Saturday, May 10, 2014

Prelude to Upfronts: Cancellations and Pick-ups

Before I started this blog, the whole business of “Network Upfronts” was as foreign as the Greek language to me. All I knew is that sometime in May the US networks would announce their new shows and cancel the unsuccessful ones from the previous year, and then the Canadian networks would pick them over to find the “best of the lot” for us, and conveniently forget that half of the shows that they considered the “best of the lot” were either cancelled by the end of the season.

Upfronts used to be the day when a Network President and his (and they were all men for a long time) would stand in front of the assembled masses of advertisers and the ink-stained wretches from the entertainment media and announce which shows have been cancelled and which have been picked up, and what next season’s TV schedule would look like. The advertisers would then – over the next few weeks – decide what shows they’d make their media buys on, and how much they’d be willing to pay. Meanwhile the entertainment media would, wittingly or not, promote the new shows with information even thought they’d basically only seen the few clips provided by the network at the Upfronts. The key point was that the networks announced all of their changes at their Upfront day.

In recent years things have changed. Networks announce their renewals and their cancellations before the Upfronts – days and sometimes even weeks before – and they’ve taken to announcing shows they’ve picked up in advance as well. In the past I’ve held off from reporting or commenting on these announcements, preferring to wait until a network’s upfront day. I’m not sure that that approach is practical anymore. So what I’ve decided to do is to list the cancellations and the pickups before the upfronts, and comment on the percentage of available time that the proposed new shows will be taking up on each network.

Cancellations: The Assets, Back In The Game, Killer Women, Lucky 7, Mind Games, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, Mixology, Trophy Wife, Betrayal, The Neighbors, Super Fun Night, Suburgatory,
Status Unknown: The Taste, Black Box
Picked Up: Dramas  American Crime, The Astronauts Wives Club,The Club, Forever, How To Get Away With Murder, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Secrets & Lies, The Whispers
Comedies – Black-ish, Galavant, Manhattan Love Story, Selfie
Update: Two comedies that I missed: Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat  which were announced at the same time as the renewal of Last Man Standing.

Comments: Eight hours of Dramas, four half-hours of Comedies. I was saddened but not surprised by the cancellation of Trophy Wife. The kids, and in particular Burt, were great and it was fun to see Bradley Whitford playing straight man both to the kids and the women in his life. If this show had a better time slot – like between The Middle and Modern Family instead of after another newcomer, The Goldbergs – I think it could have worked.


Cancellations: How I Met Your Mother, We Are Men, Bad Teacher, The Crazy Ones, Friends With Better Lives, Hostages, Intelligence
Picked Up: Dramas – Battle Creek, CSI: Cyber, Madam Secretary, NCIS: New Orleans, Scorpion, Stalker
Comedies – The McCarthys, The Odd Couple

Comments: Six hours of Dramas, two half-hours of Comedies. Only two survivors of the new shows, Mom and The Millers. I think that the limited series nature of Hostages was a bad choice to go against Castle, and Intelligence was just pretty bad. Disappointed that the cut The Crazy Ones, a series with a stand-out cast that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately stand-out cast equals expensive cast, which was probably as much a cause of the show’s demise as the ratings.


Cancellations: American Dad (moving to TBS), The Cleveland Show, Raising Hope, The X-Factor, Almost Human, Dads, Enlisted, Surviving Jack, Rake
Picked Up: Dramas – Backstrom, Empire, Gotham, Hieroglyph, Red Band Society
Comedies – Last Man On Earth, Mulaney, Weird Loners

Comments: Five hours of Dramas, three half-hours of Comedies. All of the professional TV critics are mourning the loss of Enlisted but I never saw the show (because the premise sounded dumb to me) so I can’t comment. I really liked Almost Human, the “cop and robot” buddy show set in a not totally dystopian future. It wasn’t great but I liked it better than THe Following. So sue me.


Cancellations: Ironside, Sean Saves The World, Welcome To The Family, The Michael J. Fox Show, Believe, Community, Crisis, Dracula, Revolution, Growing Up Fisher
Status Unknown: Parenthood
Picked Up: Dramas – Allegiance, Constantine, Emerald City, The Mysteries of Laura, Odyssey, Shades Of Blue, State of Affairs
Comedies – A to Z, Bad Judge, Marry Me, Mission Control, Mr. Robinson, One Big Happy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Comments: Seven hours of Dramas, seven half-hours of Comedy. It is a mark of how far NBC has fallen that I can’t think of one show that they cancelled that I am really going to miss. I know the professional critics and a devoted fan base loved Community with a love that burned like the Sun, but I never watched it, being totally turned off by the presence of Chevy Chase. BTW, there apparently hasn't been a decision on Parenthood because of negotiations over the number of episodes stars of the show will appear in. The network weasels want the leads to do nine episodes of the total of thirteen planned, and they're balking at that idea
Update: While the renewal of Parenthood has not been announced officially, the cast have apparently agreed to a deal which would see them each participate in a reduced number of episodes within a 13 episode season, thus allowing the series to have a resolution.

The CW
Cancellations: Nikita, The Carrie Diaries, The Tomorrow People, Star Crossed
Picked Up: The Flash, iZombie, Jane The Virgin, The Messengers

Comments: Four hours of new series, all Dramas. Yawn. The only show I watch on The CW is Arrow. I suppose I’m sort of surprised that a show about 16th century royalty and religious wars (Reign) got renewed, and I suppose that The 100 is the sort of show I generally like but really, I’ve got nothing.


Todd Mason said...

Chase was essentially fired from COMMUNITY two seasons back.

Brent McKee said...

I know, and for good measure I believe they killed off his character. The trouble is that by that time there was no way I'd be jumping onto the show's bandwagon.

Roger Owen Green said...

Parenthood back for one more season. Apparently, the cast, collectively, took a big pay cut.

1LLoyd said...

The one show I'll miss is Almost Human. It worked for me.

Unknown said...

NBC really is a sad state of affairs right now. So much canceled programming but I don't care about one.