Robin Williams is back. So is Michael J. Fox. And, with a new cast, Ironside.
The Marvel franchise is going prime time, as are Dracula and Ichabod Crane. Person of Interest is changing nights, Dancing With the Stars will be once a week, Community and Mike & Molly will be later in the season. Some shows will have shorter runs.
And that’s just what we know now.
This past week saw the major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW — announce their plans for fall 2013 and beyond. No network’s lineup has gone unchanged. Some hoped-for successes from a season ago are gone, and more than one perennial either bid farewell or was told goodbye. And even some returners will see changes; Dancing With the Stars will air one night a week instead of two, with the results folded into performance shows, and American Idol will be without original judge Randy Jackson — and possibly be overhauled entirely.
The announcements came in the still-evolving world of viewing, where non-broadcast TV is ever more of a force. Cable shows like The Bible, The Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty put up numbers many broadcast shows would envy. Online programmers have become players, too; this past season, House of Cards made noise for Netflix, which also brings back Arrested Development on May 26. All My Children and One Life to Live became offerings for Hulu and iTunes.
At the same time, the most successful broadcaster this season was CBS; often joked about as a programmer for the old and tradition-minded, it ends the current season not only No. 1 among all viewers (with a reported 4-million-viewer lead over second-place ABC) but tops with those in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-48-year-old demographic. Only it, too, had its share of cancellations (Golden Boy, Vegas, CSI:NY included) and is making some significant changes for the fall.
Indeed, CBS and its counterparts are treating some programs like cable series — with fewer episodes or split seasons. For example, where network tradition has long said that a full season of a successful show consists of 22 to 24 episodes (or more), Fox executive Kevin Reilly told reporters that on his network “there will be shows that play at 13, 15, 17 episodes. There’s no magic number.”
So what exactly does this all mean to viewers? Here are snapshots of the network plans for the coming season as described in May announcements, as well as selected cancellations. Plenty can change between now and September, but this is a first look. Shows for summer 2013 and cable are not included.
Returning in the fall: 20/20, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Castle, Dancing With the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy, Last Man Standing, The Middle, Modern Family, Nashville, The Neighbors, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal, Shark Tank and Saturday college football.
Returning later in the season: The Bachelor, Suburgatory, The Taste.
In limbo: Happy Endings and Body of Proof, both canceled by ABC but in talks with cable networks.
Ended: 666 Park Avenue, Don’t Trust the B---, How to Live With Your Parents, Family Tools, Final Witness, Last Resort, Malibu Country, Private Practice, Red Widow, Secret Millionaire, Splash and Zero Hour.
New in the fall: Back in the Game, a Bad News Bears-like comedy with James Caan; Betrayal, where a defense attorney and the wife of a prosecutor begin an affair — just before a murder investigation puts them on opposite sides; The Goldbergs, a comedy with Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey as ’80s parents; Lucky 7, a drama with seven gas-station employees whose lottery pool finally hits a winner; Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a post-Avengers story of a team assembled by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) after the events of the Avengers movie; Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a spin-off of ABC’s Once Upon a Time set among the Alice characters, with Akron’s own John Lithgow as the White Rabbit; Super Fun Night, written by and starring Pitch Perfect’s Rebel Wilson as a lawyer whose social life is facing some big changes; Trophy Wife, a comedy where Malin Akerman’s marriage to Bradley Whitford puts her in contact with his three children and two ex-wives.
New later: Killer Women, with Tricia Helfer as a Texas Ranger; Mind Games, about a team that uses psychological manipulation to solve clients’ problems; Mixology, a comedy about the denizens of a fancy Manhattan bar; The Quest, a reality competition taking place in a fictionalized (and magic-including) world, and Resurrection, where a boy who died 30 years ago is suddenly back to life.
Notes: DWTS is one night a week, Tuesday will be all new shows (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife and Lucky 7),
Returning in the fall: 2 Broke Girls, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Elementary, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, The Mentalist, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest, Survivor, Two and a Half Men, Undercover Boss.
Returning later: Mike & Molly, although with a full order of 22 episodes.
Ended: CSI:NY, Golden Boy, Jersey Girl, Rules of Engagement, Vegas.
New this fall: The Crazy Ones, featuring Robin Williams as an ad man working with his daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar); Hostages, a drama with Toni Collette as a surgeon whose family is taken to force her to kill the president while operating on him; The Millers, with Will Arnett as a man whose divorce shakes the marriage of his parents (Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale); Mom, starring Anna Faris as a newly sober mother and Allison Janney as her mom, and We Are Men, a comedy about four unmarried men in a short-term apartment complex, with Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn.
New later: Friends With Better Lives, a comedy about six friends in different romantic places, with James Van Der Beek and Brooklyn Decker; Intelligence, starring Lost’s Josh Holloway as a spy whose in-brain microchip lets him access the global grid, and Reckless, a legal drama where “dark secrets simmer behind every door.”
Notes: Person of Interest moves to Tuesday nights and Hawaii Five-O to Fridays. Hostages will run only about 15 episodes before being succeeded by Intelligence. How I Met Your Mother will present its final season. The “crimetime” repeats on Saturday will be “comedytime” repeats instead.
