Thursday, May 19, 2011

What I'll Be Watching This Fall

Monday

8:00 - Gossip Girl (CW)
8:00 - Terra Nova (Fox - New)
10:00 - Castle (ABC)
10:00 - The Playboy Club (NBC - New)

I've decided at this moment to continue on with Gossip Girl. I figure since this is likely its last season, I should see it through to the end. After all, if I could slug through season two without dumping it, I can probably stick it out. The Playboy Club is the most exciting show NBC is debuting this fall, so I'm looking forward to that one. And it will be nice to finally see Terra Nova... hopefully.

Tuesday

8:00 - Glee (Fox)
9:00 - Ringer (CW - New)

The schedule I have set for myself is much less crowded than it was last fall. Tuesdays are a case in point, as I'm only recording two shows. Glee continues to disappoint, but those great episodes every once in a while remind me of why I loved the first half of season one so much... and so I stick around. Ringer is the series I'm most looking forward to, as I'm a huge Sarah Michelle Gellar fan (Buffy was my life) and the preview clips released today looked promising.

Wednesday

8:00 - Survivor: South Pacific (CBS)
8:00 - Up All Night (NBC - New)
9:30 - I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Fox - New)
10:00 - Revenge (ABC - New)

Even though I didn't like the Redemption Island twist of this season of Survivor, it continues to be the most addictive reality show on television for me. I'll give the first few episodes of Up All Night a shot, since I love Christina Applegate, but I'm not expecting to get sucked into it; it looks like it'll appeal more to an audience a little bit older than I am. I'm very much looking forward to I Hate My Teenage Daughter after seeing the trailer Fox released this week; I laughed out loud a few times in just those three minutes, so I have high hopes for the rest of the series. I didn't initially plan on watching Revenge, but the trailer has me curious. I enjoyed Emily Van Camp on Everwood, and this show has that WB feel to it. I'll give it a try, perhaps I'll be surprised.

Thursday

8:00 - The Vampire Diaries (CW)
8:00 - The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
9:00 - The Secret Circle (CW - New)
9:00 - Person of Interest (CBS - New)

Apparently I was the only one not impressed with the preview CBS released of Person of Interest. It made the show look like a standard procedural, and a humorless one at that. But I'll still give it a chance, considering how much I like the cast and how well-received the pilot has been. I have high hopes for The Secret Circle, since its sister show The Vampire Diaries has become one of the shows I most look forward to watching each week.

Friday

8:00 - Nikita (CW)
8:00 - A Gifted Man (CBS - New)
9:00 - Grimm (NBC - New)
10:00 - Blue Bloods (CBS)

I've never, ever had this many shows to watch on a Friday night. I guess these networks really are getting serious about Friday programming. The first season of Nikita was a big surprise; it ended with a bang, and I'm curious to see where they'll take it next. A Gifted Man has a wonderful cast, and even though it looks and sounds cheesy, I'll give it a few episodes to grab me. Grimm is another show I'm eagerly anticipating, even though it was off my radar until it was announced on the schedule on Sunday. The trailer was great, and it looks like a good deal of fun. I'm probably not going to watch the full season of Blue Bloods, however, if the rumors of a change in format are true. A new showrunner has been brought on to apparently make it more like a typical procedural, which is exactly why I watch it; the thing I like about the show is that the characters are the focus, and the actors are wonderful when they have complex material to work with. So if this devolves into a crime-of-the-week bore, I'll be tuning out.... and it looks like that may be the case, since the show's big mystery was concluded in the season one finale.

Sunday

7:30 - The Cleveland Show (Fox)
9:00 - Family Guy (Fox)
9:30 - American Dad (Fox)
10:00 - Pan Am (ABC - New)

Here's to hoping The Cleveland Show and Family Guy are funny this season, because neither of them were this past year. American Dad is consistently the best animated program Fox has on Sundays, so I'll continue to watch it and laugh. Pan Am looks decent enough, and I'm hoping it can keep up a certain degree of energy to keep me watching beyond the pilot.

2011 Upfronts: CW Fall Schedule

Monday

8:00 - Gossip Girl (New Timeslot)
9:00 - Hart of Dixie (NEW)

With any luck at all, this will be Gossip Girl's final season. It continues to air on one of the most competitive nights for television, and its storylines and characters are a shadow of what they once were. CW has decided to pair the new Southern charmer Hart of Dixie, since it is produced by the same team that does Gossip Girl. I don't think I'll ever buy Rachel Bilson as a serious doctor, but then again this is the CW; realism isn't exactly their forte. And who knows, it may take off with the younger female viewers.

