Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Upfronts 2011 – Video Trailers

I usually try to put up trailers for the season’s new shows every year so that you can see what’s going to be on next season. I was unsure about doing one of these this year after what happened last time, when none of the American networks was willing to make their clips available outside of the United States. When I did find a non-American source for the clips they were shut down within a few days. It wasn’t worth the hassle. If the situation didn’t change this year, well I wasn’t going to push the issue.

This year three networks took the trouble to make their clips available internationally. One of them was NBC. That network has, in the past couple of years, made a real effort to reach out to me and to other Bloggers. They have dedicated a lot to new media strategies and it shows. Both FOX and The CW also have clips on YouTube that are available to international viewers. The latter is particularly interesting since The CW is at least partially owned by CBS which is the network which I, as a Canadian blogging about TV, have had the most trouble with.

Naturally this brings me to a Rant. Neither ABC nor CBS have made their show trailers available to people outside of the United States. In the case of ABC, it is possible to see clips from their new shows if you go onto the new show webpage on their site. The clips are presented in a very small window on the page but you can expand them to full screen. In no way shape or form is this as convenient as having the clips available freely on YouTube or some other video site, if for no other reason than you cant embed these clips. Oh, they have the clips on YouTube, but as a Canadian I can’t see them and that makes them useless to me.

As for CBS, they give me nothing that I can use, either to present to my readers or to just watch and develop my own views on the shows. It’s totally useless, and it bothers me because I really can’t understand the reasoning behind this. It’s not as if, as Leo Laporte would put it, I am about to download all these clips and peddle them to the public from a  blanket on my lawn. There’s not enough material from the shows in question to make this worthwhile. I suppose there’s a question about international licensing and copyright but again, the clips are so small that I don’t see them being that much of a threat to the broadcaster’s position. I think in fact that the benefits of having them available internationally probably outweigh not having them available. One of the big things about “New Media” and “Social Media” is that it is without borders. If the Analytics for this Blog are correct, most of the visits to this blog come not from Canada but from the United States by a ratio of about five to one. More visits to this Blog come from California and New York combined than come from all of Canada. That strikes me as a promotional opportunity that is being missed because of fear of, well I’m not exactly sure what.

Anyway, here are he clips that I have from the networks. As much as possible I have tried to organize the clips by day, followed shows that will be debuting at mid-season



The CW


To see trailers from CBS, please click here.


To see trailers from ABC, please click here. I you are from outside the United States you can see trailers from the new series at the ABC website (I hope).

In addition you can search for the individual CBS and ABC show names on YouTube and (at least for now) be able to find copies of the trailers that have been posted by third parties without regional restrictions. How long this will last is anyone’s guess but from experience it likely won’t be long.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The 2011-12 Season–Night By Night

It's time now to take a look at the Fall 2010-11 TV schedule on a day to day basis. What I'm trying to do her is to handicap each night's programming and to attempt – sight unseen, not even a trailer (maybe a couple of commercials but that's all) – to pick the winners and losers from each night. It's an inexact science that verges on Voodoo, and I'm not much of a practitioner.

Last year’s predictions weren’t as good as I had hoped. I hit some things right on the nose – Lonestar was one where I was right on unfortunately – but others I got very very wrong. I didn’t foresee Law & Order: Los Angeles collapsing the way that it did for example. In a lot of cases I was a lot more optimistic than I probably should have been. Even expressing the possibility that Chase had even the slightest chance of survival was wildly hopeful. We’ll have to see how I do this time around.

I want to do things slightly differently this time around. I’ll still give a prediction about the various new shows but in addition I’ll give a “Battle of the Night” which will be the time slot which I think has either the most interesting confrontation between two shows or where it could be a make or break battle for all of the networks on the night. I will also name a “Show to keep an eye on”; a show that interests me or that I think will either go big quickly or go away quickly. And I’ll give predictions abut the new shows.


8:00-8:30 Dancing with the Stars How I Met Your Mother TERRA NOVA The Sing-Off Gossip Girl
8:30-9:00 Dancing with the Stars 2 BROKE GIRLS TERRA NOVA The Sing-Off Gossip Girl
9:00-9:30 Dancing with the Stars Two and a Half Men House The Sing-Off HART OF DIXIE
9:30-10:00 Dancing with the Stars Mike & Molly House The Sing-Off HART OF DIXIE
10:00-11:00 Castle Hawaii Five-0 Local THE PLAYBOY CLUB Local

Battle of the Night:
8:00-10:00 p.m. Dancing With The Stars vs. The Sing-Off

Show to keep an eye on: The Playboy Club

CBS and ABC have owned the night in the 2010-11 season and that’s reflected in the stability on the night. The two networks have only added one new show, and I think that show, 2 Broke Girls fits well enough between the two existing shows that it should be safe for the full season. There’s a question about whether the change from Charlie Sheen to Ashton Kutcher is going to work on Two And A Half Men but the shouldn’t have too much trouble on the night. Moving to FOX sight unseen I have a big problem with Terra Nova. It’s a genre show, and it’s a show that I’m not entirely sure will be embraced by “science geeks” because of the whole “temporal paradox” aspect. You have to ask yourself whether FOX would have bought the show if the name Steven Spielberg wasn’t associated with it. Unless Spielberg has some sort of deal with FOX to give the show a full season, I expect this show will go quickly. Maybe the most interesting show for me is The Playboy Club, which is why I put it as the show to keep an eye on. Because NBC has Smash set to appear at mid-season, I’m not sure if this is a place holder with a beginning middle and end or if the network has hopes that it will survive on a different day and time.


8:00-8:30 LAST MAN STANDING NCIS Glee The Biggest Loser 90210
8:30-9:00 MAN UP NCIS Glee The Biggest Loser 90210
9:00-9:30 Dancing with the Stars NCIS: Los Angeles NEW GIRL The Biggest Loser RINGER
9:30-10:00 Dancing with the Stars NCIS: Los Angeles Raising Hope The Biggest Loser RINGER
10:00-11:00 Body Of Proof UNFORGET-TABLE Local Parenthood Local

Battle Of The Night
10:00-11:00 p.m. Unforgettable vs Body Of Proof vs Parenthood

Show to keep an eye on: Ringer

Tough night to pick a battle of the night for. My initial instinct was to say Last Man Standing and Man Up against everything else in the time slot but quite frankly I don’t hold out too much hope for the two ABC comedies. On the other hand the 10-11 p.m. time slot looks like a pretty substantial battle between three shows that have a very different feel to them. Body of Proof is a show with fairly light feel like Monday’s Castle, and Parenthood is a family drama which I am still convinced is at least an hour too late in the night. From what I’ve heard about the show, Unforgettable sounds like it will be heavier than Body Of Proof. I think it will be interesting to see how the audience will break down for these three shows and whether they might all still be where they started at the end of the season. Unforgettable was going to be my “Show to keep an eye on” for Tuesday but after a bit of thought I decided that a lot of interested has been piled onto Ringer, since it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar and it was originally intended for CBS. It will be interesting to see, with that pedigree, what sort of ratings it can draw for The CW.


