Talking up front about Upfronts

OK, let’s talk a bit about Upfronts.

I usually don’t cover Upfronts on the blog for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m just a little TV blogger who doesn’t get invited to all the big fancy events, so it’s not like I’d be bringing y’all minute-by-minute scoops. Second of all, I don’t find Upfronts to be super exciting. Sure, I was a little anxious to find out whether Parenthood and Chuck would be renewed (they were!). I’m a little curious about new TV schedules, if only so I can plan my own life around my television shows (yes, I’m a loser). But generally, I don’t get too excited about shows until I’ve actually seen a couple episodes. Hell, for all the buzz there was about the new Wonder Woman TV show, it didn’t even get picked up! So it all has to be taken with a grain of salt.

So what are Upfronts? Well, it’s a week where the major networks debut their fall TV schedules, promote new shows with misleading clip reels, and generally try to woo the media into creating some buzz about the upcoming season of television.

How good or exciting this news is depends on whether good shows have been developed. Last year, good shows were not developed. Most of the new shows that debuted this past season have been cancelled. (Bye, Outsourced!) Two years ago was a different story, since we managed to get great shows like Modern Family, Community, Parenthood, Cougar Town and The Good Wife, and other favorites.

With the exception of Parenthood, which pulled me in with Lauren Graham, I waited to watch most of those shows until everyone was talking about them. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it prevents me from getting attached to something that will just be cruelly canceled and ripped from my heart. It also prevents me from wasting time (as I try to give everything a three episode minimum trial period) on shows I consider to be horrible. And I’m nothing if not a commitment-phobe, especially when it comes to pop culture.

But there’s a downside – waiting to hear if a show is good before checking it out means never getting in on the ground floor. I got to gloat about how great Parenthood was long before people were watching it…OK, very few people still watch it, but you get my drift. I was late to the party on all the great comedies that debuted in 2009! So I’m making more of an effort this year. Here are some of the new shows that have caught my fickle eye. I reserve the right to abandon them at the drop of a hat this fall, if they prove to be weaksauce.

2 Broke Girls, airing Monday nights on CBS
This show could go either way, but for Kat Dennings I’m willing to give it a chance. You may know her from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Thor, The House Bunny, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and other things. She’s very funny and, for all your male readers, very attractive. The show was co-created by comedian Whitney Cummings, who has another show that I may or may not watch called Whitney debuting on NBC this year. It’s about two girls with opposite personalities who live and work together in NYC. To be honest, the clip reel doesn’t look that fantastic – the personalities are a little cliched, and the jokes aren’t very original. But it’s just a clip reel, you can’t tell too much from it. I’ll give it a chance. It’ll come on right after How I Met Your Mother, so it’s not like I’ll have to put in much effort to catch it.

The New Girl, airing Tuesday nights on Fox
Sensing a theme here? I feel more confident about The New Girl than I do about 2 Broke Girls because while I like Kat Dennings, I heart Zooey Dechanel. Like, ‘style my hair to be like hers’ heart her. If you don’t know Zooey, you should. She’s the quirky, adorable, winsome girl from 500 Days of Summer, and has also acted as the wacky best friend in several things. She’s also one half of the folk group “She and Him”, which I love. Zooey stars as a girl who moves in with three guys after suffering a terrible breakup. One of the guys, played by Damon Wayons, will have to be recast since Happy Endings was picked up for a second season. But another one of the guys is played by Max Greenfield, who I loved as Leo on Veronica Mars. You can check out the clip reel on YouTube and decide for yourselves, but I think it has potential.

The X Factor, airing Wednesday and Thursday nights on Fox
I’m really  on the fence about this one. Can I handle watching singing shows all year round? Do I want Paula Abdul back on my screen? I’m just not sure. Although I was disappointed in American Idol this year, I am going to give it another season in case the show redeems itself, and I’ve really been enjoying The Voice. I’m not sure I want to add another similar show to my viewing schedule, especially since it’s on against Survivor, which takes priority over all else for me. I’ll probably check out The X Factor, but it may get recorded and relegated to Saturday morning viewing.

Up All Night, airing Wednesday nights on NBC
This is a show I’ll definitely be checking out, and there is one major reason: Casting. The show features Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph, who are all people I very much enjoy. Lorne Michaels is also involved, which can’t hurt. Plus, the clip reel is actually funny, which is hard to do. I’m pretty excited for it, but I wish it wasn’t on at the same time as Survivor and, oh I don’t know, everything else.

Smash, airing Monday nights (mid-season) on NBC
Glee for grownups? Yes, please. This show won’t be for everyone, but I’m pretty sure it was made for me. It’s about the making of a Broadway musical based Marilyn Monroe’s story and stars Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, and Idol alum Katharine McPhee. I’ve always loved Katharine McPhee, and I think she lights up the screen in the clip reel. It’s entirely possible that the whole thing could be a disaster, but I’ll be checking it out with high hopes. Airing it after The Voice was a smart move on the part of NBC (just like how Glee airs after Idol) and I’m looking forward to seeing where they’ll take the story.

Other shows I’m considering, but likely won’t watch, are Mad Men rip-offs Pan Am (ABC) and The Playboy Club (NBC), the Charlie’s Angels reboot (ABC), and Whitney (NBC).

Did you follow any Upfronts news? Are there any shows that have piqued your interest? 




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