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May 17, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 17, 2007 |

OK, we’ll get to the CW and “Veronica” in a minute, but let’s look at Fox first. Not much in the way of surprise here — every show that’s out was expected to be out (“The Winner,” “Drive,” “Standoff,” “Happy Hours,” etc.). And all the shows expected back are back. In fact, for me, the only surprise is that “‘Til Death” got renewed. But whatever.

As for the new stuff, Fox has quite a few. There are two new dramas and two new comedies slated as mid-season replacements, so let’s cover those first and then we’ll jump into the new schedule. And then we’ll deal with the CW.

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is probably the most talked about of Fox’s pilots. Set between the time period of Terminator 2 (i.e., the good Terminator sequel) and Terminator 3 (i.e., the fucking awful Terminator sequel), the title pretty much tells you what you need to know — it’ll follow the adventures of Sarah Connor (played by Lena Headey, who you might remember as the Queen during the boring non-fight scenes in 300) and her son/savior-of-the-future, John Connor (played by Thomas Dekker, who was Claire’s friend Zach on “Heroes”). No idea what the show will actually be about, though I guess it’ll focus on her trying to protect her son and get ready for the impending human/robot showdown. And Fox’s other mid-season drama is “Canterbury’s Law” which is, you guessed it, a goddamned lawyer show. Sure, it’s being exec produced by Denis Leary. And sure, it stars Julianna Margulies. But Margulies plays, and I quote: “a rebellious female defense attorney who’s willing to bend the law in order to protect the wrongfully accused.” I can’t even begin to count the ways I’m uninterested in this show.

On the comedy side, one of the network’s mid-season replacements is “The Return of Jezebel James” (although this is still a working title at this point). It stars Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose, and comes from “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, which is a nice starting list of names. The show is about a writer of kiddie books who has recently become single and winds up having her younger estranged sister carry a baby for her. Well suddenly I find myself not caring anymore. But I’ll probably tune in for an initial look-see because of Posey and Ambrose. But I’m even less interested in Fox’s other mid-season comedy, “The Rules for Starting Over.” Fox’s press release simply says that the show stars “Craig Bierko and Rashida Jones in the Farrely Brothers’ comedic take on a group of 30-somethings trying to find true love the second time around.” If I tune in, it will only be because Rashida Jones is funny and hot (and with this pickup, one can assume that Karen will be out of “The Office” by early next season, if not sooner).

Oh, and “24” isn’t on the schedule because, as has become the show’s routine now, it won’t premiere until January. And by the way, the show’s showrunner and exec producer has said that next season will allegedly be quite different: “We’re recreating the series” (and most folks assume that this is also a tacit confirmation of the rumors that next season will be located someplace other than in Los Angeles). But I’m not holding my breath after the terrible current season.


8 p.m.: “Prison Break.” No surprise that this is back in its old timeslot. And as long as the show keeps by boy William Fichtner on, I’ll keep watching. As I’ve said before, it’s stupid and mindless entertainment, but it’s a well done stupid and mindless.
9 p.m.: “K-Ville.” This is a drama about cops in post-Katrina New Orleans, starring Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser. Another cop show. But this will be important, because of the post-Katrina setting. I hate it already.


8 p.m.: “NEW AMSTERDAM.” This show comes to us from Lasse Hallstrom (director of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Cider House Rules, among other things). The Fox press release describes it as being about “a New York City homicide detective unlike any other.” Unlike any other! Now I don’t know why Fox chose to describe it this way, because the actual premise — a cop who is hundreds of years old and tired of living — sounds much more interesting (to me at least) than “unlike any other.” I’m a sci-fi geek, so I’ll surely try this one out.
9 p.m.: “House.” I still don’t watch this show, despite suspecting that I’d probably like it well enough (if for no other reason than I have loved Hugh Lurie ever since I discovered him in “Blackadder”). But I know plenty of people who watch and enjoy this show, so to you — your crusty, hobbly doctor is back.


8 p.m.: “BACK TO YOU.” This was the first pilot to get an official pickup earlier in the year, which comes as no surprise — it’s a comedy from producers Steven Levitan (“Larry Sanders,” “Fraiser,” and “Just Shoot Me!”) and Christopher Lloyd (“Wings” and “Frasier”), and stars Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton and Frank Willard. They play news anchors in a local news station, and comedy surely ensues. This will either be a kinda smart and funny comedy, or an obnoxiously-obvious pile of drivel. I’m going 60/40 in favor of “smart and funny,” but the betting window is closed because I’m not feeling that comfortable with the odds.
8:30 p.m.: “‘Til Death.” I’m actually quite surprised that this show didn’t suffer the fate implied by its name, but I guess Fox has to put something on the air, so it can’t kill all of its crappy shows.
9 p.m.: “Bones.” I watched most of the first season, and enjoyed this well enough, but found myself eventually becoming uninterested. Depending how things shake out next fall, maybe I’ll give it another try.


8 p.m.: “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” Indeed I am, which is why I shall continue to ignore Mr. Foxworthy, thank you very much.
9 p.m.: “KITCHEN NIGHTMARES.” A new show featuring chef Gordon Ramsay, from “Hell’s Kitchen.” This isn’t a competition reality show, though; instead, Ramsay will try to fix failing restaurants in a week or less. Because I’m a foodie, I’ll probably check this out.


8 p.m.: “SEARCH FOR THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND” (this is a working title). This is basically “American Idol” for bands. Kill me.
9 p.m.: “NASHVILLE” (this is also a working title). And this is about young musicians in — shockingly — Nashville. Seriously, kill me now.


8 p.m.: “Cops.” I guess some things never die.
8:30 p.m.:“Cops.” I still say the best thing to ever come out of this show was the years-old-now video “Troopers,” a mock “Cops” show featuring Star Wars Stormtroopers. Very funny clip.
9 p.m.: “America’s Most Wanted.” John Walsh keeps up the good fight.
11 p.m.: “MadTV.” Can you believe this fall will be (I think) the thirteenth season? This shocks me both in realizing that it was that long ago when this show started, and that it’s managed to stay on so long long despite being patently unfunny.
12 a.m.: “Talk Show with Spike Feresten.” I don’t know anything about this show, but I gather it was on last year to and had some fans, so I guess its pickup is good news for those cats.


7 p.m.: “The O.T.” That would be football post-game stuff.
8 p.m.: “The Simpsons.” Of course.
8:30 p.m.: “King of the Hill.” I rarely watch this show, but whenever I do, I always wind up asking myself why I don’t watch it more. Really a good show that’s under-appreciated.
9 p.m.: “Family Guy.” Meanwhile, this is a really bad show that’s over-appreciated. I loved the pre-cancellation run (I own all the DVDs), but its reincarnation has not been good. Seth McFarlane has blown his wad, I suspect…
9:30 p.m.: “American Dad.” …yup, he’s blown it right into my eye.

…OK, big breath.

In … hold … hold … hold …

… and out.

Yes, the CW has officially cancelled “Veronica Mars.” I know some folks are saying there’s still a slim chance, since the network officially has (by contract) until June 15 to pick up the show. But our own Dan Carlson provided a pretty solid metaphor earlier (apologies for publishing this without your consent, Danny boy, but I didn’t think you’d object):

It’s hard for me to accept it, you know? I keep thinking, “Okay, the CW can contractually wait till June 15, at least according to what I’ve read, so maybe it’ll come back midseason. Right? Right?” But no; the stripper doesn’t love you, she’s doing it for money. In other words, don’t believe the fantasy. But man. Just … man. This totally sucks. It actually physically hurts a little.

That’s correct — the stripper is just doing it for money. And the stripper, here, would be the CW’s network president, Dawn Ostroff. At today’s press conference, she is reported as flat-out stating: ” ‘Veronica Mars’ is not coming back.” And when asked about the chances of the FBI reboot version being used as a mid-season replacement, her reported response was that “it’s not going to happen.” So I’m not sure why some are continuing to insist that there’s hope, aside from willful blindness (and I just read somewhere that Rob Thomas has said that the writers are already taking other jobs). For me, I’m glad that they didn’t keep the game going for another month. For better or for worse the band-aid has been pulled off.

Now there’s a lot that could be said here. I could rail against the network for this bone-headed decision. I could rail against “you” for choosing to give serious ratings to that Pussycat Dolls shit while continuing to ignore my beloved “Veronica.” I could piss and moan and jump into the freshly-dug grave screaming “no, no, not my Veronica!” … But none of it would matter.

“Veronica Mars” is dead and gone.

Long live “Veronica Mars”

(And she’ll be getting a proper obituary here at Pajiba, probably next week, though I’m actually going to let someone else step in for that.)

The other shame here is that I’m actually mildly intrigued by a couple of the CW’s new shows, including the one slated to take “Veronica’s” place. So I’m trying not to let my anger and disappointment at the cancellation cloud my view of things here. I’ve still got a job to do, after all. And with that being said, let’s take a look at the CW’s new fall schedule (and while “One Tree Hill” and (Mother God Damn Fucking) “Pussycat Dolls” aren’t on the schedule, they’re both slated for mid-season returns — although “One Tree Hill” is getting a reboot, with the show jumping four years into the future, post-college).


