Fall TV: Britney Spears, 'New Normal' and the Season's 5 Riskiest Bets
Big paychecks, bigger names and elaborate productions are all popping up on the 2012-13 schedule, but some gambles might not pan out for the broadcast networks.
Risks come in all shapes and sizes this season. There are the expensive (Britney Spears' estimated $15 million X Factor contract), the perennially-hyped (Revolution E.P. J.J. Abrams) and the departures from the norm (CBS' un-procedural Vegas).
If history tells us anything, it's that the results of fall TV gambles are apparent almost as soon as the season starts. So before the festivities officially kick off next week, The Hollywood Reporter is taking a look at five of the more high-profile risks that have networks hoping for big buzz and even bigger ratings this year.
The X Factor: Although Simon Cowell's American Idol follow-up didn't hold a candle to his lofty ratings expectations for, the first season of the singing competition did well -- though apparently not well enough. The U.S. iteration of The X Factor in Fox has overhauled its roster with the additions of judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato and the yet-to-be-announced host (or hosts), making the series more expensive and raising expectations even higher. Plus, it now has to air concurrently with the third season of NBC's The Voice, previously relegated to spring. (Premieres Sept. 12)
Vegas: CBS swings for the fences with an all-star cast (Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Carrie Anne-Moss, Jason O'Mara) in the period drama based on the life of Ralph Lamb, a Las Vegas rodeo cowboy-turned-sheriff. The series stretches beyond the first-place network's comfort zone of by-the-book procedurals, landing on the schedule in The Mentalist's former home on at 10 p.m. Thursdays (Premieres Sept. 25)
The New Normal: NBC is banking on the appeal of Ryan Murphy to market the series, noting that the comedy about a gay couple (Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha) who turn to a surrogate to help expand their family hails from the co-creator of Glee. While the election-year timing is right as gay marriage remains a divisive subject among the candidates, whether this series catches on with viewers the way Glee and American Horror Story have remains to be seen. (Premieres Sept. 11)
Revolution: Speaking of TV veterans aiming for a repeat performance, NBC rolls out the latest series under J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot banner. The dystopian drama starring Billy Burke, Giancarlo Esposito and Elizabeth Mitchell is pricey, though, with elaborate sets and an excess of action. And Abrams (Lost, Alias, Felicity) has more TV misses than hits in recent years, with Undercovers and Alcatraz tanking during the last two seasons. (Premieres Sept. 17)
Last Resort: It's become harder and harder for heavily serialized shows to thrive on network television, and the premise of the new ABC drama from Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Chicago Code) isn't exactly light. It follows the renegade crew of U.S. Navy submarine that sets up its own sovereign nation and flaunts its nuclear capabilities at the American government. Tube favorites Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Autumn Reeser and Robert Patrick star in the critical favorite, but it's not clear whether viewers will be ready to board the complex premise. (Premieres Sept. 27)