The television industry has done a better job at introducing shows throughout the year but there is still little doubt that the fall is when the various networks want to make the biggest splash. Yes, there more cable television networks than ever, and even digital-based companies such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and Yahoo are catching an increasing amount of eyeballs, but it’s still the old school broadcast networks that generate the lion’s share of the buzz when the calendar turns to September.
The Tiffany Network remains America’s most watched television network. CBS is so successful that in order to introduce new shows its programming department had to defer the new seasons of such ratings winners as “2 Broke Girls,” “Mike & Molly,” and the enthralling “Person Of Interest” to early 2016. Having NFL games on Thursday night for the second straight season also reduces the amount of available primetime real estate.
The most promising new offering from CBS’s comedy department is “Angel From Hell,” in which an uptight dermatologist is befriended, whether she likes it or not, by a foul-mouthed guardian angel played by Jane Lynch in a tailor-made role.
The network is taking some risks as well. “Supergirl” starring Melissa Benoist is the kind of DC Comics fare that one expects from CBS’s corporate sibling, the CW Network. “Limitless” is a tale about a man who can unleash all of the compartments of a brain by taking a pill that is based on the 2011 Bradley Cooper film of the same name.
The biggest concern for CBS however is whether Stephen Colbert will be able to fill David Letterman’s big shoes at 11:30 each night.
The Peacock Network seemed to be on life support just a few years ago but it has turned things around thanks to both “Sunday Night Football” and “The Voice.” NBC’s scripted programming hasn’t fared quite as well but “The Mysteries Of Laura” and “The Blacklist” are back for their second and third seasons respectively.
NBC is counting on Neil Patrick Harris to revive the long dormant live variety show format with “Best Time Ever.” Former film star and convicted tax delinquent Wesley Snipes is the star of “The Player,” which based on the snippet that I saw, is full of Las Vegas action but whose plot seems hard to follow. Flushing native Marc Berman, who is the publisher of TV Media Insights, gives 7-1 odds against this show making into a second season.
The program which will probably generate the most initial buzz will be “Blindspot.” The show opens in Times Square with a naked woman suffering from amnesia who is covered with tattoos all over her body. She has no recollection how they got there but everyone quickly learns that they could be clues to an impending terrorist attack.
Another new show, “People Are Talking,” appears to be a routine young couples comedy that probably won’t stick around.
Times have been tough in the Nielsens for what Variety has long called “The Alphabet Network.” ABC is relying on Kermit and Miss Piggy to draw viewers in the latest installment of “The Muppets.” The gimmick here is that America’s favorite porcine puppet will be hosting a fictitious talk show that draws A-list celebrities.
Ken Jeong, who has generated a lot of laughs in both “The Hangover” trilogy of films and the former NBC cult comedy, “Community,” stars in a family comedy, “Dr. Ken.” In real life Jeong was a physician before turning to acting. The question to be settled is whether Dr. Jeong, who has had a lot of success as a supporting player can carry a show as its lead.
In yet another variation of the iconic “80s series, “Dallas,” Don Johnson, who most of us still think of as Sonny Crockett from “Miami Vice” 30 years later, and Chace Crawford, who played a hunky teen on the CW’s “Gossip Girl,” star as members of a very wealthy North Dakota family in “Blood & Oil.”
As “American Idol” has gone, so has Fox. Ratings for the one-time preeminent talent show have plummeted so much over the years that the network announced that this spring will be its last.
Recent Fox offerings such as “Rake,” that starred Greg Kinnear as a fast and loose lawyer, and “Backstrom,” that had Rainn Wilson playing an irascible Portland detective, were both terrific shows that inexplicably failed to find an audience.
The show which show should generate the most interest in celebrity glossy magazines is “Scream Queens” which stars a bevy of attractive young actresses such as Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Ariana Grande and Abigail Breslin who play sorority sisters who are getting bumped off one by one each week by a serial killer. Jamie Lee Curtis plays a college dean.
Rob Lowe portrays an actor whose “Perry Mason”-like show gets cancelled and returns to his small Midwestern town to help his brother, a real lawyer (Fred Savage), win cases in “The Grinder.” Another ‘80s heartthrob, John Stamos, is a fun-loving bachelor who disco vers that not only did he father a child but is now a granddad as well, in “Grandfathered.”
Miami is the locale for “Rosewood” where Morris Chestnut is a pathologist who enjoys solving open murder cases.
The CW has done a great job reinventing itself. A couple of years ago it was thought of as the network of preteen girls. In the last two years it has tried to attract young guys with comic book fare as “The Flash” and “Arrow.”
Last year it achieved its first bona fide hit since “Gossip Girl” with “Jane The Virgin.” This year they may top that success with “Crazy Ex- Girlfriend” according to respected Variety contributor Hillary Atkin whose Atkin Report is read by the movers and shakers of the LA entertainment community. “The buzz on this show is incredibly high,” Atkin told me. It stars newcomer Rachel Bloom as a New York attorney who moves on a whim to the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina when she runs into an old high school crush on a Manhattan street who informs her that he is relocating to that town for a prestigious job.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was originally slated for the premium cable network, Showtime, before it became a CW property. In addition to comedy, expect to see numerous song and dance routines.
Now if only CW president Mark Pedowitz can finally find away to cancel the very long-in-the-tooth “America’s Next Top Model.”
Forest Hills’ own Billy Eichner moves his “Billy On The Street” guerilla interview show to Tru TV after three seasons on Fuse. Tru TV has long been overlooked by Turner Entertainment which runs both TBS and TNT. Things may be changing as it’s investing in another off-the-wall reality comedy, “Adam Ruins Everything,” starring comic Adam Conover who skewers long-held conventional beliefs.
TBS will be spoofing the old ABC dramatic series, “Lost,” with “Wrecked,” a comedy about survivors of a plane crash on a deserted island.
Hollis native Bonnie Hammer has done a terrific job running the sizable portfolio of networks that comprise NBC Universal Cable as its CEO. Hammer will be looking to an old friend from the neighborhood, advertising legend and former CNBC show host Donny Deutsch, to keep up the good fortunes of the USA Network, cable’s most watched. Deutsch will be playing a fictional talk show host on “Donny