Tuesday

8:00 - 90210 (New Timeslot)
9:00 - Ringer (NEW)

And this will probably be 90210's final season as well. It will be up against Glee, which I'm sure shares a good deal of its target audience. I don't see it lasting past May 2012. But then we get the new Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle Ringer at 9:00. I'm so excited to see what this show is all about, and I'm so glad the CW gave it a good slot. They could have easily paired it up with Nikita on Fridays, but clearly they want this series to work; it is, after all, probably their highest-buzzed pilot. I don't know how much of a lead-in 90210 will provide, but hopefully it can find some audience on its own.

Wednesday

8:00 - H8R (NEW)
9:00 - American's Next Top Model (New Timeslot)

I don't really understand why the CW would move ANTM back an hour and put a new reality pilot out in front against The X Factor and Survivor, but whatever. I'm actually really interested in H8R, which will pair a regular person up with a celebrity they hate, giving the celebrity a chance to win the person over. But I suppose you fight fire with fire, and it's easier to compete with reality juggernauts with your own reality programming.

Thursday

8:00 - The Vampire Diaries
9:00 - The Secret Circle (NEW)

This was a no brainer. Just like Mondays are Schwartz-Savage night, Thursdays are now Williamson night. The new pilot from the creator/producer of The Vampire Diaries, about a group of teen witches in New Salem, gets the prime slot on the CW's schedule. This was easy to call since the two shows have much in common, including source material from the same author. Hopefully The Secret Circle will be the hit the CW needs.

Friday

8:00 - Nikita (New Timeslot)
9:00 - Supernatural

Again, no surprise here. Both shows skew male, so it makes sense to pair them together. Supernatural did surprisingly well on Fridays this past season leading out of Smallville, another male-skewing show. Hopefully Nikita can not only help it to hang on but can also build a new audience of its own. Its first season was very well-done, and it deserves to be seen.

Midseason

At the season break, fans of long-running soap One Tree Hill will receive a farewell ninth season of 13 episodes. Joining the veteran drama are two reality series, The Frame and Re-Modeled. The former puts ten teams of two people in one small space each, where they must live together and have their every move recorded, while also competing in challenges and head-to-head competitions. The latter will see the development of a new network of many small modeling agencies, allowing models to take control of their careers.

This is a very satisfying schedule, on the whole. It doesn't make much sense to have flailing shows lead-in to new ones, but I don't think the CW will hold that against newcomers Hart of Dixie and Ringer. As much complaining as there has been this morning about this schedule, it makes sense. 90210 won't provide a strong lead-in, but you're throwing a low-rated show up against Glee rather than a new one. Nikita may pair better with Ringer, but then would you want to launch a new show on Friday? Or have Nikita go up against stronger competition than it will get from the 8:00 Friday slot? No, this schedule is nicely done in that sense.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2011 Upfronts: CBS Fall Schedule

Monday

8:00 - How I Met Your Mother
8:30 - Two Broke Girls (NEW)
9:00 - Two and a Half Men
9:30 - Mike & Molly
10:00 - Hawaii Five-0

First ABC introduced two back-to-back sitcoms with "man" in the title. Now CBS is doing the same with a "two girls" sitcom followed by a "two men" sitcom. Seriously, just because they share a word in the title doesn't mean they're going to be compatible series. With how badly Castle has been kicking Hawaii Five-0's ass lately, I'm surprised they didn't move it to Tuesdays and premiere something new in the 10:00 slot.

Tuesday

8:00 - NCIS
9:00 - NCIS: LA
10:00 - Unforgettable (NEW)

Unforgettable is a terrible concept, and it would have been more compatible with The Mentalist. CBS needed to make a change here since The Good Wife has struggled lately, but I don't see this new series doing too well: it's a female-driven show coming out of two male-driven ones, which clearly did not work for The Good Wife.

Wednesday

8:00 - Survivor: South Pacific
9:00 - Criminal Minds
10:00 - CSI (New Timeslot)

I don't have much to say here. The Criminal Minds spin-off obviously wasn't working, and The Defenders didn't do well either. I suppose moving the granddaddy of its flagship franchise there is a safe bet.

Thursday

8:00 - The Big Bang Theory
8:30 - How to Be a Gentleman (NEW)
9:00 - Person of Interest (NEW)
10:00 - The Mentalist

I think The Big Bang Theory and How to Be a Gentleman will work well together, though I don't know how Person of Interest will do at 9:00. It seems like a dark show for that hour, but CBS must have confidence in it to put it up against another procderual (Bones on Fox) and an established adult hit drama (Grey's Anatomy on Fox).

