Tag Archives: Fall Schedule

Upfronts Analysis: The 5 Worst Showings of the 2009-2010 Upfronts

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The 5 Worst Showings of the 2009-2010 Upfronts

May 25th, 2009

I am quite aware that there is something problematic about judging series based entirely on quick clips, but in many ways that personifies the upfronts process: it’s about making snap judgments, analyzing a show based on its potential when placed through the advertising machines of its respective network. It is true that there are some shows which are only hurt by this process, but then there are others which are so far removed from anything approaching humour or drama that I really don’t think they can be saved.

As a result, this is not a list of the worst shows during the 2009-2010 upfronts, but rather those which have the longest way to go in order to convince me that somehow, some way, they could be entertaining television. There may end up being more disappointing shows this fall/midseason, or shows which fall apart due to showrunning conflicts, but in their very setups/clips/execution these shows have demonstrated absolutely nothing to convince me that they are worth watching (some shows, like FOX’s Brothers which appears to be just downright awful, is so far off my radar that I haven’t even bothered watching the clips, which may explain its absence).

And so the uphill battle begins.

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Upfronts Analysis: The 8 2009-2010 Shows I’m Looking Forward To

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The 8 2009-2010 Shows I’m Looking Forward To

May 22nd, 2009

Every year when the madness of the Upfronts begins, there’s a deluge of video clips of the various new shows arriving. In some ways, I’m kind of an awful TV critic, since I hadn’t watched a single piece of video from any of the new shows until late last night.

Admittedly, when it comes to scheduling, I often find the various moves and strategies more entertaining than the programming itself (with only a few clips available, and usually very polished ones that hide a show’s flaws), but it just seemed like this year’s upfronts weren’t catching me as it relates to the shows themselves. There wasn’t one big show that, based on its cast or its premise, jumped out at me as something that I would absolutely have to watch, no pilots that I had followed extensively and really wanted to see make it to series, or anything like that. It got to the point where, when I did sit down to start watching video clips, I didn’t expect to find much at all to be excited about.

In the end, though, I ended up putting together a list that surprised me both in its length and its quality. No, there isn’t that one big pilot that really threatens to dominate my TV viewing, but there’s eight shows where based only on clips I’m ready to commit to giving the show a shot in the Fall. I still want a chance to dig into the pilots before making any sort of final judgment, but in the meantime there’s a collection of series which show that, although I don’t think this year’s lineup has one breakout hit in it (I’ll get to why in a second), it is very diverse in its areas of strength.

I’ll get to some of the shows I’m already canceling in my head, as well as those which are going to be pilot dependent, over the weekend, but for now let’s take a look at the eight shows (counting down from 8 to 1, because rankings are fun) I’m excited about for next season.

[Note: I’m not including Glee, since I’ve seen Glee, and you can go to iTunes or Fox.com to watch Glee, and I already know I’m going to enjoy it, and have in fact already enjoyed it.]

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Upfronts Analysis: The CW 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

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The CW 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

May 21st, 2009

Everyone likes to point to NBC as a network in crisis, and I really can’t contest that point; however, while Jay Leno may be a bad plan, it is at least actually a plan. The CW, by comparison, has been floundering for the past few years and has no strategy to really change that fact. Each year seems to be as much of a struggle as the last: while a few flagship programs perform well, and the network has more cultural awareness than one would expect considering the anemic ratings, there is something wholly dissatisfying about a network which identifies itself either entirely based on demographics or, worse of all, based on repeating its current (non-)success ad nauseum.

This results in a schedule summed up beautifully by Lilly Hill in yesterdays CBS Upfronts edition of the TV on the Internet podcast: “It sucks.” After giving away Sunday nights to the affiliates, and not even programming one half of Friday nights, it’s a schedule that lacks this past season’s one promising new addition, gets rid of the principle of comedy entirely, and one which offers little in new or exciting ventures for advertisers or viewers to be excited about. NBC may be struggling, but one feels as if their lineup for the upcoming year at least combines an awareness of critical opinion, audience patterns, and future programming oppotunities.

My comparison, it appears The CW has actually let its core demographic of teenage girls create their schedule through rigged focus groups designed to give them the answers they want, and not the answers they really need.

Full schedule and analysis after the jump.

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Upfronts Analysis: CBS 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

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CBS 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

May 20th, 2009

If you’re looking for surprises, why the heck are you watching CBS?

