The network upfronts are upon us.
In what was truly a breath of fresh air after several weeks of upfronts madness, yesterday's USA Network presentation at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall -- the final event of the season -- didn't feature a single word from any executive. It's a long-standing tradition at the cabler to have their stars do the talking, which means a minimum amount of industry speak... and way more scripted banter. Since USA has acquired the syndication rights to Modern Family, the highlight of the evening was a digital short of series co-creator Steven Levitan standing in front of the Pritchett-Delgado house saying how excited he was to be part of the USA family, only to have Ed O'Neill, in character as Jay, come out and angrily demand, "Hey, get the fuck out of my driveway!" It was followed with the Modern Family framed-moment title song , where the casts of each USA original series held up a little frame until the final shot ended on the Modern Family theme final still. Another highlight, especially to WWE fans, was the announcement that in honor of Monday Night Raw's 1,000th episode, the series will now be expanded to three hours every week.
I'm sure you are going to be shocked to find out that Donald Trump is not running for president. Do I need to grab the smelling salts?
Of all the network upfronts each May, CBS' is the one I usually dread sitting through the most simply because it always kicks off with president and CEO Les Moonves both arrogantly crowing about yet another year as the highest-rated network overall ("more Americans watched NCIS this season than went to see Avatar") and trying to convince the audience of advertisers and journalists that everything is just hunky dory in the broadcast biz. But other than his spiel and an awkward but well-intentioned bit by Jim Parsons in character as Sheldon Cooper (something about how he'd use a time machine to go back to NBC's 1969 upfront to convince advertisers to invest in the original Star Trek), the rest of CBS' 2010-11 presentation cruised by fairly painlessly, despite a few clunkers in their new lineup.
This past week, each of the broadcast networks unveiled their fall and midseason lineups at their annual upfront presentations for advertisers and media. While a bunch of the new shows look like they could be dead on arrival, and none totally blew us away, there were a handful of programs that we're definitely already excited about. Here's our early picks for what might be worth watching this fall and next winter/spring.
The 2010-11 NBC upfront presentation was so long that we're not sure who'd be more bored by a detailed recap of the event, you or us. Suffice it to say that the presentation began with a clip of Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy making jokes about his brief, ill-advised marriage to Nikki Finke, getting in a dig about President Obama's citizenship and then talking about how the "more colorful" slogan might sound like a "no-mess painting kit for pre-school girls" but is really more than that. Then there was some random talk about how the network would act like a dangerous Eastern European woman in order to gain advertisers. That was the highlight... it got less interesting from there, unless you are really, really, really into football announcers, in which case it picked up somewhere in the middle, and then it just slowly spiraled downward until it finally ended and I got to see Jerry Seinfeld on the esclalor. Oh, and did I mention that aside from an awkward appearance from Jimmy Fallon and his guitar, and the football announcers, there was a dearth of talent on stage? Guess they saved them for all of the swanky after-parties. But anyway, NBC previewed a bunch of new shows for both the fall and midseason to help us get an early start on deciding what we'll want to watch - or avoid.
Now that the networks are finally announcing their Fall 2010 lineups, we're keeping track of what's on when. Use the handy list below to begin planning your personal TV schedule.
As I mentioned in my post about the CW upfronts, the network has decided to basically lease space on Sunday nights. So while Dawn Ostroff and her two holograms babbled on about the how they were axing wrestling from the lineup in order to have a more cohesive network (read: everything is exactly like Gossip Girl or Top Model), this newly released lineup from MRC (Media Rights Capital) pretty much blows that out of the water. The lineup, which really could be on a completely different network, features shows geared towards older women (like in their 30s instead of 20s) and are all pretty much being created on spec without any pilots. This isn't unheard of in this strike-riddled season, NBC is doing it with their big non-Knight Rider pilots, but these also don't have any big names currently attached to them either. Not to say that these couldn't have potential, they conceivably could, but it is a very unorthodox way of making shows to fill up an entire night of programming, to say the least.
Again, I'm watching another upfront from the comfort of my desk chair. It really isn't all that bad... though it does mean no party and no mingling with stars, but I'll live. While CW apparently is becoming all lifestyles of the rich and famous, Fox seems to be just about action, Idol and some more action. Which works. If it ain't broke...
Finally, upfront week is over and all the networks have revealed their schedules. Friday nights are shaping up to be busy... if you are still watching Smallville or Ugly Betty. The CW unleashed their five night lineup today, and it is filled with more pretty people than you can stand. So start planning out what you'll be watching and when, with our handy little schedule below. And no, that's not a typo, both 90210 and Melrose Place are back on TV. Get more details on the CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC fall slates and midseason lineups here.