Fall TV: Fridays
Fridays are date night. Movie night. Drinking night. Anything-but-watch-a-TV night. At least, that’s been the case ever since since the end of the monster ratings hits that made ABC’s sitcom lineup truly TGIF television.
Now, the night is mostly filled with newsmagazines and low-rated shows lingering around, zombie-like, until they can reach syndication. There are a couple exceptions here and there, but it is a miserable night for anything looking for something to watch that isn’t piled up on their DVRs.
Fox is all-reality this fall, with Masterchef Junior and World’s Funniest Fails. There is speculation that this will change if Fox wants to air repeats of their new shows to help gain an audience for them.
ABC is also largely the same as this year, with Last Man Standing, Shark Tank, and 20/20 remaining. The only thing new is the sitcom following Last Man Standing is newbie Dr. Ken. The show, summed up as a family comedy involving a doctor who is also a stupid father, is pretty much unwatchable.
CBS is playing it safe, with The American Race, Hawaii Five-O, and Blue Bloods. The latter two shows are low-rated, but decent for Friday and are now raking in syndication money. I would not be surprised if Hawaii Five-O only gets a short season to make room for other low-rated shows that CBS needs to move off more valuable timeslots.
The CW is airing Reign and America’s Next Top Model. This night is basically their play for young women and gays, given their superhero-heavy nights elsewhere.
The just leaves NBC. The network has tried to make the night work for scripted television again, building off their surprise success with Grimm (now entering its fifth season). The supernatural cop drama has been paired with mostly reality shows like Dateline and genre shows (like last year’s underappreciated Constantine). This fall, Dateline stays on Fridays at 10 and Grimm returns to its usual slot at 9pm. This opens up the 8pm hour for the only 2 sitcoms on NBC’s schedule. (The network just can’t launch a new sitcom if tried.)
Undateable, a charming workplace-and-friends sitcom with a terrible title was shipped off to summer-burnoff status two years ago, only to find a decent audience. Given the disaster of NBC’s development of sitcoms and inability to retain an audience for then, it was still a surprise that Undateable was renewed and then brought in at midseason to salvage the lead-out potential of ratings hit The Voice. The ratings underperformed expectations, but it remained the network’s most watched comedy, so it is joining the fall schedule the first time, now in its third season. The amusing gimmick, tried out for 2 episodes this season, is most, if not all, of the episodes will be performed live. As long as they don’t break character too often, this gimmick may just work, but it’s still just a gimmick.
Joining Undateable in the hour is newcomer People Are Talking, which is a 30-something comedy with potential based on the cast, who are unfortunately hampered by the writing. In fact, judging by the trailer, I have yet to see what the actual premise of the show is. Normally I might pass on a show like this, but I like some of the cast and I am literally watching the show that comes before and after it, so it’s kind of easy to sit tight – and maybe that is what NBC is counting on.
Definitely watching: Undateable, Grimm
New shows I might check out: People Are Talking