Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 Upfronts recap

The Upfronts are over, the smoke has cleared, and the final tally for fall pickups is 32 new scripted series – 21 dramas and 11 comedies. So percentage-wise, that’s 33% sitcoms. Clearly an improvement over past years but remember, NBC has officially thrown in the primetime towel and scheduled Jay Leno every weeknight at 10. There go two or three potential new nurse dramas (leaving us with only three).

A couple of the networks have given up on Saturday night completely, airing reruns of dramas rather than new product. (What a contrast to the 70s when CBS Saturday night was the biggest night of the week with ALL IN THE FAMILY, MASH, MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, BOB NEWHART SHOW, and CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Today it’s NCIS reruns.)

SAMANTHA WHO? would have been picked up but ABC insisted producers cut $500,000 off of each episode’s budget… thus making it SAMANTHA HOW? The producers declined. Too bad. It was a decent show.

A couple of shows switched networks. MY NAME IS EARL apparently will move to FOX (I'm waiting for final confirmation but TBS is also interested) and MEDIUM will join the CBS lineup. NBC wanted to give MEDIUM a smaller order so the producers happily jumped to CBS who offered more. And now of course NBC is saying the show under-performed and they didn’t want it anyway. Had the producers agreed to stay at NBC they’d be claiming it’s the crown jewel of the network.

Greg Garcia, creator of EARL, was hardly miffed over leaving NBC. His quote: "It’s hard to be too upset about being thrown off the Titanic."

Both CBS and ABC are trying to establish a comedy night on Wednesday.

CBS added one new comedy. ABC ordered four and FOX ordered four. FOX then fired their comedy development VP.

Then there are the two almost-networks. No comedies ordered by the CW and NBC picked up two. NBC also (barely) renewed CHUCK after producers agreed to some "tweaking". I imagine that means cut the budget. Instead of a 3-D episode they may be forced to do 2-D. And they've made a product placement deal with Subway. Sarah Walker will now work at a Subway sandwich shop (thus becoming the smartest person EVER to work at a Subway). Oh, and the show won't air until next March after the Olympics.

Watch for more product placement deals in the future. It's going to be just like the 50s with tobacco companies dictating creative directions.

But of course the big story is that out of these 32 new series, a whopping 20 are owned by the networks . The only network that actually ordered more shows from outside production companies than in-house was ABC. 7 of the 10 were not ABC productions. The rest of the networks (and NBC) just stocked up on more of the shows they themselves own. Were they the best shows under consideration? You’re expecting me to say no but the answer is – probably because they owned most of the pilots too.

Tomorrow I’ll delve into more specifics comedy-wise. This season’s trends, what has good buzz, surprises, and the show that got renewed despite being yanked off the air last November.

P.S. If you were away all weekend, check out my Saturday post on the Worst Songs of All-Time. Always looking for new candidates.


Simon H. said...

Where did you hear "My Name is Earl" is moving to Fox officially? Last I read, the network passed on it according to one of the cast members.

A. Buck Short said...

So this is what it's come to? I get my entertainment news from an entertainment industry satirist, the way Gen Xers get their news news from the Daily Show. Hey you're all I got. It was a judgment call.

But ease up on Subway. In this age of swine flu, I like as many people as possible handling my sandwich -- and the pleasure of watching them do it.

Now go make a nice delve. :)

Harold J said...

"Both CBS and ABC are trying to establish a comedy night on Wednesday." Well, their schedule is a joke, so they're well on their way.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

And please tell all about the rejected AbFab remake.

Richard B said...

Yeah, this season it's all about keeping the money within the family. CBS dumped Eleventh Hour (audience 12 million) while picking up Medium (10 million and falling).

Which is like firing trained staff so you can hire your brother-in-law. It makes Mom happy but it's not the brightest thing to do.

rob! said...

Has there ever been one example of a series successfully continuing after it has switched networks? Usually the show on its new network limps along for half a season and then its gone. So I don't know how snarky Greg Garcia should be about the show moving to Fox.

With Earl gone, NBC is now free to fill Thursday nights with more Office clones--Awkward Pause Thursdays!

Anonymous said...

How do "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation" stay in the NBC lineup with mediocre ratings? Don't tell me--Lorne Michaels has that kind of clout?

Jayne said...

My Name Is Earl has sucked rocks since Earl was in prison. It never recovered from that. I'm amazed anyone wants to pick it up.

Anonymous said...

JAG was cancelled after its first season on NBC and CBS picked it up and it ran for 9 more seasons.

olucy said...

It looks like Scrubs may still have some life in it after ABC picked it up from NBC.

Simon H. said...

I sincerely wish they had let Scrubs end, as what I thought was the Series Finale was a great, pitch-perfect way to end the show. Alas, they will run it into the ground next year, and it will be another example of a show that ran one year too long.

Rinaldo said...

Greg Garcia has confirmed that FOX has passed on My Name Is Earl, and given some more background, under his "whojackie" identity (which became a character in the second season) at Television Without Pity:

Although the series has been more uneven of late, it has been wonderful at its best, and I would like to see it given at least another half season to wrap things up as planned, rather than getting cut off on a cliffhanger.

rob! said...

"JAG was cancelled after its first season on NBC and CBS picked it up and it ran for 9 more seasons."

That's a great example, although one could make the argument JAG wasn't on NBC long enough for people to really notice, hence its long run on CBS.

Maybe its time for Ted McGinley to join the Earl cast?

YEKIMI said...

Looks like it's going to be a craptastic fall TV season, not one damn thing worth watching. Can someone bring back the Indian Head test pattern? That might get better ratings then Leno.

Alan Coil said...

"The rest of the networks (and NBC) just stocked up on more of the shows they themselves own."

Cool. Now they can claim 2 tax write-offs: 1 against the show, and 1 against the network.

Susan said...

I LOVE Chuck.... NBC always cancels shows that show any originality, or require any level of thought or tax the viewers brain cells in any way. Granted, I found Chuck a little uneven this season, but it amuses me still.
NBC... starts out with great shows and then dumps them. I hate watching them because I get all excited about the new shows, and then... they are GONE