until this week I used no tables at all and all of my posts prior to last weekend benefit from this function.) But since Blogger makes no distinction on context – doesn’t disregard or automatically remove line returns in table code, despite NO ONE having a use for the actual results in this context – it is too frustrating. The line returns in this instance were probably added by either IE 6 (but still show up when I try to edit in IE 7) or Blogger itself (which is just plain idiotic).

Since TONS – DOZENS – of line returns need to be removed, it’s simply not worth it to try to get rid of them all, so I’m withholding the post entirely and probably will not post it at all. But if I can find something smarter, I will probably flock to it in a heartbeat.

One benefit to going with Blogger that could prevent me from flocking too quickly is that it provides free, instant hosting. Most other places I could go to would likely either charge me to set up shop there or not be as good as Blogger in certain ways.

That said, given the correct circumstances I could easily decide to set up a full-fledged web site, which would end any hosting concerns I might have…

If you have any advice feel free to reply to this post.

Notice

Please be advised that I will be making some tweaks to the layout of Da Blog for the next few minutes, so posts may temporarily look freaky. I ultimately want to make the tweaks not matter.

Upfront Roundup: The CW

Now we move on to the CW, starting with what I said in my previous post:

  • This will be the first time the CW truly has a chance to present new shows.
  • The CW is not a network that averages a 2.1. It deserves to be treated more like a 2.3. That is not to say there aren’t problems, but any show that does worse than 2.0 is probably on the hot seat.
  • That would include pretty much all of the CW’s comedies, even “Everybody Hates Chris”, which gave UPN so much publicity in that network’s final season. Ratings have been degraded by going up against “Dancing with the Stars”, but “Chris” and “Girlfriends” were only doing around a 2.0 even before that. It’ll be interesting to see what the CW does with “All of Us” which bore the brunt of the “DwtS” onslaught, as well as “The Game”, which was the CW’s lowest-rated comedy when “DwtS” wasn’t on but became its highest-rated once it became the only comedy that didn’t have to battle the ABC juggernaut. Why the CW ended “Reba”, one of its strongest shows, is a little unclear.
  • The CW will need to fill the departures of “7th Heaven” and “Gilmore Girls”. “Girls” was still succeeding in the ratings and will probably hurt the worst. The highest rated traditonal scripted show that leaves is “Smallville”, also one of only four hour-long scripted shows left, along with “Supernatural”, “One Tree Hill”, and “Veronica Mars”, which is on the bubble. If the CW renews “VM” (which, according to reports, is looking more like a possibility than it used to) then “OTH” is the most natural fit to nurture it, though “America’s Next Top Model” would probably be better both in the ratings and thematically (though that would repeat a strategy UPN tried without success), and “Supernatural” should probably break out of “Smallville”‘s shadow to allow both shows to nurture new shows. That “OTH” and “Supernatural” are being considered as potential linchpins speaks volumes about how deep the CW’s lineup really is. (“Supernatural” would be a better pick than “OTH” but doesn’t fit thematically with “VM” all that much, much like “OTH” doesn’t fit with “Smallville”.)
  • Strong nights: Wednesday. Weak nights: Sunday, Monday.
  • Quick tip: You better have a strong pilot slate, and promote the hell out of it.

Now, how did the CW do on the points I laid out?


Sun

7pm

7:30 pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CW
CW Now
Online Nation
Life is Wild
Top Model Repeats


When I indicated that the CW had only three new shows on its schedule, I had missed “Life is Wild” and I wasn’t counting midseason or unscripted shows. And since you might be scratching your heads over the start of this night, let me give you the description of “CW Now”, from the producers of “Extra”:

“CW Now blends news and entertainment to create the ultimate source for everything that’s hip, hot and happening right now in the world of young adults. With a team of experts focusing on the topics and trends that appeal specifically to the CW generation, this new series will feature informative and entertaining reports on the hottest fashions, the coolest music, the must-see movies and the must-have gadgets and technology. ‘CW Now’ will be everywhere young adults are: from cyberspace profiling the best of the web, to hitting the streets and getting inside the most popular hotspots. With young adults’ insatiable appetite for all things celebrity, each episode will report on the latest news and gossip from inside the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Moving at a rapid-fire pace and utilizing eye-catching graphics and visuals, “CW Now” fits perfectly with the on-demand lifestyle of adults 18-34.”

Yes, this sort of thing would have been unthinkable under the UPN or WB regimes, but one need look no further than Fox’s news-magazine success (or lack thereof) to see how this thing is going to do. Is this show cynical or what? And is the CW stuck-up or what? I’m part of “The CW generation” now? Well, “Online Nation” isn’t quite that bad:

“Young adults have taken their quest for fame into their own hands as the amount of user-generated entertainment continues to explode across the Internet. Now The CW is giving them a nationally televised stage to show off what they’ve got. “Online Nation” (working title) scours the nearly infinite number of websites, blogs and user-generated materials on the Internet to find the best, the hottest, the unique and sometimes, the flat-out bizarre, and presents it on The CW audience’s other favorite screen: the TV screen. This fun, irreverent weekly series features everything and anything that has captured the attention of the online world, from the most popular sites to the addictive viral videos being shared by millions, to insights from the digital tastemakers. Born of the internet and tailored specifically to this generation, this series also features an innovative interactive element as viewers will be able to see what others are saying and communicate with them live on the air. The CW is turing mouse potatoes into couch potatoes by putting all the greatest internet clips in one ready to use package.”

Mm. Others already had the same idea. With such weak lead-ins and a night that has been a problem for the CW (and the WB before it), it’s bad news for “Life is Wild“:

“Katie Clarke (Leah Pipes, ‘Clubhouse’) may never forgive her veterinarian father, Danny (Brett Cullen, ‘Ghost Rider’, ‘Friday Night Lights’) for dragging their entire blended family out of New York City to spend a year living in a broken-down lodge called The Blue Antelope in a game reserve deep inside South Africa. Everyone in the family, including Katie’s 11-year-old brother Chase (K’sun Ray, ‘Smith’), Danny’s second wife Jo (Judith Hoag, ‘Armageddon’), her rebellious teenage son Jesse (Andrew St. John, ‘General Hospital’) and 7-year-old daughter, Mia (Mary Matilyn Mouser, ‘Eloise’), is sure Danny has lost his mind. But Danny’s reasons go beyond his desire to keep his troubled family together and making a difference in the lives of the people and animals of South Africa: his deceased first wife Claire grew up at The Blue Antelope and it’s still home to her reclusive father Art (David Butler). After just a few days in South Africa, the family has already encountered an injured lioness, a lost cub, and a gentle giraffe. They’ve also met a few locals, including a handsome young Brit, Oliver Banks (newcomer Calvin Goldspink) and his twin sister Emily (newcomer Tiffany Mulheron), whose father Colin Banks (Jeremy Sheffield), runs a safari business for wealthy tourists, and Tumelo (Atandwa Kani), a teen who dreams of becoming a veterinarian. While they are definitely outsiders, Katie and the rest of the family are beginning to love the breathtaking vistas of the bush country and the vibrant culture enveloping them. A year in this strange but beautiful place might not be so bad after all.”

This show could easily be a comedy on another network. Unlike most CW/WB family dramas, there is no room for growth or change on this one, thanks to the year-long time frame, which I’m sure they will try and contrive a way to stretch out over the years – if it goes that long. It just doesn’t seem dressed for success to me, and being plopped on such a bad night does NOT help.


Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CW
Ev. Hts Chris
Alns in Amer.
Girlfriends
The Game


“All of Us” is dead. That leaves just one comedy from UPN’s fall schedule of 2004 that remains on the CW lineup for a fourth season or later. Despite the title, “Aliens in America” is not some modernized version of “ALF” or “Another World”, which would probably be hit with the dreaded “CFUC” phrase, but instead… well

“Justin Tolchuk (Dan Byrd, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’) is a sensitive, lanky 16-year-old just trying to make it through the social nightmare of high school in Medora, Wisconsin, with the help of his well-meaning mom Franny (Amy Pietz, ‘Caroline in the City’), aspiring-entrepreneur dad Gary (Patrick Breen, Kevin Hill’), and his popular sister Claire (Lindsey Shaw, ‘Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide’), who is sweetly unaware of how good looking she is. When Franny signs up for the school’s international exchange student program, she pictures an athletic, brilliant Nordic teen who will bestow instant coolness on her outsider son. However, when the Tolchuk’s exchange student arrives, he turns out to be Raja Musharaff (Adhir Kalyan, ‘Fair City), a 16-year-old Pakistani Muslim. Despite the cultural chasm between them, Justin and Raja quickly develop an unlikely friendship that just might allow them to navigate the minefield that is contemporary high school. It’s going to be a very interesting year for Raja, Justin, his family and the entire poplation of Medora.”

Now this is a sitcom for “the CW generation”! Right out of the tradition of “Saved by the Bell” and “Boy Meets World”! If this had come before the CW started having all sorts of problems with their comedy block it would have looked terrific hammocked between “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Girlfriends”. But “DwtS” has been killer to the CW’s comedy block and “Aliens in America” is smack-dab in the middle of it. I want to believe this show will become the CW comedy of the future but it’s off to a rocky start. And people who moaned and groaned about the end of UPN’s black comedy when the CW merger happened? They’re moaning and groaning again, because this show features a white main character and Pakistani is not black.


Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CW
Beauty and the Geek
Reaper


With “Gilmore Girls” ending, the CW ends “Veronica Mars” as well, meaning they’re starting over on Tuesdays, and to meet the demand, they’re also making a change to Wednesdays. Last year, UPN show “America’s Next Top Model” started Wednesdays at 8 and WB show “Beauty and the Geek” took over later. Now “B&tG” breaks out to lead off Tuesdays. “Reaper” – well, get too far in it and you’ll know what I have to say about it:

“For the first 20 years of his life, Sam (Bret Harrison, ‘The Loop’, ‘Grounded for Life’ wondered why his parents went so easy on him. Whether it was school, sports or career choices, Sam’s mom (Allison Hossack, ‘Falcon Beach’) and dad (Andrew Airlie, ‘The L Word’) always let him get by with the least possible effort, while at the same time pushing his younger brother Keith (Kyle Switzer, ’15/Love’) to excel. As a result, Sam skipped college, took a dead-end job and now wastes endless hours playing video games and wishing he had the guts to ask out his pretty co-worker, Andi (Nikki Reed, ‘Thirteen’, ‘The O.C.’). Everything in his slacker world changes the day Sam turns 21 and discovers the ungodly reason his parents let him slide: they sold his soul to the devil before he was even born. Satan himself (Ray Wise, ’24′, ‘The Closer’) drops by to personally explain that Sam must now serve as his bounty hunter, tracking down evil souls that have escaped and returning them to Hell. At first, Sam refuses to accept his bizarre fate, but after getting a glimpse of Satan’s temper, Sam realizes that breaking a deal with the devil has consequences that are very, very bad. Armed with a constantly changing series of vessels – starting with a Dirt Devil mini-vacuum – to collect the escapees, Sam immediately finds that the work is dangerous and frightening, even with the goofball help of his friends and fellow slackers, Bert “Sock” Wysocki (Tyler Labine, ‘Boston Legal’, ‘Invasion’) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez, ‘Coach Carter’), along with Sock’s former-girlfriend-turned-paralegal, Josie (Valerie Rae Miller, ‘Dark Angel’). Still, as weird and scary as his life has become, Sam is surprised to find that he somehow feels good about his newfound ‘mission’ – removing evil-doers from the world and sending them back where they belong. With his friends and his trusty vessel-of-the-week at his side, Sam is ready to face his destiny as the Reaper.”