Friday

8:00 - A Gifted Man (NEW)
9:00 - CSI: NY
10:00 - Blue Bloods

I'm very excited to see Blue Bloods returning in the fall, but I'm extremely annoyed with A Gifted Man being put in the 8:00 slot. Did CBS learn nothing from Chaos? New shows just don't do well on Fridays. They are obviously looking for something to replace Ghost Whisperer, the highest-rated Friday show of recent memory which they canceled this time last year. But A Gifted Man deservers better, even if it's a midseason slot.

Saturday

8:00 - Rules of Engagement (New Timeslot)
8:30 - Comedy Repeats
9:00 - Drama Repeats
10:00 - 48 Hour Mystery

I just don't understand the point of putting Rules of Engagement on Saturdays. It's a steady performer, and I know that it's only 17 episodes away from syndication... but is this really a smart move? I'm betting they move it to another slot at midseason, because this will not end well. Saturdays just aren't a television night anymore.

Sunday

8:00 - The Amazing Race
9:00 - The Good Wife (New Timeslot)
10:00 - CSI: Miami

The Good Wife will get creamed by Desperate Housewives, football in the fall, and The Celebrity Apprentice in the spring. CBS probably doesn't care, however, since it garners them awards show prestige and is being quietly ushered toward syndication.

Midseason

CBS only ordered one series for midseason, the cop drama The 2-2. What if both of the new dramas debuting in the fall fail? What if one or both of the new comedies fail? What if Two and a Half Men doesn't last without Charlie Sheen? They may be busy this fall season ordering formerly-dead pilots to production and/or producing new reality television.

Again, a disappointing schedule without much to offer. Two timeslot changes, two new dramas, and two new comedies. I suppose it's a testament to CBS's viewership that they didn't need to make many changes to the schedule, but this is pretty boring. Even the new additions to the lineup don't add much to the proceedings: The 2-2 is yet another police procedural; Person of Interest is another police procedural albeit with a slight twist; Unforgettable is yet another police procedural a la The Mentalist; Two Broke Girls is a modern day take on Laverne & Shirley; and How to Be a Gentleman is another group of friends sitcom. Yawn.

2011 Upfronts: ABC Fall Schedule

Monday

8:00 - Dancing with the Stars
10:00 - Castle

If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Tuesday

8:00 - Last Man Standing (NEW)
8:30 - Man Up (NEW)
9:00 - Dancing with the Stars Results
10:00 - Body of Proof

ABC has a strangely large number of male-centric sitcoms on tap this season, two of which were chosen to lead a brand new comedy hour in a timeslot the network has previously struggled with. Tim Allen should prove enough of a draw for Last Man Standing, but I can't help but wonder what type of audience is expected for his new show; presumably the audience is older, comprised of those who remember Home Improvement, a sitcom with a mostly female fanbase. Will they stick around for the very male-heavy Man Up at 8:30? I don't think they will. Allen's new show would've been better utilized in the Wednesday comedy block.

Wednesday

8:00 - The Middle
8:30 - Suburgatory (NEW)
9:00 - Modern Family
9:30 - Happy Endings (New Timeslot)
10:00 - Revenge (NEW)

The ratings-challenged Cougar Town will be held till midseason in favor of the new addition Suburgatory, which should do fine but should have been launched after Modern Family to maximize its exposure. Instead, the floundering Happy Endings will get a boost in its second season. I don't understand the thought process behind the teen-oriented, WB-like soap drama Revenge at the tail end of the comedies however. The preview makes it look like Eastwick, an ABC failure from a couple seasons back which debuted in the same slot.

Thursday

8:00 - Charlie's Angels (NEW)
9:00 - Grey's Anatomy
10:00 - Private Practice

Apparently this reboot of Charlie's Angels will be a bit more family-oriented to go on at 8:00, but I don't see it doing well against The X Factor or American Idol, should it survive that long.

Friday

8:00 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (New Timeslot)
9:00 - Shark Tank
10:00 - 20/20

Extreme Makeover is still a relatively strong performer for ABC, so I suppose if they want to move toward Friday programming then moving their reality flagship there is the best opening move.

