By Belinda Acosta, Fri., May 26, 2006
The "up-fronts" took place last week. That's when the networks trot out their new fall series for advertisers and start the buzz over brand-new series. Some networks are shaking up their schedules, while others are sticking with the tried and true. Fox, which made a name for itself with its edgier fare and by loudly breaking from the pack by launching their series at will (actually, in deference to baseball season), takes a more conservative approach. To avoid interruptions in series (and viewers' attention), they will launch their series weeks before baseball coverage begins or hold until baseball season ends.
CBS is also sticking with the tried and true, launching only four new series. It cuts dead weight when it puts its Sunday Night Movie franchise to rest. Even fewer new series will launch on the new CW (a merging of the WB and UPN). But there are several notable twists. First, the previously canceled 7th Heaven has been renewed for an 11th season. "The overwhelming outcry from fans and the fact that the series' ratings were up in key demos last season" saved the show, according to press materials. Previously on-the-bubble favorites Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars will air back-to-back on Tuesday nights. In a variation on Fox's Sunday Night Comedy block, the CW airs sitcoms that night, anchored by two popular series: Everybody Hates Chris and an encore of the reality series America's Top Model. The CW's Sunday night block gives the network "four hours of programming starring African-Americans on the most watched night of the week."
Mixing it up the most are ABC and NBC. Each network is launching at least seven new series (not including midseason shows) and, in an effort to win the still coveted Thursday night ratings war, have positioned their heavyweights in key time slots. The shake-up is most pronounced at ABC, which moves its high-performing Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays at 8pm, competing against NBC's highly anticipated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Emmy Award-winners Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing) work with a dynamite cast (Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, D.L. Hughley, Timothy Busfield) in a "crackling look at the backstage politics behind a late-night comedy show." (Curiously, 30 Rock, a new NBC sitcom set for Wednesday night, EP'd by and starring Saturday Night Live writer Tina Fey, has a similar premise. Maybe it doesn't crackle.)
Here are the fall schedules as released by each broadcast network. Changes are inevitable. New series are in bold.
Monday: Wife Swap, The Bachelor, What About Brian; Tuesday: Dancing With the Stars, Let's Rob ..., Help Me Help You, Boston Legal; Wednesday: Dancing With the Stars, George Lopez, Lost, The Nine; Thursday: Big Day, Notes From the Underbelly, Grey's Anatomy, Six Degrees; Friday: Betty the Ugly, Men in Trees, 20/20; Saturday: ABC College Night Football; Sunday: America's Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters
Monday: How I Met Your Mother, The Class, Two and a Half Men, The New Adventures of Old Christine, CSI: Miami; Tuesday: NCIS, The Unit, Smith; Wednesday: Jericho, Criminal Minds, CSI: NY; Thursday: Survivor: Cook Islands, CSI, Shark; Friday: Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home, Numb3rs; Saturday: Crimetime Saturday (undefined two-hour block), 48 Hours; Sunday: 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, Cold Case, Without a Trace
Monday: 7th Heaven, Runaway; Tuesday: Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars; Wednesday: America's Next Top Model, One Tree Hill; Thursday: Smallville, Supernatural; Friday: Friday Night Smackdown!; Sunday: Everybody Hates Chris, All of Us, Girlfriends, The Game, America's Next Top Model (encore)
(series will launch before or after baseball season)
Monday: Prison Break, Vanished; Tuesday: Standoff, House; Wednesday: Bones, Justice; Thursday: 'Til Death, Happy Hour, The O.C.; Friday: Nanny 911, Trading Spouses; Saturday: Cops (twice), America's Most Wanted; Sunday: comedy encores or NFL broadcast overrun, The Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy, The War at Home
Monday: Deal or No Deal, Heroes, Medium; Tuesday: Friday Night Lights, Kidnapped, Law & Order: SVU; Wednesday: The Biggest Loser, 20 Good Years, 30 Rock, Law & Order; Thursday: My Name Is Earl, The Office, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, ER; Friday: Deal or No Deal, Las Vegas, Law & Order: CI; Saturday: Dateline, drama series encores; Sunday: Football Night in America, Sunday Night Football.
As always, stay tuned.