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Thursday, September 27, 2007

TV Premiere Week

The Script Whisperer's resident television expert, Margaux Froley Outhred has got some choice thoughts about premiere week and what we can expect:

The new Fall television schedule is officially upon us. Each network is pandering to our desires, trying to stand out from the rest, desperate to guarantee that we set our Tivos to THEIR new shows (not their competitors). And hopefully, if they’ve done their job right, we’ll tune back into our old favorite shows returning for another season.

So, the big question is, are you taking the bait? The networks have updated their websites, imbedded ads into popular blogs (anyone think those ABC DIRTY SEXY MONEY ads on Perez Hilton are odd?), and are even advertising their new shows during theatrical film trailers. It’s early in the week, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I’m not impressed thus far.

NBC seems to have gotten rid of that weird screen-saver interface and voice between their shows (remember that last season?). But, the HEROES season premier felt lackluster to me. Couldn’t they do a full episode without it having “TO BE CONTINUED”? I know it will be continued, you have a full season order, just give me one complete hour-long episode. CHUCK was interesting, but I’m not sure I want to devote an hour of my life to that this season each week. Same with JOURNEYMAN. A descent show, but it felt like QUANTUM LEAP without the charm. BIONIC WOMAN has some terrible moments in the script, but also some interesting fight sequences. The lazy factor of Wednesday night viewing might keep me in my chair for that one. And, even though I’ve heard some negative buzz, I truly enjoyed DIRTY SEXY MONEY, and might even secretly love the soapy-ness of GOSSIP GIRL. Tonight is a big debut night with GREY’S ANATOMY, BIG SHOTS, (I’m only tuning in for the hot guy factor) and NBC’s comedy line-up, desperate to keep you intrigued with Jim and Pam, Earl and….Earl. 30 ROCK is fresh off its Emmy win, hopefully audiences will finally show up in the numbers they deserve.

The next few weeks are interesting for us writers (television and feature) because this is where the shows will find their voices. Already in the preview for next week of JOURNEYMAN, it looks like they are trying to add a snappy one-liner here and there, (“Don’t worry, honey, I’ll be home for dinner”), something that was sorely missed in the premier. These shows have been shooting since June and/or July. Often these premier episodes were written by a singular writer/showrunner. Now, as the rest of these episodes begin to air, you’ll see how a team of writers can shape a show, give it more personality, or in some cases, potentially bring too many cooks into the kitchen. BIONIC WOMAN shut down production at the 5th episode to replace the showrunner and give the show a different direction. How will that come across in the episodes airing in mid-November or later? Are shows with lackluster reviews going to get thrown into the Friday night deadlands? Did you know that only one in three of these new shows will even be around next fall?

If any of you are writing television specs, or pilots, these are the interesting weeks. How does the schedule change to accommodate for flops or hits? Which shows will push the envelope and snare a new audience? Do people really buy that the teens in GOSSIP GIRL, drinking martinis, are really 15? How would you adjust or edit any of these shows? Did the returning hits raise the bar enough? What will be pulled first? And, can you tell yet which shows will be the hot specs to be writing this coming staffing season? My money is on GOSSIP GIRL and DIRTY SEXY MONEY hooking a scandal-loving audience. Character pieces like LIFE, and JOURNEYMAN might fight it out, but my guess is, given the popularity of the quirky drama HOUSE, LIFE will find an audience and beat out JOURNEYMAN. Comedy writers can look forward to another bleak year, but these character dramas seem to be where the action is at. At least in terms of writers having the opportunity for more work.

The race is on folks, may the best horse win. Or, in my case, just stay tuned for FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and DEXTER, the only ones worth watching. Let’s hope they don’t prove me wrong!

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Anonymous said...

A show already (according to my inside source anyway) on the block is Fox's "K'ville." It lost more than 50% of its core audience after the primere episode aired and will likely run it's course no later than the first part of January at the latest.

The show was original headed in one direction but the execs in charge decided that a shoot 'em up/beefcake (they hoped that Cole Hauser would beef up and they'd be able to have him act without a shirt on a couple of times per episode) would attract a certain demographic...but to date it hasn't happened and it's likely the show won't last.

Margaux Froley Outhred said...

It sounds like Fox is playing an internal game of "Which is worse?". I read this am they are pulling the plug 5 episodes in on "Nashville", and the spot will be filled with K-Ville repeats. (Not sure if Nashville break is permanent or not.)That's a sad state that Fox is replacing a show with repeats of something else it will replace.

velysai said...

I've been mostly disappointed thus far with the new season, although I do have a bunch of shows taped I haven't watched, yet. "Heroes" was a mediocre and I only got excited in the last 2 minutes. What happened to the team on "House"? I really missed them. "Boston Legal" was excellent as usual. Only caught a little bit of "Life" and yaaaaawn. "Private Practice" was missing something it had in that split episode with "Grey's Anatomy" last season. Maybe it was the actress switcheroo they tried to pull. Yeah, the new actress playing Dr. Naomi Bennett may look just like the chick who played Sydney Bristow's roomie on "Alias", but I can tell the difference. And she didn't fill the role the same way. As for "Grey's" tonight, fantastic. I love that show. And "Smallville" had over 20 minutes of commercials in a 1-hour program. WTF?

I'm really looking forward to "Supernatural" next week. The finale last year was outstanding.