“Cult following, unceremoniously cancelled” – if it were good enough to get a cult following! But there seems to be a comedic element that seems out of place as well. Too weird, bizarre, and schizophrenic to go anywhere.


Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CW
America’s Next Top Model
Gossip Girl


“One Tree Hill” is withheld for midseason so the CW’s top show can support a new show, a big vote of confidence for “Gossip Girl”:

“The privledged prep school teens on Manhattan’s Upper East Side first learn that Serena Van Der Woodsen (Blake Liveley, ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ is back in town the same way they learn all the important news in their lives – from the blog of the all-knowing yet ultra-secretive Gossip Girl. No one knows Gossip Girl’s identity, but everyone in this exclusive and complicated vicious circle relies on her text messages for the latest scoop. Serena’s closest friend, Blair (Leighton Meester, ‘Surface’) is just as surprised as everyone else to find that Serena has suddenly ended her self-imposed exile to boarding school and returned to Manhattan. The tension between Blair and Serena isn’t lost on Gossip Girl, who is determined to uncover and fuel any and all scandals. Does it involve Serena’s brother Eric (Connor Paolo, ‘One Life to Live’), Blair’s boyfriend Nate (Chace Crawford, ‘The Covenant’), or Nate’s buddy Chuck (Ed Westwick, ‘Children of Men’)? Maybe it has something to do with Dan (Penn Badgley, ‘John Tucker Must Die’) and his sister Jenny (Taylor Momsen, ‘Spy Kids 2′, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’), whose middle-class background keeps them on the fringes of this exclusive clique. Even the parents – from Serena’s mother Lily (Kelly Rutherford, ‘Melrose Place’) a former ballerina/rock-groupie, to Nate’s high-powered father Howie “The Captain” Archibald (Sam Robards, ‘The West Wing’), to Dan and Jenny’s dad Rufus (Matthew Settle, ‘Brothers and Sisters’), a former rocker turned art gallery owner – are aware that their sons and daughters are constantly checking their Sidekicks to read Gossip Girl’s latest sightings and overheard tidbits. Overriding all the shifting friendships, jealousies and turmoil in this wealthy and complex world, the central mystery remains – Who is Gossip Girl?”

Is this another example of “Ugly Betty” starting a new wave of telenovela-inspired soap operas? Because it looks and sounds like the show’s namesake is like Charlie on “Charlie’s Angels” – never seen, only heard – or the narrator of “Desperate Housewives”. This show, it seems, is more of an ensemble – in fact it looks like “DH” in prep school. It, “Reaper”, and (apparently) “Life in the Wild” all have received rave reviews; this show probably has the best chance at success with such a strong lead-in.


Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CW
Smallville
Supernatural


The CW keeps Thursdays one of only two unchanged nights. “Supernatural” was considered to be on the bubble for renewal, so I have no need to call it to be used to set up a new night. Not much of a surprise.


Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CW
Friday Night SmackDown!


This is the other unchanged night. Again not a surprise; wrestling is a steady performer for the CW the way it was for UPN before.

In addition to “One Tree Hill”, “Pussycat Dolls Present” is also held for midseason. You might be wondering how that show could go more than one round. Well, now it appears to be moving closer to the old WB show “PopStars”. Now they’ll be trying to create an entirely new group based on the Dolls.

Two new shows also are being held for midseason. “Farmer Wants a Wife“:

“The CW cultivates romance a la “Green Acres” with “Farmer Wants a Wife”, a comedic reality series designed to help one farm boy find the city girl of his dreams. Based on the hit British format, this first US version will find a charming, hard-working farmer who is happy with his life and wanting romance and wondering if he might find happiness with a woman from the city. The show’s producers will search the nation’s cities to select a group of 10 women who have had it with bad dates in the big city and are open to making a big change. The group will consist of women looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and wondering if a country man with country values might offer a more attractive lifestyle. “Farmer Wants a Wife” will bring these city women to the country farmer. The ladies will have to impress them with their heart and their newfound ‘love’ for the country life, or they’ll be sent back to the city. Are these city girls ready for the realities of life and work on a farm – driving a tractor, taking care of very large farm animals and attending bingo night? Through a series of challenges, group activities, shocking eliminations and cozy dates, 10 fast-lane women will see how they match up with a back-roads guy on the path to true love.”

“The Simple Life” meets “Joe Millionaire”. “Crowned“:

“Judges Carson Kressley (‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’) and former Miss U.S.A. Shanna Moakler (‘Dancing with the Star’, ‘Meet the Barkers’) referee an eight-episode competition that dares to pit mother-daughter teams against each other in a no-holds-barred beauty pageant. ‘Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants’ explores one of the most emotional and volatile relationships as mothers and daughters from all walks of life must compete together – and against other mother-daughter teams – in order to win. Faced with challenges that focus on preparing them for the talent-show finale, the women will have to brand a ‘style’ for their mother-daughter team via clothing and swimwear, create ways of expressing a point of view about issues in the world, and practice for the big pageant dance number. Not only do good looks, talent and a penchant for world peace have to run in the family, each team must also have patience, teamwork and a healthy sense of humor. In the end, one mother-daughter team will be ‘crowned’ the winner and will receive a valuable prize package, including a $100,000 cash award, and, of course, a fabulous pair of tiaras.”

I’d say it’s unlikely to get anywhere, but it’s worth a shot. Now, how did the CW do on the points I laid out?

  • CW comedies. Grade: F. The CW does little to solve the problem with its flagging Monday comedy lineup and throws “Aliens in America” in an untenable situation.
  • Making up for the departures of hit shows. Grade: B-. The CW did well by its overall lineup by keeping Thursdays intact and using “B&tG” and “ANTM” to nurture new shows, but largely at the expense of Sundays. Then again, that night wasn’t doing well anyway.
  • Overall grade: C+. Two nights look decent, two look great by way of not changing, and two nights are train wrecks.
  • Nights that improved: Wednesday. Nights that didn’t slip as much as might be expected: Tuesday. Nights that look like a train wreck: Sunday, Monday.

Upfront Roundup: Fox

Before beginning, let’s review what I said in my previous post:

  • Fox has more spots for new shows than its standing suggests.
  • Is “The War at Home” dead? I haven’t seen anything in my cursory check, but given the ratings since leaving the cushy spot hammocked by “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” I wouldn’t be surprised.
  • On Mondays, Fox will have “Prison Break” and “24″ at various points of the season, but neither show it’s introduced to accompany them seems to have worked, with “Standoff” being DOA when it premiered in the fall on Tuesdays.
  • “Justice” was also DOA and Fox will have to find a new show to pair with “Bones”. “The Loop” is interesting as it hasn’t aired yet at all this season. Does Fox want to renew it for Season 3 with zero numbers for Season 2? Do they want to cancel it under the same circumstances? It won’t have “American Idol” backing it up as originally planned.
  • The two comedies Fox introduced on Thursday have had very different fates. “Happy Hour” was DOA, while “Til Death” is clear for a second season. How confident is Fox in its new comedy slate? If it’s not that confident, and “War At Home” is canned, “Til Death” could be Sunday-bound. Either way Fox has a big hole to fill on Thursdays, and “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” could be the ticket.
  • Friday is definitely FOX’s weakest spot. It’s the second Saturday, true, but it’s been beat by “Friday Night SmackDown!” on the CW multiple times. Any time you get beat by the CW, that’s a problem.
  • Strong nights: Any night “American Idol” is on, Saturday (when NASCAR racing is on). Strong nights compared to the rest of FOX but not to other networks on the same nights: Monday, non-”Idol” Tuesday. Weak nights: Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
  • Quick tip: Don’t be fooled by your tie for second – this is a one-show network in many ways. Having such short nights means there’s no room for error on any show.

Now, how did Fox carry that out?


Sun

7pm

7:30 pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
The OT
The Simpsons
King/Hill
Family Guy
Amer. Dad


Fox clears out the entire first hour of its Sunday nights and effectively turns them into the same thing as their other nights during football season. “The War at Home” appears exposed and dead.


Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
Prison Break
K-Ville


“Prison Break”, which has probably already gone on a season too long, will be used to back up “K-Ville“, an evident attempt to create the next “Law and Order”:

When everything changes, so do the rules.

From writer and executive producer Jonathan Lisco (“NYPD Blue,” “The District”) comes a heroic police drama set in New Orleans. Two years after Katrina, the city is still in chaos. Criminals roam the streets with AK-47s, many cops have quit, and the jails, police stations and crime labs still haven’t been properly rebuilt. But the cops who remain have courage to burn and a passion to reclaim and rebuild their city.

MARLIN BOULET (Anthony Anderson, “The Departed,” “The Shield”) is a brash, funny, in-your-face veteran of the NOPD’s Felony Action Squad, the specialized unit that targets the most-wanted criminals. Even when his partner deserted him during the storm, Boulet held his post, spending days in the water saving lives and keeping order. Now, two years later, he’s unapologetic about bending the rules when it comes to collaring bad guys. The stakes are too high, and the city too lawless, for him to do things by the book.

Boulet’s new partner, TREVOR COBB (Cole Hauser, “The Break-Up,” “ER”), was a soldier in Afghanistan before joining the NOPD. He’s tough and committed, but if he’s less than comfortable with Boulet’s methods, it’s because he’s harboring a dark secret. Cobb has come to New Orleans seeking redemption, but redemption can be dangerous. Will Boulet be able to trust him? Will Cobb’s past endanger them both?

Rounding out the crew of cops are hotheaded BILLY “K-9” FAUST (Maximiliano Hernández, “Law & Order,” “Shark”), who often speaks before thinking; wisecracking JEFF “GLUE BOY” GOODEN (Blake Shields, “Sleeper Cell,” “Veronica Mars”), the team’s comic relief; tough-as-nails GINGER “LOVE TAP” LeBEAU (Tawny Cypress, “Heroes”), the only female on the squad, who gives as good as she gets; and CAPTAIN JAMES EMBRY (John Carroll Lynch, “Zodiac,” “The Drew Carey Show”), who wrangles the eclectic personalities of his squad with equal parts humor and tenacity.

