It’s “Upfronts” week in the US, which is when all the big networks present their new schedules which will air from September to May to potential advertisers. The networks show previews of their new and existing shows, and advertisers then decide which ones they want to buy their ad-time in. They then give the networks a bunch of money for that ad-time, which helps the networks go away and actually finish making the shows so they’re ready to begin airing in September.
This is usually when we’ll find out some more information on the new shows, or pilots, which each network has picked up, as well as finding out which shows they have decided to renew (or in some cases, prolong!). Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcements this year is the number of shows given 13 episode seasons, as opposed to the standard 22, which seems like a pretty clear cost-cutting measure. Shorter (often 13 episode) seasons are common on the US Pay TV channels like HBO, Showtime, and FX, but now the networks seem to be embracing the shorter runs too. There is of course always the chance that those 13 episode orders can be extended to a full 22 if they rate well enough.
From this year, some announcements will be no surprise: Lost gets its final season, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy will continue.
Sometimes there are pleasant surprises: Chuck gets another (albeit 13 episode) season, and Scrubs, which was assumed to be dead and gone after its finale last week, but somehow gets renewed (with many of the main cast – Zach Braff/Sarah Chalke – returning for 6 episodes).
And sometimes there are shocking renewals: America’s Funniest Home Videos and Wife Swap both get new seasons. Who really watches that stuff?
Personally, I’m most pleased to see Chuck will be back for a third season (although it’s at the cost of a shorter season, some of their stellar supporting cast, and two writers), Castle getting a second season (one of my favourite shows so far of 2009), Fringe and Lie to me coming back, and quite surprisingly, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse being renewed for 13 episodes. Dollhouse has had pretty miserable ratings in its Friday night slot on Fox, but they’re obviously happy enough to bring it back for another go, although it will also have fairly large budget cuts (along with Chuck). It’s nice to see a network (particularly Fox, who are notorious for cancelling shows without a second thought – or sometimes second episode) giving these shows a chance to really build a following, though lets face it, they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it could make money. And in Dollhouse’s case I’m sure they’re also taking into account Whedon’s rabid following who will also no doubt buy the show on DVD, and as JJ Abrams has been quoted as saying, those plastic cases don’t cost (US)$50.
I’m most disappointed that Life was cancelled, I really enjoyed both seasons of it (the second hasn’t begun here yet). And I hadn’t even realised they were still making According To Jim…
Below are a number of shows that have been renewed, cancelled, or are still on the bubble (could go either way). Are you happy to see them back? Do wish some of them would just go away? Let us know. Information on the new shows is to come soon.
ABC: Lost, Brothers and Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Private Practice, Castle, Better off Ted, Scrubs
CBS: Two and a Half Men, Survivor, The Big Bang Theory, The Amazing Race, Cold Case, Ghost Whisperer
CW: Gossip Girl, America’s Next Top Model, 90210, Smallville, One Tree Hill, Supernatural
Fox: Fringe, American Idol, 24, Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, Til Death, Lie To Me, Dollhouse, Bones
NBC: 30 Rock, The Office, Friday Night Lights, Law & Order: SVU, Parks and Recreation, Southland, Heroes
Likely to live (but no confirmation yet):
CBS: The Mentalist, CSI, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, NCIS, Numb3rs, Criminal Minds, How I Met Your Mother, Flashpoint
On the Bubble:
CBS: The Unit, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Rules of Engagement
Fox: Sit Down, Shut Up
NBC: Law & Order, My Name Is Earl
Likely to be cancelled:
ABC: Cupid, According to Jim
CBS: Eleventh Hour, Worst Week
CW: Without A Trace, Everybody Hates Chris, Reaper
ABC: The Unusuals, Samantha Who?, Opportunity Knocks, Boston Legal, Life On Mars, Eli Stone, Dirty Sexy Money, Pushing Daisies
CBS: The Ex List
Fox: Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Do Not Disturb, Prison Break
NBC: Life, Kath & Kim, Kings, Knight Rider, My Own Worst Enemy, Lipstick Jungle, Crusoe, ER
Thoughts? Opinions? Is your favourite show coming back or are you going to be stuck watching the same episodes over and over on DVD?
Come back tomorrow for “Upfronts Part Two: Pilots 101″