Fall Break (Part 2)
The 2017/18 upfront season
Earlier this month, the broadcast networks axed all their underperforming shows and then quickly announced a whole new slate of series to replace them. These yet-to-be-seen sitcoms, dramas, game shows and reality series were unveiled in what the networks call “upfront season,” an annual publicity schmoozefest in which the press and the advertising industry get a sneak peek at what’s coming later this year. So what can we look forward to watching (or not) this fall/spring? Last week in this column, we checked out ABC and CBS. Let’s continue our look with NBC, FOX and the CW.
NBC—National Broadcasting is reviving its long abandoned “Must See TV” slogan for this new season. Feel free to decide for yourself if it’s true. “A.P. Bio” is a comedy about a philosophy professor who takes a job as a high school biology teacher. “The Awesome Show” finds Chris Hardwicke (“@midnight” “Talking Dead”) hosting a docu-reality show about technological innovators in Silicon Valley. “The Brave” stars Anne Heche and Mike Vogel in a “military procedural” about Special Ops cops. “Champions” is a sitcom about two brothers who share an apartment and unexpectedly find themselves raising a young son from a forgotten fling, “Two and a Half Men”-style. “Ellen’s Game of Games” has talker Ellen DeGeneres playing party games with ordinary people. Neil Patrick Harris takes an easy gig hosting a kids’ game show with “Genius Junior.” “Good Girls” is a comedy about suburban moms who rob a grocery store. “The Handmade Project” is a reality-competition about people who knit and do scrapbooks and stuff. “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” tries like hell to replicate FX’s “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson.” “Reverie” is an implausible-sounding sci-fi thriller about a hostage negotiator (Sarah Shahi from “Person of Interest”) who tries to save people trapped in a virtual reality world. “Rise” spotlights a small-town high school teacher who recruits football players and other oddballs to restart the school’s musical theater department, “Glee”-style. Finally, the buzz-worthy early-2000s sitcom “Will & Grace” returns for a 12-episode reboot.
FOX—Other than “Empire,” FOX doesn’t have a lot of hits these days, so it’s trying a little bit of everything. “9-1-1” is a procedural drama about first-responders. Craig Robinson (“The Office”) and Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) try to expose aliens in “Ghosted,” a comic take on “The X-Files.” “The Gifted,” a TV spinoff of the X-Men franchise, finds suburban parents raising superpowered mutant kids. “LA to Vegas” is a workplace comedy about an airline. “Family Guy” producer Seth MacFarlane delivers a live-action spoof of “Star Trek” with “The Orville.” “The Resident” is another medical drama starring Emily VanCamp (“Revenge”) and Matt Czuchry (“The Good Wife”).
The CW—If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The smallest network adds and subtracts the least number of shows. Since The CW has already crammed half its schedule with DC Comics-based series produced by Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Legends of Tomorrow”), it’s no surprise to see the Berlanti-backed “Black Lightning” adding an African-American superhero to the mix. There’s also a younger-skewing reboot of evening soap “Dynasty” starring Grant Show on tap. A young girl thinks she’s dying of cancer, then finds out she isn’t in the dramedy “Life Sentence” (starring Lucy Hale from “Pretty Little Liars”). Last but not least, “Valor” is a patriotic war drama about helicopter pilots.