Pop Culture — Looking ahead to 2005-06 television

Looking ahead to 2005-06 television

by Amy Diaz

Trend seems to be hot housewives, spooky mysteries and Geena Davis as president

Even as the 2004-2005 television season remains visible in our rear view mirrors, the outline of 2005-2006 is now out in front of us like Boston as viewed from about the Somerville exit.

One reason that the broadcast networks, who recently unveiled their new schedules, are so eager to get to this shining city of better ratings is that that 18-wheel truck right next to you is Fox and that bug smeared all across its windshield is NBC, which fell from first to fourth place. That’s the difference between being Must See TV and being, well, Fox a few years ago. Or, to put it another way, it’s the difference between Friends and Joey.

Fox is doing a victory dance because it won the May sweeps in adults 18 to 34 and 18 to 49, according to a Media Week Online story. CBS won in overall viewers. NBC, once a powerhouse, got its arse handed to it by the aforementioned networks as well as the back-from-the-dead ABC.

What this means is that next season is a whole new ballgame, with the once upstart Fox as much a broadcast player as any of the older networks. And NBC—in case it didn’t learn from ABC in prior years—is now faced with the obvious need not simply to find another Friends (God preserve us from the horror) but to find new kinds of shows. Shows that compete not simply with the umpteenth iteration of Survivor or CSI but shows that get Deadwood-and Desperate Housewives-like buzz. What’s the payoff of being different? Just ask ABC, which is doing better than it has in years thanks in part to the campy Housewives and the spooky fun Lost.

Among the announcements made for next year’s new additions, there are some signs that 2004-2005 was something of a Darwinian year: where the strongest shows survived and some of the lingering weaker creatures either evolved or died off to make way for new species. Some of the most optimistic-sounding new shows include:

• Bedford Diaries (The WB) — Tom Fontana, Oz and Homicide writer extraordinaire, helms this drama about college students and their human sexuality class. Ooo, does this mean more shower scenes?

• E-Ring (NBC) — Which refers to a ring of the Pentagon, the setting of this West Wing-like drama which is being billed as an action show.

• Everybody Hates Chris (UPN) — It’s essentially the Chris Rock story—Tyler Williams stars as Chris circa 1982, when he was the black kid at a white high school.

• Fathom (NBC) — Starring Lake Bell (a casualty of the first season of Boston Legal), this sci-fi series’ premise includes some nonsense about a race of sea creatures that suddenly emerge but springs from the minds of Josh and Jonas Pate, who are responsible for the camptacular Good Vs. Evil on the Sci-Fi network.

• Kitchen Confidential (Fox) — Much like the book of the same name, this comedy focuses on a too-cool-for-school chef. It includes among its cast members Nicholas Brendon (Xander, presumably with two eyes again, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame).

• The Night Stalker (ABC) — Frank Spotnitz, writer and director of The X-Files fame, brings back the show that inspired it with the occasionally hot Stuart Townsend as the supernatural-investigating lead.

• The Unit (CBS) — Currently slated for a mid-season start, this drama written by David “Iambic Pentameter” Mamet is about the lives of Delta Force agents and includes former-Dogget Robert Patrick.

Of course, all is not completely rosy. Geena Davis is back, this time with a drama about the life of a female US president. (Excuse me for a moment while my eyes roll back in my head far enough to see the part of my brain to which this show will likely cause pain.) But hey, they have all summer to find a replacement for that.

POP SIDE 1

Set your TiVo and prepare for fall. Here’s a look at the new season.

ABC

Monday: Wife Swap at 8 p.m.; Monday Night Football 9 p.m. (at mid-season, the schedule becomes: The Bachelor at 8 p.m.; Emily’s Reasons Why Not at 9 p.m.; Jake in Progress at 9:30 p.m.; What About Brian at 10 p.m.

Tuesday: According to Jim at 8 p.m.; Rodney at 8:30 p.m.; Commander-in-Chief at 9 p.m.; Boston Legal at 10 p.m.

Wednesday: George Lopez at 8 p.m.; Freddie at 8:30 p.m.; Lost at 9 p.m.; Invasion  at 10 p.m.

Thursday: Alias at 8 p.m.; The Night Stalker at 9 p.m.; Primetime Live at 10 p.m.

Friday: Supernanny at 8 p.m.; Hope & Faith at 9 p.m.; Hot Properties at 9:30 p.m.; 20/20 at 10 p.m.

Saturday: ABC Movie of the Week at 8 p.m.

Sunday: America’s Funniest Home Videos at 7 p.m.; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition at 8 p.m.; Desperate Housewives at 9 p.m.; Grey’s Anatomy at 10 p.m.

CBS

Monday: The King of Queens at 8 p.m.; How I Met Your Mother at 8:30 p.m.; Two and a Half Men at 9 p.m.; Out of Practice at 9:30 p.m.; CSI: Miami at 10 p.m.

