TV Upfronts By the Numbers: Dramas Double, Family Comedies Surge
UPDATED: Total scripted series orders jump as the freshman class of 2012-13 returns only 10 series and more trends from upfronts.
"More" is the word for the 2013-14 season. Following a season that had only 10 of 37 shows earning a second season, the broadcast networks are upping their game in a bid to find the next hit, ordering 54 new scripted series. Of that number, seven were off-cycle or straight-to-series orders as the networks continue to push toward year-round programming.
Here's a look at how the Big 5 networks are preparing for the 2013-14 season on the drama and comedy side, with single-camera fare up three (15 vs. 12) year-over-year.
Total scripted series orders 2013: 52*
Of the 53, 46 went through the traditional pilot process, with six earning straight-to-series orders, including The Michael J. Fox Show, and event series 24: Live Another Day and Wayward Pines, plus one animated show. (Last year, 37 total series were ordered, including the straight pickup for Bryan Fuller's Hannibal, which has yet to be renewed.) While the lack of breakouts and dwindling ratings during the 2012-13 season may be behind the uptick in orders this year, the broadcast networks' continued push to program year-round originals certainly added to that figure, with Fox handing out its first two event series orders as it looks to bridge the gap between summer and fall.
After sinking with Last Resort, ABC again is making a concerted effort to broaden its appeal by courting men, adding Joss Whedon's comic book adaptation Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and sci-fi effort Resurrection, which stars Omar Epps and centers on a community where the dead mysteriously come back to life. In another example of déjà vu, the Disney-owned network is looking to build its comedy brand on the back of Modern Family. The critically-panned The Neighbors, which launched post-Family and will return for season two, wasn't quite the breakout comedy the network had in mind. This year, ABC is looking to Rebel Wilson (Super Fun Night) and Adam F. Goldberg's semi-autobiographical comedy The Goldbergs.
Series orders 2013: 12 (up 3 vs. 2012)
5 comedies (vs. 4 in 2012)
8 dramas (vs. 5 in 2012)
Single-camera: 5 (vs. 3 in 2012)
Multicamera: 0 (vs. 1 in 2012)
With Partners getting the quick hook and Friend Me never premiering, comedy is a top priority for CBS. With How I Met Your Mother coming to an end next season, the first-place network doubled its new comedy offerings to four, betting on the likes of TV vets Chuck Lorre (Mom), Greg Garcia (The Millers) and David E. Kelley (Crazy Ones marks Robin Williams' first series regular role since Mork and Mindy). Also noteworthy: CBS picked up two single-camera efforts (Crazy Ones, Tony Shalhoub's We Are Men) one year after sticking with the cost-effective multicamera format. The network will bow Mom, The Millers, Crazy Ones and We Are Men in the fall, saving Mike and Molly -- which received a full-season order -- for midseason.
Series orders 2013: 9 (up 3 vs. 2012)
6 comedies (vs. 2 in 2012)
3 dramas (vs. 4 in 2012)
Single-camera: 3 (vs. 0 in 2012)
Multicamera: 3 (vs. 2 in 2012)
Fox doubled its drama orders after learning the hard way with The Mob Doctor, axed after one season due to weak ratings. (The only other drama Fox debuted last year, Kevin Bacon's midseason entry The Following, was renewed.) With female-led freshman comedies proving a mixed bag (only The Mindy Project survived), Fox will look to men on Tuesdays to boost its half-hour fortunes. Its new rookie class includes Andy Samberg's Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Geoff Stults' Enlisted, Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green's Dads (from Seth MacFarlane and the writers behind Ted) as well as Christopher Meloni's return to comedy in Surviving Jack. As Fox shifts to a more year-round schedule, the network also added its first two event series in the 24 revival and M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines.
Series orders 2013: 12* (up 8 vs. 2012)
6 comedies (vs. 3 in 2012)
6 dramas (vs. 2 in 2012)
Single-camera: 4 (vs. 3 in 2012)
Multicamera: 1 (vs. 0 in 2012)
* Includes orders for animated entry Murder Police and event series 24: Live Another Day and Wayward Pines.
Likely none of its freshmen class will see a second season (including the yet-to-air Save Me), and with both 30 Rock and The Office gone, the network has only two returning half-hours in Parks and Recreation and Community. Still, NBC's comedy pickups were down one compared with last year as the network instead added six dramas -- up two. Among the hourlongs are Dick Wolf's Chicago PD, a rare spinoff of a rookie series (Chicago Fire), and The Blacklist, James Spader's buzzy drama. As the beleaguered network looks ahead to the 2013-14 season, it is betting on safe procedurals and risky high-concept efforts to build on the success of Revolution.
Series orders 2013: 14* (up 1 vs. 2012)
6 comedies (vs. 7 in 2012)
8 dramas (vs. 4 in 2012)
Single-camera: 4 (vs. 6 in 2012) 1600, Animal, Go On, TNN, Next Caller, Save Me
Multicamera: 2 (vs. 1 in 2012)
* Includes the straight-to-series order for The Michael J. Fox Show as well as off-cycle dramas Crossbones and Dracula.
