The network television upfronts, when each channel presents its programming schedule and new Fall shows to advertisers, kick off today in New York. This year's presentations look to be different than the glitzy celebrations of years past — both because of general financial worries and because the writers' strike left the networks without as many completed pilots to share. Plus, NBC — which would normally kick off the presentations today — jumped the gun and announced its schedule back in April. But there are still a lot of networks and potential shows to keep an eye on this week. Here's a look at what I'll be looking for:
NBC (presented in April)
Big questions: When NBC announced its schedule early, the network's executives seemed committed to seeing it through no matter what the other networks threw at them. But once all the schedules are out, will NBC want to shuffle some of its series to different time slots?
ABC (presents Tuesday)
Big questions: Will ABC bring back the majority of its new series from last Fall, as many suspect — and will any of them move to new time slots?
What could make the schedule: ABC is expected to go light on new shows for the Fall, saving them for midseason (though we might get to hear about some of them this week anyway). The two that sources say are nearly sure things are the adaptation of Life on Mars and a new season of Scrubs, relocated from NBC. Current buzz has Women's Murder Club being canceled and Eli Stone returning.
For the other three networks, just
The CW (presents Tuesday)
Big questions: If Gossip Girl couldn't get this network more than 2.5 million viewers, what will?
What could make the schedule: The 90210 spinoff is a lock. Rumor has it that Reaper will get a second season. And E! recently reported that the network will pick up one other drama, either How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls or the medical drama Austin Golden Hour, from the American Idol producers. The Tyra Banks fashion magazine reality show, titled Stylista, is also sure to make the schedule.
CBS (presents Wednesday)
Big questions: After last year's attempt to go a little edgier with Viva Laughlin and the yet-to-premiere Swingtown, will CBS try to push the envelope again or return to its crime-procedural comfort zone? And will any of the new shows from last Fall return?
What could make the schedule: CBS has a high-profile pilot in Eleventh Hour, a drama about a science adviser to the government that's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Other pilots with good buzz include The Mentalist, a drama about a mentalist who uses his powers to help the police; The Tower, a journalism drama starring Marcia Gay Harden; and Mythological Ex, starring Elizabeth Reaser (aka Rebecca/Ava/Jane Doe from Grey's Anatomy). There's also thought that the network could try to launch another comedy block a la Monday nights.
Fox (presents Thursday)
Big questions: With American Idol on the decline, does Fox have another big blockbuster hit up its sleeve? And which of the network's many, many sci fi pilots will actually be picked up?
What could make the schedule: Fox has several of the biggest pilots around, including Fringe from JJ Abrams — which has already been picked up — and Dollhouse from Joss Whedon. It also already committed to The Inn (directed by Jason Bateman) and the animated Sit Down, Shut Up from Arrested Development's Mitchell Hurwitz. The network has a ton of other comedies available too, including the animated series The Pitts, the Family Guy spinoff Cleveland, and the remake of Spaced (which recently sounded like it wouldn't happen after all).