Like every year, the American TV networks have announced their plans for the fall season in what is known as the “upfronts.” This is the time when the industry celebrates with the winners and sheds the occasional tear for the loser.
This past season has not really seen any surprise breakout hits such as Lost or Desperate Housewives the year before. As a matter of fact, the 2005-06 season was rather humdrum.
CBS, Fox, and ABC held their ground fairly well, while NBC finished last again. Its only glimmer of hope is its new game show Deal or No Deal . Without it, NBC would not only have been dead in the water, it would have been adrift in the swamps of the Everglades and been gobbled up by one of the alien creatures on Invasion.
After announcing its plans for the fall last week, NBC has quickly realized its schedule required further tweaking and introduced some drastic, last-minute changes such as putting its hit show Medium on the backburner until mid-season. It’s even tinkered with its long-time favorite, Law & Order, by moving it out of its regular Wednesday slot, where it’s been for over a decade, to Friday nights, when no one is really home watching TV. (Could it be that NBC needs a good excuse for dropping the aging Law & Order franchise, especially now that NBC has axed two shows by Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, Trial by Jury and Conviction, in the span of just one year?)
Be that as it may, most eyes will be turned to an experiment this coming season: CW, the new network, which was created by the merger between WB and UPN. People will want to see if the new CW can do better than the eternally abysmal UPN and the sleep-inducing WB. However, the writing is already on the wall that CW will be a real snoozer: after WB made a big fuss about the demise of its 10-year-old show 7th Heaven, CW is now in the process of reviving the show for an 11th season, thus securing itself a bottom ranking in the ratings. Since CW is only hanging on to Smallville, but not Charmed, the fledgling network will probably have to take down its transmitters by next March.
As for ABC, one has to wonder about the kind of executive who makes scheduling decisions at the network. A comedy like Hope & Faith, a sort of charming throwback to the days of I Love Lucy, is cancelled, but According to Jim gets another season on life-support. And let’s face it, it’s not fair to Regis Philbin (who will have his hands full with Kelly Ripa when she reprises her Hope & Faith character in real life: an actress who has just been booted from her show).
Looking ahead at the new shows for the fall, there is really nothing that sticks: More reality rubbish, more shows about lawyers, terrorist-fighters, and even more people who see and talk to the dead. How long before some TV character summons the ghost of seasons past?Powered by Sidelines