Tube Talk: Upfronts: Next fall’s new and returning series

The submarine crew on Last Resort, the new ABC drama from Rockford's own Shawn Ryan.

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

It’s that time of year again when most of us are watching season (and series) finales of our favorite network shows as the broadcast networks take over much of mid-town Manhattan to trot out the stars and producers of next fall’s new and returning series. While it would be fascinating to attend upfronts at least once, I’m actually kind of glad I can stay home and keep track of events by following some of my editors and other industry insiders on Twitter.

Plenty of shows will be returning, others won’t. Some renewals have people scratching their heads: why did the critically panned NBC sitcom Whitney merit a pick-up when the critically acclaimed Awake was canceled? Timeslots. Whitney benefited from a good lead-in and a decent timeslot, while Awake was stuck in a tough timeslot. Also gone? CSI: Miami.

Thirteen-episode orders seem to abound this year. NBC is bringing 30 Rock back for a final 13-epsiode season. While it was expected next season would be the last for 30 Rock, two “bubble” shows I really like narrowly escaped cancelation with 13-epsiode orders. Fox’s Fringe got an order for a 13-episode fifth and final season, and Community — which has the misfortune of airing opposite The Big Bang Theory — was renewed for another 13 episodes, and is slated to move to Fridays. (History indicates fall schedules announced at upfronts are likely to be tweaked over the summer, but the quirky Community might have better odds with a Friday night “death slot” than against a behemoth like Big Bang.)

Fox is building a Tuesday night comedy block, so it’s moving Glee to Thursdays, opposite Grey’s Anatomy and NBC’s comedy lineup. Fox’s Tuesdays will include New Girl, Raising Hope, Ben and Kate (a sitcom starring Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) and a highly anticipated new sitcom from The Office’s Mindy Kaling (where she plays Kelly Kapoor and serves as a writer-producer of The Office).

A couple new shows I’m excited about couldn’t be any different from each other: ABC’s Last Resort, a pilot from Rockford’s own Shawn Ryan, starring the brilliant Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Street, Men of a Certain Age), and an NBC series that I’m really interested in: Mockingbird Lane, a total re-imagining of The Munsters, with Eddie Izzard as Grandpa Munster.

As the network schedules are being unveiled, TV fans are already planning strategies for watching and recording all of their favorite shows. It gets difficult when three or more programs air at the same time, but thankfully we live in a time when you can watch most TV series online or On Demand the same week they air. Finding the time to see everything you want to watch is the real challenge.

If you want to follow the latest upfront news, go to Twitter and enter the hashtag #upfronts.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the May 16-22, 2012, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!