8:00-8:30 The Middle Survivor X-FACTOR PERFORM-ANCE UP ALL NIGHT H8TR
8:30-9:00 SUBURGA-TORY Survivor
9:00-9:30 Modern Family Criminal Minds X-FACTOR PERFORM-ANCE Harry's Law America's Next Top Model
9:30-10:00 Happy Endings Criminal Minds I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER Harry's Law
America's Next Top Model
10:00-11:00 REVENGE CSI Local Law & Order: SVU Local

Battle of the Night
10:00-11:00 p.m. CSI vs Law & Order: SVU

Show to keep an eye on: X-Factor

X-Factor is the elephant in the room on Wednesday nights, which is why I think it’s the “Show to keep an eye on.”  The 2011-12 season will see four and a half hours a week, every week, devoted to singing reality-competition shows, between The Sing-Off, The Voice, American Idol and The X-Factor. And that doesn’t include the summer series America’s Got Talent which every year features a lot of singers. I desperately want to believe that we are at or near the saturation point when it comes to this sort of singing shows. It’s not that I want this series to fail (though I wouldn’t shed a tear if it did) but I really think that one of these shows on any network is enough, particularly since – with minor changes in format and judging, they really are the same show.It worries me when a show like this, which is touted by many as destined to be a huge hit is in a position to take better or more interesting shows off the air (and yes I do include Survivor in that number). As for the battle of the night, CSI vs. Law & Order: SVU has all the makings of a classic confrontation between two aging heavyweights. With Mariska Hargitay apparently wanting to reduce her episode commitment on the show and Jennifer Love Hewitt looking as if she’ll be the replacement on the episodes Hargitay doesn’t do, I think the one surviving Law & Order series could be vulnerable. However CSI has been showing erosion in its audience since William Petersen left and Laurence Fishburne came in. Of the new comedies on the night, I think Suburgatory should be a reasonable fit into the ABC set of family sitcoms and should do nicely between The Middle and Modern Families. I’m dubious about the NBC comedies; I think Free Agents would probably be better in the Thursday night line-up than partnered with a family style sitcom like Up All Night.


8:00-8:30 CHARLIE'S ANGELS The Big Bang Theory X-FACTOR RESULTS Community Vampire Diaries
8:30-9:00 CHARLIE'S ANGELS HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN X-FACTOR RESULTS Parks And Recreation Vampire Diaries
9:00-9:30 Grey's Anatomy PERSON OF INTEREST Bones The Office SECRET CIRCLE
10:00-11:00 Private Practice The Mentalist Local PRIME SUSPECT Local

Battle of the Night
10:00-11:00 p.m. Prime Suspect vs Private Practice

Show to keep an eye on: Prime Suspect
With NBC back in the business of dramas on Thursday night, after two years of dailing comedies like The Jay Leno Show and whatever they had there in the 2010-11 season, the 10-11 p.m. hour suddenly comes into play more than it has. The Mentalist is the top show in the hour, and I don’t think that will change this season at least. However I think that the lesser of Shonda Rhimes’s two Thursday night shows is Private Practice. If Prime Suspect shows any strength at all it might be enough to take the time slot. Even without that situation though, Prime Suspect is a show to keep an eye on if only to see if NBC can mess up yet another adaptation of a British series and how badly. Turning to the other new series, Secret Circle should mesh better with Vampire Diaries than Nikita did. On the other hand I don’t think that Whitney will work as well out of The Office, as the Free Agents would have, NBC might want to consider swapping those two series before the start of the season. Charlie’s Angels is nice light fluff that should probably do well enough between 8 and 9, although that seems to be a time period where all of the networks have high profile shows. That could be a real dog fight with no obvious winners emerging, at least early on. Purely from the commercials that have aired on CBS – because as usual CBS has blocked the YouTube clips to everyone outside the United States – I’m concerned that How To Be A Gentleman will work. I’m assured that the cast is excellent but somehow the concept just doesn’t work for me.


8:00-9:00 Extreme Makeover Home Edition A GIFTED MAN Kitchen Nightmares Chuck Nikita
9:00-10:00 Shark Tank CSI: New York Fringe GRIMM Supernatural
10:00-11:00 20/20 Blue Bloods Local Dateline NBC Local

Battle of the Night 
I’m not really sure. Maybe 8-10 with all the scripted shows going up against the three reality series.

Show to keep an eye on: Grimm.

This one was hard. No one, with the possible exception of CBS and maybe The CW expects much from Fridays, so if you’re a network that isn’t CBS you schedule reality shows like Kitchen Nightmares, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and Shark Tank, or you put on shows that you think are going to draw genre or “geek” audiences like Fringe, Chuck, and Grimm that either have a track record or which you expect will have limited audiences. What I would like to see is those genre shows getting even halfway decent ratings and at least one of them bucking the trend and and getting a higher rating than Extreme Makeover Home Edition (a show that I have come to loathe) or Shark Tank (I rather like Kitchen Nightmares so I won’t mention it in the same context). Think that a sufficiently large audience for a scripted show other than one of the CBS shows might persuade the networks to stay in the business of doing original scripted shows on Fridays. That’s why I think you should keep an eye on Grimm, particularly when someone like Marc Berman says outright that he thinks it will be the first show to be cancelled and Dateline NBC will be expanded to two hours…again. It’s probably too much to hope for, but I can dream, can’t I?


7:00-7:30 America's Funniest Home Videos 60 Minutes The O/T Football Night In America Local
7:30-8:00 America's Funniest Home Videos 60 Minutes The Cleveland Show Football Night In America Local
8:00-8:30 ONCE UPON A TIME The Amazing Race The Simpsons Football Night In America Local
8:30-9:00 ONCE UPON A TIME The Amazing Race ALLEN GREGORY Sunday Night Football Local
9:00-9:30 Desperate Housewives The Good Wife Family Guy Sunday Night Football Local
9:30-10:00 Desperate Housewives The Good Wife American Dad Sunday Night Football Local
10:00-11:00 PAN AM CSI: Miami Local Sunday Night Football Local

Battle of the Night
9:00-10:00 p.m. The Good Wife vs Desperate Housewives

Show to keep and eye on: Pan Am

Ignoring FOX, whose Animation Domination shows are (a) likely to go on forever, and (b) directed at a teen and young adult audience (and (c) – in my opinion at least – a lazy way out of programming the night) the night is all about people who don’t watch football. And traditionally the big audience for that is women. I know that sounds sexist but I’m also pretty sure that there are statistics to prove that. The battle between The Good Wife and Desperate Housewives looks like it could be a big one. The Good Wife won an Emmy for Archie Panjabi in it’s first season as well as a huge number of nominations, while Desperate Housewives won Emmys in it’s early seasons but hasn’t won anything lately. That makes The Good Wife the up and comer while Desperate Housewives the aged veteran seeking one last ratings triumph. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think that The Good Wife, which struggled in it’s original Tuesday night slot could find an audience here, even with periodic Football Overruns on CBS delaying the show. The show I think we should keep an eye on is not Allen Gregory. I’ve already read comments on Cartoon Brew the mildest of which which described the lead character as “the most UNlikeable character ever placed in a prime time show.” That doesn’t bode well for any interest in the show. Pan Am on the other hand at least has the advantages of being an interesting premise and trying something different. It may not succeed, but at least you’ve got a network trying something totally outside the box.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The CW’s 2011-12 Season

cw_logoThe CW, the network that some has described as “the cable of broadcast television,” has announced its 2011-12 line-up. Four new hour long series will be debuting in the Fall with two new series and one returning series debuting at mid-season. In addition three series will be changing either their time or their night.

