By definition, “Upfronts” week is when the major networks–ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS (whose new shows unfortunately will be announced after my deadline)–congregate to sell advertisers on their new fall shows with lots of four-minute clips. One hour and lots of clicking and scrolling later, I am here to tell you, which shows will have the best ads–and maybe some good content in between.
This network won the 2009-10 season with the prize horse they should make a Disney athletic movie about, “Modern Family.” NBC even acknowledged defeat by featuring the cast and crew on an episode of “Top Chef Masters,” which airs on the NBC-owned cable channel Bravo. ABC is tonally distinct from its main competitors CBS and NBC in that it prefers soap opera faire (“Grey’s,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Castle”) to crime procedurals and intense reality TV shows. Not much of this looks to change for next year, so I would venture that the network will remain on top in the quality bin.
Say goodbye to: “Ugly Betty,” “Scrubs,” “The Deep End,” “Better Off Ted,” “Flash Forward,” “Happy Town”
Say hello! to: “Mr. Sunshine” (which features Allison Janney!), “Off the Map” (more Shonda Rhimes), “Body of Proof” (Katherine from “Desperate” gets her own show), “My Generation,” two shows with laugh tracks, something with lawyers
NBC is like a girl who gets proposed to all the time, but then gets those engagements broken with equal frequency. In our age group, NBC is probably more successful than even ABC, with what I have termed the Quixotic Quartet of Thursday: “Community,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office” and “30 Rock.” The network also has “Law and Order” on lockdown with suffixes like SVU and now LA! I predict that NBC will still be on the bottom next year…and the year after that if Steve Carell leaves.
Say goodbye to: “Law and Order” (the vanilla kind), “Heroes,” “Mercy,” “Trauma”
Say hello! to: “The Event” (couldn’t even tell you), “Undercovers” (the new “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”), two somethings with lawyers who like to do pro bono work, “Outsourced” (replacing “Parks and Recreation” for the fall to saturate the Indian stereotype market), LOTS of awkward sex comedies and “THE CAPE” (cop is accused of a crime, joins a circus to become a superhero. Yes, this is real).
I would describe Fox as a musical potpourri. Though my use of the word “heinous” in its presence never seems to abate, I can’t say no to that dirty trashy Fox aesthetic. And America can’t either: Fox is the nation’s No. 1 network. All I’m hoping for is “More to Love” Season 2.
Say goodbye to: “24,” “Dollhouse,” “Til’ Death”
Say hello! to: “Ride-Along” (Chicago! Girl from “The L Word!”), “Running Wilde” (Keri Russell and Will Arnett…awkward), “Terra Nova” (dinosaurs)