This past season was a virtual death trap for new shows on the five major English language broadcast networks. Of the 45 or so programs introduced, only 10 are coming back. And there wasn’t a “Modern Family” or “Good Wife” in sight.
But there’s always another year. The networks this past week presented upcoming schedules and teasers to 30-plus new shows to advertisers in an annual ritual called “upfronts.” Billions of dollars are at stake.
Fortunately, with ad spending up, the networks are being a bit bolder this year:
Going big: Fox has the most ambitious show in “Terra Nova.” Two words helped it get a green light: Steven Spielberg. Humans in 2149 are on the verge of extinction and travel back 85 million years as a human colony. Problem: carnivorous dinosaurs.
Simon says: To keep Simon Cowell in the Fox family, the network exported his “X Factor” singing competition show this fall. And Paula Abdul will join him. But has NBC’s “The Voice” and “Idol’s” revival this spring already sucked the momentum out of the show before it airs a single episode?
Echoes from the past: James Van Der Beek (”Dawson’s Creek”) plays himself in a sitcom on ABC “Apartment 13.” Sarah Michelle Gellar (”Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) stars in “The Ringer” on the CW. Tim Allen is back with ABC’s “Last Man Standing,” his first TV series since “Home Improvement” ended in 1999. ABC is also trying to tap that AMC “Mad Men” 1960s nostalgia well with “Pan Am,” while NBC is hopping to “The Playboy Club.” But period dramas rarely work on broadcast TV.
Good morning (again), Angels: NBC’s “Wonder Woman” didn’t make the schedule but another 1970s pseudo-feminist statement “Charlie’s Angels” is back for a modern-day reboot on ABC. It was already successful as a film series a few years back.
Any life left here?: “CSI,” once the No. 1 show in America (long ago usurped by “NCIS”), is nearing the end of its life, a life that hasn’t been the same without William Petersen. So CBS bumps it to Wednesday, its first move in a decade. Another show on its last legs, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” has been bumped to Fridays from its long-time slot Sundays at 8 p.m.
Hah, hah: The networks are trying out more comedies, which repeat well in syndication. But creating a big hit has been difficult in recent years. (”Modern Family” and “The Big Bang Theory” are the only two that have made a deep impact in the past three years.).
Fairy tales coming alive: Two networks are tapping the past in a different way. “Grimm” is a very dark “Supernatural”-type fantasy drama on NBC. ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” is lighter fare on Sundays about a modern-day boy who thinks his mom is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
Sunday night battle: CBS is moving “The Good Wife” from Tuesdays at 10 p.m. to Sundays at 9 p.m., most notably against ABC’s aging “Desperate Housewives.”
The graveyard shift: Fox surprisingly reduced “America’s Most Wanted,” a staple on Saturday nights since 1988, to quarterly specials, saying it was losing money. And for the first time in six years, a network is trying original scripted fare that night with CBS planting “Rules of Engagement” there.
Old chums from “Lost”: It’s nice to see Jorge Garcia (Fox’s “Alcatraz”) and Michael Emerson (CBS’s “Person of Interest”) found work.
What’s gone: Besides the cavalcade of freshman shows that died, the CW retired “Smallville” after ten years and ABC let go of “Brothers & Sisters” after six seasons.
Borderline shows that survived: NBC’s “Chuck” and “Parenthood” made the cut. So did ABC’s ‘Happy Endings.” Fox kept “Fringe” and “Raising Hope.” CBS cut all its on-the-bubble shows, keeping three freshman shows: “Hawaii Five-O,” “Blue Bloods” and “Mike & Molly.” The CW kept “Nikita,” dumped “Hellcats.”
Want to watch some of the trailers to the new shows?
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog