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May 14, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | May 14, 2007 |

Well today was the start of the four-day television orgasm that is the Upfronts. NBC led off the week, and let’s get to it.

For starters, despite speculation that two of them might not survive, all three “Law & Orders” are in fact coming back. However, original episodes of “Criminal Intent” will be airing on USA first, with reruns then popping up later on NBC-proper (this is purportedly in an attempt to beef up the USA network, but I wonder if “CI” really has enough of a draw to help out). And the big-daddy original, while getting a full 22-episode order, won’t show up until 2008, when football is over and done with. No word on whether NBC will trim/change the casts in a cost-saving move, but my money would be on “well, duh.”

As expected, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “Andy Barker, P.I.” are kaput. Ditto that for “Raines,” “The Black Donnellys” (suck it Haggis!), “Kidnapped” and “20 Good Years” (mercy killing). The only real surprise (to some, I guess), is that “Crossing Jordan” also got the axe after six relatively stable seasons. Now folks are also saying that “The Apprentice” is done, because NBC didn’t mention it (and at these upfronts, networks don’t actually announce a cancellation — we have to infer cancellations by the network’s failure to mention a show). However, NBC later said that it will look at the issue later and figure out “if a spot can be cleared on the schedule.” If they can get Burnett and Trump to do it without costing an arm and a leg, I’m betting there will be holes in the schedule that will need some midseason filling, meaning another stupid round of “you’re fired” is likely.

Now we already knew “Friday Night Lights” was getting renewed (huzzah, I say!), but we didn’t know where it was going. Friday nights, 10 p.m. — that’s where. Most folks say this means that NBC has no faith in the show (probably true) and that the show is probably already a dead man walking. I’m not necessarily sure I agree with that second sentiment because, look at it this way — NBC probably has low ratings expectations at that timeslot, so the show won’t have to do nearly as much heavy lifting as NBC wanted when it was on an early-week 8 p.m. slot, right? Personally, I like lowered expectations — hell, I’d still be a virgin if it weren’t for lowered expectations!

Thursday nights look roughly the same for the network, although the order of the comedies have been rejiggered a little (see full schedule below). The big news is that “Scrubs” got its seventh (and surely last) season, although with a slightly abbreviated 18-episode order. “My Name is Earl,” meanwhile, got an expanded 25-episode order, and “The Office” got a mega-25 episode order, with five of those episodes being an hour-long (which was the rumor I told you about last week).

NBC has plenty of room on its schedule for new shows, and there are a batch of new dramas on the fall slate. Interestingly, there isn’t a single new comedy (one report says this is a first for NBC in almost 30 years), although there is a midseason comedy on tap, “The IT Crowd” (a remake of a British show — think “The Office” meets computer-tech nerds). Anyway, I’ll discuss the rest of the new shows below, as we work through the schedule (new shows in caps). And remember, since it’s only May, this is certainly subject to change between now and the fall (recall last year, when “Studio 60” quickly got moved just a mere week after NBC’s upfront).


8 p.m.: “Deal or No Deal.” Whatever or no, seriously, whatever.

9 p.m.: “Heroes.” No surprise that this show stays put. However, there is some news here. NBC ordered up 24 episodes, plus another six episodes of “Heroes: Origins.” “Origins” will be six standalone episodes, each introducing a new character. And after all six have aired, folks will be able to vote on which one becomes a regular in the third season. Interesting idea. More importantly, NBC has promised that it won’t pepper these six episodes throughout the season, getting in the way of the show-proper. Rather, the most likely scenarios are that it’ll simply air after “Heroes” does a full run, or that “Heroes” will take a six-week hiatus for “Origins” (my money is surely on the latter).
10 p.m.: “JOURNEYMAN.” One of the network’s new dramas, “Journeyman” stars Kevin McKidd (“Rome”), which is great. But it also sounds like a rip-off my beloved “Quantum Leap,” which pisses me off, as I’d just rather have more “Quantum Leap.” McKidd’s character travels back into the past to have some role in bettering the lives of others (does he have a hologram friend?), and runs into some folks from his past along the way. But it’s not like “Quantum Leap,” NBC would have us believe, because there’s romance too (I think his dead ex-fiance is also a time traveler, or some such). Feh! (And while I still may tune in at first because I’m now a fan of McKidd, I’d be more inclined to tune in if Ray Stevenson was his hologram buddy!)


