Friday, May 15, 2015

The 2015 Upfronts

Another television season is quickly reaching its end, and we're in the thick of Upfronts, when the various television networks present their new programming slates to advertisers.  This means that all the decisions about cancellations and renewals and pickups have been announced, and we know what next year's network TV landscape is going to look like. 
Let's look at the cancellations first, including the shows that are only being renewed for one more season.  "American Idol" and "CSI" will both come back next year for curtain calls, but after fifteen years, they've worn out their welcome, having long ago ceded their cultural relevance to other programs that followed in their footsteps. It's odd to realize that there are high schoolers running around who haven't known a time before "Idol."  That suggests that the show will probably be back in a few years with some of the old judges for a reboot.  As for "CSI," with multiple spinoffs and a revolving door cast, the flagship's demise probably won't hurt the franchise much.  Meanwhile "Person of Interest" was only renewed for a half order of episodes, suggesting that it's probably not long for this world either.   
Other significant titles on their way out the door include "The Mindy Project," which was impressive for holding on as long as it did, "Revenge" and "The Following," which couldn't maintain the momentum of their early storylines, and "About a Boy," which was once NBC's highest rated sitcom.  Once promising freshmen series like "Backstrom, "Battle Creek," and "Cristela" will be missed.  I know a lot of people liked "Constantine," but I was always disappointed that it wasn't really the "Hellblazer" show I wanted, so I can't say I'll miss is much.  Ditto all those unnecessary remakes of better foreign programs like "The Slap," Gracepoint," and "Resurrection."  Instead, let's breathe a sigh of relief for renewed bubble shows like "Agent Carter" and "Galavant."   
Out with the old, in with the new.  So what looks interesting for the upcoming fall season?  ABC's "Muppets" revival didn't make sense to me on paper, but after the trailer I get what they're going for.  It's going to be "30 Rock" with Kermit and Piggy, aimed at nostalgic adults but safe for kids a little more blatantly than the original "Muppet Show," which was aimed at adults but safe for kids more subtly.  As much as I like Ken Jeong, and as much as Asian solidarity compels me though, I hope the death of "Dr. Ken" is quick and painless.  I'm so, so glad "Fresh Off the Boat" is still here for me to point to as a better option.  Still on the fence about "Uncle Buck" with Mike Epps.  The concept is fine, but Mike Epps?  The only one of the dramas that looks interesting is the terribly named "The Family," headed up by Joan Allen and Allison Pill.
CBS is leaning heavily on formula with shows like "Code Black" and the new "Criminal Minds" spinoff, and is home to the most new film-to-TV projects: "Supergirl," "Limitless," and "Rush Hour."  Even with Bradley Cooper dropping by occasionally, I don't think the chances of "Limitless" are very good.  "Supergirl" should probably be on the CW, possibly paired with "Legends of Tomorrow," but at least it looks better than CBS's other new fantasy series, "Angel From Hell," with Jane Lynch.  Too early to say anything about "Rush Hour" yet because it's being readied for the midseason, but yay for diversity!  Over at FOX, "Lucifer" looks like a lot of fun even if it doesn't remotely resemble the comic book porperty it was based on.  I'm also cautiously optimistic about Ryan Murphy's "Screem Queens," described as a horror-comedy anthology.  Sounds like "American Horror Story" with more laughs and less creeps.
And finally, there's the glut of stuff from NBC, because there's always a glut of stuff at NBC.  First, I question the wisdom of giving Neil Patrick Harris a variety show, because have we learned nothing from Rosie O'Donnell's attempt in 2008?  Ditto the Jennifer Lopez detective drama "Shades of Blue."  "Heroes Reborn" doesn't inspire much confidence, but I am glad to see "Emerald City" back on the slate.  Reports of what the creators originally had planned were intriguing.  Also, it's good to see America Ferrara back headlining "Superstore," a new workplace comedy, alongside Ginsberg from "Mad Men."

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