Through its no-holds-barred crime stories and dramatic personal stories, this intriguing series from 20th Century Fox Television and director Deran Sarafian (“House,” “CSI”) will take viewers from the Victorian mansions of the Garden District to the rubble of the Lower 9th Ward. In the aftermath of Katrina, with the future of New Orleans hanging in the balance … the stakes could not be higher in K-VILLE.

Forget the Katrina angle – this is just another cop show. It’s getting a good but not great lead-in, and its competition – “Heroes” and the last half-hour of “DwtS” – will be killer, but it’ll probably attract more viewers than it deserves.


Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
New Amsterdam
House


Fox hangs “New Amsterdam” out to dry at the start of the night instead of giving it the “House” lead-in. That’s probably to avoid punishing it at the hands of the “DwtS” results show. The show has gotten mixed reviews:

Directed and executive-produced by visionary Lasse Hallström (“My Life As a Dog,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat,” “The Hoax”) and written by Allan Loeb (“Things We Lost in the Fire,” “21”) and Christian Taylor (“Showboy,” “Six Feet Under”), NEW AMSTERDAM is the story of a New York homicide detective unlike any other. He is brilliant, mysterious, reckless, magnetic, unknowable. And he has a profound secret – he is immortal.

In 1642, JOHN AMSTERDAM (Nikolaj Coster Waldau, “Kingdom of Heaven”), then a Dutch solider in the colony of New Amsterdam – later to become New York City – stepped in front of a sword to save the life of a Native Indian girl during a massacre of her indigenous tribe. The girl in turn rescued Amsterdam, weaving an ancient spell that conferred immortality upon him. Amsterdam will not age, she told him, until he finds his one true love. Only then will he become whole and ready for mortality.

But Amsterdam has found this to be a mixed blessing. Over the course of three centuries, he’s experienced endless adventure and honed his many talents. But everyone Amsterdam meets must leave him in time; lovers and children die while he remains young. His sole confidant and current lifelong friend is the sage jazz club owner OMAR (Stephen Henderson, “Law & Order: SVU”), the keeper of Amsterdam’s secret, as well as a few of his own. As the exhilaration of eternal life has given way to emotional isolation and bitter loneliness, Amsterdam discovers the blessing has become a curse.

Having witnessed its entire history from colonial outpost to mega-metropolis, John Amsterdam is the living embodiment of New York City. He and the island of Manhattan are now part and parcel of each other. Bringing to bear the unorthodox techniques and unique knowledge gained from his vast life experience, Amsterdam today is one of the NYPD’s best homicide detectives, sparring with his vibrant, strong-willed partner EVA MARQUEZ (Zuleikha Robinson, “Rome,” “The Lone Gunmen”) as they solve difficult murder cases. But when Amsterdam suffers and then recovers from what appears to be a massive heart attack while chasing a suspect, and DR. SARA DILLANE (Alexie Gilmore, “Find Love”) pronounces him dead in the ER, he realizes that the Indian girl’s prophesy may have come true – he felt the pain in his heart that she had foretold so long ago. His soul mate must have been nearby. As he works to find a killer on the streets of New York, Amsterdam understands that his own life – and possibly his death – have changed forever.

From executive producers Allan Loeb, David Manson (“Saved,” “Thief,” “Nothing Sacred”), Lasse Hallström, Leslie Holleran (“Chocolat,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Hoax”) and Steven Pearl (“Untraceable”), this intriguing series invites viewers to explore the enduring mysteries of life, death and true love.

“Cult following, unceremoniously cancelled.” You probably saw the “he’s found his one true love” bit coming the instant it was mentioned as part of the spell too. The really bad part is that it sounds like it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a science ficion show or a detective show.


Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
Back to You
Til Death
Bones


I can see keeping the weaker comedies on earlier, since it seems a tradition that you have comedies, then dramas, but “Back to You” isn’t even getting the benefit of having “Til Death” as a lead-in:

In the ‘90s, the local TV news scene in Pittsburgh was dominated by one team: CHUCK DARLING (Kelsey Grammer, “Frasier,” “Cheers”) and KELLY CARR (Patricia Heaton, “Everybody Loves Raymond”). They had that elusive quality all news teams need: chemistry … at least on-screen. Off-screen, Chuck was a bit of a self-centered womanizer, Kelly a bit of an uptight know-it-all. So when Chuck got the call to move up to a larger market, no tears were shed.

But after an embarrassing on-air tirade ended up on the Internet, Chuck found himself on the downswing career-wise. He even questioned whether his lifestyle of chasing women and living in hotels was as exciting as it used to be. So when he got the call to return to Pittsburgh, to reunite with Kelly and try to take the newscast back to No. 1, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Back in Pittsburgh, Chuck has a new coworker in RYAN CHURCH (Josh Gad, “Mary and Joe”), the overstressed news director. There are also familiar faces like MARSH McGINLEY (Fred Willard, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Best in Show’), the affable, endlessly inappropriate sports anchor, and GARY CREZYZEWSKI, pronounced Kre-shoov-ski (Ty Burrell, “In Good Company,” “Out of Practice”), the perennially put-upon field reporter who always seems to get left out in the snow. But, mostly, there’s Kelly, now a single mom to 10-year-old GRACIE (Laura Marano, “Without a Trace”). There was magic between them once. Can they find it again?

BACK TO YOU is created, written and executive-produced by Steven Levitan (“Just Shoot Me!,” “Frasier,” “Wings”) and Christopher Lloyd (“Frasier,” “The Golden Girls”).

One of those shows that’s a comedy but reads like a drama. But hey, we had “NewsRadio” once, and we have “30 Rock”, so why haven’t we seen a TV news sitcom before? It’s not like it’s going to have the strongest competition. But I still wonder why it’s going before “Til Death”. That can’t be a vote of confidence for “Til Death”.


Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
RU Smarter than 5th Grdr?
Kitchen Nightmares


“Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” now becomes the linchpin for the most important night on television, but “Kitchen Nightmares,” Gordon Ramsay’s new show, is thrown into a spot that killed “The OC”:

For restaurant owners in crisis – whether it’s due to lazy chefs in the kitchen, temperamental wait staffs or few and unhappy diners – it’s time to call in the restaurant industry’s equivalent of 911.

Hell hath no fury like an angry chef, and no chef has a sharper temper than Gordon Ramsay when things go wrong in the kitchen. The star of the highly rated culinary boot camp “Hell’s Kitchen” returns to FOX with another sizzling unscripted series. This time, Chef Ramsay hits the road, in each episode tackling a restaurant in crisis and exposing the stressful realities of trying to run a successful food business.

Inspired by one of the UK’s biggest hits, KITCHEN NIGHTMARES is seen in more than 50 territories around the globe, and the series reveals a whole new side to Ramsay. He’s still prone to the explosive outbursts and spectacular confrontations familiar to fans of “Hell’s Kitchen,” but he also shows his sensitive and nurturing side – a unique blend of fury, passion, inspirational leadership and tough love that can coax a small spark of talent into a roaring flame.

There’s no time for polite small talk as Ramsay embarks on his mission to turn things around. If the wine waiter’s service isn’t up to par, he’ll be out the door before he can say “merlot.” If the head chef doesn’t match up to Ramsay’s expectations, Ramsay will hammer him into shape, and if he can’t stand the heat, he may quit the kitchen.

Ramsay’s reputation is on the line, so there’s bound to be high blood pressure, raised voices and serious clashes as he attempts to do the impossible: turn a deserted dining room into the most sought-after venue in town in just a week.

“Hey, this show is a hit all over the globe, so let’s put it in one of the toughest spots in town!” One problem: It hasn’t appeared on Fox yet. It needs a season to become a hit, then you can move it here. Right now it looks to be one-and-done. But then again, I could be proved wrong.


Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
Srch for Next Grt Amer. Band
Nashville


Well, this is one way to try and fix Fridays. Can’t say it’s the best way, though, with two new shows (and both titles are only working titles). But like ABC Wednesdays, Fox is hoping for instant popularity for a spinoff:

“What “American Idol” did for individuals, THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND is going to do for musical groups. The producers of “American Idol” will conduct the ultimate search for an undiscovered band. THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND is scouring the country, seeking groups from all musical genres who think they have what it takes to make it big. Judges will narrow down bands from all walks of life – musicians of different ages, family acts, garage bands, etc. – to 10 semi-finalists, who will perform in front of a live studio audience. Viewers then will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite bands. The final three acts will compete for a major recording contract and the chance to become music superstars.”

Fox doesn’t seem to like it as much as “Private Practice”, though, sticking it on the Death Night (Fridays) and leaving it out to dry at the start of a night. They shouldn’t be surprised if it underperforms. That would be bad news for “Nashville“:

From the creative minds behind the hit series “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” comes NASHVILLE, a high-stakes, high-drama docu-soap set in “the biggest small town in America.” The show focuses on the dreamers and dream-makers in the music industry, as well as those trying to make their mark on Nashville’s big business and high society.

The series features a diverse, vibrant young cast perched on the cusp of achieving their greatest successes in a town that can make you or break you. Talent, power, drive, love and hope are the fuel that makes Nashville burn bright – and makes this unique place the true embodiment of the American Dream.

Behind every song there’s a story waiting to be told, and there are many such stories on NASHVILLE.

Wait, what? What kind of show is this? “Docu-soap”? I’m setting the over/under on number of episodes before cancellation at 10. Who wants to make their pick? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


Sat

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

FOX
COPS
COPS
America’s Most Wanted


Apparently there’s some rule that if Fox Saturdays ever wavered from this formula the universe will explode. “24″, “Idol”, “Hell’s Kitchen”, “Nanny 911″, “On the Lot”, “So You Think You Can Dance”, and “Trading Spouses” are all held for midseason. Here’s the rundown of the new shows waiting for a midseason shot.

Anchorwoman“:

PHIL HURLEY is the owner of a tiny Texas news station, KYTX Channel 19, and he is desperate to turn the tide of his mediocre ratings, or even just compete with a rival channel. Phil has shocked the station and town of Tyler, Texas, by bringing in a gorgeous model and ex-WWE diva with no previous news experience to be his next ANCHORWOMAN – all in hopes of reinventing the look of Channel 19 and overhauling its below-average 6 share to a number more like his competitor’s dominating 36.

Former Miss New York and über-vixen LAUREN JONES packs up her Versace dresses and heads to the middle of nowhere – Tyler, Texas – to start a new career. Can this bombshell cut it as a serious reporter? Will she save KYTX, or make it the laughingstock of the Lone Star State? Lauren wants to show everyone she’s no airhead, and this is her big chance to prove she’s more than just a pretty face.

