As most of you know, we are entering that most happy nerve wracking of times for the television industry, Upfront Week. It's that time when the US networks cut free those shows they no longer want and say hello to what they damned well hope (usually wrongly) will be The Next Big Thing. Of course the strike has made a lot of the suspense go away, with networks declaring some shows safe as early as February. But some shows at least were still hovering on the brink, caught in the limbo between renewal and cancellation. All of this is supposed to be a big secret until each network's day in the spotlight, but inevitably stories leak out, usually about what is cancelled and what has been saved. As usual, our beloved Nikki Finke has the latest scoop on what's going on before the networks make it official (along with a metric ton of other stuff for the people who want the sort of entertainment industry news that you don't get on Entertainment Tonight or Extra).
Traditionally, the first day of the Upfronts is traditionally given over to NBC. But of course in this brave new post strike world NBC has decided to march the very different beat of Jeff Zucker's drummer and announced their 52 Week Lineup for 2008-09 in April, in an event that the "clever" people at NBC labelled the "Infronts." NBC had an Upfront presentation on Monday but most of what was announced appears to have been very minor tweaking of the previously announced lineup. The big thing was the announcement that Jimmy Fallon will replace Conan O'Brian on Late Night when Conan takes over the Tonight Show.
Back in April I asked the question "Which of the new NBC shows sounds most promising?" Foolishly I forgot to include an option that said "they all sound like a big steaming pile of poo," (an option that will be in the next lineup poll I do I assure you). Maybe that explains why I only had six votes cast – I didn't give anyone a chance to express how they really felt about the NBC lineup. Anyway, here are the results. In a four-way tie for fifth place with no votes are The Philanthropist, Kath & Kim, Merlin, and Kings. In a three-way tie for second place are Knight Rider, Crusoe, and My Own Worst Enemy. But the "winner" with three votes is "The Office spinoff."
I find this result absolutely fascinating. I mean think of it; here we have a show with no announced title, no announced cast and no announced storyline – in fact it was reported at the time that "they don't even have a premise for the new series yet" – and it got as many votes as the other seven series combined! I mean this says a lot about something. Either it means that the people who voted trust the creative minds behind The Office to deliver another show with the same sort of creativity and comedy as the main show...or they think that the other shows on the list are a "big steaming pile of poo." I'm not entirely confident which is the real answer.