The upfronts begin Monday with NBC and FOX announcing their plans for the 2018-19 season. I think we are beyond the notion that the networks announce a fall schedule, since there are more and more shorter series orders, and new series pop up in January as well as later in the season around March and April.
Some of those shows will be announced this week, but not with a time period, and there are also pilots that are being “repiloted” and may show up later in the season. Also, there is a whole summer set of shows. It just doesn’t stop. My point being, we are in the “post-fall schedule world,” which has created a whole new set of issues for the broadcast networks — but that’s for another day.
Rather than focusing on what will go where and on what night (that still matters), I thought I would throw out what is marinating in my mind about the coming week.
This should be an interesting upfront for FBC with both the pending sale of much of 21st Century Fox to Disney or the possible challenge from Comcast. With all that going on, they still need to put together a schedule where every move will be questioned in terms of its connection to said deals. Their move last week of shedding their niche comedies in favor of what appears to be broader, more populist shows could be a precursor to selling off the remaining assets, rather than the talk of a “new FOX” emerging from the ashes of this deal. Will FOX execs even address any of this today? Interesting times.
Will ABC’s mini-mojo run continue?
With “The Good Doctor” in the fall and “American Idol” and “Roseanne” in the spring, ABC had a pretty good year. They do not have the benefit of NFL numbers in prime, so they always look a bit weaker than the other guys, but they are another show or so away from having a pretty solid schedule. They are entering the post-Shonda world in good shape, but historically they flop before they hit the finish line. Let’s see if things are different this year.
The ‘This Is Us’ effect
Have the networks finally woken up to the popularity of “This Is Us,” and will they have figured out what makes it work? Or is it too late? The more militaristic approach to series, which may have been the initial (and misinformed) response to the new administration, may give way this year to more heart and human connection.
CW, I’m counting on you
It will be interesting to see what The CW programs on Sunday night. I’m assuming returning series, but it will be fun to see what they think they can carve out on a new night. The CW is my favorite network, but they need something to keep me excited after “Jane the Virgin,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Riverdale.” There have been a few whiffs of late, and I desperately need another gem.
The return of the multi-cam
With the era of the reboot showing no signs of waning and with “Roseanne,” “Will & Grace” and now “Last Man Standing” and “Murphy Brown” all on schedules, will we see the networks going back to this form for new series? After more than a decade of resistance to replicating the success of “Married With Children” and “That ’70s Show,” FOX has three multi-cams on tap for next season. Will we see others?
Is this the last year for 2 cycles of ‘The Voice’?
Back when I was at FOX, “The Voice” came along and took a serious bite out of “American Idol” and also made “The X Factor” look like a “Voice” ripoff (when the opposite was really the case). “Idol” returned the favor this spring, and I wonder if, in order for NBC to preserve this franchise, they will need to reduce it to a once-a-year event. Will they announce that for this season or keep on with two cycles a year?
Can CBS keep 2 nights of comedy going?
With the exception of “Young Sheldon,” CBS comedy development has been pretty iffy of late, but I have to believe they will want to stay with two nights of four comedies. They have “Murphy Brown,” but will they have enough in development, and are they willing to move stuff around to keep a second night?
That’s what’s on my mind heading into upfront week. I’ll try to give you my two cents as the networks announce.