Cancelled: Hellcats, Shedding For The Wedding, Life Unexpected, Smallville (planned ending).

Moved: Gossip Girl, 90210, Nikita.

Renewed: America’s Next Top Model, Vampire Diaries, Supernatural

New Series: Dramas – Hart of Dixie, Ringer, Secret Circle
Reality – H8R

The CW also has two reality series – Remodeled and The Frame – for mid-season. As well returning series One Tree Hill will be returning at mid-season for thirteen episodes to bring the show to its conclusion.

Complete Schedule (All times Eastern, new shows in Capitals)

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Gossip Girl (New Time)
9:00-10:00 p.m.  HART OF DIXIE

8:00-9:00 p.m.  90210 (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.  RINGERS

8:00-9:00 p.m.  H8R
9:00-10:00 p.m.  America’s Next Top Model

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Vampire Diaries
9:00-10:00 p.m.  SECRET CIRCLE

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Supernatural
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Nikita (New Day)

In Hart of Dixie, Rachel Bilson plays Dr. Zoe Hart, a new doctor who expects to follow in her father’s footsteps as a cardio-thoracic surgeon. That is she does until her dreams fall apart and she receives an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes to work in his rural Alabama practice. When she gets to the Gulf Coast town of Bluebell Alabama to join the practice she discovers that Dr. Wilkes has died and left the practice to her. The problem is that at least some of the locals aren’t displaying the legendary Southern hospitality, notably Dr. Brick Brick Breeland the other doctor in town, and his daughter Lemon (Jaime King) on the other hand she does have a few allies: the towns may Lavon Hayes (Cress Williams), her bad-boy neighbour Wade Kinsella (Wilson Bethel), and lawyer George Tucker (Scott Porter) who just happens to be Lemon’s fiancee. While Rachel’s initial instinct is to go back to New York, a visit from her snobby mother leads Rachel to change her mind and discover both small town life and a side of herself she never knew existed.

H8TR is a new reality show hsted by Mario Lopez that brings celebrities face to face with the ordinary peple who hate them, in an attempt to win them over.

Ringer marks the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to series television in a dual role. Gellar plays Bridget Cafferty and her identical twin sister Siobhan Marx. After recovering addict Bridget witnesses a professional hit. Despite the assurances of her FBI protection agent Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell) she decides to flee New York and go to her sister. Bridget and her sister Siobhan have been estranged for some time to the point where no one in Siobhan’s wealthy and pampered life knows of Bridgett’s existence, including her husband Andrew Marx (Ioan Gruffedd), The sisters seem to be on the road to mending their relationship when Siobhan suddenly disappears. Bridgett decides to take on her identity. As Siobhan she discovers shocking secrets about her sister'’s life and marriage and about Siobhan’s best friend Gemma (Tara Summers) and her husband Henry (Kristopher Polaha).

Secret Circle is the new series from the creators of The Vampire Diaries. After Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) loses her mother in a seemingly accidental fire the teenage girl goes to live with her Grandmother Jane (Ashley Crow) in Chance Harbor Washington. As Cassie gets to know her new classmates –  sweet-natured Diana (Shelley Hennig), her boyfriend Adam (Thomas Dekker), brooding loner Nick (Louis Hunter), mean girl Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) and her sidekick Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy) – strange things start to happen. Cassie doesn’t believe them when they inform her that they are descendants of powerful witches, and that they have been waiting for her to join them to complete a new generation of the Secret Circle. However when she finds a a message from her mother in an old book of spells in her mother’s childhood bedroom she comes to understand her true and dangerous destiny. None of the teens are aware of the darker powers at play in the town that may be linked to the adults in town, including Diana’s father (Gale Harold) and Faye’s mother (Natasha Henstridge).

In mid-season reality series Re-Modeled modelling industry veteran Paul Fisher attempts to bring together small modelling agencies from around the country into a single organization known s The Network. The objective of the Network is to keep the small town agencies rom getting screwed and to empower models to take control of their careers and lead healthier lives.

The Frame is a concept that I’m not sure I can do justice to because I don’t fully understand it myself so I’ll leave it to the network press release about the show: “Ten teams of two, chosen for their dynamic personalities and their existing deep-rooted relationships, are selected to compete in this wild social experiment. These teams will each live in one Frame - a stripped down version of their home living space - for up to 8 weeks, with the entire world watching their inter-personal soap operas play out atop a highly formatted game. Couples cannot physically see one another, but each "frame" is rigged with plasma screens & communication devices that allow for visual and verbal interaction. The teams will face outrageous challenges, punishments, head-to-head competitions, and eliminations, all while isolated from the outside world. With 24/7 web cams streaming content live, and a bi-weekly television show, audiences will vote for - and have control over - many elements of the show, from rewards to punishments to eliminations. The last couple standing will be America's favorite pair, and walk away with a cash prize.”


The CW is always a difficult network to evaluate because what defines success and failure for them is usually quite different than it is for other networks. Few CW shows, even the ones that have been on since the network began, have ever earned the sort of ratings that would see the shows from being cancelled after the second episode. The person who called The CW “the cable of broadcast television” isn’t far wrong if you define “cable” in this context as catering to a niche audience. The CW has largely defined its niche as a teen and young adult female audience, hence shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill, America’s Next Top Model, and Vampire Diaries. Shows that don’t entirely fit into this model do exist – I’m thinking specifically of Supernatural and to a lesser extent Nikita – but they tend to be aberrations. Clearly, of course, I am not a member of the core group that the network is trying to reach, which makes evaluating their shows difficult for me.

Nevertheless there are a couple of things that can talk about. Clearly the big story for the network is Ringer. The show was originally intended for CBS (which owns 50% of The CW Network and is the “C” in CW), but it seems that while programming executives at the network liked the show, they didn’t seem to think it would work on CBS. They did however think that it was an ideal fit for The CW. It is also probably the only CW show that I am likely to make a serious effort to watch. I would certainly have watched it if it had in fact made it into the CBS lineup, or any of the big broadcast networks.

I’ve seen at least one commenter in a forum state that the series summation for Hart Of Dixie made it sound a lot like Everwood and I’m not entirely sure that they’re wrong about that. Admittedly the principal of the show fits the CW’s preferred demographic more than Everwood did – a young single woman doctor rather than a middle-aged widowed male doctor – but so many of the details are the reminiscent of the older show. As to Secret Circle, this show is undoubtedly going to get a good run. It’s a good fit following The Vampire Diaries but quite frankly it is a show that is so far outside my wheelhouse that there’s not much I can say about it.

