Thursday, May 13, 2010

The 2010-2011 Broadcast Season: Early Surprises

Word has come out in the past day or so about early renewals, cancelations, and series pick-ups from NBC, FOX and ABC. You can scroll down a couple posts to where I mentioned a few of the pilots I was hoping would be picked up; some have already made the cut, and hope is waning for others.

So far NBC has been leading the early announcements. Perhaps because their network is floundering (and to avoid a backlash similar to last year when they announced that Jay Leno would be taking up five primetime hours), or perhaps because it's just extra publicity to make individual announcements across several days, NBC has (formally) announced series pick-ups for six new shows, four hour-longs and two half-hour comedies:

The Event
Love Bites
Perfect Couples

These particular pick-ups mostly surprise me. NBC seems to be banking on the need for Americans to fill the void to be left by the end of ABC's Lost by offering a new series from that show's creator (Undercovers) as well as a similarly-plotted show full of conspiracies and mysteries (The Event). Love Bites seems similar to Sex and the City, still popular years after ending its HBO run with two blockbuster films. But the orders for Chase, Outsourced, and Perfect Couples surprise me. Jerry Bruckheimer (executive producer of Chase) created a very successful television franchise with CSI, but he has not been so lucky lately: The Forgotten, E-Ring, Miami Medical, Justice, Eleventh Hour, and others have failed on each of their respective networks. Chase follows the same old Bruckheimer procedural, which is clearly getting tired: Cold Case has not performed well this season and CSI has falled behind NCIS as the top police franchise. So the choice to pick up Chase is strange to me. Then Outsourced may fit well with NBC's Thursday night lineup, but it doesn't sound particularly interesting and doesn't feature any "names." Perfect Couples is generic as well. But these two pick-ups mean that less generic pilots will probably be left behind: Nathan vs. Nurture and Beach Lane, specifically.

Then Fox announced that it will renew two of its dramas, Lie to Me and Human Target, in addition to picking up five new series, two dramas and three comedies:

Ride Along
Lone Star (formerly Midland)
Wilde Kingdom
Traffic Light
Keep Hope Alive

I had hoped that Wilde Kingdom would be picked up (although it would probably be better suited to NBC, where the show's star, Will Arnett, originated on SNL and whose wife's show will be playing its third season, Parks and Recreation). It will probably end up being the only comedy pilot I wanted to see picked up actually ordered to series, since NBC's Outsourced is eerily similar to Fox's Nevermind Nirvana. Though there is still hope for Security, since Fox would probably need a fourth comedy to pair its shows off evenly; and this year's experiment of dropping a live-action pilot in the middle of Animation Domination Sundays was a huge failure. I don't remember reading much about Traffic Light or Keep Hope Alive, so their premises and casts probably were not too interesting to me upon first inspection. And I was absolutely not thrilled with any of Fox's drama pilots, and apparently neither were they: renewing both Lie to Me and Human Target is telling, considering neither is a strong performer (though Human Target routinely won its timeslot, it was never with high numbers). Fox's schedule is the one I'm most looking forward to seeing next week though, if only to know whether they attempt another fall season of So You Think You Can Dance or fill those three hours with new programming. At this point, it could go either way (all renewals and pick-ups were for 13 episodes, so any could be pushed to midseason).

But perhaps the most exciting news, to me anyway, was yesterday's announcement that ABC had ordered No Ordinary Family to series. This is the cast I was most excited to see and one of the more interesting premises this pilot season. There are many different directions in which to take the material about a family who discovers they have superpowers: will it go the comedy route, a la The Incredibles? Or more like a family-style Justice League? I'm intrigued.

Full season schedules will be announced next week, but as of now there won't be much news. But we'll know more soon.

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