Category Archives: Law & Order

The Midseason Contenders: The Shows You Might Be Watching in January

It’s now been two weeks since the glut of Network Upfronts coverage, and I guess you could say I’m a little nostalgic for it. Gone are the days when breaking television news hits every hour, which is really quite unfortunate. However, in recent days there’s been some news about the one thing that networks are always unwilling to talk about: the midseason substitutes.

You see, each network knows that they’re not going to actually be able to hold on to all of their fall dramas and comedies, but publicly they need to talk about how awesome they are and how they’ll run for years and years and years! In reality, they’re quietly organizing possible replacements that could be plugged in by January. While some networks have actually scheduled shows at midseason, there is still the possibility that new pilots or existing shows could be picked up. So, let’s take a gander at all of these possible contenders to see where they might fight in should a space open up.

The Contenders

CBS

Swingtown

What is it: 70s-set drama about an apparently quiet suburb that, as new residents discover, is actually a swingin’ sex haven.

Where will it go: It will be scheduled at 10pm somewhere, based on its subject matter. Chances are that it would be a good fit on Sundays, but we’ll see how Shark does in the timeslot. Shark is a show that could easily be moved to fill in for a struggling drama, so it could give up its spot to the new show.

Chances of Midseason Placement: High. CBS is only saving the show until midseason so it can air uninterrupted through to May.

Jericho

What is it: Post-apocalyptic drama turned town survival drama that garnered a strong enough cult following to result in the Nuts for Jericho campaign of the past few weeks.

Where would it go: I really, really don’t know. This is a tough one: technically, the spot guaranteed to open up (Wednesdays at 8 after Kid Nation ends) could work well, but it’s also going to run right back up against American Idol. Meanwhile, there isn’t a whole lot left in terms of timeslots. If CBS really wants to try to take its cult following with it, they could plug it in on Fridays and hope that people show up. Still, it wouldn’t be easy.

Chances for Midseason Placement: The ‘Save Jericho’ movement is still fighting, and the campaign is gaining steam daily, but the deadline is two weeks before CBS loses the cast to other projects. That’s a short amount of time to convince CBS to make a huge commitment, and a late fall miniseries might be the more likely option at this stage.

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Filed under ABC, FOX, Jericho, Law & Order, Lost, Medium, NBC, One Tree Hill, Reality TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television, The Amazing Race, The CW, Upfronts, Veronica Mars

Network Upfronts Extravaganza – ‘NBC’ 2007/2008 Fall Schedule

Well, NBC has made it official (Variety), as their schedule has made it to press before their upfront presentation.

EDIT: NBC has now released their official Fall Preview Website with sneak previews of all of their new shows. Check it out at the link below.

NBC Fall Preview 2007-2008

Now, onto the summary of what went done, and then the final schedule with commentary after the jump.

- First, and most interesting, is that NBC has found as solution for their problem of Heroes going on hiatus: a prequel series. Heroes: Origins will be featuring characters not yet on the show, characters in the periphery, and then at the end of its run fans can vote on their favourite who would then join the main cast (I will talk more about this at some point, it’s fascinating). This is sure to keep fans happy, and gives the network more fresh programming.

“Heroes: Origins” will center on characters not yet seen on the original show. Peacock has also added an interactive element to the show: Viewers will be asked to pick their favorite character from “Origins,” who will then join the cast of the full-blown “Heroes” skein the following year. [Variety]

- NBC, you made a huge mistake placing Friday Night Lights at 10pm on Fridays. It’s a family show, damnit, and it deserves a slot where people can watch it together. Now, as it stands, it is far too late to get a decent shot at succeeding, and the show deserves much better. I also think that moving Las Vegas might have been a decent option, but I figure that the addition of Tom Selleck to the cast might be enough to give it some life. (I forgot about it in my predictions: whoops)

- I also forgot about football. Man, I don’t know how I forgot about the NFL so easily, but I did. This means that Law & Order, Medium and Lipstick Jungle (New Series starring Brooke Shields) won’t be around until January, which freed up some room on the schedule.

