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NBC: Not Broadcasting Comedy

It’s my favorite time of year, folks: Upfront week. This is when the TV networks display their new wares for the fall season and get advertisers to commit to paying for all of it. $9 billion is expected to change hands in the coming weeks. I love this time of year because all that we, the unwashed TV viewer, get to hear of the new fall season at this point is one- or two-line descriptions. And I like to pass judgment on shows based on those small nuggets of info.

It’s my favorite time of year, folks: Upfront week. This is when the TV networks display their new wares for the fall season and get advertisers to commit to paying for all of it. $9 billion is expected to change hands in the coming weeks.

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I love this time of year because all that we, the unwashed TV viewer, get to hear of the new fall season at this point is one- or two-line descriptions. And I like to pass judgment on shows based on those small nuggets of info.

NBC was first out of the chute yesterday afternoon with its new lineup. The network is preaching “stability,” announcing just five new shows for fall. Of course, in television, “stability” is code for “we didn’t have any better ideas.”

The Friends spinoff, Joey, is getting the big push and will anchor the Thursday lineup at 8 p.m. With critics already chanting “AfterMASH” (and I have a feeling AfterMASH probably plays like the Mary Tyler Moore Show when compared with Joey), skittery NBC execs showed the full pilot instead of just a clip to ad execs (notice how critics didn’t get to see the pilot yet).

Two other new shows seem to be getting the love from NBC honchos.

I am most excited about LAX, on Monday nights at 10, starring Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood. As happy as I am to see Heather Locklear back on television–it’s been, what, 10 minutes since she had a series?–let’s think about this show for a minute. LAX is, as you may have guessed, astute reader, set in the Los Angeles Airport. Now if you’re like me, you loooove spending time in the airport. There are the numerous newsstands; the Brookstone where you can buy a pillow that costs more than your plane ticket; and of course, Cinnabon! Oh, the time flies. There’s no truth to the rumor that LAX edged out two other NBC pilots, Dentist’s Office and DMV, for its space on the NBC lineup. In LAX’s defense, there’s no shortage of drama or characters in a place like the airport. I am already excited about the episode where Locklear and Underwood have to track down who got frosting on the anti-allergan pillowcases…before the culprit takes off for Wichita! But then if you follow that logic, my idea for a TV show, CVS, about the wacky characters and drama of my neighborhood 24-hour drug store, would get picked up next year.

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The other NBC show worth a mention is Father of the Pride, an animated series starring the lions that appear in Siegfried and Roy’s Las Vegas show. Conan O’ Brien at the NBC upfront already said what needed to be said about this show. “[Roy’s] been mauled,” he said, mocking NBC execs. “Well, let’s make a show about it!” Apparently the show was in development before the incident with Roy and one of his tigers, but NBC clearly pressed on anyway, with the approval of Siegfried and Roy too. NBC: Maybe it stands for nothing but class. Personally, I am hoping that the lions make guest appearances in NBC’s Las Vegas and vice versa. I wouldn’t mind seeing someone on Las Vegas mauled by an animated tiger after yet another reference to “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

I will hopefully be blogging the upfronts all this week from my comfortable perch here in front of my computer. Stay tuned. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

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