This used to be a grand TV tradition, a time when careers might soar or crumble.
It’s the week of “upfronts,” when networks announce their fall schedules to advertisers. It will be NBC and Fox on Monday (May 17), ABC on Tuesday and CBS on Wednesday; some shows will make the cut, others (including “All Rise,” shown here) won’t.
And if this doesn’t seem as big as it used to? Well, nothing does, really.
These days, the big-four networks are only a fraction of the TV universe … Their sessions will be done virtually, omitting some of the usual spectacle … And some of the details have already seeped out.
Still, upfront weeks can be big. This was when Johnny Carson shocked NBC bosses by announcing that he would only do one more season. It’s when CBS’ Leslie Moonves shocked his underlings with a last-minute shift, inserting an offbeat show called “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
It’s a big time, and we’re getting parcels of information. Fox has revealed only a smidgen – “Call Me Kat” is in, “Prodigal Son” is out – but NBC has announced its full schedule. Let’a start there:
Two of the network’s top shows are being reined in: “The Voice” will be around in the fall, but won’t have a mid-season edition. “This Is Us” will wait until mid-season, then air its final season over 18 consecutive weeks.
NBC will resort to a super-safe schedule – on two consecutive nights, simply stacking three similar shows, all produced by Dick Wolf. The “Chicago” shows will continue on Wednesdays; “Law & Order” ones (including a new one, focusing on defense lawyers) will be Thursdays.
That clearly makes it Wolf’s world: In the fall primetime schedule, NBC has only 11 scripted hours – six of them produced by Wolf.
It also puts NBC – once the home of must-see comedies – with no half-hour comedies this fall. Three them have been renewed for mid-season – “Young Rock,” “Kenan” and “Mr. Mayor” – and a fourth (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) will air this summer, after the Olympics conclude.
Some other shows – “Debris,” “Manifest,” “Good Girls,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” – are still pending. Last year, NBC made a belated decision to bring “Zoey” back; this year, it has the extra option of moving some of those shows to its Peacock streaming service.
This network matches NBC in playing it safe. Next season, it will add extra editions of “CSI,” “FBI” and “NCIS.”
It has also picked up two comedies (“Smallwood” and “Ghosts”), plus “Good Sam,” a drama about daughter-and-dad surgeons.
To make room, it has canceled some fairly popular shows – “All Rise,” “The Unicorn” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” And two series will move to the Paramount Plus streaming service – “SEAL Team” (which will have some new episodes on CBS first) and “Clarice.”
Some major steps have been announced, boosting diversity.
ABC is canceling two Black-themed shows – “For Life” and “Mixed-ish” – but adding three more. It has “Abbott Elementary” (about teachers at a Philadelphia public school), “Queens” (with women in their 40s re-uniting their once-successful hip-hop group) and a “Wonder Years” reboot, this time focusing on a Black family in 1960s Montgomery, Ala.
It has also canceled two comedies (“American Housewife” and “Call Your Mother”) and the short-lived drama “Rebel” and added a comedy, “Maggie.”