Well, the network upfronts are over and the fall schedules for all of the networks are in. Advertisers and assorted media got to see the shows that will premiere starting in August. ABC is taking the most risks by putting on 11 new series, but so is CBS which as Bill Carter of the New York Times says, is trying to create buzz and reverse the negative tide of the last few seasons. The Tiffany network got rid of Jericho which had some good buzz early on, but after a long hiatus, never could regain its early momentum.
CBS has Viva Loughlin which will break out in song at moment’s notice. Does anyone remember ABC’s failed musical attempt “Cop Rock”? It wasn’t bad, but no one wanted to see cops sing. Kid Nation is a reality show about 40 kids taking over an abandoned mining town and creating their own rules and government without the supervision of adults. CBS doesn’t have to replace many shows, they only introduced five new series in their upfronts, but it does have a bit to lose if they don’t do well.
ABC came into the end of this season with lots of momentum. The alphabet network won Sunday night, Monday night with Dancing with the Stars and Thursday night as it moved Grey’s Anatomy there from Sunday. ABC is hoping that Grey’s spinoff, Private Practice starring Kate Walsh will be the anchor for Wednesday night. However, ABC has depended mostly on dramas over the last few seasons and there hasn’t been much to speak of regarding its sitcoms. ABC has Cavemen which is based on the popular Geico commercials, but is the show just a one trick pony or can the show get some legs and last a while? And the other sitcom which shows promise is Sam I Am starring Christina Applegate as an amnesiac who tries to write some of her past wrongs.
NBC is mired in fourth place and has only one bona fide hit in Heroes. NBC, however, is only introducing four new shows and hopes that shows like “Friday Night Lights”, critically acclaimed, but lowly rated can build an audience. Its Thursday night lineup which was once “Must See TV” has been mostly “Must Avoid TV” thanks to CBS and ABC battling it out for supremacy.
But Fox wants to be more solid from September to January. While it has Prison Break, Bones and House, not too many other shows in that time period do well and it takes American Idol and up until this season, 24, to rescue the network. As the last network to present its lineup this week, Fox took out its big guns. The New York Times’ Bill Carter was at City Center and reviewed the lineup. There are a couple of potential hits for Fox. One is “Back to You” starring sitcom mainstays Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. It’s a show where Grammer and Heaton play news anchors in Pittsburgh teaming up again after six years apart. From the scenes I saw, Grammer’s character is an extension of Frasier Crane and Heaton is playing Debra Romano again, but it shows promise and could be the big sitcom hit Fox has been searching for since Bernie Mac left the air. And there’s K-Ville which is filmed and based in New Orleans and is about a police department trying to gain its footing in the Crescent City after Katrina. This has AndrewAnderson starring and I like its premise. If Fox shows some support to these shows, then it will do quite well as it has sporting biggest events of the year such as the World Series, Super Bowl and Bowl Championship Series to bolster the lineup. And with American Idol, Fox could be the #1 network overall for the entire season, not just from January until May.
While next season is not one of transition for any of the networks, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.