It’s that time of year again, friends. That’s right. The middle of May means upfronts season is upon us, and after last year’s super-duper, award-winning(!) mega-successful, oh-my-god-you-can’t-miss-this four-post run that took a look at what might be ahead for all of us television-watching, television-loving, television-addicted people, we decided to turn the ordeal into an annual extravaganza here at TV Without A TV. And by “an annual extravaganza,” I mean “until I either get fired or give this blog up for good, either of which could happen within the next 15 minutes,” of course.
As was the approach last year, we’ll have three talking points for each major network (NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX) and a neat little box in which you — yes, you! — will be able find the preliminary schedules for each network, come September. Consider this a very, very early primer on what you can look for, what you might enjoy, what you might hate and what has no shot when all these shiny new programs grace our televisions and/or computers in the fall. Yes. It’s love.
This year, we will once again begin with the most-struggling network of the bunch, NBC. While the colorful peacock made a tiny bit of headway this year with the addition of Bob Greenblatt and the success of “The Voice,” it’s still a long way from where it ultimately wants to be. Gone are the mega-successful days of Must See TV and a 12:35 a.m. talk show hosted by Conan O’Brien. In are shows that are lauded yet never watched and a 12:35 a.m. talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon (who will earn an executive producer credit for something called “Guys With Kids” this fall).
And so it goes. Below are three things to keep in mind when minding NBC’s programming sheet in September. One more deep breath. OK.
Let’s go …
NBC TALKING POINTS
1. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da. Life goes on. That sound you hear is the sound of relevance the art of music is going to have concerning the future of NBC. “The Voice” helped untie one of the hundreds of bricks holding the limbs of the network underwater. “Smash” loosened up another knot, but it didn’t completely allow NBC as much breathing room as it would have liked. This fall, Greenblatt is hoping “The Voice” will maybe even free up an entire arm during the struggle to get his network above water again. The move is … suspect. What’s more surprising is that the judges agreed to this (you mean to tell me Adam Levine didn’t want to stay out on the road with his band, taking full advantage of this second 15-minute stint Maroon 5 has been lucky enough achieve because of this show’s success?). It has worked well with “Dancing With The Stars,” but it’s really hard to imagine “The Voice” maintaining its somewhat fleeting popularity (see last week’s post below). According to the brilliant Lisa Des Moraes at the Washington Post, the move will be aimed at carrying over viewers from the numbers Sunday night’s football game typically gives the network. “We’re trying to build a schedule that has lead-ins and flow,” Greenblatt told the paper. Maybe, but “Smash” didn’t do nearly as well as NBC had hoped (though of course it was renewed quicker than you could say “My Week With Marilyn” and will again be a major factor in if the network can continue its slow-but-unsteady rise with the prized 18-49-year-old demographic) and “The Voice” seems to have peaked, possibly having its better, more profitable years now behind it (again, see last week’s post below). Whether Greenblatt’s life will continue to go on at NBC will be heavily dependent on the success of those two shows. But then again, at a network already in last place, what was he supposed to do — let it be?
2. I’d be remiss if I didn’t reserve an entire talking point for my dearly beloved “30 Rock.” The time has come for it to move on, and unlike “The Office,” it’s going to take the high road and ultimately go out on its own terms (or, at least so it seems). Was it a season too long? Well … maybe (and remember, this is coming from someone who enjoys yelling from rooftops about how wonderful it is). Either way, Alec Baldwin continuously playing Hamlet didn’t help the show’s appeal, of course, and to be honest, a show as thick and quick as this shouldn’t probably ever run longer than six or seven seasons, anyways. Before long, it begins straddling the line between obnoxious and smart too much for most anyone’s taste and even the most loyal of fans will begin tuning out (I often have the same fear when thinking about “Arrested Development,” too, and its impending comeback, but that’s another post for another day). The show will return to its 8 p.m. time slot for a quick half-season run before saying goodbye for good. And while it will be really sad to see it go (cutting in half the amount of television shows I truly love that are still on the air), making the announcement months before the shows even air immediately makes me jump to this: How great is it going to be to try and dissect each passing Inside Baseball joke and/or reference to the show leaving each week? On a scale of one to Kenneth, it has to be somewhere near Liz Lemon.
3. Speaking of something old, something new and something blue (not really), the network is bringing the detestable Dane Cook to television with “Next Caller,” a show that will star the insufferable unfunny funny man as a profanity-loving radio DJ (quick: which disappears first — the Washington-area summer heat or this show? Early odds are 3-1, this show). JJ Abrams’ requisite bound-to-fail show-that-isn’t-“Lost”, “Revolution” lands comfortably in the slot following Monday’s “Voice” episode. I shudder to check Twitter for reaction to the news that “Community” has been sent to some retirement home in south Florida to die — Friday nights at 8:30. “Rock Center” moves to Thursdays at 10, which is a move I actually think has some potential (nobody watches that show now, so why not just shove it onto a night that will bring in the three people who still watch “The Office” and the growing cult that still swears by “Parks and Recreation?”). Matthew Perry gives his comeback a 48th try with “Go On” in the comfy post-“Voice” Tuesday spot, making us all wonder if anyone at NBC has seen at least fives minutes of Joey’s fantastic “Episodes.” And “Animal Practice” has a monkey. As for deaths, “Harry’s Law,” “Awake,” “BFF,” “Bent” and “Are You There Chelsea?” all receive the heave-ho. When reached for comment regarding her show being canceled, Chelsea Handler referenced drinking heavily, four odd sexual activities and how rich well-to-do, frustrated housewives have made her.