Sunday

8:00 - Once Upon a Time (NEW)
9:00 - Desperate Housewives
10:00 - Pan Am (NEW)

It's exciting to see that ABC is trying an all-scripted night on Sunday, since I don't recall any other network doing that recently. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Time doesn't look too promising from the initial footage released. It does have a family-friendly vibe however, like a live-action but slightly darker Disney film that should keep families around who were watching America's Funniest Home Videos at 7:00. I'm torn on my feelings for Pan Am's timeslot, as I think the show itself has potential; but it will likely divide many viewers who will either find it derivative (as it is very similar in style, period, look and premise to Mad Men) or just a boring soap.

Midseason

Like NBC, ABC has saved its most buzzworthy and promising pilots for midseason. That's when we'll get the debuts of the soapy drama Good Christian Belles; the horror thriller The River; and the high-testing sitcom Apartment 23, among others.

Midseason will also see the addition of the borderline-offensive, cross-dressing (and, again, male-centric) sitcom Work It and the return of Cougar Town. On the drama side, the Ashley Judd vehicle Missing, originally intended as a ten-episode summer miniseries, will debut at midseason as well. It will likely be used as filler between cycles of Dancing with the Stars. On Tuesdays in March, the comedy block will extend an hour to include Apartment 23 and Cougar Town. It will be interesting to see how this comedy block does against the Fox one, which will be extending to two hours at the same time.

Overall this is the most disappointing schedule so far. All of the pilots I was looking forward to (GCB, The River, Apartment 23) have been held for midseason. Is no one trying to compete this fall? NBC has saved both The Voice and Smash, and Fox has held Alcatraz and ordered Touch for midseason as well. I don't get why these networks are putting their weakest efforts out first and saving the big guns for spring. Looking at ratings, shows that debut in the fall will almost always do better than those in the spring. A recent example would be Hellcats on CW, which was one of the network's strongest performers in the fall, even after a timeslot shift, which fell sharply in the spring and is now officially canceled. Why not come out strong right out of the gate? With this lackluster lineup, ABC may very well fall below NBC and become the fourth place network.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Upfronts: Fox Fall Schedule

Monday

8:00 - Terra Nova (NEW)
9:00 - House (New Timeslot)

The only surprising thing about this piece of the schedule is that Terra Nova is leading the night rather than following House. I guess Fox is counting on the family audience they hope to get tuning in a little earlier, since the fact that it's Steven Spielberg + dinosaurs will likely be a selling point for families.

Tuesday

8:00 - Glee
9:00 - The New Girl (NEW)
9:30 - Raising Hope (New Timeslot)

As expected, Glee will serve as jumping off point for a new sitcom the way it did this season with Raising Hope.

Wednesday

8:00 - The X Factor (NEW)
9:30 - I Hate My Teenage Daughter (NEW)

I'm glad The X Factor won't be taking up three entire hours of the schedule, and hopefully it will be able to do good things for I Hate My Teenage Daughter.

Thursday

8:00 - The X Factor Results (NEW)
9:00 - Bones

The more I think about it, the more I wish Fox would have paired House and Bones together on Monday and launched Terra Nova on Thursday. Just a personal preference, becaue if The X Factor does as well as Fox is anticipating then it seems like a wasted opportunity to give a new scripted show a good lead-in.

Friday

8:00 - Kitchen Nightmares
9:00 - Fringe

No surprise here. Fringe got a miracle renewal, so it will obviously live the remainder of its days in a bad timeslot. I don't really understand why Kitchen Nightmares is listed as a full-season show (on both the fall and midseason schedules) when Fox has Mobbed lined up as well.

Sunday

7:30 - The Cleveland Show (New Timeslot)
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - Allen Gregory (NEW)
9:00 - Family Guy
9:30 - American Dad (New Timeslot)

I'm glad The Cleveland Show is being shoved in the 7:30 slot instead of American Dad; the latter is much funnier and performs much better in the regular lineup. When Fox originally announced Allen Gregory's pickup, it was said to be a midseason show. Apparently they want to get it out there, though they should have given it the 9:30 slot if they were really hoping for success. Its order is only for 7 episodes, so I don't know what Fox will do with that slot afterward... reruns?

Midseason

At midseason, the Monday 8:00 timeslot will be reclaimed by House and 9:00 will be taken over by Alcatraz due to the long turnaround time for episodes of Terra Nova; American Idol will take over for The X Factor on Wednesdays and Thursdays; The Finder will fill in for Bones while the show is on hiatus because of the lead's pregnancy; Napoleon Dynamite will fill the void left by Allen Gregory at 8:30 on Sunday; and American Dad will leave the schedule indefinitely to accomodate the second season of Bob's Burgers at 9:30.

