Category Archives: ABC

Upfronts Analysis: ABC 2008-2009 Fall Schedule

“No Alarms and No Surprises”

ABC 2008-2009 Fall Schedule

Of all of the major networks, one could say that ABC is playing it safest when it comes to this year’s upfronts. The only drama pilot to make it onto their fall schedule is one that was technically completed for last season’s pilot group, and they are the network who held back the most new shows from last fall to be relaunched with gusto when September rolls around.

The result is a schedule that is eerily similar to the one that we saw this past year, which saw decent success although certainly not to the levels that they experienced in years previous. After a year of success facing off against CSI, Grey’s Anatomy has seen post-strike ratings tumble, and shows like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty are fading if not quite to levels that are dangerous to their health and stability on the network.

So, let’s take a look at the schedule, and see which shows are going to make a splash this time around, plus finally getting confirmation of the worst kept secret of the year’s upfronts.

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Cultural Learnings’ Fall 2007 Lineup: Thursdays

Yes, I am aware that there was a delay in posting Thursday’s lineup, but there was a reason for this. I’ve been anxious over this day in particular because, as per usual, it remains the most packed night of programming on the Fall Schedule, especially for me. And last night, I decided to see whether I might (finally) be able to cut Survivor out of my Thursday lineup. And, well, see below for whether or not that worked.

The Office

Airing four hour long episodes early in the season before Scrubs premieres, The Office is taking on Grey’s Anatomy single-handedly this year. It hopes to sustain last year’s ratings, and certainly has a decent shot at it. There’s some exciting developments heading into this season (Ryan as the boss, Jim/Pam, etc.), so even some uneven episodes won’t keep me away.

Cultural Learnings’ Review of The Office Finale 

30 Rock

This Emmy-winning comedy has the unfortunate circumstance of being located within a rather difficult timeslot: sure, it belonged to The Office last year, but it’s also against two other shows I’m interested in covering. Still, it gets this particular spot regardless of that development: the show was too good last season to consider putting on the backburner, although it doesn’t debut for a while yet.

Cultural Learnings’ 30 Rock Coverage 

Survivor: China

Yeah, I’m weak: as much as I might claim I can disconnect from this series in its 15th season, it just isn’t happening this time around. The cast of characters have already had a chance to make their impact, and the challenges despite repetition are usually enough to suck me in. I’ve tended to skip the Tribal Council sequences more now, but the point stands: I’m covering Survivor.

Cultural Learnings’ Survivor Coverage 

The Other Shows

Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy are in a tough spot for me, one in terms of time period and the other due to a weak third season. Ugly Betty ended its first season on a high note, and certainly has a lot of momentum moving forward. But I never feel like I’m “caught up” in it, which is the way I perhaps felt about Grey’s Anatomy before a frustrating last stanza. The George/Izzie relationship took out a lot of steam, so it’s going to be wait and see for the series.

I’ll also be watching Scrubs when it returns late in the year, although my interest in that series has also wained.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, 30 Rock, ABC, Grey's Anatomy, NBC, Reality TV, Scrubs, Survivor, Television, The Office, Ugly Betty

Cultural Learnings’ Fall 2007 Lineup: Wednesdays

Wednesdays are a day where there’s a lot of new shows debuting that I’ll probably be talking about at some point in time. Will Private Practice, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, bounce back from a weak back-door pilot? Will Dirty Sexy Money, one of three shows from Greg Berlanti on ABC’s Fall Schedule, take its fantastic cast and make it a primetime soap worth watching? And, as we’ll see tonight, will CBS’ Kid Nation overcome its child labor concerns to emerge as a feel good reality success?I want to answer all of these questions, but in the interest of cutting things down I’ve chosen two shows on Wednesdays that interest me that I’ll be covering in more detail. Considering that both are in danger of cancellation, I might be adjusting my Wednesday schedule (especially if Lost returns on the night early next year)

Pushing Daisies

I believe the adjective being thrown around for Pushing Daisies is “twee,” and I can’t really argue with that: its charm is perhaps its greatest asset, and Bryan Fuller’s series is the kind you fall in love with. I consider it my duty to cover it more closely, if only to help stave off its cancellation the best I can. Plus, it should be interesting to see how a fantastic pilot adapts into a procedural drama.

Pilot Preview: ‘Pushing Daisies’ 

Bionic Woman

NBC’s remake of the 70s property is getting a lot of buzz from NBC, but the huge changes from its pilot and Isaiah Washington’s casting certainly provide an extremely interesting perspective to the new season. My interest is piqued by the concept and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as the villain, but it should also prove an interesting case study for pilot changes as well.

