What’s up for fall?
By Devin D. O’Leary
NBC--Executives at the Peacock Network seem to have taken the lessons of the recent Writers’ Guild strike to heart. Earlier this month, as the networks laid out their fall 2008 schedules, NBC offered up a 52-week program strategy featuring staggered launches and premieres throughout the year. Gone are the traditional fall and spring season premieres. In their place are new shows designed to take advantage of NBC’s vaunted “Super Season” of events, including the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Set to debut at some point are “America’s Toughest Jobs” and “Shark Taggers” (both blue-collar reality shows from the makers of “Deadliest Catch”), “Chopping Block” (another reality chef competition), “Crusoe” (drama about a modern-day castaway), “Kath and Kim” (remake of an Australian sitcom), “Kings” (knights, kings and maidens apparently set in modern times), “Knight Rider” (remake of the ’80s classic), “The Listener” (a paramedic who can read minds), “Merlin” (teen-based retelling of the myth), “My Own Worst Enemy” (suburban spy thriller), “Thee Philanthropist” (renegade billionaire tackles global poverty with extreme prejudice) and an as-yet-unnamed spin-off of “The Office.”
ABC--The Alphabet Net slashed 11 series. Oddly, a remake of the British cop/time-travel series “Life on Mars” (the pilot for which is already scheduled to be recast and reshot) and a new game show from genius Ashton Kutcher titled “Opportunity Knocks” are the only new shows scheduled to premiere in fall. That seems to leave a lot of gaps in the schedule, but ABC has 17 series (eight comedies, nine dramas) in development for midseason. ABC is waiting until Sept. 22 for its big “premiere week.”
The CW--Sept. 1 is the early launch date for The CW’s new slate of shows. Young women 18 to 34 remain the target demographic, as “90210,” a revival of the prototypical teen soap “Beverly Hills, 90210,” amply demonstrates. The show’s Tuesday night companion piece, “Surviving the Filthy Rich,” is about a live-in tutor to some wealthy teen twins. “Stylista” is described as The Devil Wears Prada restyled as a reality show. It pairs, naturally, with “America’s Next Top Model.”
CBS--The Eye Network adds two comedies and three dramas. “Eleventh Hour” is about a government scientist who investigates scientific curiosities and oddities. “The Mentalist” features a fake-psychic-turned-detective (just like USA’s “Psych”). “The Ex List” is a dramedy about a woman trying to locate her true love amid all her ex-boyfriends. “Project Gary” casts Jay Mohr as an on-the-make divorcé. “Worst Week” is based on a British “real time” sitcom about a guy meeting his girlfriend’s parents.
FOX--FOX jumps the gun on Aug. 25 to debut its new drama, J.J. Abrams' “Fringe”--which sounds a lot like CBS' “Eleventh Hour” (which sounds a lot like “The X-Files”). “Do Not Disturb,” a sitcom set in an NYC hotel, also bows that week. Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” (about agents who can “download” skills like The Matrix and go on missions like “Charlie’s Angels”), heartwarming reality show “Secret Millionaire,” “Family Guy” spin-off “The Cleveland Show” and animated high school teacher toon “Sit Down, Shut Up” are currently held back until spring.
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