Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NBC's infronts: Thoughts, musings and other random stuff

Yesterday, NBC held its network "infronts," an early version of the "upfronts" that other networks will host in a few weeks. The event included a few announcements about which shows would be renewed and which new shows NBC was picking up for the 2009-2010 season.
Below are a few of my thoughts on the announcement.
* NBC announced that it was picking up freshmen series "Parks and Recreation" and "Southland" for second seasons, and renewing the much-debated "Heroes" (which I dumped the second half of this season) for a fourth. This is in addition to the previously announced renewals of "The Office," "Friday Night Lights," "30 Rock" and "Law & Order SVU." NBC will announce whether it will renew other on-the-bubble shows -- including the beloved but low-rated "Chuck" -- in a few weeks. While I agree that both "P&R" and especially "Southland" have promise, I'm slightly worried that NBC is biting off more than it can chew. No time periods have been announced for any of these shows, and I'm wondering where everything will land. Late last year, the network gave away an entire hour of its weeknight schedule to Jay Leno's new show. Thus, none of NBC's new or returning shows can use the hour from 10 to 11 p.m. So where does that leave "Southland"? With its bleeped curse words and fairly gritty depictions of crime, it's really best suited to the 10 p.m. hour. I'm glad it's been renewed, but what will happen to it? Will NBC squeeze it in at 9 p.m. with the same content and hope no one causes a stink? Will the network tone it down (possibly turning it into a less effective show)? I'm a bit worried about it.
* In addition to "Chuck," shows whose fate have yet to be decided include "Medium," "My Name is Earl" and "Law & Order." Reportedly, the acclaimed but low-rated shows "Life" and "Kings" are dead in the water.
* NBC's new shows include a remake of the 1989 Steve Martin movie "Parenthood." The movie, as you may recall, was already adapted for TV once, in 1990 as a short-lived dramedy starring Ed Begley Jr. (and, according to IMDB, a young Leonardo DeCaprio). Gotta say, have mixed feelings about the new version. First, unlike the movie or the previous show, the new "Parenthood" focuses not on the Buckman family, but on the Braverman family. The characters are totally different, so why even call it "Parenthood"? Is this some sort of misguided attempt to capitalize on a recognizable brand? If so, maybe they should have picked a movie that isn't 20 years old. That said, I'm going to give the show a chance, if only because the cast is so great. Stars include Craig T. Nelson, Peter Krause, Maura Tierney, and Bonnie Bedelia. Also, the series is from Jason Katims, a show runner on the excellent "Friday Night Lights." So, fingers are crossed.
* As often happens at NBC, there are two shows with amazingly similar premises. "Trauma," from executive producer Peter Berg (another "FNL" mastermind) is a medical drama seen through the eyes of paramedics. "Mercy" (from a team that includes yet another "FNL" alum, Liz Heldens) is a medical drama seen through the eyes of nurses. Only time will tell if they are different, and watchable, enough to both survive.
* Other new shows include the comedies "100 Questions" -- about a single gal looking for love -- and "Community," starring "The Soup" funnyman Joel McHale and comedy vet Chevy Chase. Of the two, "Community," focusing on life at a community college, sounds more promising, but Chase and McHale are both hit-or-miss presences, so we'll see.
What are your thoughts?

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