It’s the question we face all the time, really, and I’m sure advertisers feel the same way: CBS never really gives them any reason NOT to buy ads on their shows, considering that they are by far the most consistent network, but at the same time they make so few changes every year that it’s hard for the ad buyers (or us as critics) to really get excited about what they have to offer.

Their new shows are really the only thing of much interest usually, but admittedly I think that their schedule changes this year are quite perplexing and worthy of some analysis. CBS is a network that is trying to maintain their existing image while building new hits, but two decisions in particular are quite strange and indicate a sign that CBS is trying to look further into the future than it might seem like at first.

Full schedule and analysis after the jump.

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Upfronts Analysis: ABC Fall Schedule 2009-2010

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ABC Fall Schedule 2009-2010

May 19th, 2009

ABC is the one network this year whose strategy appears to be “let’s order a ridiculous number of new shows,” which is really quite interesting in this economic climate. The network isn’t in a bad position, per se, but its been through a rough development patch where this past year brought the failure of three out of four of its major sophomore series (Private Practice being the only survivor) as well as the failure of all but one of its midseason replacements (Castle being the only one who managed to pull it together, and even then only with the support of the Dancing with the Stars lead-in). Their staple shows have remained fairly strong, with Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters all remaining solid performers despite industry-wide drops in ratings, but they were in need of some new blood.

Their solution, however, is going to be a rather interesting experiment, especially when we consider the way in which the network is programming those new series, and just how many of them they have working for them: ordering a mix of legal, procedural, and science fiction dramas on top of four (count ’em) four new comedies, the network is banking on people being ready to laugh and, more importantly, to embrace shows in the 10pm timeslot with NBC out of the running.

Let’s take a gander at the highlights, shall we?

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The Imprint Lives On: FOX bets on Dollhouse Season 2

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The Imprint Lives On: Dollhouse Renewed

May 15th, 2009

After rumours earlier in the day were flying about via James Hibberd over at The Hollywood Reporter, the idea of a second season of Dollhouse actually became a probability as opposed to a pipe dream. Sure, the first season ended on a stronger note than it started on, giving us critical types a glimmer of potential that we could mentally build on in constructing a second season (Todd VanDerWerff has a great “Save this Show” piece over at The House Next Door), but its ratings were the series’ lowest yet, and for all the talk of DVR and Online viewers the fact of the matter is that advertisers care most about those shiny demographic numbers more than anything else.

But, for reasons that at this point remain mostly speculation, it appears that FOX has made the decision few expected them to make: within hours of the rumours first starting to spread around the web, word comes that it’s (more or less) official. Joss Whedon has bucked the trend (which really isn’t a trend considering it was only Firefly, but that was so tragic that it counts as three on its own) of network disappointment, and Dollhouse will be getting a second season of 13 episodes to air this Fall on Fridays. Let the rejoicing begin.

Well, let the rejoicing begin for anyone but the advertisers – and frankly, I’m tired of them rejoicing over the wrong shows, and it’s about time we won one for the good guys. And this truly is, in more ways than one, a victory for the internet, for fans, and for the value of television.

Just don’t count on a third season.

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Upfronts Analysis: FOX 2008-2009 Fall Schedule

“A Subtle Improvement”

FOX 2008-2009 Fall Schedule

In the past, I’ve complained a lot about FOX’s scheduling practices – rather than using their biggest shows to produce strong lead-ins for new shows that need attention, they have instead chosen a path wherein they waste it on reality shows or (what I consider to be) derivative comedies. And really, their fall schedule is always a little bit of a crapshoot: considering that American Idol isn’t on it, FOX is kind of hoping for subtle success before its juggernaut wins the season outright in a few months time.

This time around, I admire their scheduling far more – sure, it isn’t perfect by any means, and they’re only debuting two new shows, but there’s a smart decision that signifies that FOX is no longer being idiots about how to handle their top shows, and to create hit new shows in their place.

New Shows

Fringe – Tuesdays at 9

It has a big-budget pilot, Lost producer J.J. Abrams on board, and most importantly has the best slot on the schedule: the newly created spot post-House on Tuesday nights. This is a smart way to create a lead-in, without question – the only concern is that the two-hour pilot will have to air without a lead-in, so I almost wonder if FOX will divide it in two just to make sure the show doesn’t get off on a weak foot. (Final details of the schedule sees Fringe airing its two-hour premiere on August 26th).

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