The entire newsroom thinks the boss has made a giant mistake. Reigning anchor ANNALISA PETRAGLIA is not about to lose her Queen Bee status to some L.A. hottie. News Director DAN DELGADO is fit to be tied as his beloved journalistic standards go out the window. MICHELLE REESE, a hard-nosed reporter bound for CNN, will take no prisoners. Lauren will struggle not only with the news team and an unfamiliar town, but also with the not-so-Hollywood news stories – covering bake sales, cowpie-tossing contests and county fairs like they were Watergate. News anchor or dead weight? Only the ratings will tell, so stay tuned for the next ANCHORWOMAN: Lauren Jones.

ANCHORWOMAN is created and executive-produced by Brian Gadinsky (“American Idol,” “Mr. Personality,” “America’s Most Wanted”).

Everyone in the cast is listed as “as him/herself”, so I can’t tell if this is a reality show, a comedy, or a drama. It’ll probably be too short-lived no matter which way it goes.

Canterbury’s Law“:

From executive producers Denis Leary and Jim Serpico (“Rescue Me,” “The Job”) and writer Dave Erickson (“Murder in Greenwich”) comes CANTERBURY’S LAW, a courtroom drama about a rebellious female defense attorney who’s willing to bend the law in order to protect the wrongfully accused.

ELIZABETH CANTERBURY (Julianna Margulies, “ER”) is a force of nature. An attorney on the rise, she puts her career on the line to take on risky and unpopular cases, even when they take a toll on her personal life. Elizabeth and her law professor husband MATTHEW CANTERBURY (Linus Roache, “Batman Begins,” “The Chronicles of Riddick”), haunted by the disappearance of their young son, have settled in Providence, Rhode Island, in an attempt to distance themselves from the tragedy and put their relationship back together. But those goals become elusive whenever Elizabeth’s work provides a stark reminder of the justice absent in their own lives.

At the office, Canterbury has surrounded herself with a brilliant but motley crew of attorneys. RUSSELL CROSS (Ben Shenkman, “Pi,” “Angels in America”) was forced out of the Providence District Attorney’s Office when he went toe-to-toe with his morally bankrupt boss, D.A. Zach Williams. His reputation tarnished, Russell turned to Canterbury, the only attorney willing to take him in. Now Russell provides a much-needed voice of reason for Canterbury even when she doesn’t want to hear it, his position of influence well-earned by their years of friendship.

CHESTER FIELDS (Jocko Sims, “Dreamgirls,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”) and MOLLY McCONNELL (Trieste Dunn, “United 93”) are the associates rounding out Canterbury’s legal crew. Chester is a blue-blooded congressman’s son who is embarrassed by his privileged upbringing and has turned his back on politics. Molly, in contrast, is headstrong, passionate and quick to take sides – even if she finds herself in the opposite corner from Canterbury.

Created by Dave Erickson and directed by Mike Figgis (“Leaving Las Vegas,” “Cold Creek Manor”), this captivating series from Sony Pictures Television and Apostle introduces an attorney like no other: whose professional battles are as vivid as her personal ones; whose strengths and vices, victories and demons all combine to serve those in need of justice.

Standard legal drama. “The Return of Jezebel James“:

Can two estranged sisters, polar opposites, live together when one agrees to carry the other’s baby?

SARAH THOMKINS (Parker Posey, “For Your Consideration,” “Best in Show”) is a bright, optimistic, determined woman who seems to have it all – a great job as a children’s book editor, an eager-to-please assistant, BUDDY (Michael Arden), who helps keep her life together, and a no-strings-attached personal relationship with successful businessman MARCUS SONTI (Scott Cohen, “Kissing Jessica Stein”).

Nevertheless, as her father, RONALD (Ron McLarty, “Law & Order”), is constantly pointing out, something is missing from Sarah’s life. Her hard work may garner accolades, but when she goes home at night, she is very much alone. All too aware that she isn’t getting any younger, Sarah decides to have a baby on her own and gets the shock of her life when the doctor tells her she can’t get pregnant. Having no concept of the term “can’t,” Sarah wills herself to execute a plan.

With nowhere else to turn, Sarah sets up a meeting with her quirky younger sister, COCO (Lauren Ambrose, “Six Feet Under”), and proposes a plan for Coco to carry her baby. They haven’t seen each other in a while, and Coco refuses to go along with such a huge favor. But something happens when Sarah mentions that she’s turned Coco’s imaginary childhood friend Jezebel James into a children’s book. Even though she doesn’t say so out loud, Coco is clearly touched, and, realizing that her current living situation – sharing a couch with her friend’s sick dog – isn’t working out, Coco decides that this just might be worth a try.

THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES comes from executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino (“Gilmore Girls”). The series is produced by Regency Television.

WTF? As before, I can’t tell if it’s a comedy or a drama. If it’s a comedy, it has potential; as a drama, well, it sounds like it would run right off the rails.

The Rules for Starting Over” (working title):

Dating is like going to the farmers market – if you get there early, there’s plenty of fruit, all ripe, juicy and yours for the taking. That’s dating in your 20s. But if you get there at closing time, it’s a completely different story. What little fruit is left has been sitting in the sun all day. It’s been dropped, squeezed and handled by a thousand different people. That’s dating in your 30s.

From the creatively fruitful minds of the Farrelly Brothers comes a single camera comedy, set in Boston, about a group of newly single friends learning the painful lessons of starting over in their 30s. They’d all love to get remarried, if they could just find their true loves.

JACK “GATOR” GATELY (Craig Bierko, “Cinderella Man,” “Boston Legal”) is a charismatic, optimistic leader who never expected to be single again. But now that he is, he’s determined to make the best of it. He’s going to sift through all the bruised, damaged, occasionally psychotic fruit until he finds “the one.”

Joining Gator in bachelorhood redux is his thrice-divorced best friend TOMMY (Johnny Sneed, “The Guardian,” “Fever Pitch”). The founder and brewmaster of an upstart microbrewery, Tommy has a voracious appetite for food, beer and women. He falls in love easily and always disastrously, yet truly hopes his fourth starter marriage will be “the one.”

DR. FREDDY SAHGAL (Shaun Majumder, “24,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”) has seen some pretty strange stuff during his years as a successful surgeon, but he’s never seen any of it through the eyes of a single man. Probably the least equipped of the group to handle this unexpected life change, Dr. Freddy can execute a triple bypass in his sleep, but he’s all thumbs when it comes to the opposite sex.

Rounding out the group is KATE (Rashida Jones, “The Office”), a smart, successful attorney who handled all three of the boys’ divorces. Having just turned 30, Kate finds herself dumped after a seven-year engagement. She reluctantly joins the guys in negotiating the treacherous waters of dating. Kate owns the brownstone next to Gator’s. Over time, this pair may find that “the one” is just a brick wall away.

THE RULES FOR STARTING OVER is executive-produced and directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Fever Pitch”).

Do you notice that a lot of Fox’s shows would be at home on the CW? It’s a clear attempt to recreate “Friends” and it would have a shot (it would also probably have a home on CBS) if it weren’t by the Farrelly Brothers, the kings of shameless.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (a spinoff of the “Terminator” movies):

Executive producers Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”), David Nutter (“Supernatural,” “Smallville”) and C2 Pictures (“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”) bring to television an intense new drama based on the celebrated heroine of the “Terminator” movies: Sarah Connor.

At the end of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” Sarah vanquished the liquid metal Terminator sent from the future to kill her teenage son, John. Sarah and John now find themselves alone in a very dangerous, complicated world. Fugitives from the law, they are confronted with the reality that still more enemies from the future, and the present, could attack at any moment.

THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES reveals what happens when SARAH (Lena Headey, “The Brothers Grimm,” “300”) stops running and goes on the offensive against an ever-evolving technological enemy bent on destroying her life, and perhaps the world. Her son, 15-year-old JOHN CONNOR (Thomas Dekker, “Heroes”), knows that he may be the future savior of mankind, but is not yet ready to take on the mantle of leadership that he’s told is his destiny. John finds himself inextricably drawn to CAMERON (Summer Glau, “Serenity,” “The Unit”), an enigmatic and otherworldly student at his high school, who soon proves to be much more than his confidante – she assumes the role of Sarah and John’s fearless protector. On their trail are not only threats from the future, but an intelligent and tough FBI agent, JAMES ELLISON (Richard T. Jones, “Judging Amy”), who soon becomes a powerful ally.

Directed by David Nutter and produced by Warner Bros. Television and C-2 Pictures, THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES represents an exciting reinvention of the “Terminator” franchise, in which the strong and intrepid Sarah discovers that protecting her son and stopping the rise of the machines is more difficult than she had ever imagined.

“Cult following, unceremoniously cancelled.”

When Women Rule the World” (working title):

What if it was “a woman’s world”? What if women made ALL the decisions? If men were their obedient subjects?

These questions and more will be explored when a group of strong, educated, independent women, tired of living in a man’s world and each with a personal axe to grind, rule over a group of unsuspecting men used to calling the shots on WHEN WOMEN RULE THE WORLD.

The unscripted series will reveal how women and men react in a world where women are in charge and men are subservient, and each gender’s ability to adapt to a new social order will be put to the test.

The participants will be brought to a remote, primitive location where the women will have the opportunity to “rule” as they build a newly formed society – one where there is no glass ceiling and no dressing to impress. For the men, their worlds of power and prestige are turned inside-out and upside-down. And for these women, turnabout is fair play!

In order to win, the men must accede to the women’s every demand, 24/7. Here, women command and men obey. Over the series’ duration, the men will be eliminated by the women until one last man is standing.

How will the men react? How will the women treat the men? Can women effectively rule society? Will the men learn what life is like for some women in today’s world? Will this new society be a Utopia or a hell on earth? And in the end, who will be man enough to succeed in the new social order?

Similar to CBS’ “Kid Nation” but, in keeping with Fox, far more vindictive and exploitative. So, how did Fox do on the points I laid out?

  • New Monday shows. Grade: B+. It all depends on “K-Ville”‘s execution, and ratings.
  • Pairing with “Bones”. Grade: B. Fox likes “Back to You”‘s ability to lead the night because of the big names in the top two roles. It could work, or it might not. Fox clearly believes it’s taking advantage of a vacuum Wednesdays at 8.
  • Thursdays. Grade: B-. Thursdays were left in shambles when the comedies didn’t work, but I actually think it might be better for “Kitchen Nightmares” to lead Thursday night than to put it in such a killer timeslot.
  • Fridays. Grade: D. “The Search for the Next Great American Band” is the only show I’m half confident about, and I’m not completely convinced it can repeat “Idol”‘s success, especially on Fridays.
  • Overall grade: C. Too many new shows being left exposed at the start of nights for me, and a surprising number of new shows being held for midseason.
  • Nights that improved: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday – none of them by a whole lot. Nights that look like a train wreck: Friday, especially if “Next Great American Band” falters.

Stay tuned, because my CW roundup will be posted soon! Find out why the CW is taking a tremendous risk on Sundays, and scratch your heads at the CW introducing only one more new show than last year! And tune in tomorrow afternoon for my rundown of the entire schedule!

