Friday, May 18, 2007

Low-down on up-fronts

The television networks unveiled largely underwhelming plans for next season this week. Some dish on what's ahead:

CBS comedy Monday
Yes, the latecomer David Spade-Patrick Warburton sitcom Rules of Engagement made the cut for renewal, while The Class mercifully did not. The New Adventures of Old Christine, which sharpened nicely late this season, will disappointingly not return until mid-season, while the so-so 20-something ensemble How I Met Your Mother also made the cut. It will be paired with a new comedy, The Big Bang Theory, described by CBS as a show about "genius geeks." Isn't that redundant? Johnny Galecki from Roseanne stars as one of the two geeks, and sitcom vet James Burrows helms the pilot. Until Christine returns, the lineup will be: How I Met / Big Bang Theory / Two and a Half Men / Rules of Engagement / CSI: Miami.

The sitcom is dead
NBC will introduce not a single sitcom among its surprisingly few — five — new shows, although the network gave major love to The Office with a big 25-episode order, including five one-hour installments. Now, that's a super-sized episode. ABC canceled a number of comedies you've probably never seen, including George Lopez and Help Me Help You, while According to Jim was left in limbo.

The sitcom is not dead
Ratings-deprived but hilarious 30 Rock moves to the post-Earl slot, and it's hard not to look at FOX's Kelsey Grammer-Patricia Heaton vehicle, Back to You, as promising.

The caveman show
Yep, ABC is doing a show based on the Geico commercials with the neurotic caveman. But will it be clever enough to use that excellent Royksopp tune, "Remind Me," as the theme song?

A vampire show
An "undead" private investigator uses his acute vampire senses to help the living and fight his adversaries among the undead. The fact that it's paired with Ghost Whisperer on CBS doesn't bode well for Moonlight, unless you like your horror with a Lifetime movie sensibility.

A game show
Drew Carey (ugh) hosts Power of 10, a Michael Davies product that sounds like it will involve Card Sharks-style survey questions ("What percentage of married Americans said they were virgins the day they got married?) propped up by another tired money tree with $10 million on the line.

The venerable original Law & Order will return for an 18th season despite its ratings slide and increasingly shark-jumping plotlines. SVU and Criminal Intent return, as well, though the CI episodes will appear first on USA.

Down the hatch
Do people still watch that punishing tease called Lost? It returns at mid-season for an uninterrupted run, and the final three seasons will each include a slim 16 episodes.

CBS photo: Johnny Galecki gets geeky in The Big Bang Theory.

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