Friday, May 4, 2007

Dear Readers... (if you exist)

Excuse my recent lack of activity, but the dearth of news coming from the networks as to what will be renewed for another season has been stymieing my creativity. It seems that everything is on the bubble at the moment, with a few notable exceptions. If you don't follow the upfronts, I've got good news, bad news, and confusing news.

First, the good. On NBC, "30 Rock" was renewed for another season early on. Critics and audiences love it, and why wouldn't they? It's so refreshingly smart and funny, and Tina Fey is as lovable as they come. I have a total girlcrush on her. Also returning to the Thursday night line-up, "My Name is Earl" and "The Office." Both quality shows.

On Fox, "Bones" and "House, MD" both return. Again, good choices. David Boreanaz & Emily Deschanel have great chemistry, the supporting cast is fun and interesting, and the writing is light-hearted and smart. As for "House," don't get me started. I'll be here all morning raving about it. There's no question that it's my favorite show on television at the moment. If it weren't coming back, I might just quit this whole TV thing altogether. Also coming back next season, "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," and "American Dad." I haven't seen a lot of the newer Simpsons episodes, although I would have liked to, but I'll keep watching it whenever I can as long as it's on the air. I'm completely nonplussed by anything Seth MacFarlane has done in the past couple of years, but that's a post for another day.

As for ABC, many viewers will be happy to know that "Desperate Housewives," "Boston Legal," "Lost," and "Grey's Anatomy" have all been renewed. I'll give ABC one thing; when they have a good thing, they don't question it. Unlike, that is, CBS and NBC.

The confusing news. There are a lot of shows that are still on the bubble, and we probably won't find out their fates at least until after sweeps, and these are some of the more confusing concepts to grasp. Keep in mind, though, that it doesn't necessarily mean anything when the networks wait on announcing the renewal of a series, but there are some series that have had to go through some rigorous negotiations with their respective networks, and which ones those are will surprise you.

For instance, NBC renewed "Law & Order: SVU" right away, but the other two series in the trilogy are still waiting for their fates to be decided as the network tries to work with the producers to reduce costs or face cancellation. The original "Law & Order" has been on the air since 1990, making it the longest-running primetime drama on American television. It took a few years to find its footing, but with the introduction of everyone's favorite wise-cracking detective, Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), the ratings soared. Orbach left the show in 2004 for health reasons, and passed away before his final episode could even air. Ever since, despite the likability of Det. Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin), ratings have been declining. I hate to admit it, but even I have lost interest.

"Law & Order: CI," the spin-off starring Vincent D'Onofrio as the intense Det. Robert Goren (who I think is one of the most interesting characters on TV, right up there with Greg House and Gil Grissom), is also facing termination. The past two seasons have seen turmoil, though, as Jamey Sheridan (Capt. Deakins) was replaced by Eric Bogosian (Capt. Ross), and half the episodes have focused on Chris Noth's "Det. Mike Logan" (a character which you may remember from the original series during the 1990-95 seasons) and his partner instead of the much more interesting duo of Goren & Eames (Kathryn Erbe). This, I think, is essentially poison for the show. Logan was a good character, but the draw of this show is and always will be Goren. The conventional wisdom is that D'Onofrio has been wanting out for quite awhile and is waiting for his contract to be up, especially after his bout with workaholic-related exhaustion in 2004. The introduction of the second pair of detectives was a way to keep D'Onofrio on the show while lightening his workload. Personally, anything that keeps him there, I'm all for, but the damage to the ratings may ultimately be fatal for the series.

Another show NBC is waffling on is "Scrubs." If the show returns for a seventh season, Zach Braff will be paid a whopping $350,000 per episode. The word is that if season six's season finale ends up being the series finale, the fans will be very angry, because they're ending it on a huge cliffhanger. Word is that if NBC drops it, ABC may pick it up (ironically, NBC picked the pilot up from ABC when they decided not to produce it).

As for the bad news, the only shows canceled worth mentioning, as far as I'm concerned, are "Andy Barker, PI," which as I mentioned in an earlier post, was assassinated by the network (in addition to my theory that NBC deliberately cut the ratings by posting all the episodes online and airing the new installments alongside reruns of the lead-ins, Conan O'Brien recently said in an interview that the network deliberately under-promoted it), "The King of Queens," and "Gilmore Girls," both hit shows who have called it quits after many successful years.

Well, that's all I've got for you for now. I've got a few other things to talk about, and hopefully I'll find the motivation to get on them. These include a letter to Jorja Fox (CSI), my take on Rosie O'Donnell & her departure from the view, as well as a look at some of the pilots in development. Not to mention that we've just started May Sweeps, and there's bound to be something to say about that.

For more information on what is/isn't renewed so far, check the links in the lower right hand corner, click on The Futon Critic, and check out their 2007/2008 Upfront Guide.

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