Monday, May 14, 2007

The Upfronts: NBC.

It's the third week of May again, which means it's time for the major TV network upfronts. An upfront is when the network executives meet with the press and potential advertisers and show off their new fall lineup. NBC went today, ABC will go tomorrow, CBS will go Wednesday, and FOX and the CW will go Thursday. I have in front of me a list of the shows reportedly cancelled by NBC. These shows will not be coming back. So I thought I would present them here in a list of four categories:

1. GOOD -- These are the shows I'm glad are gone, and would have pulled off the air myself if given the chance.
2. I DON'T CARE -- These are the shows I have absolutely no opinion of because I didn't watch them.
3. I KINDA CARE -- These are the shows I watched, but are not exactly a huge loss.
4. FUCK NBC -- These are the shows I loved, taken before their time.

- Twenty Good Years -- This was a traditional sitcom starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor as two old guys who want to make the most of their lives. Unfortunately, it suffered from a combination of terrible writing and annoying canned laughter. This was one of the most tragic wastes of comedic talent in recent history, and I'm thankful it's over. NBC aired only 4 of the 13 episodes, showing surprisingly remarkable aptitude.
- Grease: You're the One That I Want -- This was an American Idol-type show where male and female contestants performed competitively in order to win the roles of Danny and Sandy (respectively) in a Grease Broadway revival. I started out watching it, because I love Grease, but it started to feel like too much of a shallow Idol ripoff. And it was making me sick of the Grease songs I love, so I cut it loose. By the way, why does every Idol ripoff have to have its own catty British asshole judge? They had one in this, American Inventor (ABC), and America's Got Talent (NBC). And none of them are as great as Simon Cowell, even though he's a producer on both those last ones. Too bad they both got renewed.
- The Real Wedding Crashers -- If there's anything worse than a cheap reality prank show, it's a cheap reality prank show trying to capitalize off someone else's creative success. I didn't watch this, but I resented it for existing, especially in what was once Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip's time slot. You can't tell me more people would want to watch this garbage than Studio 60. And I am NOT a reality snob. I love reality. I just don't like shit. NBC cancelled this after three episodes, but they are thinking of airing a few more later in the year. Great.

- The Black Donnellys -- This was the first thing that took Studio 60's Monday night spot after Studio 60 was prematurely pulled for low ratings, and this show's ratings turned out to be even worse. I didn't watch it, I don't know what it's about, and I don't care to. NBC only aired 7 of the show's 13 episodes, but the rest are available online.
- Crossing Jordan -- Apparently this was a crime drama about a medical examiner that ran for 6 seasons. It was created by Tim Kring, who has moved on to his new show, Heroes. I like to watch Heroes, although it has yet to show me anything besides ripoffs of Lost and classic comic books. They say Tim Kring doesn't read comics, but then, all his writers sure do. I have no opinion of Crossing Jordan.
- Kidnapped -- This was apparently a show that would feature a core cast of kidnapping investigators, and each season would bring in a new cast of people involved in the specific season-long kidnapping investigation. NBC only aired 5 of the show's 13 episodes, but they put the rest online, and I think it's even out on DVD as we speak.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent -- This Law & Order spinoff ran for 6 seasons on NBC, but it's not really getting cancelled; it's just moving to USA. I don't even care because it's the only Law & Order I don't watch. I'm a regular viewer of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit because it's the best one of all the Law & Orders. I also watch the original Law & Order, but only because I like the girl detective in it. I don't really pay attention to the show itself.

- Andy Barker, PI -- This was a single-camera detective sitcom co-created by Conan O'Brien, starring Andy Richter and Tony Hale. I regularly watched it, and it was pretty good, but I wasn't really in love with it. Richter can't seem to catch a break. NBC aired 4 of its 6 episodes, then pulled it from its regular Thursday night time slot and burned off the remaining 2 episodes the following Saturday.
- Identity -- This was a game show hosted by Penn Jillette where contestants were given a list of twelve identities, and they had to match each identity to one of a dozen strangers standing on the stage in front of them. This show was fun because I would watch it with my brother and we would play along with the contestants. NBC aired 5 trial episodes last winter, and 7 more this spring. It's not scheduled for the fall, although I just read somewhere else that it also may not necessarily have been officially cancelled. So maybe we will get more.
- Raines -- This was a crime drama created by Graham Yost, starring Jeff Goldblum as a Los Angeles police detective who talks to imaginary manifestations of the victims in the crimes he's investigating. The pilot episode was interesting enough, and the rest of the episodes were okay. It seemed like they were trying to make Raines into a House-like character (a brilliant but anti-social hero). But the show was never in any danger of being THAT good. NBC aired all 7 episodes.
- Thank God You're Here -- This was an improv comedy show where four celebrities have to comedically bluff their way through a scene with no prior knowledge of the scene's premise. Kind of a Whose Line ripoff, but forgiveable. The improv nature of this show made it fun to watch, but there would always be one or two participants who weren't that great with the improv (as opposed to Whose Line's generally consistent improv all-star lineup). And it always bugged me that host David Alan Grier had gray hair in the pilot and black hair in all subsequent episodes. Networks really do treat us like morons. NBC aired all 7 episodes.

- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- This is very painful for me. When I was in high school, I became a fan of Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night, a single-camera sitcom behind the scenes of a fictional sports news show. But I only became aware of it through reruns on Comedy Central, after ABC had cancelled it. Which made it something of a bittersweet joy. So back then, when I heard that Aaron Sorkin wanted to make a similar show, but have it be behind the scenes of a Saturday Night Live-esque sketch comedy show, I just about flipped my lid, because I love SNL, so this would essentially be a combination of two things I loved. And finally, years later, when NBC announced that it was happening as a one-hour drama on their 2006 fall schedule, I was as jazzed as humanly possible. I had been waiting since before the turn of the goddamn century. And when the show actually premiered, I really really loved it. From the first episode, it was instantly one of my favorites. But the whole season was plagued by poisonous chatter about its supposedly low ratings. NBC decided to temporarily pull the show from its Monday night slot in February, after airing 17 of its 22 episodes, but then got antsy and actually pulled it one week early, after airing only 16 of its 22 episodes. The remaining 6 are scheduled to take over the ER Thursday night slot at the end of May, when sweeps is over and all the other shows have aired their finales. As far as I know, there has been no official cancellation announcement, but let's just say the sets have been dismantled. So, that's nice. Fuck NBC. I hope it dies.
- Treasure Hunters -- This is like old news. NBC had a show on last summer that was kinda like The Amazing Race (which I don't watch), except it followed groups of three as they deciphered clues related to American history in order to find a treasure. I LOVED this show. It was one of my favorite reality shows. It combined colorful characters with puzzles that were interesting and challenging, and they threw in some good ol' fashioned American history to boot. I'm not entirely sure why NBC didn't bring it back this summer, but I guess if I knew the reason, I probably wouldn't like it.

NBC also announced a handful of new shows, but I don't give a fuck about any of them. With the remotely possible exception of a midseason Britcom remake, they all sound retarded. And one of them is a remake of the Bionic Woman. Today, NBC stands for Nothing But Crap.


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