- The new shows slotted in where you’d expect them to [For full info on these shows, check out Cultural Learnings’ NBC Preview.]: Journeyman [Time-travelling drama] has been given the post-Heroes dead zone, which leave sci-fi contender The Bionic Woman to find for itself on Wednesdays (Against American Idol in the Spring). Life, meanwhile, inherits the tough Wednesdays at 10 slot, and Chuck (From Josh Schwartz) finds itself possibly facing House at 9pm on Tuesdays.

- Only two Deal or No Deals? It’ll work for now, but let’s not see any more NBC.

- The only shows missing? Crossing Jordan and…The Apprentice! Yes! Woohoo! *Fireworks* Trump has finally fallen.

I’ll have some more analysis later after the Upfront Presentation when they explain these ideas further, but for now here’s NBC’s final schedule [with full analysis of each night] after the break.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Law & Order, Medium, NBC, Ratings, Reality TV, Television, The Apprentice

Network Upfronts Extravaganza: Monday Update

The 2007 Network Upfronts are officially upon us, and it’s NBC that’s first out of the gate.

Cultural Learnings’ Network Upfronts Extravaganza 2007 – ‘NBC’ Preview

However, while NBC presents at 3pm EST today, that doesn’t mean that other networks aren’t making moves and locking down pilot commitments. I spent some time last night updating various of the preview posts, but I figure that I should document some of that news here as a way of keeping everyone informed.

NBC

Exit Laughing: NBC Retreats from Comedy – The Hollywood Reporter

NBC, meanwhile, has made it official: there will be no new comedies on their fall schedule for the first time, well, ever. However, in a move which is sure to make things very interesting for The Office and My Name is Earl, the two shows will be pulling some overtime: a lot of it. The Office will have its normal 24 30-minute episodes during the season…plus six hour-long specials. That’s a total of 30 episodes, while My Name is Earl is getting 28 1/2 hour episodes. This means that NBC is erring on the side of ensuring new episodes of its hit shows. Also, the lineup for Comedy Night Done Right will shift: Earl and 30 Rock will hold down the 8pm fort, while The Office and Scrubs form a solid block at 9pm.

Also, Law & Order WILL be on the schedule, but Criminal Intent is moving to USA Network. Meanwhile, Friday Night Lights might find a home on Friday, and Lipstick Jungle will be held along with The IT Crowd until midseason. This changes my projected schedule, which has been updated. I literally have run out of shows, so they have to either pick up another pilot or…air something? I don’t even know.

The CW

[Cultural Learnings’ Preview]

The CW has nailed down its third drama pilot, an untitled project which features Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Batman Begins) as the owner of a wildlife refuge in South Africa and his son-in-law who moves there. Considering how tight my existing CW schedule is, chances are that this show would bump the Veronica Mars revamp (Yes, I’m sad too). However, I have to wonder whether The CW audience is really in tune with the South African wildlife refuge drama. The concept doesn’t sound terrible, but I fail to see where it fits into its image amongst young females especially, at least compared to a female-led FBI program.

ABC

[Cultural Learnings’Preview]

ABC’s lineup remains pretty locked up, although there’s word that According to Jim is still in contention. Dear ABC: do you really hate me that much? They could also be picking up another pilot, Miss/Guided, which the press release describes as:

“Miss/Guided” is a single-camera half-hour about a former ugly duckling (Judy Greer) who becomes a guidance counselor at her old high school.

Sounds decent enough, although only time will tell.

CBS

[Cultural Learnings’ Preview]

Meanwhile, CBS is making the bold move of picking up Swingtown and the Jimmy Smits drama, although no other pilot information is being made available. As a result, the fate of Jericho is still unknown and the status of other pilots (They need other pilots) is not yet known. I’ve added Swingtown to the schedule, and bumped Cold Case in the process…but chances are that it will bump the two extra comedies I placed on the schedule. But I think they need more comedies, so I’m keeping them there.

FOX

[Cultural Learnings’ Preview]

FOX has officially added the Juliana Marguiles-star vehicle Canterbury’s Law to their schedule. Because we needed another lawyer show. Really. Thanks FOX.

I’ll be checking in with the final NBC information later this afternoon with the final news of the schedule, and will probably offer some analysis later.