The youth-skewing network is again staying on-brand with genre fare like The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals, The 100, Tomorrow People and Star-Crossed. The real surprise is the addition of Reign, centered on a young Mary, Queen of Scots and featuring a largely unknown international cast. The period drama won a spot on the schedule over The CW's second attempt at The Selection -- and the prime post-Vampire Diaries slot
Series orders 2013: 5 (even vs. 2012)
CBS RENEWED THE MOST SHOWS
No shock here, No. 1 CBS brought back 20 returning shows for the 2013-14 season, easily the most out of all the big five networks. For their part, ABC and Fox each brought back 13 series, with NBC and The CW following with nine and five, respectively.
26 CANCELED FRESHMAN SHOWS
Of the 37 shows ordered last year, only 10 survived to see a second season with the fate of NBC's Save Me still to be determined. (The future for NBC's Hannibal, which was ordered straight to series, also has not been decided.) Here's a look at just how dismal the 2012-13 season was for the freshman class:
NBC 2-for-12 (Chicago Fire, Revolution)
ABC 2-for-10 (Nashville, The Neighbors)
CW 3-for-5 (Arrow, Beauty and the Beast, The Carrie Diaries)
Fox 2-for-5 (The Following, The Mindy Project)
CBS 1-for-5 (Elementary)
30 NEW DRAMAS
That's double last year's haul after only eight of the 15 dramas ordered for 2012-13 lived to see another day. (Includes limited series.)
23 NEW COMEDIES
Up from 17. This year's batch also includes 15 single-camera efforts and an animated series (Fox's Murder Police).
15 FAMILY COMEDIES
ABC has '80s Jewish family-centric The Goldbergs, father-daughter entry Back in the Game and ex-wives comedy Trophy Wife. CBS puts a workplace spin on father-daughter entry Crazy Ones, Greg Garcia's father-son roommate effort The Millers and Chuck Lorre's recovering alcoholic/single mother comedy Mom. Fox doubles up on father-son roommates with Dads and '90s-set Surviving Jack, brothers comedy Enlisted and Gavin & Stacey remake Us & Them. Over at NBC, there's Michael J. Fox's fictional family, a single mom in About a Boy, a gay father in Sean Saves the World, a blind dad in The Family Guide and mixed race comedy Welcome to the Family.
14 SCHEDULING MOVES
Following a forgettable year in which it only returned two of its 12 rookie shows and two veteran comedies, NBC turned its schedule nearly inside out -- save for The Voice. Revolution moves from Mondays at 10 to open Wednesdays. Chicago Fire moves from its Wednesday perch over to Tuesdays after The Voice. Parks and Recreation moves up to kick off Thursdays and Parenthood gets the once-prized 10 p.m. Thursday slot currently being occupied by Hannibal. ... Fox's schedule remained relatively steady, moving Bones in late fall to Fridays. ... ABC relegated Dancing With the Stars to one night, handing its 8 p.m. Tuesday slot over to Joss Whedon's Agents of SHIELD and moving The Neighbors to Fridays. ... CBS moved Two and a Half Men to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays in a bid to better expose two freshman comedies, The Millers and The Crazy Ones, while putting Mike and Molly on the shelf and slotting Chuck Lorre's Mom on 9 p.m. Mondays. The final season of How I Met Your Mother will serve as a lead in for freshman We Are Men. With comedy a priority, CBS also shipped Person of Interest from Thursdays to Tuesdays. Hawaii Five-0 will also shift to Fridays in favor of freshmen Hostages and Intelligence, which will share the 10 p.m. Monday time period. ... The CW shuffled Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast for an all-new Monday lineup,
moved Supernatural for the third time in as many years and slotted critical darling but ratings challenged The Carrie Diaries on Fridays.
10 TITLE CHANGES
After going through pilot season as How the Hell Am I Normal, ABC changed Adam F. Goldberg's semi-autobiographical comedy to the family-friendly title, The Goldbergs. ABC also changed Kyle Killen's Influence to a more straight-forward name, Mind Games, and The Returned became more obvious when it was renamed The Resurrection. CBS tweaked Ex-Men to We Are Men, and, after calling one of two Greg Garcia projects an "unauthorized" comedy during pilot season, opted for The Millers. At The CW, Oxygen became the literal -- and figurative -- Star-Crossed. Over at Fox, the Gavin & Stacey remake went from Friends and Family to Us & Them, and its adaptation of Justin Halpern's book, I Suck at Girls, is now Surviving Jack. Lest we forget, J.H. Wyman's robot cop drama Human added Almost to the title. At NBC, medical drama After Hours was reborn as The Night Shift.
Following a weak 2012-13 season for freshman series, the networks looked to spin off established hits, namely NCIS: Los Angeles, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time and Chicago Fire. Of the four proposed spinoffs, only CBS' NCIS: Red failed to move forward. (CBS also axed CSI: NY, leaving only Law & Order: SVU, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its two NCIS series in those respective franchises.)
2 RETURNING NBC COMEDIES
After axing all of its freshman comedies (the likelihood of Save Me returning is slim), NBC is only returning only two (Parks and Recreation, Community) for 2013-14. Meanwhile, Community was left off the network's fall and midseason schedule (again). Two is also the magic number for the total number of returning freshman comedies (Fox's The Mindy Project, ABC's The Neighbors).