The five major broadcast television networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and the CW – held their 2009-2010 "upfronts" this past week, previewing their schedule and new shows for the upcoming new season - which sort of the like the TV version of the monthly comic book solicitations.
Of all the networks, ABC seems to have the most to offer fans of 'genre'-style entertainment, but he's a look at all the genre-related news across all networks.
NBC is bringing back both Heroes and Chuck, with will share a Monday 8pm timeslot during the '09-10 season. The ratings-challenged Chuck (which will take over the slot after NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics), is coming back courtesy a major sponsorship deal with the Subway sandwich chain.
"The multi-platform partnership with Subway will offer a variety of opportunities that will include significant integration into the show, as well as traditional advertising tie-ins," reads an NBC press release about the partnership, which means expect the cast of the show to be lunching often on Subway sandwiches. And keep an eye on this development; it could be a sign of things to come as the networks try to figure out how to keep advertising revenue growing (or at least not shrinking) in a rapidly changing marketplace.
NBC also has the drama Day One being readied as a mid-season replacement.
Executive produced by the Heroes writer Jess Alexander and directed by Alex Graves of FOX's Fringe, here's how NBC describes the show:
"In the aftermath of a global event that devastates the world's infrastructures, a small band of survivors strives to rebuild society and unravel the mysteries of why the event took place and what the future has in store. Told from the point of view of an eclectic group of neighbors in a Van Nuys, California apartment building, this journey of survival will show us that hope is found in the smallest of victories and heroes are born every day."
In one other 'genre' related bit of NBC news, Medium starring Patricia Arquette will somewhat ironically rise from the dead as it has dropped by the Peacock Network but picked up and will air on CBS on Friday nights following their other female-led, ghost-centric drama The Ghost Whisperer.
Speaking of CBS, besides Medium and Ghost Whisperer, the network will remains pretty well grounded in sitcoms and procedural crime drama.
As mentioned, off all the networks, ABC seems to be the most aggressive this coming year in terms of programming with supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi leanings, including of course the return of Lost for its sixth and reportedly final season, as well as the re-imagining of the iconic 1980's alien invasion mini-series-then-short-lived-ongoing series V, as well as a new series executive produced by David S. Goyer.
Here's a look at some of ABC's new programs, with descriptions by the network:
Eastwick (Wednesdays 10pm)
"Three very different women find themselves drawn together by a mysterious man who unleashes unique powers in each of them, and this small New England town will never be the same. The series is based on the popular movie The Witches of Eastwick and on the novel of the same title by John Updike.
"Eastwick stars Rebecca Romijn as Roxie Torcoletti, Lindsay Price as Joanna Frankel, Jamie Ray Newman as Kat Gardener, Paul Gross as Darryl Van Horne, Sara Rue as Penny, Veronica Cartwright as Bun, Johann Urb as Will, Jon Bernthal as Raymond and Ashley Benson as Mia."
Flash Forward (Thursday 8pm)
"When a mysterious event causes the entire world to black out, humanity is given a glimpse into its near future, and every man, woman and child is forced to come to grips with whether their destinies can be avoided or fulfilled.
"Adapting award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer's revolutionary novel, executive producers David S. Goyer (visionary co-writer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) and Brannon Braga (24, Star Trek: Enterprise) invite you to embark on a journey to answer the question, 'if you knew what your future held, what would you do?'
"Flash Forward stars Joseph Fiennes as Mark Benford, John Cho as Demetri Noh, Jack Davenport as Lloyd Simcoe, Sonya Walger as Olivia Benford, Courtney B. Vance as Stan Wedeck, Brian O'Byrne as Aaron Stark, Christine Woods as Janis Hawk, Zachary Knighton as Bryce Varley and Peyton List as Nicole."
"V is a re-imagining of the 1980's miniseries about the world's first encounter with an alien race in which the aliens call themselves The Visitors, and have a seemingly friendly agenda that may or may not be a cover for something more malevolent.
"Today, the world woke up to find spaceships over every major city. The Visitors claim to have come in peace, bringing gifts of medical miracles and technological breakthroughs. They promise to do no harm. They're lying.
"Most people believe the aliens have arrived just when we needed them most. We're eager to embrace their generous offers of help, but while tracking a terrorist cell, Homeland Security agent Erica Evans stumbles upon something far more sinister. Erica discovers that the aliens have plans to infiltrate our governments and businesses, planting seeds for their plot to control mankind. Convincing anyone of the truth will be impossible because the Visitors have two powerful weapons. First, they've given the people faith with their reassuring presence and gifts. Second, they've rallied our youth. Thousands of teens, including Erica's son, have been recruited as 'Peace Ambassadors' but they're actually serving as unwitting spies. When Erica gets thrust into the resistance movement, she'll have to balance her covert activities with her job and her role as a mother, fighting to protect her son Tyler - even as he joins forces with the enemy.
