Alibi V.28 No.22 • May 30-June 5, 2019 

Idiot Box

Upfront Season

Nets announce new shows

The end of May brings with it tornados in the midwest and television’s annual “upfront week” in New York—at least one of which is a guaranteed disaster. Upfronts are the presentations broadcast television networks make every year, revealing their new fall lineups for the benefit (mostly) of prospective advertisers.

With the rapid increase in internet streaming/downloading and the de-emphasis on traditional Fall/Spring TV seasons, upfronts are no longer the attention-grabbers they once were. Splashy, star-filled presentations at Radio City Music Hall and the like have been replaced with quiet press releases and simple Twitter announcements. Still, upfronts give us, the viewing public, a chance to see what we’ll be watching (or avoiding) come fall. … Surprise, surprise: It’s family sitcoms and cop dramas, mostly!

ABC

The over-employed Tiffany Haddish (Uncle Drew, Night School, Nobody’s Fool, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The Secret Life of Pets 2, “The Last O.G.,” “Tuca & Bertie”) hosts a revival of the 1995 to 2000 Bill Cosby variety series “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” (itself based on Art Linklater’s old radio show segment). “The Baker and the Beauty” is a self-explanatory remake of an Israeli rom-com. “Emergence” is described as a “character-driven thriller” about a police chief (the underrated Allison Tolman from “Fargo”) who takes in a young child she finds near the site of a mysterious accident. Although she has no memory, the girl soon leads our protagonist into a “conspiracy larger than she ever imagined.” “Stumptown” stars Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother”) as a former Army vet turned Portland P.I. It’s based on the highly regarded comic book series of the same name by Greg Rucka. “For Life” is “inspired” by the life of Isaac Wright Jr. and tells the story of a prisoner in jail for a crime he didn’t commit who becomes a lawyer. From the makers of “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish” comes “Mixed-ish,” a sitcom spin-off about a mixed race family as they try to adapt after moving from a hippie commune to the suburbs (circa 1985). “United We Fall” is described as a “realistic” family sitcom about two parents coping with her “large Latinx Catholic family” and his “very judgmental live-in-mother.”

FOX

“Not Just Me” is a “modern” drama about a young woman (Brittany Snow from the Pitch Perfect series) who learns her fertility doc father (Timothy Hutton) used his own sperm to fuel his business, conceiving “upwards of a hundred children.” “Prodigal Son” is a darkly comic crime series about a criminal psychologist (Tom Payne from “Walking Dead”) who’s “the best in the business”—because his dad was a notorious serial killer in the ’90s. “9-1-1: Lone Star” is a Texas-based spin-off of Ryan Murphy’s emergency services drama. Rob Lowe stars. “Deputy” finds Stephen Dorff (Backbeat) cast as a white hat-wearing LA County Sheriff working with big city cops. Gerald McRaney (“Simon & Simon”) and Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”) star as the owners of a Christian TV network in the Southern Gothic soap opera “Filthy Rich.” John Slattery (“Mad Men”) headlines the cast of the “fact-based” thriller “neXT,” in which a tech guru who creates a “deadly, rogue artificial intelligence.” FOX ramps up its animation block with “Bless the Harts,” a cartoon sitcom about a permanently broke Southern clan starring Kristen Wiig. Amy Poehler produces the animated sitcom “Duncanville” about a 15-year-old boy with a rich fantasy life. “The Great North” is FOX’s third new animated sitcom. It’s about a single dad (Nick Offerman) living in Alaska and comes from the producers of “Bob’s Burgers.” “Outmatched” is the net’s sole new live-action sitcom and follows a blue-collar family in Atlantic City trying to raise four kids, three of whom are certified geniuses. Maggie Lawson (“Lethal Weapon”) and Jason Biggs (“Orange Is the New Black”) star. Inexpensive sports/reality gameshows continue in the form of “Ultimate Tag”—which is exactly what it sounds like.

Next Week: NBC, CBS and The CW