8 p.m.: “Everybody Hates Chris.” Sometime last season, I fell off the boat of being a regular viewer of this show, but I still try to catch it now and again, as it’s quite funny. And for those of you complaining about the lack of good minority-cast shows, here’s a prime example of how such a thing can be done (see, unlike “George Lopez,” this show is actually, you know, funny).
8:30 p.m.: “ALIENS IN AMERICA.” This new comedy is about a Muslim exchange student who comes to live with a family in a little Wisconsin town. So along with the “comedy,” there will be, and I quote, “issues of diversity, tolerance and coming of age in America.” Awesome.
9 p.m.: “Girlfriends.” I honestly don’t know a single thing about this show. Not a one.
9:30 p.m.: “The Game.” (See my comment re: “Girlfriends”).


8 p.m.: “Beauty and the Geek.” I don’t quite know what it is about this show, but I’m still enjoying it.
9 p.m.: “REAPER.” Dancing on the grave of “Veronica” comes this dramedy about a dude who finds out, when he turns 21, that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born, and he now has to be a bounty hunter for the devil, hunting down runaway souls. It’s an interesting enough idea, and could be decent. The pilot was directed by Kevin Smith (the first time he’s ever directed something he didn’t write, an experience he didn’t love, as detailed in one of his podcasts). That’s a bizarre choice though, as his strength is in writing, and not so much in the directing. In any event, if I can get over the disappointment of “Veronica’s” cancellation, and if I can live with the dirty feelings of betrayal, I just may check this one out.


8 p.m.: “America’s Next Top Model.” Ain’t never watched before, won’t ever watch it hence. But I know it has its fans, so I’m sure they’ll be back.
9 p.m.: “GOSSIP GIRL.” From Josh Schwartz (who brought us “The O.C.,” of course), this is based on some best-selling teen books and is about a bunch of NYC teens. They’re all big fans of the Gossip Girl blog, which is where they learn much of the important things going on in their lives — but, of course, nobody knows who the mysterious and anonymous blogger actually is. The show will surely be full of all the teen angst we’re used to in these types of teen drama shows, and if Schwartz can work some of his season-one “O.C.” magic on this show, it could be a little bit of a sleeper hit (as much of a “hit” as the CW will ever have outside of “ANTM,” anyway). Oh, and the pilot was directed by a dude who has previously directed both “Veronica Mars” (…sigh) and “Friday Night Lights,” so that has some potential, too. (And while there were rumors floating around earlier this week that Kristen Bell was actually going to be doing voice-over narration for the show, the CW press release doesn’t make any mention of this, nor is there any follow-up news on this.)


8 p.m.: “Smallville.” Although I’ve heard this show is starting to show its age, it’s really the only flagship non-“ANTM” series the network has, so I expect they’ll hang on to it for as long as they possibly can.
9 p.m.: “Supernatural.” Uhm … I got nothing.


8 p.m.: “Friday Night Smackdown!” Oh yeah!


Literally nothing to see here — move along.


7 p.m.: “CW NOW.” This is a newsmagazine-type show, being produced by some of the folks responsible for “Extra.” It’s going to utilize “eye-catching graphics and visuals in a fast-paced mix of celebrity gossip and current fashion and lifestyle trends.” So it’ll be aces-up, top notch.
7:30 p.m.: “ONLINE NATION.” And this is some sort of show focusing on viral videos (i.e., low production costs because they can just steal clips from YouTube and College Humor). Blockbuster hour of programming here, CW.
8 p.m.: “LIFE IS WILD.” This is based on a British show (“Wild at Heart”), and it’s about a “dysfunctional blended family from New York who moves to a rural South African town and finds they must rely on each other more than they ever did back home.” I’m totally going to skip out on watching football to watch this. Absolutely. You betcha.
9 p.m.: A rerun of “America’s Next Top Model.” OK, now this pisses me off a little! The CW has an open block of time, and it’s a block of time that “Veronica” could maybe do decent in, as the only competition is really “Desperate Housewives” (while there’s probably some intersection with football fans, such as myself, it’s probably not a big crossover). Sure, it’s way cheaper to just rerun a show, rather than air something that costs additional money to film, but they couldn’t reach some sort of arrangement that made sense financially? And then maybe, you know, the network could’ve tried giving the show some real promotion, and just give a look-see to what happens? Bah.

Seth “the Orangutan” Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He will probably get some dust in his eyes next Tuesday, around 9:55 p.m., when he watches his last glimpse of lovely little Veronica.

Fox and The CW's New Fall Schedule

The Network Upfronts / The TV Whore
May 17, 2007

Industry | May 17, 2007 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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