"V stars Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica Evans, Morris Chestnut as Ryan Nichols, Joel Gretsch as Father Jack Landry, Lourdes Benedicto as Valerie Stevens, Logan Huffman as Tyler Evans, Laura Vandervoort as Lisa, with Morena Baccarin as Anna and Scott Wolf as Chad Decker.
Happy Town (unscheduled)
"Haplin, Minnesota, 'Happy Town', is approaching almost a decade of peace after being riddled for years by unsolved kidnappings. But in the wake of this small town's first crime in seven years, some dark truths are being revealed about some familiar faces. They say every town has its secrets... that doesn't even begin to describe Happy Town.
"Happy Town stars Geoff Stults as Tommy Conroy, Lauren German as Henley, Amy Acker as Rachel Conroy, Dean Winters as John Haplin, John Patrick Amedori as Andrew Haplin, Sarah Gadon as Georgia Bravin, Jay Paulson as Eli 'Root Beer' Rogers, Robert Wisdom as Roger Hobbes and Sam Neill as Merritt Grieves."
Over at FOX, J.J. Abrams' Fringe (Thursdays at 9pm) and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (Fridays at 9pm) both return to the fall schedule, and fans of Seth MacFarlane will get 33% more of his animated humor on Sunday nights when the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show debuts on Sunday at 8:30 right after The Simpson and before Family Guy.
Here's how FOX describes the spin-off:
"THE CLEVELAND SHOW is a new animated series that follows everyone's favorite soft-spoken neighbor, CLEVELAND BROWN (Mike Henry), to his hometown in Virginia as he settles down with his high school sweetheart, her unruly kids and his own 14-year-old son, CLEVELAND JR. (Kevin Michael Richardson). Many years ago, Cleveland was a high school student madly in love with a beautiful girl named DONNA (Sanaa Lathan). Much to his dismay, his love went unrequited, and Donna wound up marrying another man. Cleveland once told Donna he would always love her, and if this man ever done her wrong, he'd be there when she called. Well, this man done her wrong. Donna's husband ran off, leaving Donna with a teenage daughter and a young son. Now she's open to Cleveland and has offered him another chance at love. Unattached after the Loretta-Quagmire debacle and true to his word, Cleveland joyously reunites with Donna, and he and Cleveland Jr. move to Virginia to join their new family. Once in Virginia, there are a few surprises in store for Cleveland, including ROBERTA (Reagan Gomez-Preston), a rebellious new stepdaughter; RALLO (Henry), his new 5-year-old stepson who loves the ladies; and a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck, LESTER (Richardson); a hipster wanna-be, HOLT (guest voice Jason Sudeikis); and a religious pair of talking bears, TIM (Seth MacFarlane) and his wife ARIANNA (guest voice Arianna Huffington). "
Also in development at FOX is the Human Target, by executive producer McG, an adaptation of the one-time DC Universe character, most recently featured in Peter Milligan' Vertigo series. The series stats Mark Valley (Fringe) as lead Christopher Chance, and Watchmen's Jackie Earle Haley.
Here is how FOX describes the series:
"It takes a brave, selfless man to make himself a 'human target' in order to save the lives of those in danger. Based on the popular DC Comics graphic novel, HUMAN TARGET is a full-throttle action drama centered on CHRISTOPHER CHANCE (Mark Valley, FRINGE), a unique private contractor/security guard hired to protect. Call him what you like, because for Chance, it's about one thing only: saving his clients' lives. When there is an unusual or imminent threat that can't be solved through normal' means of protection, Chance is hired to completely integrate himself into his clients' lives to become the human target. If you're a corporate manager whose disgruntled employee has gone violently off the deep end, Chance is your new auditor. If you're the president of a bank who's been tipped off to a potential heist, Chance is your unassuming bank teller. During each job, Chance, assisted by his business partner WINSTON (Chi McBride, Pushing Daisies) and hired gun GUERRERO (Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen), puts himself directly in the line of fire as he races against time to save his client, while unraveling the truth behind the mission. With every new danger, Chance's dark history will also unravel. Does anyone know who Christopher Chance really is, or what secrets lay buried in his past? What would make a man willingly become a HUMAN TARGET?"
Also being developed as a mid-season replacement is Past Life, a new drama based on the M.J. Rose novel The Reincarnationist about "an unlikely pair of past-life detectives who investigate whether what is happening to you today is the result of who you were before."
Finally, over at the CW, aside from brining back Smallville for a ninth season and rolling the dice by putting it in the 8pm Friday timeslot, as well as Supernatural Thursdays at 9pm, the youth-oriented network is trying to take a bite out of the vampire craze by developing a one-hour drama based on the Twilight-esque Vampire Diaries novels by L.J. Smith.
The four-book series was originally published in 1993, well before Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, but HarperCollins released them after Twilight hit big, leading to their new-found popularity and an upcoming series of new installments.
Vampire Diaries revolves around "a young woman who's torn between two vampire brothers -- one good, one evil -- who are battling for her soul, and the souls of her pals, family and the small town where they live."
The series will be co-executive produced and written by one-time teen-king Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, Scream), along with Julie Plec of Kyle XY.