overthinking the idiot box

May 17th, 2005

For the television afficionado, the Upfronts are more than just a sneak peek at the fall schedules for every network — they offer the observant a chance to better understand what the network thinks America wants to watch. What exactly that is? Leave it to SMRT-TV to tell you.

special feature
The Fall 2005 Upfronts: SMRT-TV Staff Discusses

The WB
Fox and UPN

The WB Announcement

Erin: Okay, so Monday.
Vicki: I reckon The WB should be proud that they have the longest-running family series on their hands (Seventh Heaven), but that was one I was hoping wouldn't be included in the line-up, although I knew better.
Erin: Yeah. I'm also amused by this new show, Just Legal, which sounds like a porn site and stars Don Johnson. Also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, yikes.
Vicki: With Jay Baruchel's character being barely legal (oh, how witty!), it could call for some pedophilic-like moments… and some HoYay, perhaps? Plus JB really does look young.
Erin: Yeah. Doogie Howser, Esq.?
The WB is finally joining the big guns by getting a lawyer drama on their network. Soon enough, we'll get a cop show, a crime scene investigation program, and even a hospital drama. I. Can't. Wait.
Vicki: But, hey, The WB is finally joining the big guns by getting a lawyer drama on their network. Soon enough, we'll get a cop show, a crime scene investigation program, and even a hospital drama. I. Can't. Wait.
Erin: Because the world needs more cop shows.
Vicki: Lord knows I do. Tuesday!
Erin: Yeah. Speaking of the big guns...
Vicki: Gilmore Girls! I, for one, am very excited about the sixth season.
Erin: After GG, there's Supernatural, and the description on the website seems more like an ad for the producers than for the show.
Vicki: Oh, they're really going to milk this one for all it's worth."From the creator of The O.C..."
Erin: Yeah. And Charlie's Angels' McG!
Vicki: (Creator? Executive producer? What kind of person calls himself McG, anyway?)

Paladecki: No Fox Mulder.
Erin: Yeah, exactly. Although I think the idea of crossing the country in a beat up Chevy has potential, but clearly these guys have some mother issues.
Vicki: Indeed. It's been 20 years. And there's probably nothing mysterious about her death. This isn't The X-Files. (And you, Jared Paladecki, are no Fox Mulder.)
Erin: Oh, no. There can be no other Fox Mulder.
Vicki: It's cool of The WB to bring some sci-fi into the mix, but I doubt it'll have the intrinsic mythology of The X Files or any heart to it.
Erin: Or even Buffy, for that matter.
Vicki: Wednesday: Do you even watch One Tree Hill? Does anyone watch it? Apparently it's had a ratings surge this past season, but I don't get it. Plus, Maria Menoudos "acting"? It's best to just stay away.
Erin: Related sounds like it should be about incest. (Yikes, I don't know where my brain is tonight.) This might have potential; it's co-produced by Marta Kauffman of Friends fame.
Vicki: I like that some of the new programs are trying to appeal to the 20s crowd and not the pre-teen/teen/tween/whatever set.
Erin: Yeah. And this show also has the chick from Just Shoot Me who I found kind of annoying, so we'll see how that goes.
Vicki: Four sisters in Manhattan. Love, family, jobs, etc. Isn't it also by one of the Sex and the City writers?
Erin: Yeah, it says Liz Tucillo, who also co-wrote He's Just Not That Into You. Blech.
Vicki: Oh. That. I've managed to stay away from it, thank goodness.
Erin: Me too.
Vicki: So, an all-female ensemble drama, not unlike Sex and the City or Desperate Housewives. See, if this show were on any other network, I'd be pissed off that'd they be hogging all the nominations at the Emmys. Crisis averted, thankfully.
Erin: Yeah, I might, too.
Erin: No new shows on Thursday.
Vicki: Just Smallville and Everwood.
Erin: New time slots for both of these, though. I think.
Vicki: Yep. Everwood has been happy with its Monday slot and is and doing very well this past season. I hope this move won't hurt it much.
Erin: Smallville does have a fan following. My mom watches Smallville, I don't know what that implies. It's hard to go wrong with a Superman franchise, though.
Vicki: If Smallville has a fan following, it's all in anticipation for the UST between Clark and Lex. And to see Lana get trampled by a horse.
Erin: Hee. Oh, man, the Clark-Lex thing is so Darth Vader, to be culturally relevant. We all know how it turns out, but is fun to watch how we'll get there.
Vicki: So, that implies we're actually going to watch?
Erin: Well, I won't watch, but I can see how people would want to. Meanwhile, Friday is kind of a wash.
Vicki: Word. The WB should really stop with the comedies. It's not their forte.
Erin: Plus, Friday nights suck for TV. Very few viewers on Fridays.
Vicki: Death sentence. Not even God and Joan of Arcadia can get people to stay in on Friday nights. So how about that new one? Twins? I love my snarky Sara Gilbert from her Roseanne days.
Erin: Wow, Melanie Griffith and Darlene!
Vicki: But a lingerie store? The "buttpucker"? Melanie Griffith?
Erin: And the guy from Perfect Strangers!
Vicki: Cousin Larry Appleton! Bring Bronson Pinchot and I am so this show's biggest fan.
Erin: Oh, yeah.
Yeah, there's a fine line between "offbeat" and "whaa?"
Vicki: But, seriously, I adore any show about sisterly love and bonding and such, but the premise is just so off. She's an underwear model! Working in a lingerie store! With her homely-looking sister! (I take great offense as I am the homely-looking little sister, as well.)
Erin: Yeah, there's a fine line between "offbeat" and "whaa?"
Vicki: And not even the good kind of offbeat. Just a shitload of "Whaaaaa...the fuck?" Like I said: the WB should stay faaaar away from the sitcoms they're spewing out.
Erin: Yes, definitely.
Vicki: As for midseason replacements:
Erin: The Bedford Diaries looks like Felicity Redux.
Vicki: I am actually very glad that The Bedford Diaries got picked up. Never watched Felicity, admittedly. But New York, an academic setting, and sexual behavior.
Erin: It actually looks like it could be good.
Vicki: Will this professor be revolutionary as Kinsey?! Probably not. But it's great Milo Ventimiglia is getting work. Hope his character isn't as much of an ass as his last two characters were.
Erin: Yeah. And Matthew Modine as the professor.
Vicki: Sweet. This one could be a hit for the WB, I think. But midseason replacement?
Erin: Yeah, if they put it in a good time slot.
Vicki: Big if. All the good time slots are taken, unless some other drama gets the axe. (I'm betting on Supernatural.)
Vicki: Pepper Dennis?
Erin: Yeah.
Vicki: Rebecca Romijn-Not!Stamos.
Erin: That's totally just the Rebecca Romijn show. The premise is kind of irrelevant. Although I don't really buy her as an aspiring newscaster.
Vicki: Well, of course: she is just a silly woman who can't even hate the man who stole her job, because he's just. so. perfect. You can't hate on a man whose just that perfect. Will they or won't they? I'm intrigued.
Erin: I'm not. She should just kick him.
Vicki: But, hey, isn't the camera guy Rider Strong?! [Ed.: He is.]
Erin: I almost miss Rider Strong.
Vicki: Great actor on Boy Meets World.
Erin: Yeah.
Vicki: Modern Men. Starring a Seventh Heaven cast-off.
Erin: Gee, the whole Just Shoot Me cast is winding up on the WB. There's Wendy Malick. Also a Jerry Bruckheimer show.
Vicki: Has [Bruckheimer] ever done comedy before? Do we dare watch?
Erin: I don't know. This premise looks recycled.
Vicki: Plus, a life coach? Getting in touch with their feminine sides?
Erin: Sounds like sexist blather. I'll pass.
Vicki: Oh look! He's holding a baby awkwardly! Hilarity! Pass, as well. But George Wendt. I wonder what he'll be drinking?