Cultural Learnings’ Bionic Woman Coverage

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Emmys 2007: Cultural Learnings’ Final Emmy Awards Predictions

[Months ago, Cultural Learnings put its neck out there to predict which shows and performers might get those coveted Emmy Nominations. Now, it’s time to put the prediction power to the test again, predicting who will win during tomorrow night’s ceremony. Some of them might be wishful thinking, others might be far too safe. Regardless, it’s our job to stand by them to the bitter end. We’ll see how things turn out during tomorrow night’s LiveBlogging Extravaganza!]

Cultural Learnings’ 2007 Emmy Predictions

Oustanding Drama Series

The Sopranos [WINNER]

Heroes

Boston Legal

Grey’s Anatomy

House

[It only won once, it had a critically acclaimed final season, and the rest of the competition was either too uneven or too green. Simply put, it is the class of this field, and will easily walk home with the Emmy]

Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office

Entourage

Two and a Half Men

30 Rock [WINNER]

Ugly Betty

[This is going with my gut on this one, but I think that 30 Rock combines the liberal-minded sentiment of Emmy voters and strong pedigree in Baldwin/Fey. The Office got their due last year, and Ugly Betty will get theirs eventually. This is 30 Rock’s year.]

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

James Spader (Boston Legal)

James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) [WINNER]

Kiefer Sutherland (24)

Denis Leary (Rescue Me)

Hugh Laurie (House)

[While Laurie is a potential spoiler, I’d say that Gandolfini should easily ride the Sopranos wave to victory within this category.]

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) [WINNER]

Ricky Gervais (Extras)

Steve Carell (The Office)

Tony Shahloub (Monk)

Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)

[Picking between Carell and Baldwin is very tough, as Carell got robbed last year, but I think that Baldwin was the breakout star of the year in comedy, while Carell’s star just didn’t shine as brightly.]

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Filed under 30 Rock, ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Entertainment, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, NBC, Reality TV, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, The Sopranos, Ugly Betty

Emmys 2007: The Dynamic Duo – Lost’s Emerson and O’Quinn in Supporting Actor

When a category at an awards show features two actors or actresses from the same show, sometimes logic points towards the two individuals canceling one another out. This would allow another competitor, not competing against someone from their own show, to waltz away with the trophy.

What is unique about this year’s race for Supporting Actor in a Drama is that despite the fact that Michael Emerson (Ben) and Terry O’Quinn (Locke) are both on Lost, they remain serious contenders for the Emmy. These two actors spent much of the show’s third season together, locked into a relationship filled with philosophical discussions and tense drama. Their fates are intertwined in the show’s storyline, but their Emmy chances are also directly connected to one another.

And although their category has spoilers waiting in the wings, this Dynamic Duo still stands out from the crowd when it comes to picking an Emmy victor. Why? Because they’re just that damn good.

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“When Does Lost Return?”, “What’s up with Jericho?” and Other Burning Fall Season Questions

[Taking a break from the Emmys coverage briefly, the fall season brings a lot of premieres, but also a lot of questions. So, to help answer those, here’s some answers to the most commonly asked ones. If you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email at cultural.learnings @ gmail.com]

When does Lost return?

Due to its shortened season, and to avoid running into any hiatuses, Lost will be starting its 16-episode run sometime in January or February of 2008. This should give producers more time to produce episodes, and hopefully we’ll get a better season out of the arrangement. It does, however, mean a fairly lengthy delay before new episodes: the Season Three DVD releases in time for Christmas, so you can satiate your desire with that if you’re desperate.

What’s Up with Jericho? Wasn’t it Renewed?

The short answer to this question is that it has been renewed, but it does not yet have a timeslot in which it will air. CBS is waiting on reaction to their new shows, as an open timeslot might mean that the already completed episodes of Jericho could begin airing as soon as possible. Otherwise, if nothing falters, the network will likely look for a slot at midseason (January) in which to air the episodes.

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Has the ‘Lost’ Casting Call gone too far?

I’ve been stepping back from reporting individual news stories for a while, but this is getting impossible to ignore. Over the past month or so, Lost has added five recurring characters to its already expansive cast. Some have been small pieces of casting, whereas others have been large recurring roles.

Lance Reddick (“The Wire”)

Rebecca Mader (“Justice”)

Ken Leung (“The Sopranos”)

Jeremy Davies (“Rescue Dawn”)

Jeff Fahey (“Grindhouse”)

And don’t get me wrong, the show has earned it ability to do so: the end of the third season introduced not only the “Freighters” who are near the island on Naomi’s boat, but also the potential for us to meet new characters in Flash Forwards. There remains a door open, clearly, for the series to add to its cast.

But my concern is that the show has yet to prove to me that it is able to balance their cast when such large-scale expansions take place. For evidence, simply look at the above picture.

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