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Filed under 30 Rock, ABC, FOX, Friday Night Lights, Law & Order, NBC, Scrubs, Television, The CW, The Office, Upfronts

Network Upfronts Extravaganza – ‘NBC’ Preview

NBC had a motto heading into this season: “first be best, then be first.” It was quite the slogan, don’t get me wrong, but it was also a flawed strategy considering they have only seen two dramas survive their development season and one of them is limping into the end zone instead of high-kicking their way into it. It was a year that was supposed to slow the network’s decline, and yet the shows that were struggling last season just kept struggling. NBC is still sitting in the basement among the big four networks, and they need a good development season quickly. While Heroes has certainly been a big success for the network, there’s also very little question that it isn’t enough: they need something big, and they need it soon. They can be best all they want, but if people aren’t watching NBC is only going to fall further. And, based on their pilot selections…well, the jury remains out on whether NBC is capable of rising to the occasion.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Andy Barker P.I., Crossing Jordan, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Law & Order, Medium, NBC, Ratings, Reality TV, Scrubs, Television, The Apprentice, Upfronts

Cultural News Bytes: Law & Order to TNT, ‘Idol’ Blake’s Obscure Bee Gees selection

Cable Bound: Law & Order moving to TNT?

This is the word according to Entertainment Weekly, via some published reports. Considering that TNT is currently simulcasting the hell out of Law & Order, being the home of original episodes wouldn’t exactly be outside of its comfort zone. I’m kind of proud of my 3,000 Word Epic on Law & Order’s fall from grace, and it’s interesting to see this saga continue. This is the 2nd show that NBC is faced with the question of renewal with where another network/cable station is waiting in the wings: the same situation goes for Scrubs, which ABC is interested in. Personally, I think that Law & Order has enough of a fanbase on TNT to make one final season worthwhile, and it would be interesting to see whether they might consider extending the franchise with small-scale original episodes after that point. With a much smaller budget, I think a weekly new episode featuring just some of the cast would be an interesting experiment for the cable network. This is also good new for Criminal Intent, which could get a pickup should the mothership find itself another home. I doubt that NBC is willing to give up to CSI: that easily, no?

Blake Picks A Modern Bee Gees song; Psychiatrist Called In

Let’s face it, even Barry Gibb was surprised by Blake Lewis‘ choice to perform “This is Where I Came In,” the title track from the Bee Gees’ album of the same name, on tonight’s episode of American Idol. It went nowhere as a single (Although I in all my youth actually remember it quite well), but apparently Blake saw an opportunity to turn it into a Ska beatboxing hit. I personally felt that all of Blake’s beatboxing felt tacked on tonight, but the fact remains that it’s at least original compared to LaKisha’s shouting.
But, for all of you who haven’t heard this Bee Gees song, here’s the video via YouTube (Which came in handy tonight, let me tell you).

However, before I go, one more video. Before Melinda’s show opening performance of Love You Inside Out, Barry Gibb said it was a challenge to take a song written for a group and turn it into a solo song. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is aware of the lovely Leslie Feist’s amazing rendition of the song (Retitled ‘Inside & Out’). She turned it into a hit, Juno-nominated single in Canada, and I think that her version is everything Melinda’s wasn’t: unique, interesting and nuanced. So, to end things, here’s Feist kicking Melinda’s ass.

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Filed under American Idol, FOX, Law & Order, NBC, Reality TV, Television

What Should You Watch Tonight? – Friday April 27th

Let’s face it, the Box Office race isn’t too interesting this weekend (Nicholas Cage’s Next, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s The Condemned and Justin Chatwin’s (Locke’s FBI-investigator grow-up friend on “Lost”) The Invisible), so I figure that a night in with some television might well be in order. As a result, here’s three picks for the evening’s TV lineup.

8pm – Six Degrees (Online at ABC.com)

Sure, it might not be on your television, but it’s something new to watch if you were a fan of the ABC drama during its initial run. Unable to take advantage of its Grey’s Anatomy lead-in, the show was shelved to the side months ago and even after a brief return on Fridays found no traction. As a result, ABC has decided to stick with Grey’s Anatomy repeats (A show which does NOT repeat well) instead. Still, for those craving something, head to ABC.com today to check it out.

