This coming week is an exciting one as far as TV nerds are concerned. It’s the week of the Upfronts, the presentations where all the US broadcast networks announce their next season schedules to journalists and media buyers. By the end of the week, we will know for sure which US TV shows have been cancelled, renewed, and which new series will be making their debut.networklogos

As far as US television is concerned, this years upfronts will say volumes about the state of the industry. The last 1-2 years has had the networks endeavour to try new programming strategies and adapt to new business models in order to deal with the viewer exodus to pay television, online, and other entertainment distractions. NBC has been the most brazen with these attempts. We’ve seen them try to scrap the entire pilot process (skipping straight to greenlighting series for limited runs), and then there’s their bonehead attempt to move Jay Leno to a primetime slot (thereby taking 5 expensive scripted TV timeslots off the board). The results of which have led to a more unstable schedule and a scenario in which US cable series have outrated a broadcast TV show.

This year, they’re all playing it traditional and safe.

What can we expect to see? Without doing the math on it, it certainly feels like there are a lot more scripted programs than we’ve seen from US prime-time television in a couple of years. What is inevitable is that most of the new shows will barely see out a single season, there will be 2-3 shows that will capture the attention of the viewers, and there will be at least one will be beloved by discerning viewers who will declare that it was cancelled before its time.

2010 Upfront Schedule

May 17, 2010 NBC-TV New York Morning
May 17, 2010 FOX-TV New York Afternoon
May 18, 2010 ABC-TV New York Afternoon
May 19, 2010 CBS-TV New York Afternoon
May 19, 2010 TNT / TBS New York Morning
May 20, 2010 THE CW New York Morning

Michael Ausiello has a scorecard as to which shows have been officially cancelled and renewed so far this season, with a few shows worthy of note.

Heroes (Airs locally on 7Two)
Officially cancelled after four seasons on the air. The show was one of several greenlit after the surprise success of Lost that emulated its formula. Heroes was one of the few copycat series that caught on with viewers. However, after the first season, the show stopped resonating so highly with viewers and began to experience dramatic audience losses. For many, it’s cancellation comes as a surprise because who knew this was still on?

Chuck (Airs locally on Go!)
Reportedly renewed for a fourth season. This is the little show that could. Chuck feels as though it has been on the brink of cancellation since its first episode. The show starts out entertaining, but with a very thin narrative thread throughout the series and a lightweight, dorky attitude, it’s a show that just never quite resonated with a large enough audience. It’s second season cancellation was prevented by fans buying up big at Subway, one of the shows sponsors. With a third season that kept a steady viewership, it retains a spot on the new season schedule for a fourth (which could very well be its last).

Mercy / Trauma (Airs locally on Channel 7)
Cancelled. Until early this week, I was under the assumption these programs were the same show.

law-and-orderLaw & Order (Airs locally on Channel 10)
Officially cancelled. There’d been discussion that the ‘mothership’ of the Law & Order franchise might get brought to an end, amid falling ratings, but many were surprised to hear it had actually happened. After 20 seasons, Law & Order has tied with Gunsmoke as the longest-running drama in primetime television history. The L&O spin-offs will continue on air, with the new Law & order: Los Angeles kicking off on the new schedule later this year. Already, there are calls for the Jack McCoy character transferred to the new series.

Flash Forward (Airs locally on 7Two)

Cancelled. It’s a mercy kill. With its great concept completely squandered by the cast of the show, Flash Forward has been shedding viewers and interest from its first episode. A change of showrunners didn’t help the show towards the second half of its first season run.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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