TELEVISION: Sizing Up the Upfronts

With the television industry engaged in upfronts all this week, news has been coming quick and fast: Brothers and Sisters was cancelled! The new Sarah Michelle Gellar was picked up… by The CW, not CBS. 30 Rock is off the air until midseason! Now that the dust has settled, we have 48 new shows, a slew of shows left behind, and lots of big names hitting the big screen. My thoughts: (click the blue links to watch the trailers for each show listed.)

photo courtesy: Fox

Most exciting show pick up: Terra Nova looks amazing and Person of Interest shows lots of promise, but Alcatraz has to be the show that makes me want to tune in weekly.

Least exciting show pick up: Sorry to say, but the show coming with the most buzz – Charlie’s Angels – looks mind-numbingly dull.

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Best strategic moves: CBS’ decision to move The Good Wife to Sundays, which is a more prestigious night, makes perfect sense. With Wife flying way above the rest of the mess CBS airs, it gives the show a berth against aging Desperate Housewives and allows Julianna Margulies and crew a chance to flex their muscle. Additionally, CBS recognized that the original CSI is getting ready to be put out to pasture, so they moved freshman series Person of Interest into that slot. Brilliant.

photo courtesy: CBS

Biggest winner: LOST. With (LOST creator) JJ Abrams producing both Alcatraz (Jorge Garcia) and Person of Interest (Michael Emerson), Henry Ian Cusick on Scandal and Once Upon a Time being produced by LOST’s former executive producers (Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis), the island is relevant once again.

Most interesting trend: Often, one or two “name” actors decide to step into television each year. More often than not, they’re doing in a more prestigious role, like on cable or something. Not this year. Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men), Taraji P. Henson (Person of Interest), Ashley Judd (Missing), Anjelica Houston (Smash), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) and Christina Ricci (Pan Am) are in front of the camera and Oscar nominee Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest), Oscar winner Jonathan Demme (A Gifted Man) and Steven Spielberg (Smash, The River, Terra Nova) are writing, directing and producing, respectively.

Saddest departure: As true as it is that the Walker clan of Brothers and Sisters had reached a maturation level that made more seasons unnecessary, I will miss those wine-drinking, secret-sharing, dinner-ruining folks every Sunday night. I raise my glass…

Show I wanted to see. Dammit. Hallelujah, from Desperate HousewivesMarc Cherry. It’s time for him to come up with his next generation of shows. Plus, it sounded cool as hell.

Best bet to be the first show cancelled: Revenge. Completely generic show about some boring people.

photo courtesy: NBC

Best reimagining of a show from last year: Lone Star’s Kyle Killen has bounced back from being the first show cancelled last year and is back with a new, somewhat reimagined show. Like Lone Star’s dual life of the protagonist, Bob Allen, Awake’s Mark Britton also lives in two worlds – he’s just not sure which one is real and which one isn’t.

Most concerning trend: By excising the word “Bitch” from the titles of Good Christian Bitches (now Good Christian Belles) and Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 (now Apartment 23), will a chunk of the humor – clearly defined by the way the creators named their shows – dissipate as well?

Most made me miss Ugly Betty: Actually anything that sucked made me miss Betty and crew, but the trailer for  Deschanel’s New Girl caught me completely off-guard. I expected something really corny. The only thing corny about this show is Deschanel’s intentionally corny humor.

photo courtesy: ABC

Most confusing trend: Making Mad Men rip-offs. Yes, I’m looking directly at you Pan Am and The Playboy Club. I get wanting to copy an original, award-winning show, but remind me again what kind of viewership AMC’s series gets despite it’s trunk-full of Emmys.

To see the full schedules, click here: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC.

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