The networks have revealed what they’re planning for the fall lineups. The biggest surprise is that after much consideration, Fox has decided to renew the critically acclaimed but little-watched “Arrested Development” for the new season, which could help the show gain popularity and move to a permanent slot in the network’s schedule.
“‘Arrested Development’ is one of the best comedies on television,” Fox’s entertainment president Peter Liguori said. “The decision to order another season becomes easy when you consider its amazing cast, creative brilliance, critical acclaim and advertiser appeal.” The other Fox show that was up in the air, “24,” will also return for a new season.
NBC is still struggling to find a few good shows to put it back on top – and it has announced several new shows, as well as those that will get the ax. The biggest addition to NBC’s schedule is the Martha Stewart reality/game show, a spin-off of the hit, “The Apprentice.” It will be similar to the Donald Trump version, but will be styled to Stewart’s own special brand of business savvy. Hopefully the final goal won’t be to “land yourself in the slammer.”
The new shows NBC is trying out are “E-Ring,” an action show from Jerry Bruckheimer that revolves around life in the Pentagon; “Fathom,” a sci-fi drama about life under the sea; “Inconceivable,” a medical drama focusing on infertility and all of the trials and tribulations therein; “My Name is Earl,” about a lowlife crook who wins the lottery then sets about righting the wrongs of his past, and finally, “Three Wishes,” a sure-to-make-you-sob unscripted series that grants wishes to deserving, desperate people.
NBC is also moving “The West Wing,” which has always been seen on Wednesdays, to Sunday night, where it will have to go up against – unfortunately — “Desperate Housewives,” rather than the “American Idol” results show. Fans of both better invest in a TIVO.
“Law and Order: Trial by Jury” will be the first of the L&O spin-off series to be called a failure. It is the only one that didn’t quite work and that’s because, in my humble opinion, it didn’t delve into the jury, but rather, stayed with the DA and the lawyers. A show focusing on the jury members themselves might have been a better bet.
In the art-idealizes-life department, ABC will bring in “Commander-in-Chief,” a show that attempts to see what life would be like with a female president in the White House. The lucky actress is Geena Davis. Creator and writer is Rod Lurie, who wrote and directed The Contender, a feature film which starred Joan Allen as a vice-presidential candidate. In the series, the unlikely scenario is that the female VP must become pres when the real pres suddenly dies. So, the token must suddenly prove herself to both parties, neither of which want her in power.
Another new show on the slate is a remake of the popular series “The Night Stalker,” a spooky, pre-X-files monster hunt. Can the new one be as good as the old one? Not likely, but we’re keeping an open mind.
ABC is doing better than any of the other networks right now with “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Alias” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” They’re dumping “My Wife & Kids” and “8 Simple Rules.”
Finally, ABC’s new mid-season replacement is “What about Brian,” which will air Mondays and is co-produced by wunderkind J.J. Abrams.
The biggest change at CBS is the departure, finally, of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which is taking its leave after a very successful nine seasons. “Raymond” will make way for the Charlie Sheen sitcom, “Two and a Half Men,” to take over the already warm timeslot.
CBS will continue to air its wildly popular “CSI” and subsequent spin-offs, and “Cold Case,” “The Amazing Race,” “Without a Trace” and “The King of Queens.” They will be introducing a few new ones as well, including “Everything I know about Men,” starring Jenna Elfman; a Mandy Patinkin FBI drama called “Quantico”; a new doctor drama with Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler, “Flesh & Blood”; and yet another Julia Louis-Dreyfus experiment called “Old Christine.”
The new shows will not be hits – but for a few of them. Most of the time, the old adage applies; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It all comes down to what we’re all going to watch. We’ll be checking back in next season to see what the hits and misses of this season were.
This Week’s Notable Television
Thursday, May 19
CSI, season finale, a special two hour episode directed by Quentin Tarantino, 8 p.m., CBS.
A Few Good Men (**), Jack says, “You can’t handle the truth,” 9 p.m., ABC.
American Idol, the “worst auditions,” squeezing out a few extra drops of milk, 9 p.m., FOX.
Face Eating Tumor, in case you were in need of comic relief, 10 p.m., DISCOVERY HEALTH.
Friday, May 20
The Muppets Wizard of Oz, with voices Ashanti, Queen Latifah, Quentin Tarantino, David Alan Grier, Jeffrey Tambor, 8 p.m., ABC.
Shallow Hal (***), underrated romcom with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black, 8 p.m., FOX.
Breaking Away (****), one of the all-time best coming-of-age films, 9 p.m., FMC.
The 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, 9 p.m., CBS.
Saturday, May 21
The Silence of the Lambs (****), still mesmerizing, 8 p.m., UPN.
Cat Stevens: Majikat, 8 p.m., KCET.
Total Recall (***), with Sharon Stone and you-know-who, 8 p.m., KTLA.
Desperate Housewives, catch up on some repeats you might have missed, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC.
Sunday, May 22
Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (**), 7:30 p.m., FOX.
The Great White Hope (***), 9 p.m., FMC.
Ghost World (***), it put Scarlett Johansson on the map, 9:15 p.m., IFC.
Napoleon: The Man Who Would Rule Europe, 9 p.m., HIST.
Monday, May 23
Nick & Jessica’s Tour of Duty, ’course now that their marriage is on the skids…, 9 p.m., ABC.
The Sweet Hereafter (****), among the most depressing, and beautiful, films ever made, 8 p.m., IFC.
Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, 9 p.m., KCET.
Carrie (****), 9:45 p.m., AMC.
Tuesday, May 24
American Idol finale, the last two compete for the big prize, 8 p.m., FOX.
Nature: Typhoid Mary, 8 p.m., KCET.
Rob and Amber get Married, I don’t know what’s worse – that this is on in the first place, or that it seems almost interesting in a bizarre sort of way, 9 p.m., CBS.
Trump Unauthorized, be very afraid, 9 p.m., ABC.
Wednesday, May 25
American Idol comes to a close, as the next is chosen, 8 p.m., FOX.
Lost, season finale, 8 p.m., ABC.
Cary Grant: A Class Apart, so easy on the eyes and ears, 9 p.m., KCET.
Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution, made for TV docu-drama starring Janel Moloney of The West Wing (Why, Janel, why?), 9 p.m., CBS.