Quick notice

Later today I’ll issue my upfront roundups for Fox and the CW, but I haven’t started on them yet. Checkers who have looked at Da Blog at the posted time of 4:02 each day may have noticed that the roundups generally aren’t actually up until significantly after that, but they’re going to be even later. They were going to be later than others anyway because they’re two networks, but still…

Upfront Roundup: CBS

Before beginning, let’s review what I said in my previous post:

  • The No. 1 network can’t be resting on their laurels, but they have so many laurels it’s a problem. There are so many quality/popular series there’s virtually nothing to cancel. “Jericho” and “Ghost Whisperer” are probably the two weakest dramas; “How I Met Your Mother” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” are probably the weakest shows overall but they have to put up with “DonD” and “DwtS”.
  • “Old Christine” did well when it was at 9:30 and not 8:30. “Mother” and “The Class”, however, struggled with ratings in the 5′s and low 6′s, without “DwtS” to worry about and with NBC seeing only a minor drop-off from “DonD” to “Heroes”. What is causing a significant number of viewers of CBS’ comedy lineup to forgo the first hour?
  • The History of the Tuesday at 10 Time Slot This Season: They try “Smith” for three weeks. It gets cancelled. They try “3 Lbs.” for three weeks. It gets cancelled. Now they’re just throwing up whatever will stick. Time to put up a show you have confidence in.
  • Strong nights: Just about every night. Weak nights: Um… does Saturday count even though they win it when football isn’t on? … Friday was weak for a while… a little help here?
  • Quick tip: One word: Midseason. Tell it to all but your very best new shows.

Now, how did CBS carry that out? (All recaps come from CBS’ Flash-animated schedule page.)


Sun

7pm

7:30 pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
60 Minutes
Viva Laughlin
Cold Case
Shark


“The Amazing Race” goes absent to allow “60 Minutes” to back up a new show getting strong buzz:

“Hugh Jackman comes to prime time as executive producer (with a recurring guest role) in VIVA LAUGHLIN. This riveting series is based on the British smash “Viva Blackpool.” Part drama, part thriller, part musical, VIVA LAUGHLIN chronicles the story of Ripley Holden, a man who wrestles personally and professionally to open a casino in the desert city of Laughlin, Nevada. Against all odds, Ripley strives to support his family while pursuing his ultimate goal: the American dream.”

It doesn’t tell me a lot about how it’s executed, but it’s probably not going to be much different than “Las Vegas”, though I don’t mean to say anything about the quality there by any means. Certainly you could do a lot worse than “60 Minutes” for a lead-in, especially with “Cold Case” as a lead-out. Sundays, however, are pretty competitive, and “Viva Laughlin” will have to compete for eyeballs with “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”, football, and “The Simpsons”. But it’s not on an hour later, at least, when “Desperate Housewives” is on. The chances for success are decent.


Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Met/Mother
Big Bng Thry
2 1/2 Men
Rules/Engmt.

CSI Miami


CBS’ comedy lineup keeps chugging along, and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (held for midseason, like “Race”) is the casualty of the new show CBS seeks to groom – in a time slot that has been a problem for the Eye this year:

“Meet two brainiacs with a lot to learn. Leonard and Sheldon know their quarks from their quantum physics, but have no clue how women add up. Leave it to their pretty new neighbor, just off a messy breakup, to teach them a thing or two in THE BIG BANG THEORY.”

Doesn’t tell me a whole lot about the show itself, and it’s going up against “DwtS” and leading out of a show that has struggled this year. It’s a rather quirky premise and has the danger of losing audiences with obscure jokes, but it has some potential. I’ve got a feeling that in the likely scenario this show gets cancelled, it’ll be a big loss. (But then, I’m kind of a nerd myself.)


Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
NCIS
The Unit
Cane


The newest show attempting to challenge “SVU” and “Boston Legal” certainly sounds intriguing:

“Emmy winner Jimmy Smits returns to series television as the newly proclaimed heir to the Duque family sugar cane and rum empire. It’s a steamy and seductive drama about bitter rivals and their dangerous battles for love, lust and wealth. Mix with a twist and you have a potent blend for the season’s most sizzling saga.”

Sounds like “Dallas” or “Dynasty”. For that matter, it’s a hop, skip, and jump away from “Dirty Sexy Money” on ABC the next night. If you predicted that the success of “Ugly Betty” would accelerate the already-starting-with-My-Network trend towards “telenovela-style” shows in prime time, take a gold star. Now, the next question: Is CBS condemning the show by putting it in such a troublesome time slot, or trying to save it? Or both?


Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Kid Nation
Criminal Minds
CSI: NY


CBS seems to be leaving “Kid Nation” out to dry by having it lead off a night:

“Forty children, 40 days, no adults. They’re eager to prove they can build a better world for tomorrow in the new reality series KID NATION. Settling in Bonanza City, New Mexico, once a thriving mining town but now deserted, these kids, ages 8 to 15 and from all walks of life, will build their own new world, pioneer-style. They will confront grown-up issues while coping with the classic childhood emotions of homesickness, peer pressure and the urge to break every rule. Episodes end with a town meeting in which the kids award one child a gold star worth $20,000, all leading to the grand finale, with an unimaginable test, the biggest awards and a special surprise for every child.”

“It’s ‘Survivor’… FOR KIDS!” Actually, this could be a very thought-provoking premise, but thought-provoking isn’t what’s popular, sensational exploitation is. “DonD” and whatever Fox puts on will probably be its biggest competition but it’s something of a gamble for the Eye. Certainly it’s the show I’m probably most tempted to watch, but in terms of its overall popularity…


Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Survivor
CSI
W/o a Trace


“Without a Trace” returns to its rightful time slot at 10 pm on Thursdays.


Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Ghost Whisperer
Moonlight
NUMB3RS


Here’s the rundown on “Moonlight”:

“Mick St. John is a private investigator who has truly seen it all after being bitten by his vampire bride on their wedding night 60 years ago. He now lives between two realities, fighting his adversaries among the undead while being in love with a mortal woman. St. John must cautiously balance these two lives before thet clash, proving that life’s gravest dangers are found in the moonlight.”

Groan. Even if it’s good it has the stench of “cult following, unceremoniously cancelled”. It doesn’t help that it’s consigned to Friday either.


Sat

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Crimetime Saturday
Crimetime Saturday
48 Hrs Myst.


CBS maintains its “Crimetime Saturday” lineup. Their page has no separate midseason section so I have to rely on other articles for that info. So, how did CBS do on the points I laid out?

  • The first hour conundrum. Grade: C. CBS shows it has faith in both shows (even though “Christine” is getting an abbreviated order) but putting “Big Bang Theory” in that problematic hour seems to be killing it. But I don’t know what else CBS could do.
  • Tuesday at 10. Grade: B. “Cane”‘s success in a troublesome time slot all depends on the promotion and the quality.
  • Overall grade: B-. “Jericho”, “Close to Home”, and “The Class” are all canned, but they’re really the only canned shows; “Close to Home” is a bit of a surprise. All things considered, I rather like this lineup, but only one show is truly being supported for greatness, and two other shows could be seen as either trying to save moribund time slots or falling victim to them. That nearly caused me to drop CBS all the way to a C+.
  • Nights that improved: Thursday (“Trace” > “Shark”), Tuesday (hopefully). Nights that went down but probably won’t derail: Sunday (not just “Shark” but “Viva Laughlin”, which could save it after all). Nights that look like a train wreck: Friday, if anything, with one of CBS’ weakest shows staying on the schedule and paired with a show that seems destined to be shortlived no matter how good it is. (And trust me, while it’s certainly capable of earning a cult following, it certainly is no “Buffy”.)

Upfront Roundup: ABC

Before beginning, let’s review what I said in my previous post:

  • “Wife Swap” and “What About Brian” didn’t seem to work on Mondays, but it was the first time ABC actually had to program the night in fall in a quarter century. Now “Dancing with the Stars” seems to be working on the night; will it stay there in fall? Where would that leave Tuesdays?
  • ABC has announced that it will hold three more abbreviated seasons of “Lost” and end the show in 2010. That leaves Wednesdays an absolute mess until “Lost” returns.
  • Does ABC have any plan for Fridays?
  • Would ABC move “Ugly Betty” again to shore up another night, or does it not want to break up the “Betty”-”Grey’s” combo that blew away expectations this season?
  • Strong nights: Monday (with “DwtS”), Tuesday (with “DwtS”), Thursday, Saturday (during football season), Sunday. Weak nights: Monday (w/out “DwtS”), Wednesday (with or without “Lost”), Friday, Saturday (after football season). Personally, I think “Saturday Night (College) Football” proved that you can make Saturdays as strong as any other night of the week if you actually try. But it also confirmed a long-lingering suspicion of mine, that sports is the way to go on Saturdays. Wednesday was a winning night when it had the one-two punch of the “Dancing with the Stars” results and “Lost” but it did poorly when “DwtS” ended and “Lost” went on vacation.
  • Quick tip: Monday or Wednesday is going to be without “DwtS”. Move one of your other hits there to bide time until “Lost” returns (in the likely scenario the night in question is Wednesday).

Now, how did ABC carry that out? (All recaps come from ABC’s schedule page itself.)


Sun

7pm

7:30 pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Am. Funniest Home Vids
Extreme Makeover Home
Desperate Housewives
Bro’s & Sis’s


Can’t argue with this. “DH” has lost a lot of buzz but the night clearly works for ABC.


Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Dancing with the Stars
Sam I Am

The Bachelor


It’s a tremendous vote of confidence to “Sam I Am” to give it “DwtS” as a lead-in. But I suspect some groups might be put off by its premise:

“It’s a common fantasy: rewind your life, erase all the mistakes and cringe-worthy moments and start over with a clean slate. But for Samantha Newly, the fantasy is far too real. After a hit-and-run car accident puts her into an eight-day coma, she wakes up with retrograde amnesia — meaning that she can function in the world but she can’t remember a single fact about her own life. That’s when our heroine begins the long, comic process of starting over and digging for clues about her former not-so-nice self.”

This sounds like one of those shows whose description seems to describe a drama, not a comedy. It will get more eyeballs than it otherwise would, but it doesn’t sound particularly appetising.

Here’s the midseason schedule, for when “DwtS” and “Bachelor” aren’t on:

Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Wife Swap
Sam I Am
Ntes/Un’bly

October Road


Plans can change, but this looks like they’re going to move “Sam I Am” to 9 pm, and then return it to 9:30 later. What’s wrong with just keeping it at 9:30?


Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Cavemen
Carpoolers
Dancing w/Stars Results

Boston Legal


Hmm. “DwtS” isn’t being used to lead in to the two new comedies. That means ABC thinks they can carry the night on their own – a rather risky proposition. Yes, “Cavemen” is the show based on the GEICO commercials:

“Over the last hundred thousand years, mankind has evolved from primitive creatures to sophisticated beings, except for a small minority who unfortunately didn’t evolve physically at all. Now three sophisticated cavemen (who already have a fan base from their popular GEICO commercials) are living in modern-day Atlanta, where they are at odds with contemporary society as they struggle to overcome their physical appearance and the accompanying stereotypes.”