Tuesday: NCIS at 8 p.m.; The Amazing Race at 9 p.m.; Close to Home at 10 p.m.

Wednesday: Still Standing 8 p.m.; Yes, Dear at 8:30 p.m.; Criminal Minds at 9 p.m.; CSI: NY  at 10 p.m.

Thursday: Survivor: Guatemala at 8 p.m.; CSI at 9 p.m.; Without a Trace at 10 p.m.

Friday: Ghost Whisperer at 8 p.m.; Threshold at 9 p.m.; Numb3rs at 10 p.m.

Saturday: Crimetime Saturday at 8 and 9 p.m.; 48 Hours Mystery at 10 p.m.

Sunday: 60 Minutes at 7 p.m.; Cold Case at 8 p.m.;  CBS Sunday Movie at 9 p.m.

FOX

Monday: Arrested Development at 8 p.m.; Kitchen Confidential at 8:30 p.m.; Prison Break at 9 p.m.

Tuesday: Bones at 8 p.m.; House at 9 p.m.

Wednesday: That 70’s Show at 8 p.m.; Stacked  at 8:30 p.m.; Head Cases at 9 p.m.

Thursday:  The O.C. at 8 p.m.; Reunion at 9 p.m.

Friday: The Bernie Mac Show at 8 p.m.; Malcolm in the Middle at 8:30 p.m.; The Gate at 9 p.m.

Saturday: Cops at 8 and 8:30 p.m.; America’s Most Wanted at 9 p.m.; MadTV at 11 p.m.

Sunday: King of the Hill at 7:30 p.m.; The Simpsons at 8 p.m.; The War at Home at 8:30 p.m.; Family Guy at 9 p.m.; American Dad at 9:30 p.m.

NBC

Monday: Fathom at 8 p.m.; Las Vegas at 9 p.m.; Medium at 10 p.m.

Tuesday: The Biggest Loser at 8 p.m.; My Name is Earl at 9 p.m.; The Office at 9:30 p.m.; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at 10 p.m.

Wednesday: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart at 8 p.m.; E-Ring at 9 p.m.; Law & Order at 10 p.m.

Thursday: Joey at 8 p.m.; Will & Grace at 8:30 p.m.; The Apprentice at 9 p.m.; ER at 10 p.m.

Friday: Three Wishes at 8 p.m.; Dateline NBC  at 9 p.m.; Inconceivable at 10 p.m.

Saturday: NBC Saturday Night Movie at 8 p.m.

Sunday: Dateline NBC at 7 p.m.; The West Wing at 8 p.m.; Law & Order: Criminal Intent at 9 p.m.; Crossing Jordan at 10 p.m.

The WB

Monday: Seventh Heaven at 8 p.m.; Just Legal at 9 p.m.

Tuesday: Gilmore Girls at 8 pm.; Supernatural at 9 p.m.

Wednesday: One Tree Hill at 8 p.m.; Related at 9 p.m.

Thursday: Smallville at 8 p.m.; Everwood at 9 p.m.

Friday: What I Like About You at 8 p.m.; Twins at 8:30 p.m.; Reba at 9 p.m.; Living with Fran at 9:30 p.m

Sunday: Reba: beginning at 7 and 7:30 p.m.; Charmed at 8 p.m.; Blue Collar TV at 9 and 9:30 p.m.

UPN

Monday: One on One at 8 p.m.; All of Us at 8:30 p.m.; Girlfriends at 9 p.m.; Half & Half at 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday: America’s Next Top Model at 8 p.m.; Sex, Lies & Secret 9 p.m.

Wednesday: America’s Next Top Model at 8 p.m.; Veronica Mars at 9 p.m.

Thursday: Everybody Hates Chris at 8 p.m.; Eve  at 8:30 p.m.; Cuts at 9 p.m.; Love, INC at 9:30 p.m.

Friday: WWE Smackdown!

POP Side 2

R.I.P.

Somebody’s always gotta die.

That’s the way network scheduling works. Even when the show is good, if it loses a time slot, fails to find an audience or just doesn’t fit with the network’s plans, it’s off to a land of DVD collections and repeats on obscure cable channels. So who are this season’s dearly departed?

• 8 Simple Rules (ABC)

• Jack & Bobby (The WB)

• Jag (CBS)

• Joan of Arcadia (CBS)

• Judging Amy (CBS)

• Kevin Hill (UPN)

• Life as We Know It  (NBC)

• Life on a Stick (Fox)

• North Shore (Fox)

• Point Pleasant (Fox)

• Star Trek: Enterprise (UPN)

• Third Watch (NBC)

• Tru Calling (Fox)

POP Side 3

It’s Alive!

Sometimes even the shows teetering on the edge of cancellation (“on the bubble” as the TV geeks say) get another chance at life. A few shows managed to come back from the brink:

• Arrested Development (Fox)

• Bernie Mac (Fox)

• Jake in Progress (ABC)

• The Office (NBC)

• West Wing (NBC)

- Amy Diaz

 
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