Upfronts came and went — and this summer, while you’re swimming and half-watching television’s off-season, programming executives are growing nervous.
That’s because in a matter of weeks, the multimillion-dollar wagers they’ve made on pilots will materialise into real, live, do-or-die series.
What these network suits fear is that one of their new, expensive babies will crash and burn, taking a huge chunk of the budget with them.
We know they remember these painful lessons turned television lore — we just hope they learned from them.
In Hollywood, just about everything is pitched as something-meets-something-else. But you know what shouldn't meet? Detective work and musical numbers. Audiences were completely bewildered by the 1990 ABC series.
A guy who can change form into something else, sure. A guy who can change into literally any animal found in nature -- and who fights crime? Audiences weren't buying the NBC series in 1983.
In 2009, NBC sunk tons of cash into this bold, high-concept, beautifully-shot series -- then, they completely lost their nerve. The network hopscotched it through all the worst timeslots on the grid. Eventually, even the most devoted fans didn't know where to find it.
NBC hoped the CGI animation that was so lucrative on the big screen could be a small-screen phenomenon, too. Their hopes were promptly dashed with this 2004 animated show.
This 2007 CBS show, based on the BBC dramedy 'Blackpool,' was a mystery musical. That only works at Renaissance fairs and, you know, in England.
In 2006, NBC greenlit two behind-the-TV-scenes shows: 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip' (from Aaron Sorkin) and '30 Rock' (from Tina Fey). By now, you know which one survived -- Sorkin's snappy prose couldn't match Fey's absurd hilarity.
We could go on and on about the ill will it sparked and the watered-down format, but the bottom line is this: Don't mess with people's routines. NBC's 2009 experiment tinkered with two hugely traditional programming staples: 10 p.m. dramas and the late-night block. People cling to the former and don't need any more of the latter -- and they more or less revolted.
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