ABC makes it sound like they were going for a thought-provoking premise but blew the execution. If the show was taken on its own merits, it sounds like you could replace “cavemen” with “black people” and it would be right at home on the old UPN. But it already has a reputation for being little more than a 30-second commercial, and the fact that it’ll probably be rather shameless doesn’t help either. Oh, and it also probably won’t help that it’s getting no help whatsoever. It probably [i]will[/i] help, though, that there rarely is much competition at the start of Tuesday… unless “American Idol” is on.

“Carpoolers” is reliant on the success of “Cavemen”:

“There are men who actively try and figure out the world — together. These men are more complicated than we might think — they have hopes, ambitions, families, careers, and insecurities. These men are the Carpoolers; four guys, living different versions of the modern suburban family life who obsess, dream, and strategize as they rocket their way up and down the carpool lane every day.”

Now this actually sounds like a decent premise; there’s a “Friends” or “Seinfeld” element in it. If there was a comedy on ABC’s lineup that would save the ABC comedy from going extinct, it might be this one. (“Cavemen” really suffers by comparison.) Too bad it’s on [i]before[/i] “DwtS”.

“Cashmere Mafia” takes over the “DwtS” time slot when “DwtS” isn’t on:

“From the creator and executive producer of Sex and the City and the writer of Working Girl comes a comedic drama focusing on four dynamic women, friends since their days at Business school together, who support each other through rocky marriages, ridiculous dates, parenting challenges, professional rivalries and the hunt for the perfect apartment. Mixing the sass and wit of the film The Devil Wears Prada with insight of the novel I Don’t Know How She Does It , this nuanced dramedy taps into the thoroughly modern, but eminently relatable dilemmas of today’s working women who valiantly struggle to “have it all.”"

Hmm. Sounds like ABC and NBC (“Lipstick Jungle”) are stepping on each other’s toes.


Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Pushing Daisies
Private Practice

Dirty Sexy $


Well, so much for moving an established hit here to bide time until “Lost” returns. These three shows will all have to support each other. It’s a shame, because “Pushing Daisies” actually has received rave reviews:

“Pushing Daisies is a love story about a pie-baking young man with a very special gift… the ability to return dead people briefly back to life with just a simple touch — enabling him to help a P.I. crack murder cases by asking victims to name their killers. Director Barry Sonnenfeld, writer-producer Bryan Fuller, and the producers of Fish blend romance, crime procedural and high-concept fantasy to create a fairytale in the spirit of Amelie, Stranger than Fiction, and Chocolat. Features a stellar cast.”

Uh… yeah. I think this is either one of those “too-good-to-last” shows or just too quirky for network television. Read the full report: apparently he’s brought back his childhood sweetheart back to life for good, and if he ever touches her again, she’s dead for good. Wonderful, Holmes. (Sounds like each episode should be a lot quicker, too.)

Which is probably bad news for “Private Practice,” the recently-previewed spinoff of “Grey’s Anatomy” that is the closest thing to moving a hit to the night:

“Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Shonda Rhimes combines the heart and soul of television’s top-rated drama with exciting new faces in a sun-drenched new city to create a show with a whole new vibe. This intimate portrait of the choices and changes we make in our search for happy lives, centers around neonatal surgeon Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery of Grey’s Anatomy. After a failed attempt at reconciliation and two disastrous affairs, a move to Southern California to join her friends’ health cooperative could be just the right prescription to jump-start Addison’s own life.”

One wonders why this show doesn’t premiere after “GA”, especially since that time slot is being used to debut a new show. Spinoffs aren’t guaranteed success and need to be nurtured like any other show. “Private Practice” will probably get the best ratings for ABC on the night, and will probably beat its only known current competition (“Bionic Woman”), but it could net only mediocre ratings without support.

“Dirty Sexy Money” has also been acclaimed:

“Power, privilege and family money are a volatile cocktail thrust on an idealistic lawyer when he inherits the job of tending to the legal (and sometimes illegal) needs of the absurdly wealthy Darlings of New York City. Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh and William Baldwin star in this younger, sexier, redheaded stepchild of Dallas and Dynasty.”

It’s a rather unique premise and it also sounds like it’s a potential recreation of the “Ugly Betty” formula. It’s what Fox’s “MyNetworkTV” shows were getting at but failed to accomplish. It’s going up against “CSI:NY” but again, that’s the weakest of the “CSI”‘s. It also has a modestly strong lead-in, though it’s a bit of a crapshoot, not as good as if it were a show that were already established. It certainly has the chance to become the established hit “Lost” was this past season for the Alphabet on Wednesday night.


Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Ugly Betty
Grey’s Anatomy

Big Shots


No real objections; “October Road” is continuing this season, moving to Mondays in midseason, so you might wonder why move it from this winning night, but it’s really only a modest success, drawing at roughly the same level as the moribund “ER”. It’s certainly a vote of confidence to “Big Shots” that it’s getting the cushy post-”Anatomy” time slot:

“The line gets blurred between the boardroom and the bedroom in a new outrageous drama about four dysfunctional CEOs who will do anything to stay on top. This foursome takes refuge at their country club where they can discuss business, confide secrets, seek advice. It’s lonely at the top and they have to trust someone to cover their back. Michael Vartan (Alias, One Hour Photo), Golden Globe® winner Dylan McDermott (The Practice), Christopher Titus (Titus) and Josh Malina (The West Wing, Sports Night) star as our greedy, horny and competitive — yet sexy and likeable — CEOs.”

It sounds much the same as “Dirty Sexy Money” but with a tamer approach. But unlike that show, it sounds almost boring. Why not put the bigger jewel behind the guaranteed hit on Thursdays? Because that also means getting it killed against “Without a Trace”; putting “DSM” on Wednesdays in some ways is a move to protect it.


Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Men in Trees
Women’s Murder Club

20/20


The moaning about “Men in Trees” being renewed and almost immediately removed for the rest of the season has played out now. If being consigned to Fridays wasn’t bad enough, being put behind a show that’s already been abused can’t be good for “Women’s Murder Club”:

“When you are a woman working in a man’s field, you get a lot further by teaming up… so to circumvent the Justice Department boy’s club, San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer (Angie Harmon, Law & Order) assembles a secret all-female team of experts — the Women’s Murder Club. Two-time Emmy Award®-winning Director/Producer Scott Winant (Huff, thirtysomething) adapts the bestselling novels by James Patterson into a thrilling new crime series that redefines women’s work. Because sometimes, the best way to get your man is with a woman.”

“It’s a ‘CSI/Law and Order’ ripoff… BUT IT’S ALL GIRLS!” The lukewarm premise and terrible time slot probably spells doom for “Women’s Murder Club”.


Sat

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
Saturday Night College Football


Various “movies and specials” will take over when college football season ends, but it won’t be the same, as “SNCF” did so well last year you wonder why they didn’t do it all along.

“Lost” doesn’t have a timeslot reserved for it at midseason, which could be trouble. “Supernanny” will also be hoping for a timeslot. Only two scriped shows will debut at midseason, including “Eli Stone”:

“Following the success of their work on the current hit Brothers and Sisters , Ken Olin (Alias ), Marc Guggenheim, and Greg Berlanti (Everwood ) create a unique, character-driven drama that explores the very different worlds of law and spirituality in a humorous and heartfelt way. Joining fantasy and spirituality from The Ghost Whisperer , sincerity and passion from The Practice and quirky humor from Monk , the show asks if we can change the course of our life midstream. Eli Stone is the cutthroat lawyer who risks everything he’s worked for in order to explore a higher calling.”

Sounds like another show, like “Pushing Up Daisies”, that attracts a cult following and gets uncereminiously cancelled. That’s if it’s done well, which is no guarantee. “Miss Guided” sounds like “Ugly Betty” in a school, but the clips show influences of “The Office” as well:

“You can run and you can hide but you can never escape… who you were in high school. Becky Freeley thought she had left her teenage self behind when she returned to her old school to work as the guidance counselor. But when her gorgeous former nemesis joins the faculty, Becky’s cover is blown. From producer Ashton Kutcher and Emmy Award-winning director Todd Holland (Malcolm in the Middle, The Larry Sanders Show) comes a show about second chances.”

Everything depends on where it falls on the schedule. So, how did ABC do on the points I laid out?

  • Would Tuesdays suffer from getting a shorter version of “DwtS”? Grade: C-. Well, they hurt their own chances by not using the results show to build a new show.
  • Wednesdays without “Lost”. Grade: D. They didn’t follow the Quick Tip at all, but their schedule makes some semblance of sense, since Wednesdays have become very weak at the Big Four (until “American Idol” returns, that is).
  • ABC’s Friday plan. Grade: B-. It’s certainly better than what they’re putting on now, and Fridays are the second Saturdays, but “Women’s Murder Club” seems destined for the scrap heap.
  • Overall grade: C. ABC is in good shape and has strong nights that can be used to build the rest of the schedule. However, they didn’t really shore up their weak nights, and only two or three new shows have real support. When you have nine new shows, that’s a problem.
  • Nights that improved: Wednesday, but not by much. Nights I approve of: Monday (w/”DwtS”), Thursday. Both nights will give their new shows big opportunities. It’s only a shame that the new shows don’t look that great. Nights that look like a train wreck: Tuesday (w/out “DwtS”). Two of the new shows will have time to build an audience but won’t have a show to feed off of, except local syndication. “Carpoolers” sounds like a good show but its fate is dependent on ABC promotion and how well “Cavemen” does. And “Cashmere Mafia” is dependent on “Carpoolers”. It has a chance to fall like a house of cards if ABC isn’t careful. If those two comedies falter, ABC better have a plan B for “Mafia” and put it into place after “DwtS” ends.

Upfront Roundup: NBC

Before beginning, let’s review what I said in my previous post.