Turning briefly to the network’s reality shows, I can’t wrap my admittedly aged (by CW standards, and even by network demographics standards) brain cells around why any network would want to touch H8R with a ten foot pole, and Re-Modelled just sounds boring. The one reality series that the network has that sounds even borderline interesting is The Frame. I don’t entirely get it, but I get the impression that it’s a lot like Big Brother the way the British do it… so of course my impression will be entirely wrong. Given the “success” of The CW’s attempts at reality shows (including the apparent decline in ratings for America’s Nest Top Model) maybe The CW should abandon that type of programming the way they dropped sitcoms.

I think that, while I cannot claim to totally understand some of the decisions the executives at The CW have made, this is a relatively good schedule for them. It isn’t going to set the world on fire, but how often has anything that has come from The CW really set the world on fire. When I’m able to say that there is one show that I am likely to watch more than one episode of on the network it’s a good thing. I haven’t honestly been able to say that about any show that has debuted on The CW – most of the shows that I have watched on that network were brought over from the old WB. It’s not a standard that I’d hold other networks to, but for me, having that one show that I want to see more than once means that the network’s new schedule is a success.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CBS’s 2011-12 Schedule

cbslogo200CBS announced their new fall schedule at their upfront presentation on Wednesday. Seven shows were cancelled or had been cancelled earlier in the year, while three new hour long dramas and two half hour comedies were announced to debut in the Fall. In additions a fourth drama has been announced for mid-season. Three shows were moved, and one show – Undercover Boss – was held over until the mid-season.

Cancelled: Chaos, Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior, The Defenders, Medium, Live To Dance, Mad Love, $#*! My Dad Says.

Moved: CSI, The Good Wife, Rules Of Engagement.

Renewed: Two And A Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, Mike & Molly, Hawaii Five-0, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Survivor, Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist, CSI: New York, Blue Bloods, The Amazing Race, CSI: Miami.

New Shows: Dramas – Unforgettable, Person Of Interest, A Gifted Man
Comedys – 2 Broke Girls, How To Be A Gentleman

In addition the network has announced that returning series Undercover Boss, and new series The 2-2 will be available for mid-season.

Complete Schedule (All Times Eastern; new shows in Capitals, except NCIS and CSI)

8:00-8:30 p.m.  How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9:00 p.m.  2 BROKE GIRLS
9:00-9:30 p.m.  Two And A Half Men
9:30-10:00 p.m.  Mike & Molly
10:00-11:00 p.m.  Hawaii Five-0

8:00-9:00 p.m.  NCIS
9:00-10:00 p.m.  NCIS Los Angeles
10:00-11:00 p.m.  UNFORGETTABLE

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Survivor
9:00-10:00 p.m. Criminal Minds
10:00-11:00 p.m. CSI (new day and time)

8:00-8:30 p.m.  Big Bang Theory
8:30-9:00 p.m.  HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN
9:00-10:00 p.m.  PERSON OF INTEREST
10:00-11:00 p.m.  The Mentalist

8:00-9:00 p.m.  A GIFTED MAN
9:00-10:00 p.m.  CSI: New York
10:00-11:00 p.m.  Blue Bloods

8:00-8:30 p.m.  Rules Of Engagement (new day and time)
8:30-9:00 p.m.  Comedy Encores
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Drama Encores
10:00-11:00 p.m.  48 Hours Mystery

7:00-8:00 p.m. 60 Minutes
8:00-9:00 p.m.  The Amazing Race
9:00-10:00 p.m.  The Good Wife (new day and time)
10:00-11:00 p.m.  CSI: Miami

2 Broke Girls is a new comedy from Executive Producers Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings (who is starring in the new NBC comedy Whitney) about two waitresses with a dream. Max is working two jobs just to get by while Caroline is a “trust fund princess” who is having a run of bad luck. Max initially sees Caroline as the latest in a line of inept servers that she’s had to cover while working the night shift at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. Caroline surprises her though by having as much substance as style. And when Caroline finds out how good the cupcakes that Max makes are she sees the potential for a lucrative business. All they need is the money. Also stars Garrett Morris as Earl, the 75 year-old cool cat cashier; Jonathon Kite as Oleg, the overly flirtations cook, and Matthew Moy as the new, eager to please owner of the  diner.

Unforgettable stars Poppy Montgomery as Claire Wells as a former police detective who is quite literally incapable of forgetting anything. In fact the only things that she can’t remember are the details that could help solve her sister’s murder. One thing that she does remember are her conflicted feelings toward her former partner and ex-boyfriend, Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh). When she consults on a case with Al and his team, it somehow feels right. She decides to go back to work solving homicides, including her sister’s murder… if she can remember the details that her mind made her forget. Also stars Michael Gaston, Kevin Rankin, and Daya Vaidya as the members of Al’s team.

How To Be A Gentleman, from the book of the same name, is a comedy about two very different friends. Andrew Carlson (David Hornsby) writes an etiquette column who is devoted to ideals from a more civilised time. This leads him to live a life detached from modern society. When his editor Jerry (Dave Foley) tells him to make his column more modern and sexy or be fired, Andrew seeks out someone from his past. Andrew get Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon) to be his life coach. Bert is a reformed bad boy who inherited a gym but can still be rude sloppy and loud. Andrew hopes that with Bert’s help he can become less a gentleman and more of a “real” man. Nancy Lennhan plays Andrew’s mother, Mary Lynn Raskjub plays his bossy sister, and Rhys Darby plays his brother-in-law.

Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson star in Person Of Interest a new drama from J.J. Abrams. Caviezel plays Reese, a former CIA operative who is presumed dead. while Michael Emerson plays billionaire software developer Finch, who has come up with software that will allow him to detect people who are about to become involved in a violent crime. Reese and Finch team up to use state of the art surveillance equipment and satellite technology to stop crimes before they happen. Reese comes to the attention of Detectives Carter and Fusco (Taraji P Henderson and Kevin Chapman) who he is able to use to his advantage.

In A Gifted Man Patrick Wilson plays Dr. Michael Holt, a doctor who is living a life of luxury as a result of wealthy patients and his obsession with work. The love of Michael’s  life was his ex-wife Anna (Jennifer Ehle) who has died sometime before the series begins. Thus it is something of a shock when she appears to him and asks him to help keep the free clinic that she started operating. Needless to say this surprises a lot of people. Michael’s sister Christina (Julie Benz) is happy that Anna is back in her brother’s life – even as an illusion – because he was always a better person when she was with him. At the clinic Michael meets Autumn (Afton Williams) a volunteer who is trying to carry on Anna’s work. Michael finds himself touched by the patients at the clinic and his attitude towards serving the rich and poor is turned upside down, and he begins to see that there’s room in his life for everyone. Margo Martindale plays Rita, Michael’s efficient assistant at his practice, while Liam Aiken plays Christina’s son Milo.

