The 2007 network TV upfronts kick off in New York today, and I can't wait to see what will be on the schedule for this fall. The upfronts give each network a chance to present its fall schedule for advertisers, and it gives viewers our first look at which new and returning shows will be on our watch list next season. For more on some of the pilots in contention for the networks, check out the shows about tough working women, the supernatural, British imports, and cops, plus the best of the rest.
- NBC (presents Monday)
Big questions: After hitting its lowest ratings ever this season, will the network continue promoting small but high-quality shows or pass them over for potential blockbusters? Also, can the network find a worthy companion for "Heroes" now that every show that followed it this season has tanked?
What could make the schedule? Network CEO Jeff Zucker recently said he expected the network would pick up three dramas, a comedy and a reality show for the fall. Five new shows — "The Bionic Woman," "Chuck," "Journeyman," "Life" and "Lipstick Jungle" — have reportedly been picked up already, but some of those could be held for midseason. Among potential returning shows, it sounds like "Friday Night Lights" and "Scrubs" are in, as is "Law & Order."
For a look at the other four networks,
- ABC (presents Tuesday)
Big questions: Can ABC make its "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff work without damaging its biggest drama hit? And can the network finally find a successful comedy?
What could make the schedule? According to one version of the schedule floating around last week, "Private Practice" and buzzworthy dramedies "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Pushing Daisies" had landed slots, along with cop drama "Marlowe" and comedy "Sam I Am," about a mean girl who develops amnesia after a car crash and wakes up nice. One report said the infamous "Caveman" show had earned a spot on the schedule.
- CBS (presents Wednesday)
Big questions: Will the most-watched network stay close to the conventional cop fare that's served it well for years? Or will it branch out with risky new shows?
What could make the schedule? A report last week had CBS picking up both musical dramedy "Viva Laughlin" and 1970s partner-swapping drama "Swingtown," which would show the network is willing to take some chances with its schedule. On the comedy side, bubble show "How I Met Your Mother" is now expected to come back.
- Fox (presents Thursday)
Big questions: Will the network's proposed "American Idol" spinoff be a go? And will the network be able to launch new shows that can stand on their own without "Idol"?
What could make the schedule? Fox has some interesting pilots, including New Orleans-set cop drama "K-Ville" and Amy Sherman-Palladino comedy "The Return of Jezebel James," and it's already renewed "House," "Bones" and "Prison Break." "'Til Death" had a ratings surge late in the season when it aired after "American Idol," and the rumor last week was that it would be back as well. One report last week said the baffling "New Amsterdam" had also been picked up.
- The CW (presents Thursday)
Big questions: A year after the merger of the WB and UPN, how is the network going to establish itself? And what will happen to "Veronica Mars"?
What could make the schedule? Whether the beloved but low-rated "Mars" will be back seems to change minute by minute, as does the format (season-long mystery vs. stand-alone mystery vs. Veronica as a grown-up FBI agent). "Gossip Girl," the series based on the popular book series and created by "The O.C." guru Josh Schwartz, is virtually a sure thing already.