Furthermore, Fox is planning a two-hour comedy block on Tuesdays when Glee has a month-long hiatus in the spring. It will feature Raising Hope, The New Girl, I Hate My Teenage Daughter and either Little in Common or Family Album, neither of which were formally picked up but are still in contention for that short order in this timeslot.

Fox also ordered the Kiefer Sutherland-led ensemble drama Touch, by Heroes creator Tim Kring, for midseason. They did not announce where they plan to fit it, however.

Overall this is quite the confusing schedule. The network seems to have ordered too many projects, which also happened to them this current season when they picked up a second season of Human Target only to have it double-up episodes to get through its order before American Idol and the other shows returned from hiatus. I don't see where they have room for Touch, unless the new comedies and/or Raising Hope fail and it takes the post-Glee slot; or if Alcatraz is a massive failure and is pulled very early. But then they also have Mobbed set to debut sometime midseason, plus plenty of episodes of American Dad that need to be aired (considering it is off the midseason schedule but still has episodes from its last production cycle and from its latest one as well). But even after all that, the schedule is still pretty tight. There were no major shakeups, so Fox should have a pretty solid year once again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Upfronts: NBC Fall Schedule

Monday

8:00 - The Sing-Off
10:00 - The Playboy Club (NEW)

I'm not surprised that NBC wants to compete with ABC's Dancing with the Stars with a reality competition of their own. The Sing-Off has done shockingly well in its first two seasons, though they both aired in December while nearly all other network shows were on hiatus. It will be interesting to see how it does against real competition; I can see it being a moderate success, as it skews younger than Dancing with the Stars. The Playboy Club will face serious competition if ABC leaves Castle in this slot and CBS does the same with Hawaii Five-0.

Tuesday

8:00 - The Biggest Loser
10:00 - Parenthood

I suppose NBC wanted to keep one night that was working for them in tact, and they chose Tuesdays.

Wednesday

8:00 - Up All Night (NEW)
8:30 - Free Agents (NEW)
9:00 - Harry's Law (New Timeslot)
10:00 - Law & Order: SVU

I think this is probably the worst decision NBC made with this new schedule. This new comedy block will be competing with a comedy block on ABC and The X Factor on Fox. It's difficult to have two new sitcoms lead off the night to begin with, let alone with such stiff competition. Then Harry's Law will be up against a similarly older-skewing show in Criminal Minds (unless CBS changes its slot), coming out of two female-skewing shows. It just doesn't make much sense. And it's looking more and more likely that this will be the final season of Law & Order: SVU, as Mariska Hargitay just closed a deal to star in 13 of this season's upcoming episodes before her character receives a promotion and takes a back seat to a new female detective (rumored to be Jennifer Love Hewitt). Christopher Meloni still has not closed a deal to return, however, so we may not be seeing Stabler around anymore either.

Thursday

8:00 - Community
8:30 - Parks & Recreation (New Timeslot)
9:00 - The Office
9:30 - Whitney (NEW)
10:00 - Prime Suspect (NEW)

Off all the new sitcoms NBC picked up, I would've expected most if not all of them to get the 9:30 slot over Whitney. First of all, the preview up on NBC's site is terrible and unfunny. Plus, it does not fit with the "workplace comedy" theme of the other shows. The slot should have gone to something else, preferrably Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. I don't expect it to do very well. Prime Suspect takes over what many are still referring to as the ER timeslot. But putting a police drama there following two hours of comedy has not done NBC any good the past few years: Chase bombed there last fall and Southland did okay in 2009 but was canceled after one season on the network (though later sold to TNT).

Friday

8:00 - Chuck (New Timeslot, Final Season)
9:00 - Grimm (NEW)
10:00 - Dateline

Chuck is relegated to Fridays to burn off its final season, though it will unfortunately have to serve as a launching pad for the new supernatural procedural Grimm. I guess NBC's thinking was that they could compete with whatever Fox decides to put on Fridays at 9 (either the low-rated Fringe or a new series), and I guess that's a decent way of thinking. But with a supernatural show like Grimm possibly up against two other supernatural shows (Fringe and Supernatural on CW), plus whatever CBS schedules in the slot... it may not end well for the new show.

Sunday

NFL

Assuming the lockout is resolved, NFL coverage will take up the entirety of NBC's Sunday schedule.

Midseason

NBC is saving its best for next year when a new season of The Voice takes over for The Sing-Off on Mondays from 8-10, leading into the highly anticipated new musical drama Smash. Assuming The Voice maintains its massive ratings from this season, Mondays should be a huge night for the network come January 2012.