The 2-2, which will debut at mid-season, is a new police drama from Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal that follows a group of six rookie cops as they patrol the streets of upper Manhattan. The rookies are a diverse group: Jennifer “White House” Perry (Leelee Sobieski) a former college volleyball star and Marine MP in Iraq, Ray “Lazarus” Harper (Adam Goldberg) a former police news reporter with better sources than many seasoned cops, Tonya Sanchez (Judy Marte) whose family has a criminal history and who has very personal connection within the force, Ahmad “Kiterunner” Kahn (Tom Reed) an Afghan native who fought his way to freedom, Kenny McClaren (Stark Sands) a fourth generation cop with qualms about joining the force, and Jason Toney (Harold House Moore) a former basketball prodigy who squandered his chance in the NBA. Daniel “Yoda” Dean (Terry Kinney) is their Field Training Officer, a case hardened unsentimental veteran who emphasizes the basics and holds each rookie accountable for their actions.


Maybe as interesting as the new shows (and in my view more interesting than some of them) is the shows that are moving to new time slots. The most puzzling move is probably the decision to put Rules Of Engagement on Saturdays. It has been a long time since any network except FOX had scheduled new episodes of shows on Saturdays when they weren’t trying to burn off the episodes that they’ve paid for. I basically have two theories on this: first, the network is trying to get enough episodes of the show in the can so that they can sell it for a syndication deal and since they’re paying for them they want to get all they can from them; and second the network wants the show available in its traditional role as a utility player, filling in for a comedy that dies quickly (and personally I have a choice for that “honour”) but wants the show to have a full run of episodes in case it isn’t needed.

The other big moves are taking The Good Wife to Sundays and CSI to Wednesday. I think that the network programmers putting The Good Wife up against the declining Desperate Housewives as an alternative for women who don’t watch football is about as good as it gets. That makes it a two-way race with a critical hit getting a chance in a time slot that could benefit it going up against an aging veteran whose ratings have slid in the past couple of years.

The CSI move is a puzzler to me. I know that while the show still draws well in the Thursday time slot it does do as well as it has done in the recent past. And I know that at least some people on the Internet, like Marc Berman, have spoken of moving it. However the time slot they suggested wasn’t the third hour of Wednesday night but either swapping the show with The Mentalist on Thursday night or cancelling CSI: New York and returning CSI to Friday, the day (and time) where it debuted. The Wednesday move makes some sense, giving it a very strong lead-in with with Criminal Minds but also involves some risk by putting it in competition with the still popular Law & Order SVU. I don’t know about this one yet.

Turning to the new comedies, I really like 2 Broke Girls as a concept and I think it’s likely to fit nicely into the Monday time slot between How I Met Your Mother and Two And A Half Men. The show I have no confidence in is How To Be A Gentleman. It just strikes me as one of the dumbest concepts for a comedy ever, and based on the commercial that I saw for it (since CBS has blocked YouTube videos of upfront clips for non-Americans) I just can’t see this show gaining an audience let alone holding it, even with Big Bang Theory as a lead-in. Think of it this way: what if Leonard and Sheldon’s neighbour wasn’t Penny, but some body-builder type who undertook the task of turning them into “real men.” Would you hve watched that series? I wouldn’t.

Turning to the dramas, it’s a mixed bag in terms of what I’d watch: the Good, the Bad, and the “I’ll have to see it.” The Good is most definitely Unforgettable. I really like Poppy Montgomery and the concept is quite intriguing. The Bad in my books is A Gifted Man. The idea has a lot in common with something like Joan Of Arcadia or maybe even a version of the movie Ghost. Of course I think that others (women) are going to see it differently. Certainly it is the sort of show that CBS has had success with in this time slot before, but I guess I’d just like to see something with a different sort of appeal. As far as “I’ll have to see it” goes, that would be Person of Interest. The whole idea sounds a lot like that Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. The description has a bit of a Big Brother (and not the reality show) feel to it and I’m not sure people are going to buy into it. But I really need to see it before I make a final decision. The mid-season show The 2-2 quite frankly sounds like something I’d be more likely to watch.

Looking at the CBS line-up the obvious thing you can say about it is that it represents a great deal of stability. There have been strategic moves and most of the shows that have been added aren’t exactly pushing the envelope. There was one choice that I clearly didn’t like and a couple of shows that I’m dubious about but these are things that you can try when your the network that’s at the top of the ratings. It isn’t as good as the ABC line-up, but nowhere near the level that the NBC or FOX line-ups managed. It’ll work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ABC’s 2011-12 Schedule

abc_logoABC announced their new TV schedule on Tuesday. The network announce thirteen new shows and relocated several others. The cancellation of eleven shows had previously been announced.

Cancelled: My Generation, The Whole Truth, V, Supernanny, Skating With The Stars, Brothers & Sisters, Better With You, Detroit 187, Mr. Sunshine, No Ordinary Family, Off The Map.

Moved: Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Renewed: Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle, Modern Family, The Middle, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Dancing With The Stars, Desperate Housewives, Body Of Proof, Happy Endings, Saturday Night College Football, The Bachelor, Shark Tank.

New Series: Dramas – Revenge, Charlie’s Angels, Once Upon A Time, Pan Am, Good Christian Belles, Missing, The River, Scandal
Comedies – Last Man Standing, Apartment 23, Man Up, Suburgatory, Work It.

ABC also has returning series Cougar Town and new series Apartment 23 and Work It for mid-season. Currently the intention is for Cougar Town and Apartment 23 to air in the Tuesday 9:00-10:00 p.m. time slot during the Dancing With The Stars hiatus

Complete Schedule (New Shows in Capitals, All times are Eastern)

8:00-10:00 p.m.  Dancing With The Stars Performance
10:00-11:00 p.m.  Castle

8:00-8:30 p.m.  LAST MAN STANDING
8:30-9:00 p.m.  MAN UP
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Dancing With The Stars Results/Cougar Town & APARTMENT 23
10:00-11:00 p.m.  Body Of Proof

8:00-8:30 p.m.  The Middle
8:30-9:00 p.m.  SUBURGATORY
9:00-9:30 p.m.  Modern Families
9:30-10:00 p.m.  Happy Endings
10:00-11:00 p.m.  REVENGE

8:00-9:00 p.m.  CHARLIE’S ANGELS
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Grey’s Anatomy
10:00-11:00 p.m.  Private Practice

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Extreme Makeover Home Editions (moved)
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Shark Tank
10:00-11:00 p.m.  20/20

7:00-8:00 p.m.  America’s Funniest Home Videos
8:00-9:00 p.m.  ONCE UPON A TIME
9:00-10:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00-11:00 p.m. PAN AM

Last Man Standing is Tim Allen’s return to network TV. Tim Allen plays Mike Baxter, the marketing director for an iconic sporting goods store. He drives a pick-up truck and he likes having adventures whenever he travels for work. No one can deny his manliness at work. At home he lives in a home dominated by women – his wife Vanessa (Nancy Travis), and daughters Kristin (Alexandra Krosney), Mandy (Molly Ephraim) and Eve (Kaitlin Dever). When Vanessa returns to the workforce and is rapidly promoted Mike is forced to take on a greater role in parenting. Hector Elizondo also appears.

