Mr. TV: Feel Bad TV

As a followup to my midseason update at the Mediaweek Upfront event last week, I will devote this week’s column to addressing some of the potential trends I’m seeing out of the networks for next season.

We are, after all, just a few weeks away from the fall schedule announcements when we’ll be subjected to the next crop of shows that just “can’t miss.” Right?

Not surprisingly, the biggest freshman programming theme is reflective of the current economic woes. Vying for a spot on the fall schedule is Canned, an ABC sitcom about a group of people who all get fired on the same day; Little Piggy, another comedy for ABC about a man who returns to the home he grew up in after losing all his money; Two Dollar Beers, a Fox sitcom about a group of young people living in depressed Detroit; and an untitled ABC comedy with Kelsey Grammer as a former Wall Street exec who loses his job and also returns home.

If this does not sound depressing enough, Fox also has a reality/competition series in the works called Someone’s Gotta Go, where the staff at a downsizing firm competes to determine who gets the pink slip. Man, nothing says escapist, feel good fare like reliving job stress on TV after a long, crappy day at the office. Hey, why not watch with the family!
“Daddy, mommy are you going to get fired too?” Pass the popcorn and the classifieds.

With that in mind, I doubt very much that the new gang on the CW’s remake of soapy Melrose Place will be sitting around the pool talking about job layoffs. With Laura Leighton reprising her role as irresponsible Sydney (who now manages the building), expect some over-the-top shenanigans.

Ditto for the potentially remake of sci-fi cult classic V on ABC (which didn’t work on NBC the first time around, so why bother?); Eastwick, also on ABC, which is based on theatrical The Witches of Eastwick; and The Vampire Diaries on the CW, the story of two undead dudes falling for the same mortal woman.


With a new president in office, the networks are hoping to capitalize on politics with a trio of potential dramas set in Washington, D.C. But before ABC decides to move forward with See Cate Run, the story of a woman who strives to lead our country, it should not forget how quickly Commander in Chief with Geena Davis came and went in 2005-06.  Others vying for a spot are CBS’ House Rules, about a group of first-term members in the House of Representatives; and The Body Politic on the CW about a young assistant to a U.S. Senator who wants to reconnect with her estranged father, who also happens to be a Senator.

While I am not too optimistic about The Body Politic actually getting on the air, there is a growing buzz surrounding the CW’s Lily, a planned spin-off from Gossip Girl that revisits the younger years of Lily van der Woodsen. And CBS is wisely using red-hot NCIS as the potential parent to NCIS Legend, which is centered around a former Navy SEAL who works undercover with the NCIS in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of a prequel ever working. But NCIS Legend sounds like a better idea and could fit.

All eyes will be on NBC to see if five nights of Jay Leno weeknights at 10 p.m. is four too many. But with holes clogging up the majority of NBC’s overall schedule, the network is hoping former golden boy Jerry Seinfeld can successfully hop on the reality bandwagon in his production of The Marriage Ref, where famous people (a.k.a. D-listers) will serve as marriage counselors.