How does he even see?
Erin: Hmm. Misconceptions brings Daphne from Frasier and French Stewart back to TV.
Vicki: I could do without the latter,
Erin: Yeah, why does that man not open his eyes?
Vicki: And hasn't the sperm-donor idea been done ad nauseum a bazillion times in the past? It doesn't work as a subplot; how the hell will it work as the basis of a series?
Erin: Exactly.
Vicki: Brian Grazer, though. Quandary.
Erin: Arrested Development is one of the best things on TV, so if this new show has the same level of quirky, I might watch an episode, but I don't know.
Vicki: I think it'll just be painful. They can't all be winners.
Erin: This one probably deserves to be mid-season.
Vicki: But from the pile of dreck they had before the upfronts were released, it was slim pickins. So, what can we say about the 2005-2006 line-up? 1) Smart move on the part of the network by only picking up two comedies. Stick with what you're good at. 2) Starting off their evenings with their strong shows: smart because, really, there'd be no reason to tune in at 9 otherwise
Erin: Well, Related and Bedford Diaries look like they might be worthwhile but otherwise?
Vicki: Not that great a season, methinks.
Erin: Then again, it is the WB.
Vicki: But they'll survive: their got their ratings powerhouses (7H, GG, Everwood). They're chockful of pretty boys.
Erin: Yeah, the WB does usually win in the pretty boys department.
Vicki: And it's shows like these that ruin it for the rest... GG and Everwood are not getting the Emmy recognition they deserve because "it's on The WB."
Erin: Pretty much.
Vicki: Need to work on the quality of their programming. I reckon we'll see what survives come midseason, and maybe the line-up will look stellar come January. Too hopeful and naive of me?
Erin: You know, I think the WB still wins over UPN. So it's still not the bottom of the barrel.
Vicki: Yup: still has its spot in 5th. But that doesn't give them bragging rights.
Erin: It's just sad. They started so strong, with Dawson and Buffy and then Felicity. They do the teen angst dramas pretty well, I guess.
Vicki: If teen angst is what they're good at, though, then leave them to that.

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