TV's New Upfront Shows: Copycats, Gossiping Women And Geeks

All the joking, backslapping and boozing is over at the upfronts. Now comes the real work for media buying executives -- picking the contenders, the pretenders and the bitter-enders.

Reviews were mixed along most networks' new slates; no one show getting the big buzz. The most positive assessment -- all the presentations came in at just about an hour in length.

Fox went to funny lengths -- putting a "24" spin on its version. It had Jack Bauer in a taped piece tell Peter Liguori, president of entertainment of Fox, that he only had an hour to tell his upfront story - all replete with "24"-style countdown graphics. Liguori came in at 57 minutes.

Surprisingly, the CW might have earned best overall marks of any network from media buyers, mostly thanks to its quirky shows: "Aliens In America," "Reaper" and reality show "Crowned: The Mother of all Pageants."



Overall, copycat programming abounds -- like in most upfronts. Here are some trends: Nerd TV times three: NBC's "The IT Crowd" and CBS' "The Big Bang Theory," are about geeky guys who try to live in the real world, mostly with real beautiful women as their foils. (All this adds to CW's returning reality show "Beauty and the Geek.") Special mention is NBC's "Chuck," about a computer nerd whose brain is accidentally embedded with government secrets.

More "Sex and the City" and now for men: NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" and ABC's "Cashmere Mafia," both feature upscale Upper East Side women juggling life and relationships. "Mafia" is more about society women, many of whom haven't worked a day in their lives. A slight spin on this theme is ABC's "Big Shots," about four affluent New York City businessmen city juggling life, work and relationships.

You might think on first blush, that the networks are avoiding procedural crime dramas, but you'd be wrong. Instead, they are just disguised them through some high-concept themes.

CBS' "Moonlight" concerns a private investigator who uses his vampire senses to solve cases. Fox's "New Amsterdam" is about a 17th-century Dutch soldier in the New World who becomes immortal because he saved a life of an Indian girl. In the show, we find him solving cases as a modern day NYPD homicide detective.

All the presentations had good game-day strategy, little singing, some dancing, and no technical fouls. So, go forth and get down with the upfront.

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