News Column

Fall TV news, and 'Arrested Development' returns: TV Talk this week

May 17, 2013

YellowBrix

May 17--The good news is, there's no more suspense about some of the TV series that were on shaky ground coming into the month of May. The bad news is, if you were holding out hope that, say, "Vegas" would survive, or that "Go On" would in fact go on, your dreams have been dashed as bitterly as those of a "Bachelor" contestant sent tearfully off in the limousine of shame.

The broadcast networks announced their new fall 2013-14 schedules over the past week, and while there were a few surprises, the overriding message is that ABC, NBC and Fox have nowhere to go but up. In contrast, CBS, the ratings leader, made relatively few changes to its successful lineup. And the youth-oriented network, The CW, renewed all of its drama series. Both networks are adding new shows, but at a rate that pales in comparison to the house-cleaning that's gone on at NBC and ABC, where shows were axed right and left.

I'll be writing much more about the new shows on the TV schedule (including Michael J. Fox returning to TV, a new version of "Ironside," and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") as we get closer to their debut dates, but for now, a few thoughts about some of the announced changes:

Close to home: If you were just starting to like watching "Grimm" at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, tough luck. The filmed-in-Portland series is scheduled to return to its familiar 9 p.m. Friday slot in the fall, which is probably for the best.

On one hand, "Grimm" ratings on Tuesday have been good, as the show likely benefits from following NBC's hit singing show, "The Voice." But "The Voice" has seen its ratings on Tuesday dip as the weeks have gone on, which impacts "Grimm." Plus, CBS is moving its very popular "Person of Interest" to 10 p.m. Tuesdays, which would be stiff competition. Back on Fridays, "Grimm" will be going up against "Hawaii Five-0," which CBS is shifting from Mondays at 10. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

In other Oregon-related news, Ron Funches, one of the most talented performers to emerge from the Portland comedy scene, is among the cast of a new comedy NBC added to its lineup. "Undateable" is about what happens when Danny (Chris D'Elia, of the canceled "Whitney"), who's pretty confident about his skills with the ladies, gets a dweeby roommate, Justin. The dweeby roommate has a group of "romantically challenged friends," as the NBC description has it. Funches, who moved to Los Angeles about a year ago to expand his career options, plays one of the so-called "Undateables."

Executive producer Bill Lawrence boasts credits including "Scrubs" and "Cougar Town," which is a good sign. "Undateable" isn't on the fall schedule, but it's likely to appear later in the season, if not sooner.

In Memoriam: Most of the cancellations went as expected. But it's a still a shame some promising shows didn't manage to get another shot.

In addition to its earlier casualties (including "Animal Practice"), NBC canceled "Smash," "Guys With Kids," "Go On," "The New Normal," "1600 Penn," "Up All Night," "Deception," and "Whitney."

ABC axed "Red Widow," "Body of Proof," "Happy Endings" (which may yet have life if a cable network picks it up), and "Malibu Country." You'll note that list doesn't include "The Neighbors," the aliens-in-suburbia comedy I predicted would be among the first of the new shows to be canceled when it debuted last fall. Instead, it's been picked up for a second season. Oops.

In addition to its earlier canceled shows (such as "Made in Jersey" and "Partners"), CBS canceled "Vegas," which was a tough one. I still thought that show, with its fresh premise and strong cast, could have been fine-tuned to have more impact. Also gone from CBS: "CSI: NY," "Golden Boy," and the previously unkillable sitcom, "Rules of Engagement."

Fox had already canned "The Mob Doctor" and "Ben and Kate," so the only news in its final schedule was that "Touch" was officially gone, along with the animated "The Cleveland Show." But "Touch" star Kiefer Sutherland isn't gone. In a surprise move, Fox announced Sutherland will reprise his role as counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer in a 12-week, limited series run of "24," sometime next year.

The CW had earlier canceled "Emily Owens, M.D.," "Cult," and "90210," and renewed some series that had been considered iffy to return, including "Nikita," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Carrie Diaries."

Schedule changes: With so many people watching shows on DVR, online or streaming, the time slot isn't as important as it once was. But some notable shifts in the new fall lineup include ABC cutting the ratings-slipping "Dancing With the Stars" to one night only, on Monday; CBS pushing "Mike & Molly" back to a midseason debut; NBC moving "Revolution" to Wednesdays at 8 p.m., "Chicago Fire" to Tuesdays at 10 p.m., and "Parenthood" to 10 p.m. Thursdays.

"Arrested Development" returns: The very definition of a cult favorite, "Arrested Development" seemed forever on the verge of cancellation during its run on the Fox network from 2003 to 2006. It was a stubborn underdog, a one-of-a-kind comedy about a ridiculously self-absorbed, infantile, neurotic and bizarre family, the Bluths. Creator Mitchell Hurwitz and the writers never asked viewers to like most of the Bluths -- voice of reason Michael (played by the impossible-to-resist Jason Bateman) was always trying to bail his relatives out of misguided schemes, dreams and insane ambitions.

But the show rewarded loyal viewing, with ongoing jokes and character quirks that got more richly absurd as time went on. The cast was more than up to the task of keeping us interested in these not exactly lovable misfits. Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, David Cross, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat were a splendid ensemble.

After years of wistful hopes for an "Arrested Development" movie, at last Bluth loyalists are getting more of what they crave. On May 26, Netflix will make 15 new episodes of the show available. As with the service's political drama "House of Cards" and the horror series "Hemlock Grove," Netflix subscribers will be able to view all of the "Arrested Development" episodes on their own schedule.

So start planning your Bluth viewing budget now. Although if the past is anything to go by, I suspect true-blue Bluthians will power-watch all 15 episodes back-to-back. For more information, go to netflix.com.

-- Kristi Turnquist

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(c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

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