Man Up is a comedy about three guys who try to redefine what being a “real man” means. Will (Mather Zickel) is an evolved, sensitive man who works as an insurance agent. These are the reasons why his wife Theresa (Teri Polo) married him, but he still wonders what defines a real man. His friend Craig (Christopher Moynihan) is a sensitive soul who still yearns for his college girlfriend Lisa. His other friend Kenny asks, “What would Toby McGuire do?”  when his ex-wife Brenda starts seeing a guy (Henry Simmons) who is everything he’s not. Also features Jake Johnson and Amanda Detmer.

Apartment 23 had a working title of “The Bitch in Apartment 23” (which naturally got the Parents Television Council up in righteous indignation). June (Dreama Walker) came to Manhattan with a dream job that came complete with a company apartment. It all disappears because the company CEO was a Bernie Madoff type and the firm collapses. In debt and on the streets, June thinks she gets lucky when she gets a job in a coffee shop and finds a roommate. Unfortunately her new roommate, Chloe (Krysten Ritter) is charming and vivacious she also has “the morals of a pirate.” She and her boyfriend James Van Der Beek (playing himself) swindle June out of her life savings. What they don’t expect is that the naive June is smart enough to turn the tables on them. That’s good enough to earn June entry into Chloe’s colourful band of friends.

Suburgatory is a comedy starring Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy as a father and daughter who leave New York for suburbia. When George (Sisto) finds a box of condoms on the nightstand of his 16 year-old daughter Tessa’s (Levy) nightstand, the single father decides to move his daughter to the “safety” of suburbia. Initially Tessa is horrified by the “over-manicured lawns and plastic Franken-moms” not to mention the local kids. But once you get beneath the surface, the people aren’t that bad. Moreover the experience of living in the ‘burbs might just help to bring George and Tessa even closer together than they already were. The series also stars Carly Chaikin, Allie Grant, Alan Tudyk, and Cheryl Hines.

Revenge is a drama starring Emily van Camp as a young woman seeking to right some of the wrongs of her past. Emily Thorne is a young woman who recently moved to the Hamptons. She fits in well, but there’s something odd about such a young woman living in this wealthy town on her own. What no one else knows is that Emily isn’t exactly new to the Hamptons. She lived there as a child something happened that ruined her family and their reputation. Now Emily has returned to right some of those wrongs.

Charlie’s Angels is a remake of the classic TV series from the 1970s, with a twist. Instead of being ex-cops, the Angels in the remake are no saints. Abby (Rachel Taylor) is a “Park Avenue Princess” who became a world-class thief. Kate (Annie Ilonzeh) is an ex-cop who lost her career and fiancee in disgrace. Grace is a former Army lieutenant with a way with explosives. When Grace is killed, the women’s mysterious boss Charlie persuades Abby and Katie to work with Gloria’s childhood friend Eve (Minka Kelly) a street racer with a mysterious past. Ramon Rodrigues plays Bosley, who serves as the unseen Charlie’s intermediary. The Executive Producers for the series include Alfred Gough and Miles Miller (who did Smallville), Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen (from the Charlie’s Angels movies) and Leonard Goldberg (from the original Charlie’s Angels series).

In Once Upon A Time not everything is as it seems. Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is a self-reliant bail bond collector who has been on her own since she was abandoned as a baby. Everything changes for her when the son that she gave up years ago finds her. Henry (Jared Gilmore) believes that Emma is the exiled daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White who was sent to our world from the world of fairy tales to avoid the curse of the Evil Queen. This curse trapped the Fairy Tale world forever and brought the people who lived there to the little town of Storybrooke where they don’t remember what they were before. Emma doesn’t believe a word of it, but when she brings Henry back to Storybrooke she begins to worry about the boy and decides to stay. The series also stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Carlisle, Lana Parilla, James Dornan, Josh Dallas, and Rafael Sbarge.

Pan Am is a period piece set in the 1960s when Pan Am was one of the dominant airlines in the world and flight attendants were called stewardesses (or “stewardii “ as comedian Shelley Berman put it). In those days the men and women working for Pan Am had to be educated, cultured and refined; able to deal with everything thrown at them from emergencies to unwanted advances from passengers without mussing her hair. Dean (Jonah Lotan) plays Dean, a charismatic pilot who is one of the first not to have beeen trained in the war. Christina Ricci plays Maggie, a rebellious bohemian in her outside life who becomes a buttoned down professional in order to see the world as a stewardess. The rest of the flight crew are flirtatious Collette (Karine Vannasse), adventurous Kate (Kelli Garner), and Laura (Margot Robbie), Kate’s sister who ran away from the prospect of married boredom for the excitement of working for Pan Am.

Good Christian Belles is the adaptation of Kim Gatlin’s book Good Christian Bitches (which was the working title of the series, which drew protests from the PTC even though ABC made it clear that the name was going to be changed). Leslie Bibb plays Amanda Vaughan, a woman whose marriage ends in scandal. She returns to her hometown of Dallas, where she soon becomes reacquainted with some of her former high school classmates. The ultimate “mean girl” as a teen, Amanda has changed in the 20 years since she left school.  But will the women she went to school with forgive her or seek revenge… or both? The series also stars Kristin Chenoweth, Annie Potts, Jennifer Aspen, Miriam Shor, Marisol Nichols, Brad Beyer, Mark Deklin, and David James Elliott.

Missing stars Ashley Judd as Becca Winstone, a woman whose only son has gone missing. When he was 8 years old Becca’s son Michael saw his CIA agent father Paul (Sean Bean) murdered. Now, ten years later Michael (Nick Eversman) has been given the opportunity to study in Europe and his mother reluctantly lets him go. When he disappears a few weeks into his trip, Becca flies to Rome and picks up on the clues that were left behind. What the kidnappers don’t know, but will soon find out, is that Paul wasn’t the only CIA agent in the family. To find her son Becca will not only have to rely on her old skills and determination but will also have to tap old friend and open old wounds. Cliff Curtis, Adriano Giannini, and Terez Voriskova also star.

The River is about the search for famed wildlife expert and TV personality Dr. Emmett Cole (Bruce Greenwod). Cole went missing without a trace on an expedition down the Amazon. Now, six months later, his emergency beacon suddenly goes off. At the urging of his mother Tess (Leslie Hope), Cole’s son Lincoln (Joe Anderson) joins in the search for his father, who has always seemed an enigma to him. In order to finance the expedition Tess and Lincoln make an agreement with Emmett’s former TV producer Clark (Paul Blackthorne) to film a documentary on the expedition. The expedition includes the sexy and resourceful Lena (Eloise Mumford), mechanic Emilio (Daniel Zacpa) and bodyguard Captain Kurt Brynildson (Thomas Kretschman). Paulina Gaitin, and Shaun Parkes also star.

Scandal is the latest series from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rimes. Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is a former White House media consultant who now runs a firm that protects the public profiles of the nation’s elite, to prevent scandals from being exposed to the glare of the press.. The only problem is that while Olivia and her staff are able to manage the lives of others, they have a great deal of difficulty managing their own lives. Also stars Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short, Guillermo Diaz, Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Jeff Perry and Tony Goldwyn.