  • NBC is coming off an embarrasing season. It’s the only Big Four network whose season-to-date rating (as of 4/29) is under 6. That’s despite the fact it’s the only Big Four network to have non-postseason football in prime time. NBC did have “Sunday Night Football” but couldn’t use it to propel hits elsewhere in the week. “Deal or No Deal” is the only other really bright spot on NBC’s schedule, and ABC (“Dancing with the Stars”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Desperate Housewives”), CBS (“CSI” and “CSI Miami”, plus “Without a Trace” was bigger than “DonD”), and Fox (“American Idol” and “House”) all had multiple shows that were bigger than football, and football only gets you through a third of the season. You read that and you probably think I’m describing a network somewhere between the other three major networks and the CW, not one that’s only .5 behind the tie for second place. (At least it’s not the CW’s 2.1.)
  • NBC originally pinned its hopes for a resurgence this season on the hopes of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”. By hammocking it between the surging comedies “My Name is Earl” and “The Office” on one end, and “ER” on the other, NBC hoped to mold “Studio 60″ into its franchise show of the future, and perhaps gain better ground against “CSI” than “The Apprentice” had gotten. Then ABC announced it was boldly pitting “Grey’s Anatomy” against “CSI”. Within a week after unveiling their plans, they lay in tatters, and “Studio 60″ would have to be thrown into Mondays at 10 with another new show, “Heroes,” as a leadin. The presence of a show similar to “Lost” in its complexity wasn’t exactly compatible to something that was more of a comfort show, and “Heroes”‘ popularity only made “Studio 60″ worse for the comparison. Then there’s the fact that critics soured on the show itself as it wore on and drew unfavorable comparisons to Aaron Sorkin’s previous show, “The West Wing”. Add it all together, and “Studio 60″ seems DOA at the upfronts. NBC needs more buzz shows, as the closest thing it really has is “Heroes”, especially with “Law and Order” losing its luster and “L&O: Criminal Intent” suffering since moving to 9 PM. It also has a hole to fill on Monday nights. Properly promoted and nurtured, “Friday Night Lights,” assuming the critically-acclaimed show is renewed, could be the ticket.
  • Right now NBC’s only half-hour shows are “MNiE”, “Office”, “Scrubs”, and “30 Rock”, all currently on Thursday. Comedies are in a bit of a slump right now, but this is an embarrasment for a network that once prided itself in its comedies.
  • Strong nights: Sunday (during football season), Monday (double whammy of “Heroes” and “DonD”). Weak nights: Everything else.
  • Quick tip: Don’t be afraid to make radical moves. You don’t have much to lose.

Now, how did NBC carry that out?

Sun

7pm

7:30 pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
Football Night in America
Sunday Night Football


Well, it’s not as though we didn’t know this ahead of time.


Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
Deal or No Deal
Heroes

Journeyman


Predictably, NBC tries to use “Heroes” to support a new show. They may have found a show to do it with that actually fits, which ABC has failed to do with “Lost”, but “Journeyman” will probably suffer in comparison to “Heroes”. NBC describes the show as follows:

“Dan Vassar thought he had it all: a loving wife, a great son and a steady job. But life suddenly throws him a curve ball. Dan finds himself traveling into the past with a purpose – impacting people’s lives for the better – and sometimes the worse. While doing so, Dan reconnects with Livia Beale, his ex-fiancée whom he lost in a mysterious plane crash. Now armed with the knowledge of the present, will he be able to save her? What would that mean to his own future? And how would it change a man who thought he had it all?”

I’m skeptical of its chances – “Tru Calling” flopped, after all – but if you like “Lost”-style complexity, it’s the show for you. But why do I have a feeling audiences aren’t looking for “Lost”-style complexity after “Heroes”?


Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
The Biggest Loser
Chuck

L&O: SVU


Well, “The Biggest Loser” at 8 is better than nothing, and it probably looked inevitable that 9 would be the place to debut a new show after “Criminal Intent” sank. (That show will now spend its first run on USA and return at midseason. “Chuck”‘s tagline is “Computer geek by day. Government operative by night.” Sound intriguing? Wait until you read the full description:

“Chuck Bartowski is just your average computer-whiz-next-door. He spends his days working for Buy-More with his band of nerdy cohorts, longing to find a woman who can appreciate him. But when an old friend, who happens to be a CIA agent, sends Chuck a mysterious encoded email, the world’s greatest spy secrets are embedded into his brain. He never asked to become the government’s most powerful weapon, but the fate of the country suddenly lies in his unlikely hands. Hopefully, this won’t take away from his video game time! International terrorist plots, sexy spies and cold pizza – it’s all in a day’s work for our trusty hero…Chuck.”

Am I the only one who thinks this reads like a sitcom? Seriously, it sounds corny beyond belief. I’m thinking some focus group told NBC they wanted to see “computer nerds foiling crimes” and NBC heard “nerd fantasy: nerd becomes Sydney Bristow instead of “computer nerds foiling crimes with their computer skills. Then again, I think somebody already tried that and it flopped. And that’s exactly what this show will do. Not looking good so far, NBC.


Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
Deal or No Deal
Bionic Woman

Life


Evidently NBC feels the need to junk Wednesdays and start over. Wednesdays rarely produce appointment nights but doing two new shows and a reality show is very risky. And yes, one of them is a remake of a 70′s show. Want a description?

“Struggling as a bartender and surrogate mom to her teen-aged sister, Jaime Sommers didn’t think life could get much harder. But when a devastating car accident leaves her at death’s door, Jaime’s only hope of survival is through a cutting-edge, top-secret technology that comes at a hefty price. With a whole new existence and a debt to repay, Jaime must figure out how to use her extraordinary abilities for good, while weighing the personal sacrifices she will have to make. Ultimately, it’s Jaime’s journey of self-discovery and inner strength that will help her embrace her new life as…The Bionic Woman.”

Do remakes ever work? Seriously, I’m asking. This one is guaranteed not to work if it has to tussle with “Lost”. But ABC is holding “Lost” to midseason and that leaves very little competition early on. That, plus a “DonD” lead-in, shows some promise for decent ratings. But I’ve got a gut feeling it won’t work. Especially if one of the other Big Four networks produces appointment viewing in the timeslot.

“Life” will be very dependent on “Bionic Woman”‘s success. Its description is very cryptic:

“Meet Detective Charlie Crews. Behind him sit tough years of hard prison time for a crime he didn’t commit. Ahead of him lie the challenges of a world that’s moved on without him. Now it’s time to walk through the painful cobwebs of his past and re-enter the scorn-filled halls of a job he loves. It’s no easy task, especially when his reluctant new partner is as jaded as Dani Reese. Charlie’s appreciation for life’s details not only offers up unique insights into each crime, it reminds us of all the little things we take for granted.”

That just sounds like your standard detective show… which means it’s probably groomed for success more than “Bionic Woman”. It has to go up against “CSI:NY” but that’s the “Criminal Intent” of the CSI franchise. Really, how different is it from “Kojak”, “Columbo”, or all manner of 70′s detective shows? Are Wednesdays “That 70′s Night”? So far, it looks like the strongest night for new shows.


Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
Name/Earl
30 Rock
The Office
Scrubs

ER


NBC seems to think it’s found a golden nugget in Thursdays and does nothing more than shuffle the shows around a little. “ER” is a few years past its prime, though.


Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
1 v. 100
Las Vegas

Fri. Nght Lghts


“1 V. 100″ will later be replaced by “The Singing Bee” after six weeks, which says:

“The Singing Bee challenges contestants to accurately sing the lyrics to popular songs — when the band stops playing! Scored like a spelling bee, there is no middle ground for partially correct answers. Contestants must be perfect, or they’re out. Family-friendly, broad in appeal and conducive to playing (and singing) along at home, the show features popular, recognizable music that inspires hilarious wrong answers — and startling wonder from those pitch-perfect competitors who get every word right.”

Wonderful, Holmes. Another reality show for us to either watch swiftly fade away or lament its popularity. Not sure if “FNL” fans should like its move to Fridays, after “Las Vegas” which isn’t all that compatible or really popular, and Fridays are often used as a dumping ground for laggards, but at least it’s returning and its name makes a little more sense.


Sat

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

NBC
Dateline NBC
Drama Encore

SVU Repeats


Saturdays are the weakest night of the week; can’t really disagree with this. Of course a lot of you are probably wondering, “Where’s Law and Order?” Moved to midseason, my friend. As is “Criminal Intent”, “Baby Borrowers”, “The It Crowd”, “Lipstick Jungle”, “Medium”, and “World Moves”. (There will also be a short spin-off season of “Heroes” called “Heroes: Origins.”) “Borrowers” belongs in midseason:

“Baby Borrowers is a unique social experiment that takes five teenage couples on a rollercoaster ride of adult responsibility, allowing them to experience parenting firsthand. Desperate to have their own life and family, our lovebirds are thrown in at the deep end. They’re given real houses and real responsibilities — the most important of which is to look after children from a range of age groups. They’ll begin with an infant, followed by a toddler, pre-teen, young teenager, and lastly a senior citizen. In the end, will these couples be able to cope with the pressure of parenthood or will they break?”

The IT Crowd” finally adds a new comedy, but it’s basically a riff of “The Office”:

“You know those cool guys who charm the ladies, have tons of friends and get invited to the hottest parties? Roy and Moss are not those guys. A night of fun for these I.T. nerds means getting dressed to the nines for the latest iPhone webcast. But Jen, their new office manager, is going to change all that. Tech-savvy, she’s not, but she knows how to win people over and get ahead. After living for years in oblivion, Roy and Moss hope Jen can help them get the recognition they so desperately long for.”

Lipstick Jungle,” which will take over Sundays at 10 after football season, is basically a riff of “Sex and the City” (or “Desperate Housewives”), and is based on a book by someone from that show – and it has a legit shot at success:

“Based on the best-selling book by Candace Bushnell(Sex and the City), this enticing new dramedy follows three high-powered friends as they weather the ups and downs of lives lived at the top of their game. Nico, editor-in-chief of a hot fashion magazine, has her eye on becoming CEO. Movie exec Wendy does everything she can to balance career and family. And free-spirited designer Victory longs to make her dreams come true, and maybe find Mr. Right along the way. Armed with humor and strength, these three modern New York women support one another through the triumphs and tears that are all part of making it big in The Big Apple.”

World Moves” aims to replicate the success of “American Idol”:

“From executive producer Randy Jackson and the creators of the World Hip Hop Championship comes the most captivating performance competition to hit TV. From around the world, thousands of dance teams will audition for their shot to come to Los Angeles and compete for an international touring contract. Each dance team will consist of five to seven members who will perform their own inventive routines set to today’s hottest pop music. They will also be challenged to create routines choreographed to musical themes assigned by guest stars and our panel of experts. Viewers from around the globe will eliminate one team each week by texting, emailing or calling into the show. Ultimately,World Moves is not just about winning a competition, but changing lives and bringing the world together.”

So, how did NBC do on the points I laid out?

