Next week is Upfronts week. For those not familiar with this archaic TV ritual, it’s the week when all the major networks announce their new fall lineups to advertisers, so the people with money can start buying up ad time. It used to be a truly big event in the yearly TV cycle, but not so much these days. Sure, the networks still put on a dog and pony show, inviting advertisers and press to their fancy NY show, while setting up video feeds for those that can’t make it to NYC, and next week all the entertainment sites will post lots of carefully-released-by-the-networks bits of news and clips about all of the things in store for TV viewers this fall. But it doesn’t mean as much as it used to because (1) by mid-September, a good chunk of the fall schedules will no longer look like the schedules we’re given next week, and (2) a lot of the suspense of next week is already gone. This doesn’t mean we still won’t post all that business here as well, because for the TV wonks, it’s still fun.
But case in point — late last night, Fox basically took all the wind out of its announcements, by announcing several new show pickups and a slew of cancellations. Fox had previously canceled “Running Wilde” and had long ago canceled “The Good Guys” and poor, poor “Lone Star.” It had also renewed a slew of shows, leaving just five shows on the bubble. Two of those shows — “Breaking In” and “Traffic Light” — were assumed to have truly coin-flip chances at renewal, and of the other three — “Human Target,” “Lie To Me” and “The Chicago Code” — it was thought that one or two would get a pickup.
Well last night, Fox decided to kill all five of those bubble shows, including two Shawn Ryan shows (“The Chicago Code” and “Lie to Me”). I know Dustin is bummed about “Traffic Light,” but fuck him — that show sucked. Too bad about “Breaking In” and “The Chicago Code,” though — the first was a decent little comedy, while the latter was a solid procedural. Both shows had a lot of promise, but I guess Fox was just too happy with the new shows it has in the hopper.
Speaking of which, Fox also announced the pickup of four new shows:
• “Alcatraz” — A drama about some Alcatraz guards and prisoners who have just shown up on the island prison after having vanished three decades ago. It stars a bunch of people including Jorge Garcia and Sam Neill and if the idea of a mystery involving people who surprisingly show up on an island sounds familiar to you, it’s cause this show comes to us from J.J. Abrams.
• “Finder” — A “Bones” spin-off starring Walter Sherman (whodat?), Michael Clarke Duncan and Saffron Burrows. So there’s that.
• “New Girl” — it stars Zooey Dechanel, which means I probably don’t have to tell most of you anything else. For those who need more, she plays a girl who moves from the stix to the Big Apple, where she lives in an apartment with a bunch of dudes. We should probably just go back to the Zooey bit. Although Damon Wayans Jr. is slated to be in this too, so if “Happy Endings” doesn’t get an ABC renewal, it’s good to know we’ll get to see more of Wayans (but his role in “Happy Endings” gets priority, so if that show gets picked up — which it should, and which is likely — his role here will have to be recast).
• “I Hate My Teenage Daugher” - divorced women and their bitchy daughters.
These join several shows Fox had already picked up including, I shit you not, “Napolean Dynamite.”
So next week, the only real “suspense” with Fox’s announcement will be the details of what shows air and premiere when, and what get pushed into the realm of MidSeasonReplacementVille.
…You know, for all the bashing that NBC deservedly gets, I’ll give the Peacock credit for this — it tried to actually start taking down this silly upfront process. It failed miserably (because if NBC knows anything, it’s how to fail), but there’s something to be said for getting rid of this silly thing in these days of constant news, particularly given the ever-decreasing dominance and relevance of the “big” networks. Yes, they’re still bigger than the cable nets (well, except for the CW, which inexplicably still gets to play with the Big 4), but they really just don’t seem to matter so much any more. And given our DVR and digital digestion of content, the details of the new schedules really don’t matter nearly as much as they did even just a few years ago. I’ll be lapping all of this up as much as the next guy next week, don’t get me wrong, but if there comes a time when upfronts are strictly a thing of the past, I won’t shed a tear.
If I ever have to watch this “Napolean Dynamite” crap, though, I guarantee that there will be many tears shed. Gah.
(Source: The Futon Critic)