Blog: Legassicke at the upfronts

Robin Legassicke, group director, Maxus Canada has high hopes for Fox comedies, but predicts an early NBC cancellation.
Robin

Robin Legassicke is a group director, Maxus Canada, attending the upfronts in New York City this week with the Canadian team. Catch her blog posts all week on MiC as she shares the glitz and glamour of the new fall schedules.

The day started with the NBC presentation at the Radio City Music Hall, an icon to New York City culture and history.  The presentation started out with talk about how the network has fought and is starting to win the numbers game with this year’s Super Bowl getting ratings not seen for the last 10 years.  There was some initial talk of supporting video content across all platforms, which made me a little excited, but quite honestly fell flat though the remainder of the presentation.

Really, that’s what I’m hoping to see and hear from the majority of the broadcasters this go around.  That it’s all about content.  That they’ve finally found a balance between the TV screen and all the other screens.  That measurement and accountability will be across all platforms.  That content reigns supreme.

NBC claims they want to crack that code.  Execs said that one-third of their programming is consumed through time shifting and that there needs to be a change in reporting to be more in line with how impressions are measured and sold.  Something I hope the Canadian broadcasters can pioneer and truly take hold of.

Once NBC started into the bones of the presentation, it was a little bit of sizzle followed by some corporate dryness.  There were performances by Smash stars Katharine McPhee  and Megan Hilty which helped to bring the crowd up on a Monday morning.

Over all their programming schedule looks good.  A new fall edition of The Voice anchors Monday nights, and will be undergoing a format change.  Based on the numbers from this previous season, that’s probably for the best. The changes, which include extended auditions and more live episodes, will hopefully help to maintain viewers throughout the entire season.

The first of the new programs is a post-apocalyptic JJ Abrams action/drama called Revolution airing Monday nights at 10 p.m.  From the short clips, it looks well written and well-acted, but the story line may be a little too complex to hold viewers.

Go On, airing Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. is a new Matthew Perry comedy that looked quite funny and had that emotional connection that is needed to keep a comedy going.  The New Normal, airing Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. is about a gay couple that utilize a bible belt girl who’s turned Californian as their surrogate.  As you can imagine, there is no shortage of potential comedic story lines, but the acting and chemistry felt a bit soft to me.  And with a new program lead in, not sure how this will fair.

Wednesday Night at 8 p.m. is home to the new comedy, Animal Practice, the first of which I predict to get cancelled.  While America’s Funniest Home Videos can carry off the animal theme week after week, I don’t feel this vet comedy will make it far.  Guys with Kids, airing Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. is a  married guys comedy about life with kids from the male side of the equation.  Jimmy Fallon is producing, which gives the show credibility.  NBC has placed new drama Chicago Fire on Wednesday at 10p.m.  Good looking fire men, good writing and executive producer Dick Wolf, how can it fail?  In a time with no Desperate Housewives, and the procedurals on a decline, it’s good timing for a drama like this.

Sophomore comedy Whitney is moved to Friday nights this fall, which I think for a show of its caliber is a bad move.  Maybe when one of the other new comedies fail, Whitney will move in to take its place.

A couple of mid-seasons were shown (Next Caller, Do No Harm, Save Me, 1600 Penn and Infamous) and a few others were announced as ordered (Morning Bird Lane, Hannibal and Crossbones).

The presentation ended with another Katharine McPhee performance, and no further conversation about anything but TV.

Fox was held at the Beacon Theatre, known as the older sister to Radio City Music Hall.  The feeling at the presentation certainly wasn’t older.  The vibe was fresh, young and hip.  After a little pomp and circumstance of introducing all the stars on hand for the event, Ryan Seacrest came out to host the event, making a wise crack about his involvement at Fox (he’s a host for the NBC coverage of the 2012 London Olympics).

There was some talk about numbers, and that Fox is number one against the younger demos, then into fluidity (the term Fox is using to talk multiplatform deals). I was impressed at the amount of time Fox spent saying that they are all about content, and not about where that content is consumed.  They clearly stated that they intend to be ahead of the curve across all platforms.  They want to focus on digital and social.  They are intent on showing the value of how Fox content fuels social conversation.  Maybe a broadcaster will finally ‘crack the code’.

As for new programs, there aren’t many for Fox. The Mob Doctor on Mondays at 9 p.m. is reminiscent of the recent movie Contraband, but with a female lead (Jordana Spiro).  The underlying premise of the show is a good person in a bad situation, trying to make good on a family members debt.

 Ben and Kate, a Tuesday night Comedy airing at 8:30 p.m., got lots of laughs from the crowd.  It’s a heartfelt comedy that is positioned to hold its own with Raising Hope as a lead in.  The Mindy Project, airing Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m, created by and starring The Office‘s Mindy Kaling has legs, and will likely do really well in Canada.  The US however…not so sure.  It has a strong lead in with New Girl, but I’m not sure the bible belt will accept the story lines or diversity in the characters.

The Fox presentation was short and sweet.  A little too short, with very little time to digest the schedule and what they are really offering up this fall. Glee is returning and will follow both the Ohio high school students as well as the NY college kids.

Fox announced its mid-season pickups as the Goodwin Games and The Following.

Day one and the presentations were a bit of a mixed bag.  The programming theme of 2012 seems to be comedies, but we still have a few more presentations to go.  Stay tuned…