Upfronts 2013: NBC Releases Schedule for the 2013-2014 TV Season

I want to start off by saying that I have nothing but the deepest respect for TV reporters/journalists who actually have to follow all the renewals/cancellations/pilot pick-up shenanigans that come with broadcast network Upfronts. As a TV fan following all this news and writing about here, my head is spinning trying to keep track of all the new shows the networks have ordered. But of course, I don’t have to do this, I just choose to. So to all those who make a living out of doing this, I feel you.

With that being said, Upfronts are here again and NBC is up first, releasing their schedule today, ahead of its presentation to advertisers tomorrow. It’s been a rough year for the network, starting off the season as the #1 network with the aid of the fall cycle of The Voice, to going down to 4th after February sweeps. After a nearly clean sweep of its comedies and its new dramas (save for Revolution) not delivering as they had hope, NBC is hoping its pilot pick-ups for the new season will bring them back to #1. All in all, NBC has picked up 6 comedies and 5 dramas. Below, a look at the new shows, where they land on the schedule, and my initial thoughts.

ABOUT A BOY [Comedy – Midseason]: Based on the novel and movie of the same name, this new comedy brought to us by executive producer Jason Katims and Jon Favreau follows the bond formed between a bachelor man-child and the young boy and his mother who move in next door to him. The show stars David Walton, looking to finally score a TV hit, and Minnie Driver. Katims has proven himself on dramas Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and though this is being dubbed as a comedy, I have the sense that this will veer towards dramedy. With Katims involved, there definitely isn’t anything wrong with that.

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THE FAMILY GUIDE [Comedy – Midseason]: A son (whose future self is voiced by Jason Bateman, also an executive producer on the show) recounts how his family grew closer after his parents divorce. It would certainly seem as though NBC is getting back with a more family-oriented comedy line-up. J.K. Simmons is the father whom the son idolizes for not letting his blindness hinder his ability to anything. The role of the mother who post-divorce, suddenly finds her chance at a second adolescence, was originally played by Parker Posey in the pilot, but soon after news of the show getting picked-up, Posey left the show. So now the show is looking to recast the role. For me, I think I’ll have to wait and see how it looks and feel before committing to it.

UNDATEABLE [Comedy – Midseason]: Bill Lawrence brings a new show to NBC about a guy who thinks he’s a professional when picking up girls and finds himself teaching his roommate and his friends (the “undateables”) the way to the dating world. Though I appreciate some of the other shows Bill Lawrence has done (Cougar Town, Scrubs), I’m not entirely sold on this show. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched 8 seasons of How I Met Your Mother and this just reminds me of Barney teaching Ted the ways of picking up girls.

THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW [Comedy – Thursdays @ 9:30]: Michael J. Fox’s return as lead on this show based loosely on his life (he previously appeared as a guest star on The Good Wife). Of note, this show has already been given a full 22-episode order, so obviously there is a lot of faith in it. I mean it’s Michael J. Fox’s big return! This is a big deal and is a sign of NBC trying to revive their “Must See TV.”

SEAN SAVES THE WORLD [Comedy – Thursdays @ 9]: Another big return is that of Sean Hayes, best known as Jack from Will & Grace. His new show centers around Sean, a divorced gay dad, who suddenly finds himself trying to parent his 14-year old daughter, who has moved in full-time with him. Sean Hayes was always one of the funniest parts of Will & Grace, so I’m quite excited to see how he does as lead of his own show. Over the years, he’s been doing shows on Broadway, as well as serving as an executive producer on Grimm, so it’s nice to see him back on TV.

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WELCOME TO THE FAMILY [Comedy – Thursdays @ 8:30]: Mike O’Malley (here to forth known as Burt Hummel, the best TV dad ever) stars in this show about two families, one Caucasian + one Latino, who bond over their children falling in love and expecting a child. I feel like it’ll be easy for them to make jokes about culture clashes, but if they can somehow move beyond the stereotypes, there might be hope for them yet.

NIGHT SHIFT [Drama – Midseason]: A medical show that follows the doctors and nurses who work the graveyard shift at a San Antonio hospital. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know how I tend to feel about medical/law/cop shows – meaning I’m not particularly fond of them – unless you give me something else to hook me in because this is nowhere near enough to get me to watch.

THE BLACKLIST [Drama – Mondays @ 10]: James Spader stars as one of the most wanted criminals in the world, who suspiciously turns himself in and is willing to give up the names of all the people he’s ever worked with – but he’s only willing to work with a new FBI agent, who has no connection to him whatsoever. I’ve never been a fan of Spader, and while I know plot should trump cast, I think both play a part in hooking in viewers for the first time. Honestly, my first reaction to this is that it reminds me a little bit of White Collar, without the lightness of that show, mixed in with a little bit of The Following.

CRISIS [Drama – Midseason]: A conspiracy action thriller set in the world of Washington, D.C., follows a Secret Service agent who finds himself in the middle of an international crisis situation. The show’s cast includes Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, Rachael Taylor, and James Lafferty among others. Conspiracy theories AND Scully? Count me in!

