Monday, September 9, 2013

A Glut of New Shows -- Introduction

Well, it's that time of year again, the fall is upon us. It is a season of cooling conditions, giving way to shorter, more mellow days ahead. Football season is on between college and high school teams, all the way up to the NFL, just one of many details that feel like the whole year was building up to a period like this. And on top of everything, it's time for a new television season and with it a glut of new shows to choose from.

Unlike past years, I am plenty casual to this year's new batch from the five broadcasters. Truth be told, there is nothing I can say I'm really looking forward to. Usually there is one or two new shows that can pique my interest and I can delve into with a great deal of confidence. This year however, I do see some major new shows that look good, but nothing truly special. At best, we have one show on ABC getting all the hype that you would expect given the franchise it is attached to (Marvel's Agents of SHIELD). There are one or two other shows that look like they might be good from the whole spread, including drama Betrayal and comedy Trophy Wife also of ABC. But even then I don't anticipate diving in and getting blown away. At worst, CBS is planning to augment its comedy lineups and their new shows look like gigantic bombs in the making.

As far as returning shows go, I'm not particularly keen on the treatment some of my favorites are getting. The same year it and fellow "Class of 2009" entrants are starting up in syndication, Community is getting scuttled to midseason by NBC after getting a lucky last minute renewal. Only time will tell if this turns out to be the last season (despite the ambitious battle cry of "Six Seasons and a Movie"), but at least the return of Dan Harmon promises a good season. Getting it worse over on ABC is Suburgatory, also left on the midseason backburner. This is a situation not unlike Cougar Town, another quality sitcom having dealt with middling ratings after two seasons commanding the network to engage a cautious renewal. However, Cougar Town can say it lucked out with TBS granting it a fourth season and further. I don't know if Suburgatory is in as good a situation, especially with essential cast members like Alan Tudyk, Rex Lee and Parker Young on the way out and the morose way things ended last season. One can only hope for things to turn around.

This upcoming season will also mark a more ambitious new turn for the networks in presentation, specifically in dramas. Practically all of these notions are inspired by cable television, what with their looser rules on programming and development resulting in big, ambitious, and most of all successful dramas. With the introduction of the "Limited Series" (including a 12-episode revival of 24, one of my family's all-time favorites), we're getting what feels like the return of the miniseries. But these miniseries are bigger and go on longer than before. It's much like FX's American Horror Story brand, which allows a different conceit every fall in the same genre with the same tone. And even dramas designed as ongoing have been developed this way have a real cable-style delivery to them. CBS's Hostages is planned as one of two new dramas to run Monday nights after the comedies, with fifteen episodes planned to a season and a non-stop run throughout the fall until the run is complete. Over on ABC, there are nonstop runs planned for all of their returning prime-time soaps, with half a season's run for Grey's Anatomy, Once Upon a Time, Scandal, and Nashville alike going from September/October to December, and then from February/March to May. After all, if networks like AMC or Showtime can command the attention of viewers for weeks on end and only leave them wanting more when the run is over, why should it be so hard to do the same on free TV?

But anyway, let's take a closer look at the shows themselves. What exactly is new and waiting in the wings, hoping to impress? What of the older programs, like can they help a new series or move around to help themselves? Let's find out...

Tuesday September 10 -- NBC Preview
Wednesday September 11 -- CBS Previews, plus The CW
Thursday September 12 -- FOX Preview
Friday September 13 -- ABC Preview

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