Fall Break (Part 1)
The 2017/18 upfront season
Earlier this month, the broadcast networks dumped their underperforming shows (“Frequency,” we hardly knew ye), making room for plenty of new series (many of which will also underperform). These new sitcoms, dramas, game shows and reality series were unveiled in what the networks call “upfront season,” an annual press/ad industry bonanza featuring splashy trailers, celebrity appearances and (no doubt) plenty of snacks. So what can we look forward to watching (or not) this fall/spring? Let’s take a gander, starting with ABC and CBS.
ABC—The Alphabet Net has made a couple surprise announcements during upfronts about the network’s future. In 2018, for example, we can look for a rebooted (and transplanted from FOX) version of “American Idol” featuring Katy Perry. Also, hot on the heels of NBC’s reunited “Will & Grace, comes news that ABC is bringing back the cast of “Roseanne” (including John Goodman’s character, who died in Season 8) for an 8-episode arc sometime next year. As far as the fall/spring shows? “Alex, Inc.” is a workplace comedy about a podcast company with Zach Braff. “The Bachelor Winter Games” is a spinoff of the undeservedly popular dating show “The Bachelor.” Sci-fi thriller “The Crossing” relates the story of war refugees who show up in small-town America. The sci-fi twist: The war doesn’t take place for another 250 years. “Dancing With the Stars Junior” is pretty self-explanatory. A disgraced magician solves crimes in “Deception.” Super-producer Shonda Rhimes offers “For the People,” described as “Grey’s Anatomy” with lawyers. “The Good Doctor” is about a brilliant but autistic young doctor. “The Gospel of Kevin” has Jason Ritter (“Parenthood”) as an ordinary guy who talks to God, “Joan of Arcadia”-style. “Marvel’s Inhumans” continues the Marvel Comics superhero tradition on TV. An aspiring young rapper becomes mayor of small town in “The Mayor.” Jenna Fischer (“The Office”) and Oliver Hudson (“Rules of Engagement”) are a divorced couple who get back together in “Splitting Up Together.” Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”) stars in the 10-episode missing child thriller “Ten Days in the Valley.” There’s also an “Untitled Grey’s Anatomy Spinoff,” ensuring Shonda Rhimes continued dominance on ABC.
CBS—The Eyeball Network continued to hype “Star Trek: Discovery”—but you can only see that on CBS’s subscription streaming on-demand service CBS All Access. So what will we be watching for free? “9JKL” is a sitcom about a guy living in an apartment between his parents and his brother. “By The Book” is based on a book from Esquire editor A.J. Jacobs in which he spent a year trying to live according to the rules of the Bible. In “Instinct” Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife”) takes the lead in an adaptation of James Patterson’s book about a former CIA agent helping the NYPD hunt a serial killer. “Me, Myself and I” is a “uniquely structured” sitcom about a man at three different points in his life (65-year-old John Larroquette, 40-year-old Bobby Moynihan and 14-year-old Jack Dylan Grazer). “SEAL Team” is a patriotic military drama about Navy SEALs starring David Boreanaz (“Bones”). “S.W.A.T.” reboots the mid-’70s cop drama of the same name. “Wisdom of the Crowd” is a high-tech crime procedural (starring Jeremy Piven) in which computers (once again) magically solve crimes so that writers don’t have to come up with realistic solutions to problems. “Young Sheldon” is a spinoff of “Big Bang Theory” concentrating on 9-year-old genius Sheldon Cooper.