They also mentioned the return of The Celebrity Apprentice to Sundays from 8-10 in the spring, followed by the new drama The Firm, a planned one-season sequel to the John Grisham book and subsequent film. Should The Donald decide to make a presidential run, NBC head honcho Bob Greenblatt intends to recast the boardroom leader on The Celebrity Apprentice.

Also set to debut midseason but not placed on the schedule are new drama Awake and new comedies Bent, BFF and Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. 30 Rock will also return uninterrupted at midseason. That's a lot of midseason comedies.

Having watched the short (1-2 minutes each) previews for each of the new shows, including those debuting midseason, I can safely say that NBC dropped the ball this year. While it was smart of them to expand their reality television lineup with The Sing-Off being moved to a weekly format, many of the other choices are confusing. Whitney was easily the worst of the new comedy previews, though it gets the best timeslot possible. Are You There Vodka?... was easily the funniest, though it gets pushed to midseason. Up All Night and Free Agents offered "meh" previews, but they have nothing in common with each other or the other series they are paired with on Wednesdays, and they will face very stiff competition. Grimm's preview did the show no favors, making it look very cheesy; and Prime Suspect just looks like every other police show on television. The only preview that really sold itself was for The Playboy Club, which I'm holding out hope for. But when you order pilots like Smash and Awake, which have massive amounts of buzz surrounding its scripts and/or casts, I just don't understand waiting for that buzz to cool down for three additional months before debuting them. I think it's a decent decision to try to launch Smash out of a successful and similar music show like The Voice, but your fall schedule shouldn't suffer just because you're looking to the far future instead of what's coming up fast.

Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 Upfronts: Early Decisions for NBC

As they did last year, NBC and Fox have already made most (if not all) of their new-series pickups in the week before their scheduled upfronts. They've each also renewed and/or let some shows go, so let's start dissecting NBC's early decisions.

New Drama Pickups

Awake (formerly REM)
Grimm
The Playboy Club (formerly Playboy)
Prime Suspect
Smash

New Comedy Pickups

Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea
Bent
BFFs
Free Agents
Up All Night (formerly Alpha Mom)
Whitney

Recent Renewals

Chuck
Harry's Law
Parenthood

Recent Cancellations

The Event
Law & Order: LA
Outsourced


Fate Still to Be Determined
Law & Order: SVU

So NBC took a lot of the expected route this week. If you read my fantasy schedule a few weeks ago, you'll see that I guessed almost everything above. In just the past few hours there has been a huge outpouring of shock and suprirse over the renewal of Chuck for a final season of 13 episodes; I thought that was obvious considering how close the show is to syndication and how rabid its fan base is.

I'm still curious to see if NBC will pick up one more new drama, though word is they will not. I think that's pretty adventurous of them, since that will leave only one new drama for midseason (or the return of Chuck at midseason). However, since they picked up so many new comedies, I suppose they will try for another comedy hour on a night other than Thursday. Speaking of, the comedy pickups were slightly surprising. I was only able to correctly guess three of the six ordered series (Are You There...?, Whitney, Up All Night), since the others came completely out of left field. The comedy pickups are always hard to guess since things can go so wrong from when the script is written to when the pilot is delivered, but even considering that these three other pickups (Free Agents, Bent, BFFs) were very surprising since none had much or any buzz surrounding them the past few weeks. Word is that BFFs screened poorly the first go-round but got a much better second cut; plus, it was very cheaply done so only a minor gamble for the network. Free Agents is a remake of a British comedy (apparently NBC hopes it will do as well as their other British comedy remake, The Office) and Bent features film star Amanda Peet in a plot very similar to that of ABC's Cougar Town.

On the drama side, all the frontrunners received pickups: Smash, Prime Suspect (also a remake of a British series) and The Playboy Club. NBC is taking a gamble with the complex Awake and playing it safe with Grimm. All five shows actually have interesting qualities, and I'll likely give most of them a shot in the fall depending on how they lineup on the schedule. Harry's Law and Parenthood always looked likely for renewal, and both The Event and Law & Order: LA always looked likely for cancellation; no surprises there.

And with that, the only decision left to make concerns the renewal of veteran drama Law & Order: SVU. Its ratings suggest it should return, without a doubt. The only issue with the long-running series may come with the main cast's contracts, which took several months to negotiate before its last two-season renewal (up at the end of the this current season); it will be interesting to see whether or not this will be the final season of the last surviving Law & Order series.