In the television biz, the third week of May is traditionally known as “upfront season.” It’s the time of year when broadcast networks try to sell their upcoming fall seasons to advertisers. It’s those advertising rates that determine how much the networks will make next season. No wonder then that ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and The CW try and put their best foot forward. Their second best foot? That gets swept under the rug and is never spoken of again.
Hence, with the announcement of fall lineups (and midseason replacements) looming, the networks are quickly cutting their losses. Right now, a lot of interesting-sounding television projects are being strangled in their cribs. Even though pilot episodes have been shot, these shows will never see the light of day.
NBC had the honor of killing off what may have been the most high-profile victim of the fall TV season. The modern reboot of “Wonder Woman” by “Ally McBeal” guru David E. Kelley is no more. The show garnered all sorts of Internet buzz—most of it negative. Fans complained about costume changes, a wholesale dumping of the comic book mythology and a winkingly comic tone that seemed oddly sexist. It’s unclear how much the network wasted on this failed project, but it was probably a lot. Expect the bootleg to do big business at sci-fi conventions. Also out at NBC is “17th Precinct”—a cops vs. mythical creatures drama from “Battlestar Galactica” rebooter Ronald D. Moore. The show was to feature three “Battlestar” cast members, but was one of about five very similar show ideas floated this season. Instead, NBC is going with the almost identical “Grimm.” Also failing to reach the airwaves: “Reconstruction,” an expensive Civil War drama, whose pilot was shot in here in New Mexico.
ABC went ahead and added its fairy-
CBS and CW are notoriously tightlipped about their pilots. CW, airing just five nights a week anyway, only has a tiny number in development. And CBS, being the most conservative network, is keeping much of its schedule the same (including the retooled “Two and a Half Men” with Ashton Kutcher). The few shows they have been developing are pretty much all cop shows and medical dramas. Odds are, even if shows are replaced, you won’t be able to tell the new season from the old one.
FOX, meanwhile, doesn’t have much room in prime time for anything. What with “The X Factor” and “American Idol,” the network’s schedule is full-to-bursting with singing competitions. Sadly, that means the intriguing “Locke & Key” isn’t happening. The pilot was based on the comic book by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) about a haunted mansion that bestows strange powers on those who pass through its portals. Stephen Spielberg was involved. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Transformers, Star Trek) were producing. Apparently, that just wasn’t enough.