In a regular Upfronts year, I would detail all the new shows with inclusive casts and discuss common plot points across the newbies and provide information about where broadcast is going. Instead I follow-up to my last piece about their postponement. The networks all approached the in person cancellations differently so below I outline the most interesting news. As of May 19, only fourteen shows are newly ordered. Across the board expect to see series already aired elsewhere.
Last to the party, ABC handed out renewals and cancellations on the 21st. Comedy Call Your Mother joining already straight-to-series The Big Sky based on the book The Highway. Other pilots are “still in contention.” Like NBC they’re waiting to announce a schedule.
ViacomCBS announced their mass renewals on May 6 with everything getting another life except for three newbies and Man With a Plan. It’s unclear how many of the older shows are on their way out, but after the shock of Hawaii Five-0 not getting a renancellation, I’m preparing for the same to occur again whenever shows actually air. Macgyver is the only series with six episodes held back from airing can air whenever this fall.
Among their pickups are The Equalizer reboot with Queen Latifah, Clarice (yes that Clarice) with Rebecca Breeds, and comedy B-Positive. As IP products the dramas had a bit more life in them. B-Positive was one of the few pilots to fully film. Some of their pilots may receive orders depending on the space left pending production dates.
Unsurprisingly their “fall” schedule is unchanged except for newbies slotting into spots left behind by canceled series and SWAT sitting pretty until “mid-season.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s write up includes a great and detailed interview with pres. Kelly Kahl that indicates that this is a very optimistic schedule with everyone at CBS expecting to delay production by some time.
FOX has animation domination in their bag (even if it takes a longer time to produce) and dramas Filthy Rich and NeXt from this season that they will air this fall. They have not held a digital meeting yet but did announce a fall schedule! Animation and live fare make up the rest of the schedule, with an assist from Spectrum’s LA’s Finest.
I’m not entirely sure that they’ll actually have as much football as they hope, but it’s clear at least one network doubts they can start filming scripted on time or even “soon”.
Their pilots are “still in contention” but as mentioned previously, the longer it takes to start up scripted production, the less slots there are to fill. Plus they have straight-to-series orders for comedy Call Me Kat and animated The Great North and Housebroken.
While NBC held a video conversation with stakeholders about ad rates and ad load reductions, their actual “upfronts” event is slated for later this month. They renewed most of their series so the only shows left without news are newbies and Manifest (not produced by them).
New shows include straight to series comedies Mr. Mayor and Young Rock and Eliot (Christopher Meloni) reprising his role as Eliot Stabler. Like others, they acquired a medical drama Transplant from CTV. As for their schedule…I know as much as y’all!
They already renewed everything except Katy Keene in January but it is unclear how many shows are renanceled. Like FOX, they acquired four already produced series from various networks to air alongside unscripted in the fourth quarter and what the network hopes is the last seven episodes of Supernatural. Straight to series orders Walker and Superman and Lois are also joined by a Kung Fu reboot and Republic of Sarah. I enjoyed both scripts and am excited to see a primarily East and Southeast Asian cast (now that FOTB is dead). Plus the latter has an Indigenous character played by an actually Indigenous actor (Forrest Goodluck)!
Both Arrow and The 100 backdoor pilots are “still in contention.” As for their “January 2021” schedule, it’s almost entirely what I expected, but hopefully means shorter seasons since so many shows have to air next year (if they can at all).
Please…give me shorter seasons. (Newbies start off with 13 anyways.) Even if they magically film up to 22 episodes… I cannot see them all airing as part of one season. Plus the wild DCTV crossover is now just between Batwoman and Superman and Lois. The former, by the way, is now recasting its lead as Ruby Rose has left the role.
We won’t know the true ramifications of COVID’s impact on the broadcast networks and scripted live-action until late this year but I highly doubt anything will return to normal anytime soon. Obviously it truly impacted the upfronts and events like SDCC and TCA press tour. Even if they can figure out a way to quarantine an entire cast, crew, production team etc. for the entirety of filming, would everyone actually agree to do that? Also, the insurance is absolutely bonkers. Even if shows start, what happens when they have to shut down again?
Pilots have until the end of June to receive news or lose their casts. However, if all the acquired series somehow do “well” in the ratings we could see more acquired content alongside content produced for the network. It’s cheaper to license an already produced show and better for the original company since their product can air on multiple platforms. Clearly anything is possible these days!
Moving forward, I don’t foresee multiple series going the approaches of finales this spring. All Rise filmed entirely at home (with some outside shots), The Blacklist added an animated graphic novel style component to their finale, and unscripted tried a whole range of approaches. Personally I have a feeling y’all will start seeing a lot more coverage of Netflix series from me as well as Discovery Networks (HGTV, Food, DIYNetwork to be Magnolia) content!
(If you’re looking for more news until my next article keep an eye on Deadline or THR.)