Spring is here and that means television networks are frantically assembling shows you might want to watch this fall. At last count, 82 shows were under development. Granted, not all of them will make it past that stage. And few of the ones that do will last more than a couple of episodes. But taking a look at the network development roster gives us a good idea of what trends TV bigwigs think are popular. And it isn’t too hard to pick out the trends this year.
There’s been recurrent gossip about turning Bill Willingham’s award-winning Vertigo comic book Fables into a TV show. The series, about classic fairy tale characters who have escaped their homelands and are living in modern-day Manhattan, hasn’t made the leap just yet—and probably won’t, given the number of similar TV shows being made. ABC has “Once Upon a Time,” about Snow White living in the real world. NBC has “17th Precinct,” in which cops fight witches and other magical monsters. NBC also has “Grimm,” in which ... basically the same thing happens.
Falling just outside the fairy tale realm, but located in similar fantasy territory, are FOX’s “Locke & Key,” based on Joe Hill’s IDW comic about a haunted house with some freaky abilities. The CW mixes genres with its angel-turned-lawyer series “Heavenly.” CBS does the same with its unnamed drama about a surgeon who gets advice about the afterlife from his dead wife’s ghost. Unsure of which supernatural creature to hitch its wagon to, The CW has “Awakening” (teen sisters survive a zombie apocalypse) and “Secret Circle” (teen witches fight evil).
Hoping to score some “Modern Family”-style gold, networks are loading up on the family-based sitcoms. ABC has at least six of them in the pipeline. FOX has five and NBC has a couple tucked in among its 12 potential sitcoms for next season. Few are distinguishable from one another. Take, for example, the as-yet-untitled Christina Applegate vehicle for “Parks and Recreation” producer Emily Spivey. In it, Applegate plays a working mother with a stay-at-home husband. Hijinks, presumably, ensue.
Encouraged by the success of CBS’ “$#*! My Dad Says” (which isn’t even all that successful), other networks are jumping into the fake swearing arena. Next season, we could potentially choose between ABC shows “Don’t Trust the B***h in Apartment 23,” “Good Christian B***hes!” and “My Frickin’ Family.” FOX, meanwhile, is producing something called “Chicks & D**cks.” Good luck getting those past the Parents Television Council.
“Mad Men” has obviously had an impact on the television industry. Two of the shows aiming for the fall season are set in 1963. ABC has the swingin’ stewardesses drama “Pan Am” (starring Christina Ricci, it must be noted), while NBC has “Playboy” (about ... well, Playboy magazine).
Speaking of flashbacks, Minka Kelly, Rachel Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh will star in an updated version of “Charlie’s Angels” for ABC. Silver-tongued Robert Wagner is the voice of Charlie. At the same time, Adrianne Palicki (from “Friday Night Lights”) fills out Lynda Carter’s C-cups in David E. Kelly’s reboot of “Wonder Woman” over on NBC.