[UPDATE: Check out our up to date Complete 2008 Fall TV Preview!]

I was wondering about all the news out and about regarding what’s coming up on television next season with regards to fantasy, sci-fi and action type shows, so I tracked down the announcements from various networks that distribute them to whet our appetites via the “upfronts“. EH? I know. You’re asking, “What’s an upfront“?

Upfronts are when networks publicly announce their new shows to the press and the advertising world. It’s during the upfronts that networks give advertisers the chance to get advertising time at a discount, versus paying premium dollar during the season. It could also be looked at as the time when advertisers hedge their bets with shows that look promising to them. Basically, get in on the action up in front of the new season. Sadly, it’s the driving force behind everything we love and love to hate about TV programming.

The upfronts can also give you some insight into the minds of the network execs and the trends they either think will happen or help actually develop. By trends I mean setting the mark. IE: After ABC’s Lost or Fox’s Prison Break became hot commodities, we saw a rash of similar type programs pop up in the ensuing seasons.

With that being said let’s go through the developments that have come out of the upfronts, where I focus on shows on the tube that you the Screen Rant reader might be interested in knowing about, with no particular order to the networks:


New NBC shows:
My Own Worst Enemy, with Christian Slater as a spy who explores the duality of a man who is literally pitted against himself.
The Philanthropist (with David Eick as showrunner) about a rebel billionaire who uses his money, connections and power to help people in need.
Merlin – Yes, it’s based on the Arthurian legend.

Returning NBC shows
All the Law and Orders &
Friday Night Lights. (With a disclaimer!)

Gone from NBC: Bionic Woman (Proof the system sometimes works!), Las Vegas & Journeyman. (Proof the system doesn’t always work.)

I got hooked on Friday Night Lights, and it’s been renewed for 13 episodes BUT the episodes will first air on DirecTV in the fall, and then on NBC in the winter. This is a great example of ratings being iffy, but DirecTV put up the money to continue producing the show, and NBC will reap the rewards by ‘rerunning’ them later. Is it me, or does The Philanthropist sound like Bruce Wayne? I’m just saying.

I don’t think too many people were sad to see Bionic Woman go back to the garage, but as we all know, none of us were happy to see Journeyman become a show of the past. Right Vic? But Las Vegas really upset the core fans because they pulled the plug on a cliff hanger. Way to go N-B-C. Of course I leave you with conflicting statements about the Neilsen system, but it is what it is – a fickle, money based, old school system. Of course, Journeyman‘s curse was being put up against Heroes, where 3 other shows died trying to compete. Nice insight.

The Sci-Fi Channel:

New to the Sci Fi Channel:
, a prequel of Battlestar Galactica.
Reruns of series including Lost and Jericho.
stunt-reality series Scare Tactics.
The Stranded, the first joint venture by Sci Fi and Virgin Comics.
Deputized, a comedy drama about an intergalactic police force.
Alice. Which is to Alice in Wonderland as Tin Man was to Wizard of Oz.
True Believer about a comicbook nerd who hires a down-at-heels superhero to become crime fighters.
Ghost Hunters International, a spinoff of Ghost Hunters, and
Mind Control With Derren Brown


Returning CBS Shows:
The Unit, Cold Case, Numb3rs, Criminal Minds, The Ghost Whisperer, all the CSI‘s, NCIS, Without A Trace

CBS gave the boot to Shark, and eclipsed Moonlight.

New CBS shows:

Eleventh Hour: The latest from Jerry Bruckheimer about a scientific investigator working for the government to probe unsolved anomalies.
The Mentalist
is about a man with innate ESP-like powers of deduction.
Harper’s Island
is a murder mystery involving a group of friends who meet on an island near Seattle for a wedding.

I like The Unit – It spins special ops, the politics behind them and the stress on the members’ families and how they deal with the dynamics of it all. I was pretty upset when they dropped both Shark and Moonlight. I liked both these shows, and CBS was quoted as saying cutting Moonlight was a tough decision but they had to make room for new shows… I hate rhetoric. Eleventh Hour, being a Bruckheimer production, sounds like they’re playing the X-files fan base with the Bruckheimer afficionado. A cheap rip off of some other efforts? Who’s to say. The one surviving show that surprised me is Numb3rs. I thought sure all that mathematical math-a-ma-jig stuff would confound people, but they use it to accent the police investigations and mix it in nicely.


Returning ABC shows: Lost & Pushing Daisies

ABC shows Out: Cavemen was buried in the cave it came from. (There is a God!)

New ABC shows: Life on Mars – This is based on a BBC series that revolves around a modern-day detective who finds himself transported back to 1973 after a car crash and is still a detective. My only hope for this show is that it’s executive-produced by David E. Kelley and produced by David E. Kelley Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television.



Returning Fox Shows: 24, Bones, Cops, Prison Break, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, ‘Til Death

Shows that have been booted by Fox: K-Ville & New Amsterdam is old news.

New Fox Shows: Dollhouse (Midseason); Fringe. (But because of us at Screen Rant, you already knew this!)

New Amsterdam was such a refuse-laden show that it should have been called old-cliche written every other line-damn and deserved to be booted, but K-Ville was a very unique cop show that took place in New Orleans and interlaced character development with the aftermath of Katrina. It had a lot of material potential because of this, but somehow did not get a chance to explore this beyond one season.


Returning TNT shows: Their wildly popular shows – The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick and Saving Grace, featuring Holly Hunter.

New TNT shows: Delta Blues, executive produced by George Clooney is about a Memphis cop/Elvis impersonator who lives with his mother.
Leverage is about a former insurance investigator who builds a team of thieves, hackers and grifters and they become a modern-day Robin Hood gang.
The Genie Chronicles follows a female newspaper reporter who discovers a magic lamp and we follow both her and the genie as different people discover and use the lamp’s power to make wishes come true.
Technophobia is about an American town where technology is advancing at a frightening pace.

Haven’t we seen Robin Hood type shows in the past? The Genie Chronicles sounds a wee bit hokey to me, but a cool title! And what’s with Technophobia? My first impression is that It sounds like another Eureka, which may be a nice way to pay homage to a show they think is doing well.


The only things of note for returning shows on USA are Burn Notice and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I’m a conistent, across the board fan of L&O, but Burn Notice, about a CIA operative who’s been blacklisted by his own agency took me by surprise and I’ve enjoyed the show where Bruce Campbell is making a stab at a reasonably solid TV role, versus some of his classic roles of the past.

Sources: Memles, Memles, Writersdigest