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With the major network upfronts wrapped up, it’s time to step back and look at what ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW have to offer us in terms of new programming. From men being men to fish out of water and trips through space and time, there are definitely some trends worth noting in the upcoming Fall 2011-2012 TV line-up.
You can view all five Fall 2011 schedules here. Below are some of the notable trends for the upcoming season. We’ll have to wait and see whether any of them pan out…
There are plenty of shows embracing the limitless world of make-believe. ABC’s Once Upon A Time and NBC’s Grimm bring classic stories to life. Once Upon a Time sounds more like a continuation and modern-day twist on classic stories, while Grimm appears to have a sort of crime-procedural feel to it as it centers on a detective who learns he’s the decendant of a group of people who battle supernatural creatures in an effort to protect mankind. The CW’s The Secret Circle is based on a book about a group of teen witches.
CBS’ A Gifted Man centers on a doctor who’s visited by his deceased ex-wife, who inspires him to be a better person. Whether or not this is all in the man’s head or happening in “real life” remains to be seen. Another show that could either be supernatural or simply told from the point of view of a character with mental problems is NBC’s midseason drama Awake, which follows a man who wakes up in two different realities after a car accident. In one reality, his wife is dead and his son is alive. In the other, his wife is alive but their son died in the accident.
On the subject of things going on inside the lead character’s head, CBS has Unforgettable set to air this fall. While not exactly supernatural, this series does follow a detective who has a rare condition that allows her to remember everything perfectly… except for the details surrounding her sister’s murder.
Finally, Fox has Terra Nova, which follows a family from the future as they travel to the prehistoric era as part of an effort to rebuild human society and save the species.
If couples-comedies were all the rage this season, next season will be the season of manly comedies. Considering how well the couples-comedies did (RIP: Better With You, Traffic Light, Mad Love, Perfect Couples), we can only hope these testosterone-filled comedies will do better. ABC is responsible for three of the four that caught our attention. Man Up is a comedy about men trying to figure out what it means to be a real man. Last Man Standing, which stars Tim Allen, features an adventurous, out-doorsy man who’s surrounded by women (his wife and daughters). And coming to ABC during Midseason 2012 is Work It, a series about two men who decide to dress as women in an effort to find employment. Of the three, Work It seems to be the most likely to embrace (or abuse) stereotypical gender differences for the sake of comedy. As ridiculous as the premise is, I’m secretly looking forward to it.
Meanwhile, CBS has How to Be A Gentleman, which appears to have a sort of Odd Couple-esque dynamic between the two men at the center of the story. One loves manners and believes in the importance of being a gentleman. The other is a fitness nut who’s unlikely to ever put the seat down.
Remakes aren’t exactly a new trend but it doesn’t appear to be dying out anytime soon. While NBC’s Wonder Woman didn’t pan out, ABC has the reboot of Charlie’s Angels lined up. NBC is reviving the John Grisham novel The Firm with a series that takes place a decade after the story told in the book (and film).
As for what’s being remade for US television, in the grand tradition of taking British TV shows and making them over for a U.S. audience, NBC has Free Agents and Prime Suspect. Free Agents is a comedy starring Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn and Anthony Head (who starred in the original British series) and follows a couple of public relations execs who are dealing with romantic issues. Prime Suspect follows a female detective who’s trying to establish herself in a work enviroment that consists largely of men.
Finally, Fox has the U.S. version of X Factor set to premiere this fall. As TV can’t seem to have enough talent competitions and given the hype already surrounding the show, including the reunion of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul at the judges table, I’m thinking this one will get off to a good star.
For those of you who are facing the end of your beloved soap operas, TV has a number of soapy looking primetime dramas set to premiere. The CW’s Ringer stars former soap star (pre-Buffy) Sarah Michelle Gellar playing a woman who decides to get a fresh start by taking over the life of her twin sister. ABC’s Revenge centers on a woman who returns to the Hamptons to settle some scores. And coming to ABC during Midseason 2012 is Good Christian Belles, a drama about a woman who returns to Dallas after her marriage ends in scandal. She’s forced to face her past and the mess she left behind as she was once a “mean girl.”
Also set to premiere during midseason on ABC is Shonda Rhimes' Scandal, which follows a public crisis manager and her staff of fellow life-fixers whose lives are all in various states of disarray. If all of the above series don't quench your thirst for drama, I'm not sure what will.
A story involving a person or people being taken away from what they’re used to and emersed in various kinds of new and different isn’t exactly new but it works well. A person from the city being in the city isn’t necessarily as dramatic, interesting or comical as a person from the city moving to the country or the suburbs. Case in point: The CW’s Hart of Dixie follows a New York doctor down south where she attempts to adjust to country living. In ABC’s Suburgatory, a single dad moves his daughter from the city to the suburbs in the hopes of giving her a a better life. Meanwhile, Fox’s fish is animated. Allen Gregory follows a pompous child who must adjust to attending school with regular kids his age after being home schooled.
The present is so five minutes ago. I’m pretty sure the same can be said for the phrase “so five minutes ago,” but that’s neither here nor then. Heh. On to more relevant matters, there are three big shows set in the past. The first is Terra Nova, which takes place during the prehistoric era and deals with actual time travel. The other two are both set much closer to present day and don’t appear to have anything sci-fi or supernatural going down (unless you count the women’s perfect hair and make-up). ABC has Pan Am, which follows the glamorous days of the airline industry, before pat-downs and body scans. NBC is also visiting the 60’s with their new drama The Playboy Club. Will either of these shows top Mad Men in terms of their portrayal of this classic era? I’m going to say doubtful, however if I had to pick one of the two that I think will last, I’m going with Pan Am. Although it doesn’t have the hype and the sex-appeal that comes with women dressed as sexy-bunnies, I think the airline drama has more potential to stick around beyond the first few episodes. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.
And, now I'm punning, which means it's time to stop and open up the floor to the readers. Which shows are you most looking forward to?
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