I was surprised by alot of what went down at the upfronts this year. First of all, there were all the early announcements of renewals, cancellations and pick-ups. There were few surprises in that sense; the real surprises were in what shows got the axe and what pilots were ordered to series. There were a lot of missed opportunities this year, particularly from The CW. They had a lot of promising pilots with a lot of buzz (the scripts for Nomads and The Damn Thorpes both had rave reviews from unbiased insiders online); and why would they not capitalize on the popularity of supernatural shows by putting Betwixt after their huge new hit The Vampire Diaries? Clearly there is a market for these shows, and the CW realized it by renewing Supernatural beyond its original five-year intended run. But they dropped the ball with Betwixt. Even if the pilot wasn't great, there is time to reshoot and rework the series into something different and better... and even if it sucked, the CW's target audience would probably still watch it and fall in love with it. Instead they only picked up 2 pilots: Hellcats and Nikita. A cheerleading show (which has promise if it's anything like Bring It On) and yet another remake of an old TV show. Did they learn nothing from the failure of Melrose Place and the decline in second-season ratings for 90210? And without any midseason replacements, what will they do if either series fails? They clearly learned nothing this year when The Beautiful Life and Melrose each failed, but there was nothing but reruns to replace them with... or even-worse rated reality shows. Bad, bad move.
I'm also shocked by the number of veteran series canceled this year, especially by NBC. They took a risk and picked up eleven (!!) new series this year, trying to shake the bad taste leftover from The Jay Leno Show. But the bottom line is that NBC has fallen mightily; they are the lowest rated broadcast network
other than the fledgling CW. To try and fix that, they are banking on a lot of new shows to carry them through next season. Is it a smart move? Who knows. But there were some pretty crazy casualties along the way: Law & Order and Heroes especially. Then you have CBS sticking a fork in Friday-dominator Ghost Whisperer and The New Adventures of Old Christine; audience favorite Ugly Betty, veteran comedy Scrubs (which should have gone last year), and the started-strong-but-faded, once-hopeful-Lost-replacement FlashForward disappearing from ABC; and ratings giant 24 finishing up at Fox, along with the interminable sitcom 'Til Death (thankfully it was finally put down).
Having said all that, here's what I'll be watching in the fall, in some form or another:
The Event (NBC, 9:00 - NEW)
Gossip Girl (CW, 9:00)
Castle (ABC, 10:00)
Glee (FOX, 8:00)
No Ordinary Family (ABC, 8:00 - NEW)
Life Unexpected (CW, 9:00)
Running Wilde (FOX, 9:30 - NEW, formerly Wilde Kingdom)
Undercovers (NBC, 8:00 - NEW)
Survivor: Nicaragua (CBS, 8:00)
Hellcats (CW, 9:00 - NEW)
The Vampire Diaries (CW, 8:00)
My Generation (ABC, 8:00 - NEW, formerly Generation Y)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00)
Shit My Dad Says (CBS, 8:30 - NEW)
Human Target (FOX, 8:00)
Blue Bloods (CBS, 10:00 - NEW)
I'm much more excited about the midseason prospects for these networks. We'll get The Cape and Harry's Law from NBC; new series Mr. Sunshine and the return of V at ABC; and the new animated comedy Bob's Burgers and the epic Terra Nova on FOX.
While I will be watching many of these new shows, I'm not expecting much out of them. A lot of them seem rather formulaic, but have casts or creative members whom interest me (Blue Bloods, My Generation, Running Wilde). We'll see how it all turns out.