9pm – Raines (“Season” Finale)

I use airquotes because, barring some form of circumstance we are unaware of, a second season for Raines is just a psychotic image in the mind of the show’s lead character. The pilot didn’t capture me, and the show’s early cut to only 7 episodes didn’t really help either. It just didn’t connect with viewers, and NBC will be looking for something else to fill this timeslot. For those who enjoyed the show, however, it gives its likely swan song tonight.

10pm – Law & Order

In what could be its last back of new episodes, Law & Order returns from a hiatus with an episode that commercials promise will be classic Law & Order. Something to do with asylum and something crazy that happens. All I know is that my Law & Order piece couldn’t be much more true at this point; Criminal Intent is doing an Astronaut attempted murder/kidnapping story on Tuesday, which is entirely played out in the media. We’ll see if these kind of problems lead to the downfall of the Mothership, in which case this could be our last batch of new episodes.

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Disorder in the Court: The Fall of ‘Law & Order’

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

These iconic words signal the start of one of the longest-running television dramas of all time. Dick Wolf’s Law & Order began airing on NBC in 1990, and has resulted in three sister shows, multiple spinoffs, and 17 seasons of justice being served. There had been crime dramas before Law & Order, there had been legal dramas before Law & Order, and yet there was something about the show that connected with viewers in a new way. For me personally, the show represents an opportunity to get entirely engrossed in each week’s case. You see it from beginning to end: you’re there when the body is discovered, you’re there as the police search for clues, and you’re there when the legal team takes over.

It was this format that brought the show a great deal of success, including an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in 1997. It became a show that NBC could count on for critical praise, ratings success, and even some media buzz when it came time for its many cast changes (which never seemed to hurt the series) or its stories which were ‘ripped from the headlines.’ And, thanks to the joys of syndication, you can basically watch five episodes a day without changing the channel if you switch over to TNT. The result of all of this was a certain level of prestige around ‘the mothership’ of the Law & Order franchise. Even with the rise of Special Victims Unit to ratings supremacy and awards attention, there was still something powerful in Sam Waterston laying down the law. There was still life within Law & Order.

And yet, now, there are stories like this one. And this one. Law & Order, the mothership, is sinking. What led to the fall from grace for this once venerable drama? The answer is a whole lot of things, and its ability to recover from them will entirely depend on Dick Wolf’s ability to kiss up to NBC Executives.

Five Reasons For the Fall of

Law & Order

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
It began airing ten years after Law & Order came onto the air, and yet seven years later pulls in over three times as many viewers. Law & Order, up until CSI came onto the scene, was the only real procedural in town. While there were other successful shows, no doubt, CSI was the first criminal show of this nature to emerge as a bonafide hit at the level of Law & Order. It provided a distinctly modern tilt, the forensic analysis portion of each individual crime, and was able to do it with an assortment of relatable characters. It had the procedural qualities of Law & Order, but it was also flashy, hip, and 21st century cool. Law & Order, meanwhile, was sticking to its traditional guns. In a time when television became flashier, Law & Order simply sat back.

The problem is that as it sat back a trend formed. CSI’s success would lead to everyone and their mother developing procedural dramas. This trend has suddenly placed Law & Order, once head and shoulders above the rest, as just another drama which takes on a single crime per week. There is a reason that Law & Order hasn’t received an Emmy nomination for outstanding Drama series since 2002; it’s because CSI became the cool kid in town, and after that point there were so many procedurals that the academy became numb to the entire genre. With the arrival of CSI, Law & Order’s “gimmick” died. While the show itself didn’t change, the level of potential cultural impact it once had disappeared, and the prestige and image of the show was forever tarnished. Now, CBS’ Numbers (A Procedural crime drama about a math geek and his FBI Brother) is defeating Law & Order on a weekly basis.

Law & Order’s move to Friday nights, where ratings potential is far lower, has been another factor…but it actually relates directly to the rise of CSI. Law & Order switched timeslots this year in order to avoid CSI: New York, as the rise of CBS’ procedurals basically forced them to the sidelines. The reality is that CSI changed everything, and Law & Order has been the greatest victim of its rise.

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