IRONSIDE [Drama – Wednesdays @ 10]: Based on the 60s cop drama of the same name, Blair Underwood is the lead of this show about an acerbic police detective, who after a shooting, is now relegated to a wheelchair. He has assembled a strong team of other detectives to help him solve the most difficult of cases. On first glance, it’s almost like the cop-version of House. The strength of the storytelling, the writing, and character development will really make all the difference because the show has assembled a really good cast.

Ironside - Season Pilot

BELIEVE [Drama – Midseason]: The team at Bad Robot are back with this show that pairs up a young girl with a recently released man from prison, who is tasked with protecting her from evil forces hunting her powers. I know, I know, another season, another J.J. Abrams produced show. As with all shows, the writing is what will make or break it and I am very hopeful.

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CHICAGO P.D. [Drama – Midseason]: The spin-off that one year ago, no one expected to happen. Dick Wolf successfully turned Chicago Fire into a franchise with this spin-off, focusing on the cops of Chicago. And just like that, I don’t care.

DRACULA [Drama – Fridays @ 10]: This series was actually ordered some time ago, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers starring as the titular vampire. Dracula is prepared to destroy the Victorian society that ruined his life, until he falls for a woman who looks exactly like his long-deceased wife. It should be noted that the series is set for 10-episodes, meaning this is NBC’s attempt at cable-style/limited series events. Sure, Fridays aren’t exactly the best day to premiere a show, but with a solid lead-in in Grimm (which does go back to its Fridays @ 9 timeslot next season), we can at least look forward to a solid 2 hour Friday night.

Dracula - Season 1

Notable changes to the schedule for next season (seeing as there is a lot of movement over at NBC):

  • Parks and Recreation now anchors the Thursday night comedy block at 8 p.m.
  • Following the Thursday night comedies at 10 p.m., will be ratings underdog and critical favourite Parenthood. It certainly makes more sense to put an established show in the timeslot, as opposed to testing out a new series, where it will most likely to compete against ABC’s red-hot Scandal.
  • The Biggest Loser returns to its Tuesday at 8 slot, acting as lead-in to the second night of The Voice, with Chicago Fire following at 10.
  • Revolution shifts to Wednesdays at 8. It’ll be interesting to see how the show does in its second season without the cushion of The Voice lead-in, that it enjoyed its entire run this season.
  • Community, which surprisingly earned a 5th season, is being held off to midseason.

That is all from NBC. For complete description of all the new pilots, head on over to Deadline.com.

Save This Show!: Fringe (FOX)

In previous posts, I’ve made it known that I love a good underdog. It wasn’t until recently, while checking the renewal statuses of all the TV shows this season, that I realized a good number of my favourite shows are in fact shows whose renewal statuses are on the bubble. In other words, my favourite shows are TV’s underdogs – shows whose fate are not guaranteed.

In light of this realization, I figured I should do my part as a fan (regardless of how small a part that is) and try to get it out there why some shows deserve to be renewed. So consider this my plea to the powers that be. Instead of doing one big posting, I’ll be doing this in installments, one per show.

Now, I fully realize that there aren’t a lot of people out there who read my blog, but I am hopeful that this posting, at the very least, will get read by people who care about these shows as much as I do. If it somehow makes it along with the petitions and other pleas in the blogosphere to the eyes of someone who can actually make a difference in helping these shows’ fate, then I’ll be happy.

FRINGE (FOX)

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Fringe is one of the best shows on television. I’m not just saying that as a biased fan, it is just the truth. I dare you to name another show on the air right now that can do what Fringe does.

And what exactly does Fringe do that makes it so great? Well first off is the writing. You can have a great concept, a great cast, but if the writing isn’t there, you’ve got nothing. As with most television series, the first handful of episodes of a freshman series can be a little clunky – trying to establish the tone and flow of the series, it can take a little while for shows to develop a rhythm. Fringe was no exception to that when it premiered in the fall of 2008. Its hook was that these unexplained phenomenons were happening in the world (or more specifically Boston/New York.) Coming into it, you knew you were going to see some pretty weird stuff. The first few episodes took on what seemed like a very standard procedural drama with a “supernatural” twist. But soon thereafter, you noticed that the writers were establishing a mythology to these odd occurrences. Four seasons later and we now have a show that is much more about the characters and relationships than a case-of-the-week procedural. What the writers have done is create a rather complex (to say the least when multiple universes are involved) story about human relationships. It’s actually quite a sociological look at how we see the world and interact with others. [Aside: As someone who was a sociology major in university, if I was given the opportunity to, I probably would’ve written an entire paper on Fringe’s take of society.]