 As always my comments are based entirely on the description provided in the network upfront presentations.

Like the other major networks, ABC is attempting to develop a second comedy block, and is being ambitious in their attempt by using the hiatus period of Dancing With The Stars as an opportunity to make their Tuesday comedy block an equal to their Wednesday comedy block. The ABC comedies are a bit of a mixed bag  as far as I’m concerned. The two that have the most interest for me are Apartment 23 and Suburgatory while the new Tim Allen series, Last Man Standing sounds – at least on the surface – like his old series Home Improvement except with daughters rather than sons. The thing that intrigues me about Apartment 23 is the nature of the relationship between June and Chloe, a relationship which sounds – at least on the surface – like the Oscar and Felix relationship in The Odd Couple. As for Suburgatory, the father-daughter relationship is in general not one that is frequently addressed. Beyond that I quite like the hook in which the family moves to the suburbs and find it not an idyllic world but a different sort of jungle to be negotiated.

Turning to the dramas there are several that I like. Charlie’s Angels isn’t one of them, although I’m convinced that it’s probably going to work. The problem for me is that they’re not only rebooting the show but they’re doing it in such a way that it moves away from where the original TV series was. It’s light enough as a concept to fit in with series like Castle and Body Of Proof, but there’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. I’m also uncertain about Once Upon A Time, although I don’t think it will last long enough to really matter given that it will be opposite Football (if there’s no strike), the FOX animation block and (probably) The  Amazing Race. The concept is an inventive one, and it reminds me of descriptions I’ve heard about a comic book series called Fables. I just don’t think the public is going to warm up to it.

Based on the ABC descriptions, there are two series that I’m pretty much convinced that I’ll watch. One is Missing, if it is done in such a way that it can retain an audience in an environment that looks at “one and done” is the expected format for dramas (one episode in which the entire mystery is resolved). I like what I’ve seen of Ashley Judd, and I think that the fact that the show will appear at mid-season and won’t be trying to stretch 22 episodes across 35 or 36 weeks will help in the story telling with a continuity intense series. The other show that really intrigues me is Pan Am although I have to confess that it’s not a show that is really directed towards me. It still sounds like a fun idea.

Apparently advertisers have been telling ABC that their line-up has become too “women-centric” and that this line-up attempts to increase the network’s attractiveness for men. In that area alone it seems like a failure to me. I do think that there are some really good elements in the line-up which should draw an audience. I like more of the shows that ABC is proposing than I did from the NBC and FOX presentations. How much success they’ll have with these new shows is another question entirely.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FOX’s 2011-12 Schedule

FOX logoThe FOX network unveiled its 2011-12 schedules – since FOX likes to reveal both the Fall and mid-Season line-ups at the same time – this afternoon. While the network made considerable changes the actual list of cancellations was rather modest. Five new series will debut in the Fall and three more will show up at mid-season.

Cancelled: Lone Star, Running Wilde, The Good Guys, Lie To Me, Human Target, The Chicago Code, Traffic Light, Breaking In, America’s Most Wanted.

Moved: House (at least for half a season).

Retained: American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Glee, Fringe, Raising Hope, Bones, American Idol, Kitchen Nightmares, House, Cops, So You Think You Can Dance.

New Series: Dramas – Terra Nova, Alcatraz, The Finder
Comedies – New Girl, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Allen Gregory, Napoleon Dynamite.
Reality: The X-Factor.

Complete Schedule (New Shows in capitals; All times are Eastern; Shows scheduled to debut at mid-season are named after the / )

8:00-9:00 p.m.  TERRA NOVA/ House
9:00-10:00 p.m.  House (New Time)/ALCATRAZ

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Glee
9:00-9:30 p.m.  NEW GIRL
9:30-10:00 p.m.  Raising Hope

8:00-9:30 p.m.  X-FACTOR PERFORMANCE/American Idol Performance

8:00-9:00 p.m.  X-FACTOR RESULTS/American Idol Results
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Bones/THE FINDER/Bones

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Kitchen Nightmares
9:00-10:00  Fringe

8:00-9:00 p.m.  Cops
9:00-10:00 p.m.  Encores or America’s Most Wanted (Specials)

7:00-7:30 p.m.  The O/T / Animation Domination Encores
7:30-8:00 p.m.  The Cleveland Show
8:00-8:30 p.m.  The Simpsons
9:00-9:30 p.m.  Family Guy
9:30-10:00 p.m.  American Dad/Bob’s Burgers

Terra Nova, created by Steven Spielberg, was announced at last year’s upfronts but production difficulties meant that it wasn’t available for the 2010-11 season. This family adventure is set in 2149. Earth is dying of overcrowding and overdevelopment. The only hope for mankind’s salvation is the discovery of a fracture in time that will allow humanity to be resettled in Earth’s primeval past. The Shannon family are part of the Tenth Pilgramage to the first colony: Terra Nova. They are Jim (Jason O’Mara) a devoted father with a checkered past, his wife Elizabeth (Shelley Conn) a trauma surgeon, his 17 year-old son Josh (Landon Liboiron) who resents leaving the world he knew behind him, 15 year-old Maddy (Naomi Scott) an awkward teen who hopes that she can reinvent herself in her new home, and 5 year-old Zoe (Alana Mansour) who is the subject of a secret that could jeopardize the family’s place in this new world. Stephen Lange plays Commander Nathaniel Taylor, the leader of the new settlement who warns the new arrivals of the dangers they face…and not just from the local dinosaurs. There are threats outside of the colony, and inside as well. Also stars Allison Miller and Christine Adams.

Alcatraz is the new series from J.J. Abrams. While investigating a grisly murder San Francisco Police detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) makes a shocking discovery. A fingerprint found at the scene belongs to Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), a man who died decades ago… in the Federal Prison at Alcatraz. Both Rebecca’s links to the prison run deep – her grandfather and her surrogate uncle were both guards there – and when Federal Agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) tries to impede her investigation she becomes even more determined, particularly when she discovers that not only is Sylvane alive and leaving a trail of bodies throughout the city, but he hasn’t aged a day since he was in Alcatraz. Teaming with Alcatraz expert and comic book geek Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia) Madsen is eventually forced to team up with Hauser and his technician Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra). Together they discover that Sylvane may be the first prisoner from Alcatraz to appear, but he won’t be the last… and it appears that Hauser is expecting it. Also stars Santiago Cabrera, Jonny Coyne, and Jason Butler Harner.

New Girl stars Zoe Deschanel plays Jess Day, a young woman who moves into an apartment with three guys after suffering a bad breakup. Jess is off-beat and adorable, described as goofy, positive vulnerable and honest to a fault. She’s more confident in dealing with women than she is with men, particularly at home. Of her three roommates, Nick is the most grounded. Although he once had big plans for his life he eventually stopped caring and became a bartender. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a an hustling young professional who is both socially ambitious and considers himself a modern Casanova. He regards Jess as a gateway in to the female mind. The third roommate Coach (Daman Wayans Jr.) is a former high school athlete who now works as a personal trainer. He maintains a macho exterior but it covers his shyness with women. Rounding out the cast is Cece (Hannah Simone), Jess’s life long friend. A deadpan somewhat cynical professional model she has the street smarts that Jess lacks. Their qualities balance each other and they accept each other despite their faults.