8 p.m.: “The Biggest Loser.” The biggest “who gives a shit.”
9 p.m.: “CHUCK.” So a nerdy kid (wanna’ guess his name?) ends up getting a computer chip full of CIA secrets lodged onto his brain, or some such, and he becomes, like, the most important tool in the war against terror. He’s a powerful weapon for the government, taking down international terrorists when he’s not too busy playing video games. …Yup. The only thing this show has going for it is that it’s produced by “The O.C.’s” Josh Schwartz. If he really has fun with this and plays up the comedy (which, for me, was always the best part of “The O.C.”), this show has a chance at being OK. But I wouldn’t bet the rent on it. I probably wouldn’t even bet tomorrow morning’s coffee money on it.
10 p.m.: “Law & Order: SVU.” We already knew it was coming back, and it was a safe bet to stay in its regular home. So nothing to see here.


8 p.m.: “Deal or No Deal.” Don’t watch or…don’t watch.
9 p.m.: “THE BIONIC WOMAN.” You already know what this show is about, so I’ll just say that its only chance comes from the fact that “Battlestar Galactica” executive produce David Eick is behind it, which gives it a shred of credibility. Quite frankly, I’ll watch the first episode just to hear the jumping “ch-ch-ch-ch-ch” noise (she better jump at the end of the premiere episode, after being rebuilt!). But after that, this show’s gonna’ need to work hard to get me back for a second viewing. (And like “Heroes,” reruns will air over on the SciFi channel.)
10 p.m.: “LIFE.” Man am I torn about this one. On the one hand, I could care less about the storyline — “Life” is a drama about a detective who went to the clink for a crime he didn’t commit (but he doesn’t escape and join the A-Team, damn it!), and returns from jail to find that life is hard out there for an ex-con (but his new criminal ties will surely help him solve his weekly detective mysteries, right?). But the reason I’m torn is that the main character is being played by Damian Lewis, who was absolutely brilliant in “Band of Brothers” as the kick-ass Major Dick Winters. Luckily, this tie is broken by the fact that, much like “The Bionic Woman” will be rerun on SciFi, this show will also be getting the cable rerun treatment … on Lifetime. That’s it, I’m out!


8 p.m.: “My Name is Earl.” With the extra episodes, I hope this means even more “bad Earl.” That’s not too much to ask for, right?
8:30 p.m.: “30 Rock.” I don’t care if his kid is a little pig, I welcome Alec Baldwin and company back.
9 p.m.: “The Office.” As I said last week, I just hope the extra order doesn’t strain the writers (last week’s episode, for example, had some good bits, but was an all-around weak show, raising my concerns even more).
9:30 p.m.: “Scrubs.” Past its prime, but I’m still glad it’ll get to have a proper sendoff.
10 p.m.: “ER.” … … I seriously have nothing to say about this, having watched but one episode since the first season.


8 p.m.: “1 vs. 100” and … wait for it … “SINGING BEE.” Because the world needs more singing competition shows.
9 p.m.: “Las Vegas.” Welcome back to regular network TV work, Mr. Tom Sellick.
10 p.m.: “Friday Night Lights.” Despite what I said above, this probably will be the last season for the show, but fuck it — that’s 22 more episodes then I ever expected we would get. NBC could air this at 11 p.m. on Saturdays, for all I care. (What’s that, you say? But that’s when “Saturday Night Live” airs? Exactly.)


8 p.m.: “Dateline NBC.”
9 p.m.: Drama show rerurns.
10 p.m.: More drama show reruns.


7 p.m.: “Football Night in America.” And when football season is over, this will be more “Dateline.”
8 p.m.: “Sunday Night Football.” Post-football season, this is where “Law & Order” lands.
9 p.m.: After football, Patricia Arquette’s “Medium” takes over.
10 p.m.: Again, we’re talking about after football season is over. That’s when “LIPSTICK JUNGLE” will premiere. Based on a book by Candace Bushnell (author of Sex and the City), this treads new ground by focusing on three high-powered NYC ladies (including Brooke Shields and Kim Raver). As the press release puts its: the women “are determined to achieve their dreams and to do it on their own terms.” And the football fans that used to occupy this spot are determined to flee away as quickly as possible.

And that’s NBC. Come on back tomorrow for ABC and … sigh … the fucking Geico cavemen.

…oh, and here’s a short preview clip from “Journeyman:”

Seth “the Orangutan” Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He didn’t mention some midseason dance competition show produced by Randy Jackson. This was surely on purpose.

NBC's New Fall Schedule

The Network Upfronts / The TV Whore
May 14, 2007

TV | May 14, 2007 |

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

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