TROUBLE CITY

THUD: UPFRONT SPECIAL (FOX)

THUDBrendan M. LeonardComment

THUD

Read our coverage of NBC’s schedule here!

Read our coverage of ABC’s schedule here!

Read our coverage of CBS’s schedule here!

Read our coverage of The CW's schedule here!

You know, FOX has pretty much got it made right now. They can have a really crappy first half of the season where many of their programs tank (not that they did this year), but as soon as January rolls around, they’re riding high with 24 and the juggernaut (bitch) that is American Idol. Unfortunately, the downside to this is that the network wants every new show to be an insta-hit, pulling those that don’t perform immediately. So it was with much hooting and hollering that FOX, celebrating their fourth year as number one in “key demos”, announced their schedule. Which of these shows will be the next House…or the next Drive?

MONDAY

8:00-9:00 PM PRISON BREAK
9:00-10:00 PM K-VILLE

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM NEW AMSTERDAM
9:00-10:00 PM HOUSE

WEDNESDAY

8:00-8:30 PM BACK TO YOU
8:30-9:00 PM 'TIL DEATH
9:00-10:00 PM BONES

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER?
9:00-10:00 PM KITCHEN NIGHTMARES

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND (working title)
9:00-10:00 PM NASHVILLE (working title)

SATURDAY

8:00-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-MIDNIGHT MADtv
MIDNIGHT-12:30 AM TALK SHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN

SUNDAY

7:00-8:00 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM KING OF THE HILL
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

First of all, my Robert Altman homeboys – chill out. I know your heads probably exploded when you saw a show called Nashville on the FOX schedule, but it is not, I assure you a series based on that 1976 movie and serious contender for one of the greatest films of all time. Instead, Nashville is in the mold of scripted/unscripted drama (I refuse to use the word “docu-soap”) from the creators of Laguna Beach. It focuses on, and I quote, “the dreamers and dream-makers in the music industry, as well as those trying to make their mark on Nashville’s big business and high society” and features a cast “perched on the cusp of achieving their greatest successes in a town that can make or break you.” There is no word as of yet whether the series will include a scene where a sleazy political operative makes one of the characters take off her clothes for a shot at singing at a Garth Brooks reunion show.

Other new reality series include The Search for the Next Great American Band (because Grand Funk Railroad was unavailable), from the mad geniuses that brought you American Idol, and Kitchen Nightmares, a show featuring Gordon Ramsey, who I guess is a chef who likes to yell a lot, like Harvey Weinstein or Samuel L. Jackson. Here, he’ll be yelling at struggling restaurant owners.

As for comedies, Back to You is the buzzed-about return to tv for Patricia “Plaything of the Religious Right” Heaton and Kelsey “Best Part of X3” Grammer. They’ll play bickering anchors in Pittsburgh who reunite for a local newscast after years apart. The series has a fairly unbeatable pedigree, with Comedy Pilot Guru James Burrows behind the camera and the writing team of Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan (Wings, Frasier, Larry Sanders, Greg the Bunny) as creators/executive producers. In addition to Heaton and Grammer in front of the camera, Fred Willard also stars as an “endlessly inappropriate” sports anchor – which should make any fan of Best in Show excited for this.

As for the dramas, I was pretty excited about New Amsterdam, about an immortal (note: not a vampire) New York City detective, until I read the summary and went “meh.” Not only does the show borrow pretty liberally from Pete Hamill’s novel Forever, it seems to focus on the cop searching for his one true love, which is somehow connected to his immortality. (Especially when you consider that the wildly sentimental Lasse Hallstrom directed the pilot.) I’m a New York City history junkie, so I may tune in for the pilot, but if there are more than ten shots in the pilot of the guy looking out over the city, brooding and pensive, I’m quitting.

However, the other new fall drama, K-Ville has me for at least a few episodes. This is the one series set in a post-Katrina New Orleans to make it to network television this season, and it stars Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser. I like both these guys – especially after catching a few episodes of Anderson’s performance on The Shield – and I’m a sucker for cop shows. I’m not so hot on Hauser’s character having a “past” and needing “redemption,” but I can go with it. With the addition of Zodiac Killer John Carrol Lynch as their boss, K-Ville is a must-see for me.

Now, this is FOX, so once January starts, the schedule gets all fucked up and many of these shows – the ones that are still on – will get moved around to make room for Idol and 24. (Yes, fans of the Jack Bauer Power Hour, that series has been renewed for at least another two seasons.) And with the move, two new comedies and dramas will premiere.

The two dramas are Canterbury’s Law and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Canterbury is the latest offering from producer Denis Leary, about a tough, take-no-prisoners defense attorney played by Julianna “Did You Think I Would Invite You Back Into My Life? Into My Bed?” Margulies of ER fame. The series also stars Linus Roache, who I confused with Hugh Laurie for years, and Ben Shenkman, aka the least talented guy in Angels in America, which means he’s still talented, just annoying. With those three, plus Mike Figgis directing and executive producing the pilot, I’m curious about this one, but not by much.

Sarah Connor comes from CHUD favorite Josh Friedman and attempts to fill in the gaps between Terminator 2 and 3. Lena Headey, of 300, plays the titular heroine and the series also stars Thomas Dekker as John and Summer Glau (aka the most annoying part of Firefly and Serenity) as a mysterious friend to John. We’ve covered this before, and while I’m a big fan of the Terminator pictures, I simply can’t get excited about this one until I see some footage. Sorry, Josh.

The two new comedies are The Return of Jezebel James, which is also the return of Lauren Ambrose and Amy Sherman-Palladino (of Gilmore Girls) to television, and The Rules of Starting Over, which features The Bierko and is a single camera comedy from the Farrelly Brothers. It’s set in Boston and also stars Rashida Jones, who I felt bad for last night on The Office, despite going “yes!” when Jim asked Pam out at last. Can you guess which one of these I’ll watch? It’s not Jezebel James.

Fall Prognosis: I thought New Amsterdam was going to sound a lot cooler, and while I like the guys behind Back to You, it seems awfully generic somehow. K-Ville has my time, and I’m eager to check out Sarah Connor Chronicles in January, but nothing here really wowed me. Still, it’s FOX, and even after a pretty lackluster season of American Idol, it’s still unbeatable in the ratings, so that makes any opinion I have like the point of telling Jesse’s girl that you love her – moot.