Returning in fall: American Dad, Bob’s Burgers, Bones, Family Guy, Glee, The Mindy Project, New Girl, The Simpsons, The X Factor, Saturday prime-time sports and Sunday-evening NFL overruns and recaps.
Returning later: American Idol, The Following, Raising Hope and various Gordon Ramsay shows. Also, a 12-part version of 24 is set for the summer of 2014.
In transition: Cops will move to cable’s Spike TV.
New in the fall: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a comedy with Andy Samberg as a cop with a new boss (Andre Braugher); Dads, the first live-action series from Seth MacFarlane, about two thirtysomethings whose fathers move in with them; Junior Masterchef, a new Gordon Ramsay series where the competitors are 8 to 13 years old, and Sleepy Hollow, a thriller with Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman awakening in the present day.
New later: Almost Human, the latest drama from J.J. Abrams, with police and androids working together 35 years in the future; Enlisted, a comedy about three friends on an Army base; Gang Related, about the relationship between police and crooks in Los Angeles; the animated Murder Police, a cop comedy; Rake, with Greg Kinnear as a lawyer prone to excess; Surviving Jack, a comedy starring Christopher Meloni as a largely absentee dad now taking on full-time parenting, and Us & Them, a romantic comedy with Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel as a new couple blending their friends and family.
Also, Wayward Pines, an “event” series about eerie business in the search for two federal agents, from a novel by Blake Crouch. It is due sometime in 2014.
Notes: Bones will be on Mondays in the early fall, then move to Fridays in the late fall after the end of Junior Masterchef; Almost Human will get the Monday Bones slot. Raising Hope and Enlisted will make late fall arrivals on Fridays, where Sleepy Hollow reruns will fill an hour earlier in the season. Glee will again take a break after a fall run, returning in the spring; Rake will fill its time slot during the hiatus.
Returning this fall: The Biggest Loser, Chicago Fire, Dateline NBC, Grimm, Law & Order: SVU, Parenthood, Parks & Recreation, Revolution, The Voice and NFL football on Sunday.
Returning later: Community, The Sing-Off.
In limbo: NBC said decisions on Celebrity Apprentice and Hannibal “are still to be made in the next few weeks.”
Ended: 30 Rock, 1600 Penn, Do No Harm, Go On, Guys With Kids, The New Normal, Ready for Love, Rock Center With Brian Williams, Smash, Whitney.
New in the fall: The Blacklist, drama about a famous fugitive (James Spader) who offers to help the FBI catch a notorious terrorist and other baddies on blacklist; Dracula, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the title role; Ironside, reviving the Raymond Burr drama but with Blair Underwood in the chair — and in New York City; The Michael J. Fox Show, with the title star as a news anchor back on the job after a break to deal with having Parkinson’s disease; Sean Saves the World, a comedy with Sean Hayes as a divorced, gay dad whose daughter moves in with him, and Welcome to the Family, a comedy where a Latino high-schooler and his Anglo girlfriend must blend their families after she gets pregnant.
New later: About a Boy, a comedy based on Nick Hornby’s novel (which also inspired a Hugh Grant movie); home-renovation series American Dream Builders; Believe, a drama about a man working with a 10-year-girl who has extraordinary powers; Chicago PD, a drama from Dick Wolf (Law & Order, Chicago Fire); Crisis, where top people in D.C. react to a busload of their children being taken hostage; pirate drama Crossbones, with John Malkovich; The Family Guide, a comedy set around a colorful, divorcing couple (J.K. Simmons, Parker Posey); Food Fighters, pitting amateur chefs with secret recipes against professionals; trivia challenge Million Second Quiz; The Night Shift, a hospital drama, and Undateable, a comedy about friends with the title’s problem.
Notes: Chicago Fire moves to Tuesdays and Parenthood to Thursdays. The new Thursday comedy block will be Parks & Recreation, Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show. With NBC putting repeats on Saturday, no network has a full Saturday night of new scripted programming; ABC and Fox have sports, CBS has reruns plus 48 Hours, and The CW doesn’t do Saturdays.
Returning this fall: America’s Next Top Model, Arrow, Beauty and the Beast, The Carrie Diaries, Hart of Dixie, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries.
Returning later: Nikita.
Ended: 90210, Cult, Emily Owens, M.D. and Gossip Girl.
New this fall: The Originals, a Vampire Diaries spinoff focusing on Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah, set in New Orleans; Reign, a historical drama about Mary, Queen of Scots, and The Tomorrow People, about genetically advanced people being pursued by a paramilitary group.
New later: The 100, where 100 space-station inhabitants — descendants of the people who survived Earth’s nuclear devasation a century ago — are put back on land to see if it can sustain life again. Also, Famous in 12, a reality show about a family trying to become famous in 12 weeks with help from TMZ, and Star-Crossed, a futuristic Romeo-and-Juliet romance with a teen human and an extraterrestrial.
Notes: Nikita’s run will be six episodes wrapping up the series. Of The CW’s 10 fall shows, five have supernatural aspects.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal, in the HeldenFiles Online blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles, on Facebook and on Twitter @rheldenfels. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.