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NBC & FOX Upfronts Wrap-Up: Trailers, Analysis, and More for Fall's Most Promising Shows

Indiewire By Liz Shannon Miller and Ben Travers | Indiewire May 13, 2014 at 11:30AM

Indiewire editors discuss the best and worst news from NBC and FOX at Monday's upfront presentations.
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Ed Araquel/FOX David Tennant and Anna Gunn in "Gracepoint"

Monday's scheduling announcements from NBC and FOX packed a few twists for TV aficionados, but nothing worthy of the surprises on "The Blacklist" or "Hannibal." Still, the upfronts from two of the Big Four networks sported plenty of juicy tidbits for the upcoming fall season and beyond. Indiewire's TV team Liz Shannon Miller and Ben Travers discuss their most anticipated shows, the best network shifts, and what it could all mean come the fall.

Liz: First things last -- it actually seems like NBC cares about Fridays. Between "Grimm" and "Constantine" and presumably "Hannibal," in the off-season, that's a lot of talent and money on a night that other networks ignore.

Ben: I wonder how David S. Goyer, a man accustomed to a great deal of eyeballs pouring over his work at the cinema, feels about having TV shows airing on the two lowest-rated nights of the week. His Starz show, "Da Vinci's Demons," shows on Saturdays and now the rather expensive pilot he penned will premiere on a Friday -- are Starz and NBC onto something, perhaps making back the money with DVR and online views?

Liz: Good point! Specifically because it highlights how timeslots may, genuinely, just not matter anymore.

This is the obvious point at which we acknowledge time-shifting as a key part of the industry, at this stage -- which shows up as a contrast to what's brought NBC to the top, with sports and live events like "The Voice."

Ben: Indeed. Both NBC and FOX showed how willing they were to abandon tradition for the sake of ratings, with the former dismantling its long-standing Thursday night comedy block and the latter tossing aside Animation Domination on Sundays. How do you feel "The Blacklist" will fair on Thursdays opposite "The Big Bang Theory," as well as "Brooklyn 99" being wedged between "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy"? Oh, and what about this epic animation crossover episode? I'm not a huge fan of either show, but seeing Homer Simpson meet Peter Griffin is a tantalizing tease.

Liz: Honestly, anyone scheduling anything against "The Big Bang Theory" seems like a fool's move. Though, I suppose, it's a sign that NBC has a lot of faith in what was basically the only successful drama of the fall 2013 season.

There's a part of me that existentially wonders if people actually want to watch serious dramas at the end of the week. Maybe there's a reason why "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men" both happen on Sundays. We're much more ready at the end of the weekend for reality, perhaps.


And while "Brooklyn" getting a Sunday night berth feels like a promotion, I do worry. It's a show that could actually anchor a night at this point, and shoving it into a pre-existing lineup doesn't speak of a sign of confidence. -- even when paired with what feels like one of the most overdue TV crossovers of all time. That could just be me loving the show, though. What are you excited about?


Ben: NBC's slate left me kind of down in the dumps, actually. I'm dreading Katherine Heigl's "State of Affairs," and my hopes for Debra Messing's "Mysteries of Laura" dampened considerably when I saw the trailer. At the top of my list is "Marry Me," David Caspe's follow up to "Happy Endings" (R.I.P.) starring the affable Ken Marino and Casey Wilson. Though its uneven preview seemed a little conventional, so did Caspe and Wilson's previous comedy -- and we all know that turned out just fine. 

How about you? Are you eagerly anticipating Ben McKenzie's return to FOX with "Gotham," even though it will never live up to "The O.C."? Or am I alone there?

Liz: What I find fascinating about Ben Mckenzie is that everyone seems to have forgotten about the years he did on "Southland" as a police detective. Which, fair enough, I HEAR they were good years, but I didn't watch them. However, even if "Gotham" devolves into a standard procedural, that could be interesting.

Ben: They were good years, but here's hoping it doesn't take that chance. What do you think about FOX's miniseries slate? Choosing between a remake ("Gracepoint") and something M. Night Shyamalan is attached to may seem like a lose-lose, but both hold promise -- and I'm still a believer when it comes to "The Sixth Sense" director. Can FOX mimic the success of its company cousin FX ("Fargo") and HBO ("True Detective")?

Liz: I think it can! In general, I think everyone, from creators to audiences, is responding to shorter seasons. "Sleepy Hollow" is a show that should NEVER have worked, in theory, but 13 episodes of quality bonkers genre fun really paid off for them. 22 episodes of the same?Would have floundered.


That said, I remain hesitant on "Gracepoint" and the Shyamalan series. If only because I'm not sure (as much as I love him) about David Tennant's ability to do an American accent on a long-term basis. Despite my accent worries, though, I think Fox has me genuinely interested in what happens next for them. And it's been years since I could say that.


Ben: Probably since "The O.C." 

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