Next to the writing is without a doubt one of the best casts on television. It completely baffles me how none of the cast members, especially the three at the head of the show (Anna Torv, John Noble, Joshua Jackson) have yet to be recognized by the Emmys or even the Globes, for their outstanding work as actors on the series. The performances by these three are so nuanced and full of life, you truly care about these characters. Not to mention how you could possibly forget Anna Torv in season three playing, quite literally, 5 different versions of Olivia. Despite how confusing it may have read or could have been, when you watch her performance you know exactly which version of Olivia she’s playing. I just can’t sing the praises of the cast enough, including Jasika Nicole, Blair Brown, Seth Gabel, and Lance Reddick. Also, can’t forget the wonderful guest actors over the years who have brought so much to the show as well: Michael Cerveris, Sebastian Roche, Jared Harris, Orla Brady, Amy Madigan, Andre Royo, and of course, Leonard Nimoy.

Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have done such an incredible job spearheading the series, along with the other producers J.J Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk. It cannot be said enough how amazing the show is. Obviously, not everyone is into a show like this, which requires the complete attention of the viewer. It is not a show that you can just watch to pass the time or leave it on while doing something else. It is a complex show that, heaven forbid, requires the viewer to actually think while watching. I sincerely hope that the show gets to continue for as long as the writers are committed and passionate to it. The reality of it is, it’s struggling to even make it past this season. Speaking realistically, all I can hope for at this point is that Fox and Warner Brothers brings the show back for a fifth season and call it the final season if they want to cancel it (similar to what happened with Chuck and even One Tree Hill). To end the series prematurely and not allow the producers and writers to finish the story they wanted to tell, would be a huge disappointment, especially to the fans. We’ve already invested so much into the show, I don’t think it is too much to ask that we actually get resolution to the series or a satisfying ending. As long as the there is opportunity to resolve the overarching story, us fans could not ask for more, because this show has already given us so much.

Music & Memories

High school. It’s been 4 years since I graduated Bennies and moved on to UW, and for some reason, it seems like an entire lifetime ago. Yeah, it seems a little premature to be reminiscing about the days of high school after recently graduating university, but when you’re me and really have nothing else going on, can’t help but think about the past. Now what does this have anything to do with pop culture? Well, I watched How She Move the other day and a song was used in the movie, which triggered a memory of high school. Specifically, they used the song Bad Man by Missy Elliott, which made me remember Dance Crew.

Despite all the drama that may have happened over the course of my 4 years in high school and as part of Dance Crew, there were a lot of memories. We were a family, slightly dysfunctional, but a family nonetheless. Although the bunch of us have moved on and grown apart, the memories of the good times will always be there. A lot of those memories, for me at least, stem from the whole crap load of music we used for choreography and routines. I hear Justin Timberlake’s Like I Love You and first I think “yay Justin! :)”, then I’ll remember that that was the song used for try-outs when I did it. I hear Britney Spears’ Lonely, and I think about how I used that song for my solo (what? I’m a Britney fan, of course I was gonna use a Britney song lol). Whenever Missy Elliott (Lick Shots, 4 My People, etc.), Ciara (1,2 Step), Chris Brown (Gimme That), Timbaland (Drop, N 2 Da Music), and any of the numerous songs we used, play on my iTunes or iPod, it makes me smile the slightest little bit. I start thinking about the choreo, and of course, I really only remember fragments of it at best. But the point is, all these songs get connected back to memories of a time when I was a different person.

A lot has changed since then. I stopped dancing once I got to university, but dance was never my life. I mean I’ve always loved dance, always loved watching it, ever since I was little. But I guess I never really thought it as a plausible option for me, so I never took it as anything more than something I enjoyed learning. Maybe that’s why now I’m a big dance fan/geek, with my obsession with reality dance TV and following the careers of PBN dancers, plus having so much respect and admiration for those who live and breathe dance.

Anyways, went on a tangent there, but all this is just to say that music really does play a part in being the “soundtrack to our lives.” We can change, our relationships can change, but the music’s still there to connect us back to our past.

2010 Best Picture Oscar Nominees

Just when you thought my pop culture nerdiness level could not get any higher, I go and have successfully gotten through ALL 10 of the Best Picture Oscar nominees.

My thoughts? I want an upset. People may go on and on about it being between The Hurt Locker and Avatar, but all the hype about it being between those two movies, have made me a cynic. I’d rather have Up In the Air or Inglourious Basterds win. Hurt Locker, for me, wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Maybe I need to watch it a second time to completely “get it” but shouldn’t a movie be able to make an impact on the first viewing? And Avatar was completely and utterly amazing for the visuals, but shouldn’t the Best Picture of the year have a decent script that we haven’t heard before and not win based entirely on its visuals? Just saying.

The other movies nominated were pretty much filler. But I have to give credit where it’s due in that Precious, An Education, and Up were all great movies in and of themselves. Up is obviously gonna win Best Animated Feature, so it shouldn’t feel so bad losing here. The Blind Side, District 9 and A Serious Man, should all be honoured to have been nominated.

So recap: even though it’s probably not gonna happen, I want an upset a la Crash beating Brokeback Mountain.