X-Factor is a new musical competition show created by Simon Cowell. The show’s judges – Cowell, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Cheryl Cole, and Paula Abdul – travel the country seeking singing acts over the age of 12, whether individuals or groups. The audition process will occur before audiences of thousands in a number of cities. Those acts that survive the auditions graduate to a “boot camp” where they’ll be split into four groups, each of which will be mentored by one of the judges. Not only will the show be a competition between the acts but between the judges as they see whose acts will dominate the competition. Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones host the show.

What happens when you give your kids all of the things that you were denied as a child? I Hate My Teenage Daughter gives one answer. Annie (Jaime Pressly) and Nikki (Katie Fineran) were high school outcasts whose grew up and had daughters. Their parenting strategies were informed by the way they were brought up. Annie was raised in a strict religious household and had virtually no freedoms. As a result she allows her own daughter Sophie to do just about anything she wants. Nikki, who had been an overweight social pariah, has reinvented herself as a Southern Belle whose main goal in life is to give her daughter everything she never had. The intent was good but the result is anything but as their daughter have become the sort of girls who had once made Annie and Nikki’s life a hell. Annie’s daughter Sophie (Kristi Lauren) is embarrassed by her mother and takes every opportunity to ridicule her, even though she secretly knows that she need her mom. Nikki’s daughter Mackenzie works her mother’s insecurity to her own advantage. And the men in their lives aren’t much help. When their daughter’s mean-girl antics go too far Annie and Nikki realize that they need to take action and dole out some real punishments, and that maybe together they’ll be stronger in doing this than they are by themselves. Rounding out the cast are  Eric Sheffer Stevens as Annie’s ex-husband Matt, Kevin Rahm as his brother Jack who Annie has a secret crush on, and Chad Coleman plays Nikki’s ex Gary.

The Finder which used an episode of Bones for a backdoor pilot is about Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) a former military policeman who had knack for finding insurgents, deserters and IEDs. After being caught in an IED explosion and being in a coma for two months, Walter discovers that he now has the ability to find anything that has been lost. Operating out of a Key West bar Walter is helped by bartender Ike Latulippe (Saffron Burrows), a woman with many hidden skills who is grateful to Walter for helping her to escape from “a dangerous life.” Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan), a lawyer who has reinvented himself after the death of his wife and children, serves as Walter’s legal advisor and tempers some of Walter’s paranoia.

Allen Gregory is an animated comedy about “one of the most pretentious seven year-olds of all time.” Allen Gregory de Longpre (Jonah Hill) doesn’t see a child when he looks in the mirror, he sees a talented sophisticated worldly young man. He has a strong bond with his father Richard (French Stewart) and virtually no respect for his father’s life partner Jeremy (Nat Faxon). Also part of the family is his adopted Cambodian sister Julie (Joy Osmanski) who Allen wishes would run away and never be found. Now, Allen faces the greatest challenge of his life: attending elementary school. Despite having allegedly composed operas, written novels and dated Chloe Sevigny he is out of his element and desperately wants to fit in. Other voices include Leslie Mann, Renee Taylor, Jake Johnson, Cristina Pucelli and Will Forte.

Napoleon Dynamite is an animated sequel to the hit movie of the same name featuring the voices of the moivie’s original cast including Jon Heder as Napoleon, Aaron Ruell as his brother Kip, Sandy Martin as Grandma, Efren Ramirez as Napoleon’s friend Pedro, Tina Marjorino as Deb, Jon Gries as Uncle Rico, and Diedrich Bader as Rex Kwon Do.

Going into the upfronts the biggest news out of FOX might have been the cancellation of America’s Most Wanted. The show is almost as old as the FOX network itself, appearing in the network’s second season. According to network entertainment president Kevin Reilly, the show hasn’t actually been profitable for a number of years and the network needs an outlet for “encore” shows. The series will return to its traditional timeslot for quarterly specials, and series creator John Walsh is reportedly shopping it around to various Newscorp owned networks.

Turning to the actual schedule, I hate to say it but there is little here that excites me. The big ticket item in this season is X-Factor, which the network has been pushing practically since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. The show is a remake of Simon Cowell’s British success of the same name. It should probably be mentioned that the British original was created by Cowell to replace Pop Idol (which was the genesis for American Idol) because Cowell didn’t own all of Pop Idol and wanted a series that he would get all the profit from. X-Factor may have some differences from American Idol but it really doesn’t seem that different to me. In a very real sense it is almost as though Fox is looking for a way to have American Idol for a full season and that in turn makes it seem like a cynical effort on the part of Fox. The sad thing is that I’m sure it’s going to work too and hurt some shows that I like.

None of the three dramatic series – Finder, Alcatraz, and Terra Nova – really does it for me. Finder is quite clearly the show that will work the best, simply because it is the show that is most like something that is already on. People like something that’s familiar.  While I think that the concept of Alcatraz is the most intriguing one and one that I’m likely to watch, I don’t think that it’s an idea that the network will find easy to sell to the public. In some ways it “feels”a lot like Fringe, and while Fringe has a loyal – one could easily say a “rabid” following (which includes me) – it isn’t a large following, which ha sled to the show facing cancellation on an annual basis. In a similar vein, I think that Terra Nova will gain a strong sampling when it debuts but I’m not sure how many will stick with it. Me? Well I’m part of the “nitpickers” club, which is going to be talking about how the show sets up a temporal paradox in sending people back in time to potentially become their own ancestors; and besides, wouldn’t bringing the entire population of a dying Earth into the past lead to them making exactly the same mistakes that brought them to this situation, just a couple of million years early?

The two non-animated comedies are both female oriented. While I really like Zoe Deschanel, the concept behind New Girl feels a great deal like The Big Bang Theory without the geniuses and from a female perspective. I think I’d need to see at least one episode before I drew a conclusion on it, but right now I think it has a strike against it for being imitative  without truly understanding why the original works. I Hate My Teenage Daughter is a lot less imitative – which is to say that I can’t think of a show that it’s like that’s on the air right now. Whether that’s enough for it to gain an audience is a big question. The only actress in this that I’m familiar with is Jaime Pressly which isn’t by itself a bad thing. I think the female perspective and the new take on a family comedy is intriguing, and the placement after X-Factor/American Idol gives it a huge potential audience. whether the show will ratain that audience is what we’re going to have to see.

I’ve never really gotten into the network’s animation fixation so I have virtually no interest in either Allen Gregory or Napoleon Dynamite.

Take as a whole this is a very lackluster effort from FOX. Even though I wasn’t particularly excited by the network’s 2010-11 season there was at least a show that I thought had a certain amount of quality to it. That show was The Chicago Code and I’m really disappointed that the network cancelled it. This time around there’s nothing of that sort of quality. I think there are a couple of shows that might work, but the one show that really does anything for me – Alcatraz – is one that I don’t think there’s an audience for.