Ah yes, it's time for the Upfronts. First out of the gate is NBC with what I would classiy as a fairly major remake of their primetime schedule
Cancelled: The Apprentice, Martha Stewart; Book Of Daniel; Inconceivable; West Wing; Will & Grace; Surface; Three Wishes; E-Ring; Four Kings; Joey; Teachers; Heist; Conviction.
Retained: Deal Or No Deal; Medium; Law and Order: SVU; The Biggest Loser; Law and Order; Las Vegas; Dateline.
Moved:Law and Order: CI; My Name Is Earl; The Office.
New: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; Heroes; Friday Night Lights; Kidnapped; 20 Good Years; 30 Rock; Football Night In America; Sunday Night Football.
In addition Crossing Jordan be returning at midseason. Sunday Night Football will be replaced by two new series, America's Got Talent and Raines with The Apprentice returning between them. Scrubs will also be returning at midseason in an unspecified time slot.ER will run until January and be replace by the new series The Black Donnellys. The following new shows will be available as midseason replacements: The Singles Table, and Andy Barker, P.I.
Complete Schedule: (New shows in Capitals, except of course ER.)
8-9 p.m.: Deal or No Deal
9-10 p.m.: HEROES
10-11 p.m.: Medium
8-9 p.m.: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
9-10 p.m.: KIDNAPPED
10-11 p.m.: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
8-9 p.m.: The Biggest Loser
9-9:30 p.m.: 20 GOOD YEARS
9:30-10 p.m.: 30 ROCK
10-11 p.m.: Law & Order
8-8:30 p.m.: My Name Is Earl (new time)
8:30-9 p.m.: The Office (new time)
9-10 p.m.: STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP
10-11 p.m.: ER
8-9 p.m.: Deal or No Deal
9-10 p.m.: Las Vegas
10-11 p.m.: Law & Order: Criminal Intent (new day and time)
Saturday 8-9 p.m.: Dateline Saturday
9-11 p.m.: Drama Series Encores
7-8 p.m.: FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA
8-11 p.m.: SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
In Heroes a genetics professor uncovers a "secret theory" that there are people in the world with superpowers. The large cast include Sendhil Ramamurthy, Milo Ventimiglia, Ali Larter, and Masi Oka.
Friday Night Lights is based on the book and movie of the same name details the lives of a championship high school football team in the small Texas town of Dillon. The series stars Kyle Chandler as the team's coach, Connie Britton as his wife, and Scott Porter, Gaius Charles, Taylor Kitsch and Zach Gilford as members of the team.
Kidnapped draws on the model of 24 and Prison Break to delve into the story of the kidnapping of the teen-aged son of wealthy New York family and the secrets that they might be hidding. The all-star cast includes Jeremy Sisto, Delroy Lindo, Dana Delany, Timothy Hutton, and Mykelti Williamson.
20 Good Years is a comedy in the style of The Odd Couple (but without the living together), starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor. The two play middle aged men who are different in every possible way except that both realise that they only have about twenty good years left, and intend to live each day as if it were their last.
30 Rock is a comedy featuring Tina Fey as a writer on a high profile TV variety show. She finds that her show is being forced by the new network president, played by Alec Baldwin, to add a wild and unpredictable movie star played by Tracy Morgan tot he cast. One of the executive producers of the show is Lorne Michaels creator of Saturday Night Live, the show on which the fictional variety show is based.
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip is a dramtic take on a similar subject to 30 Rock. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford star as the creative team who are brought in by network entertainment president Amanda Peet to fix a high-profile late night comedy series. Other members of the cast include Timothy Busfield, Steven Webber, and D.L. Hughley. The series marks a return to network TV of Aaron Sorkin together with his frequent colaborator Tommy Schlamme, who created The West Wing.
Comments: It's worth noting that NBC recognises the problems they and other networks had with overexposure of game show properties and have actually scalled back the number of episodes per week of Deal Or No Deal. Thursday night appears to be the biggest change for NBC with the emphasis on comedy being reduced thanks to the cancellation of Joey and the end of Will & Grace. Moving My Name Is Earl and The Office to the earlier time slot could be risky, almost as risky as pitting the high profile Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip against the proven ratings champ CSI. Another risky part of the strategy is the decision to run ER from September to a cliffhanger in December and then picking it up after The Black Donnellys (from Oscar winning writer/director Paul Haggis) ends its first season. As for the other new shows in the line up, I have little in the way of expectations for Heroes; the concept sounds interesting but whether it can sustain an audience opposite the CBS comedy line up is another question. Friday Night Lights on Tuesday could do better, depending on how tolerant the public is of dramas built around sports. The last show to try it CBS's Clubhouse died an ignominious death. Kidnapped is an interesting concept and if the concept is carried out well it could work. The trouble is that it's a difficult concept to carry off or are we forgetting last season's Fox series Reunion. Of the two new comedies, 30 Rock has the most intriguing concept and is probably going to be the more successful one, while the synopsis of 20 Good Years somehow seems old hat and tired.