Last month the various broadcast networks introduced their fall lineups to ad buyers and the media at the annual spring ritual known as the Upfronts.
Here is a quick look at what the networks have in store for us:
In the 1950s a chimpanzee named J. Fred Muggs helped make the “Today” show the morning broadcast icon that it still is today. The Peacock Network, which has been languishing in the ratings for years, is hoping that a capuchin monkey named Crystal can do the same thing for its primetime lineup this fall, as she, along with comedian Justin Kirk, will star in “Animal Practice,” a show set in New York about an unorthodox veterinarian.
Matthew Perry, who was one of the stars of NBC’s all-time biggest hits, “Friends,” returns as a snarky radio sports talk show host in “Go On.” The good news is that the role is tailor-made for Perry. The bad news is that it looks identical to his last effort, “Mr. Sunshine,” which bombed on ABC.
The Tiffany Network absorbs digs from comics and rival network executives because even though it has long been the ratings champion, its audience skews older than its competitors. CBS is so strong that even the shows that it has canceled, “CSI Miami” (which starred Forest Hills’ own David Caruso), and a police procedural that took place in Queens, “Unforgettable,” would have been considered smash hits on other networks (There is a rumor that cable’s TNT may pick up “Unforgettable.”)
Coming up from “The Eye” (to use Variety Magazine lingo) will be a buddy comedy, “Partners,” concerning two childhood best friends, one gay and the other straight. (David Krumholz, who grew up in Forest Hills, is one of the stars), and yet another spin on Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary,” which co-stars Jackson Heights denizen Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson.
“House” may be history but “The Simpsons” and “American Idol” remain as solid programming tent poles for FOX. Last year they scored big with Zooey Deschanel’s “The New Girl” and this fall they are trying to repeat that comedic success with Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project.”
Kevin Bacon makes his TV debut as a detective trying to track down an escaped serial killer whom he arrested years ago in “The Following,” while Jordana Spiro stars as a surgeon whose family is indebted to organized crime in “The Sopranos”-inspired “The Mob Doctor.”
While NBC’s woes have long garnered notoriety, ABC has also fallen on hard times. “Desperate Housewives” just ended its run while “Grey’s Anatomy” is getting very long in the tooth. Shows such as “Castle,” “Happy Endings,” and “Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23" have generated some buzz but ho-hum ratings at best.
The Alphabet Network (to cite Variety again) will be banking heavily on a new drama about a tony apartment building with a fancy address whose tenants are from another planet unbeknownst to the outside world. “666 Park Avenue” sounds like a bizarre joke about one-percenters.
The lone CW show which draws viewers, “Gossip Girl,” concludes this fall. Last year’s much hyped Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle, “Ringer,” flopped so badly that it got canceled. This is a rare occurrence for the CW considering programs that no one watches such as “Nikita,” “90210" and “America’s Next Top Model” are all coming back.
The CW may finally be getting away from its image as a destination for 12-year-old girls as it will have a DC Comics action show, “Arrow” on its fall schedule. This summer it will venture into the world of reality TV with a show about a South Beach hotel, “The Catalina.”