  • NBC is coming off an embarrasing season. Grade: D+. NBC couldn’t really do a whole lot here, but there are precious few shows with a strong chance at success. Wednesdays look hot now but will be at the mercy of other networks. The other two new shows that I think could succeed (“IT Crowd” and “Jungle”) are held for midseason. That’s wasting precious time to build momentum – and precious time to promote using football.
  • NBC needs more buzz shows, and has a hole to fill on Monday nights. Grade: D-. “Journeyman” just looks like another show trying to be the next “Lost”, most of which don’t succeed. The “Heroes” lead-in will inflate its ratings but also give it unreasonable expectations. And the show that might generate the most buzz after that, “Lipstick Jungle”, is being held for midseason. I can’t stress this enough.
  • NBC has only four comedies. Grade: C-. The Thursday comedy block just got a vote of confidence, but there’s only one new comedy in the pipeline and it’s being held for midseason.
  • Overall grade: D+. NBC doesn’t make radical moves and doesn’t provide any reasons for people to come back to the network. Maybe it was a weak development season, but it better improve soon, or NBC could pull dangerously close to CW territory.
  • Nights that improved: Wednesday, Sunday after football season. Nights that look better: Thursday. Nights that look like a train wreck: None, but only because just about the entire NBC lineup is already a train wreck. They are keeping “SNF” and aren’t messing with Mondays that much. Tuesday, Friday and Saturday look the worst, but there are no expectations for the latter two, and with “SVU” on Tuesdays it can’t be all bad. That’s the thing about NBC’s lineup: it doesn’t improve anything, but nothing actually trashes anything either. It’s kinda okay. But “kinda okay” isn’t good enough for the fourth-place network that’s losing more respect than that. Hence, why it gets a “D” and not a “C”.

Introduction to Upfront Week 2007

This week, the television industry will beg and plead with advertisers to commit to advertising on their fall schedules before knowing a thing about how the shows will do. Those who just want to watch television will have their collective ear to the door.

That’s because, as part of their pitch, the networks will let advertisers in on a little secret: the fall schedules themselves. Four months before any of it becomes reality, people will be able to dissect the slates the networks will expect us to swallow for fall. If you’re really into it, it can feel like Election Day, or the NFL Draft. I’ve dissected the schedules on my own since – has it really been since 2002? – with a break in 2005, and this week, I’m letting you in.

Here’s my analysis of what the networks need, in the order that they will present.

NBC

  • NBC is coming off an embarrasing season. It’s the only Big Four network whose season-to-date rating (as of 4/29) is under 6. That’s despite the fact it’s the only Big Four network to have non-postseason football in prime time. NBC did have “Sunday Night Football” but couldn’t use it to propel hits elsewhere in the week. “Deal or No Deal” is the only other really bright spot on NBC’s schedule, and ABC (“Dancing with the Stars”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Desperate Housewives”), CBS (“CSI” and “CSI Miami”, plus “Without a Trace” was bigger than “DonD”), and Fox (“American Idol” and “House”) all had multiple shows that were bigger than football, and football only gets you through a third of the season. You read that and you probably think I’m describing a network somewhere between the other three major networks and the CW, not one that’s only .5 behind the tie for second place. (At least it’s not the CW’s 2.1.)
  • NBC originally pinned its hopes for a resurgence this season on the hopes of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”. By hammocking it between the surging comedies “My Name is Earl” and “The Office” on one end, and “ER” on the other, NBC hoped to mold “Studio 60″ into its franchise show of the future, and perhaps gain better ground against “CSI” than “The Apprentice” had gotten. Then ABC announced it was boldly pitting “Grey’s Anatomy” against “CSI”. Within a week after unveiling their plans, they lay in tatters, and “Studio 60″ would have to be thrown into Mondays at 10 with another new show, “Heroes,” as a leadin. The presence of a show similar to “Lost” in its complexity wasn’t exactly compatible to something that was more of a comfort show, and “Heroes”‘ popularity only made “Studio 60″ worse for the comparison. Then there’s the fact that critics soured on the show itself as it wore on and drew unfavorable comparisons to Aaron Sorkin’s previous show, “The West Wing”. Add it all together, and “Studio 60″ seems DOA at the upfronts. NBC needs more buzz shows, as the closest thing it really has is “Heroes”, especially with “Law and Order” losing its luster and “L&O: Criminal Intent” suffering since moving to 9 PM. It also has a hole to fill on Monday nights. Properly promoted and nurtured, “Friday Night Lights,” assuming the critically-acclaimed show is renewed, could be the ticket.
  • Right now NBC’s only half-hour shows are “MNiE”, “Office”, “Scrubs”, and “30 Rock”, all currently on Thursday. Comedies are in a bit of a slump right now, but this is an embarrasment for a network that once prided itself in its comedies.
  • Strong nights: Sunday (during football season), Monday (double whammy of “Heroes” and “DonD”). Weak nights: Everything else.
  • Quick tip: Don’t be afraid to make radical moves. You don’t have much to lose.

ABC

  • “Wife Swap” and “What About Brian” didn’t seem to work on Mondays, but it was the first time ABC actually had to program the night in fall in a quarter century. Now “Dancing with the Stars” seems to be working on the night; will it stay there in fall? Where would that leave Tuesdays?
  • ABC has announced that it will hold three more abbreviated seasons of “Lost” and end the show in 2010. That leaves Wednesdays an absolute mess until “Lost” returns.
  • Does ABC have any plan for Fridays?
  • Would ABC move “Ugly Betty” again to shore up another night, or does it not want to break up the “Betty”-”Grey’s” combo that blew away expectations this season?
  • Strong nights: Monday (with “DwtS”), Tuesday (with “DwtS”), Thursday, Saturday (during football season), Sunday. Weak nights: Monday (w/out “DwtS”), Wednesday (with or without “Lost”), Friday, Saturday (after football season). Personally, I think “Saturday Night (College) Football” proved that you can make Saturdays as strong as any other night of the week if you actually try. But it also confirmed a long-lingering suspicion of mine, that sports is the way to go on Saturdays. Wednesday was a winning night when it had the one-two punch of the “Dancing with the Stars” results and “Lost” but it did poorly when “DwtS” ended and “Lost” went on vacation.
  • Quick tip: Monday or Wednesday is going to be without “DwtS”. Move one of your other hits there to bide time until “Lost” returns (in the likely scenario the night in question is Wednesday).

CBS

  • The No. 1 network can’t be resting on their laurels, but they have so many laurels it’s a problem. There are so many quality/popular series there’s virtually nothing to cancel. “Jericho” and “Ghost Whisperer” are probably the two weakest dramas; “How I Met Your Mother” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” are probably the weakest shows overall but they have to put up with “DonD” and “DwtS”.
  • “Old Christine” did well when it was at 9:30 and not 8:30. “Mother” and “The Class”, however, struggled with ratings in the 5′s and low 6′s, without “DwtS” to worry about and with NBC seeing only a minor drop-off from “DonD” to “Heroes”. What is causing a significant number of viewers of CBS’ comedy lineup to forgo the first hour?
  • The History of the Tuesday at 10 Time Slot This Season: They try “Smith” for three weeks. It gets cancelled. They try “3 Lbs.” for three weeks. It gets cancelled. Now they’re just throwing up whatever will stick. Time to put up a show you have confidence in.
  • Strong nights: Just about every night. Weak nights: Um… does Saturday count even though they win it when football isn’t on? … Friday was weak for a while… a little help here?
  • Quick tip: One word: Midseason. Tell it to all but your very best new shows.

FOX

  • Fox has more spots for new shows than its standing suggests.
  • Is “The War at Home” dead? I haven’t seen anything in my cursory check, but given the ratings since leaving the cushy spot hammocked by “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” I wouldn’t be surprised.
  • On Mondays, Fox will have “Prison Break” and “24″ at various points of the season, but neither show it’s introduced to accompany them seems to have worked, with “Standoff” being DOA when it premiered in the fall on Tuesdays.
  • “Justice” was also DOA and Fox will have to find a new show to pair with “Bones”. “The Loop” is interesting as it hasn’t aired yet at all this season. Does Fox want to renew it for Season 3 with zero numbers for Season 2? Do they want to cancel it under the same circumstances? It won’t have “American Idol” backing it up as originally planned.
  • The two comedies Fox introduced on Thursday have had very different fates. “Happy Hour” was DOA, while “Til Death” is clear for a second season. How confident is Fox in its new comedy slate? If it’s not that confident, and “War At Home” is canned, “Til Death” could be Sunday-bound. Either way Fox has a big hole to fill on Thursdays, and “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” could be the ticket.
  • Friday is definitely FOX’s weakest spot. It’s the second Saturday, true, but it’s been beat by “Friday Night SmackDown!” on the CW multiple times. Any time you get beat by the CW, that’s a problem.
  • Strong nights: Any night “American Idol” is on, Saturday (when NASCAR racing is on). Strong nights compared to the rest of FOX but not to other networks on the same nights: Monday, non-”Idol” Tuesday. Weak nights: Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
  • Quick tip: Don’t be fooled by your tie for second – this is a one-show network in many ways. Having such short nights means there’s no room for error on any show.

The CW

  • This will be the first time the CW truly has a chance to present new shows.
  • The CW is not a network that averages a 2.1. It deserves to be treated more like a 2.3. That is not to say there aren’t problems, but any show that does worse than 2.0 is probably on the hot seat.
  • That would include pretty much all of the CW’s comedies, even “Everybody Hates Chris”, which gave UPN so much publicity in that network’s final season. Ratings have been degraded by going up against “Dancing with the Stars”, but “Chris” and “Girlfriends” were only doing around a 2.0 even before that. It’ll be interesting to see what the CW does with “All of Us” which bore the brunt of the “DwtS” onslaught, as well as “The Game”, which was the CW’s lowest-rated comedy when “DwtS” wasn’t on but became its highest-rated once it became the only comedy that didn’t have to battle the ABC juggernaut. Why the CW ended “Reba”, one of its strongest shows, is a little unclear.
  • The CW will need to fill the departures of “7th Heaven” and “Gilmore Girls”. “Girls” was still succeeding in the ratings and will probably hurt the worst. The highest rated traditonal scripted show that leaves is “Smallville”, also one of only four hour-long scripted shows left, along with “Supernatural”, “One Tree Hill”, and “Veronica Mars”, which is on the bubble. If the CW renews “VM” (which, according to reports, is looking more like a possibility than it used to) then “OTH” is the most natural fit to nurture it, though “America’s Next Top Model” would probably be better both in the ratings and thematically (though that would repeat a strategy UPN tried without success), and “Supernatural” should probably break out of “Smallville”‘s shadow to allow both shows to nurture new shows. That “OTH” and “Supernatural” are being considered as potential linchpins speaks volumes about how deep the CW’s lineup really is. (“Supernatural” would be a better pick than “OTH” but doesn’t fit thematically with “VM” all that much, much like “OTH” doesn’t fit with “Smallville”.)
  • Strong nights: Wednesday. Weak nights: Sunday, Monday.
  • Quick tip: You better have a strong pilot slate, and promote the hell out of it.

Feel free to print and fill out the grids below as we go along. Also feel free to leave a comment if you would like me to do year-round analysis of TV. I’ve been thinking of doing daily or weekly ratings roundups of the broadcast networks. On Friday, after everyone’s done, I’ll have a roundup of all the action and look at the schedule as a whole.


Sun

7pm

7:30pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX
CW

Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX
CW

Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX
CW

Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX
CW

Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX
CW

Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX
CW

Sat

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

ABC
NBC
CBS
FOX