Come one, come all. It’s upfronts time in the wide world of television, and where else would you possibly want to turn for such comprehensive commentary on the Very Important World that features autumn’s TV programming slate? I know — pretty much anywhere else in the universe, right?
Still, not even irrelevance could stop this blog’s third trip around the upfronts track. After all, it’s the most exciting time of the television year, remember. Shows are canceled. Hopes are high. Previews go viral. And, most importantly, every TV writer in the land weighs in on what’s coming around the bend in September.
It’s like one, big election night for lifestyle writers, guys. This is important stuff.
This year, we’ll offer up three bullet points for each network’s upcoming fall season along with a schedule for each of their respective seasonal lineups. First on the agenda? NBC and its savior, Bob Greenblatt (or, well, if you call someone who orchestrated a quick return to the top of Ratings Mountain before falling back down to the bottom of said plateau a “savior,” then yeah, a savior, indeed). And yes, because this will presumably be the final year Ms. Lisa de Moraes will be writing coverage for the Washington Post, expect a heavy dose of quotes from the Greatest Writer In All The Land as we navigate our way through this.
So, behold the first entry in TV Without A TV’s 2013 upfronts coverage. It’s all in the name of love, friends. L. O. V. E.
1. What’s so funny about …
For the first time in a long time, the suits at NBC blowed up its comedy roster, and they blowed it up real, real good. In addition to “30 Rock” and “The Office” saying goodbye, “1600 Penn,” “Animal Practice,” “Guys With Kids,” “Go On,” “The New Normal,” “Whitney” and “Up All Night” reserved various burial plots for their untimely demises. This, of course, will leave the network with what will feel like an entirely different Thursday night featuring a new Mike O’Malley sitcom that will oh-so-delicately tackle race by meshing white and Hispanic people called “Welcome To The Family.” Yeah. I’ll let that sit with you for a few seconds. More interestingly, though, will be the triumphant return of Michael J. Fox to the television world in the creatively titled “The Michael J. Fox Show.” Maybe the biggest head-turner of all the NBC news trickling out of New York this week, Fox’s show will more than likely be the most rooted-for new program of any of the network’s offerings.According to Time‘s James Poniewozik, “Fox plays a newscaster (who, like the Actor, has Parkinson’s) returning to work after a long absence in, yes, a family sitcom.” Insert your inappropriate jokes if you must, but the reality here is that unless you are Satan himself, you can’t help but hope that this thing doesn’t go just six episodes before reaching immediate extinction. I mean, even if you hated “Spin City,” you can’t help but smile when thinking about the possibility of this guy reaching TV success again after all he’s been through, can you? As for those “Community” die-hards out there (and I know there’s always some), the show is set to return though nobody really quite knows when (yes, I know this angers you all), while the loved-by-20-somethings “Parks And Recreation” will be the only other comedy outside of “Community” that is coming back from last year’s bloodbath. In theory, Greenblatt should be commended for this — what do you if things don’t work? Blow it up. That’s what you do — but a lot of his success, obviously, won’t be measured until we see how many (or, if any) of these ideas actually work in the fall. Odds NBC wipes the slate clean at this same time next year? Well, “Sean Saves The World” considered, I’d put it at 8-1.
2. Honestly. Is JJ Abrams really that important?
Again, from the “Well, it’s from JJ Abrams, so we have to give it a shot” folder, comes “Believe.” I will now let Ms. de Moraes take it from here. “‘Believe’ is about a little orphan girl named Bo, who’s mastered levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature, and future-forecasting,” she wrote. “Her guardians, aka True Believers, want to safeguard her from harmful outsiders who would use her for personal gain — like the programming suits at HLN. Or Lifetime. Anyway, the True Believers decide to spring — from death row — a wrongfully convicted felon, to take care of her. What could go wrong there?” Elsewhere in the drama category comes “Ironside” (which features “In Treatment” alum — yeah! — Blair Underwood as a paralyzed cop); “Crisis” (which features “Burn After Reading” alum — I swear IMDB says this is true — Dermot Mulroney as a guy who has has to deal with children being kidnapped); and a sparkly new take on “Dracula” (which features … oh, come on. Who cares? This thing will be gone before the leaves turn to red). The most notable move from the serious slate comes from something called “The Blacklist,” which will have the sought-after post-“The Voice” time slot on Mondays. Oh, and it also stars James Spader, a person of whom NBC can’t seem to get enough, as a criminal working with the FBI. Think the movie “Zodiac.” But not. Worth noting: Greenblatt knows his drama — this is the guy who gave us “Six Feet Under,” “Dexter” and, of course, “The X-Files.”
3. Goodnight. Goodbye.
In addition to the aforementioned dearly departed comedies, NBC also said goodbye to “Deception,” “Do No Harm,” “Ready For Love,” “Rock Center” (a show this blog once devoted an entire post to), and, of course, “Smash,” the biggest-pofile loss that came from the peacock’s musings. Turns out, not even Jennifer Hudson could save the fate of The Show Better Known As “Glee For Adults.” When reached for comment, Katharine McPhee said, “What’s that I hear about openings at ‘American Idol?'”