10 Pressing Questions Prior to the Launch of the Fall 2011-12 TV Season

Can Sarah Michelle Gellar do for the CW what she did for the WB?
A long time ago in a television landscape not-so-far-away, the fate of the then fledgling WB network rested on the pint-sized shoulders of a plucky young vampire slayer named BUFFY. So it’s only fitting that as newly-appointed CW President Mark Pedowitz attempts to carve out an identity, not to mention an audience, for the perennial fifth place also-ran he has once again decided to look towards that very same blond beauty. Sarah Michelle Gellar, the actress who inspired an entirely new breed of young female action heroines, is back. Of course, whether an audience that has been weaned on teenagers behaving badly (see: 90210, ONE TREE HILL, GOSSIP GIRL) have the inclination (or brain power) to follow RINGER’s dark, twisty and decidedly grown up plot is an entirely different story.

Did THE X FACTOR miss Its wIndow?
Despite announcing their intention to bring Simon Cowell’s magnum opus to America almost two years ago, a funny thing happened on the way to Fox finally raising the curtain on THE X FACTOR. That funny thing: THE VOICE. Did last season’s unexpected smash steal THE X FACTOR’s thunder? Does anyone care about Simon and Paula reuniting? Between AMERICAN IDOL, AMERICA’s GOT TALENT, THE VOICE and THE SING-OFF is there really room for yet another massively overhyped product-placement-filled music competition? Well, hold onto your hats folks, because we’re about to find out.

Can the Big 5 bring Friday back from the dead?
If you had told us three years ago that Fall of 2011 would feature some of the most original and addictive shows the small screen has to offer, odds are fairly certain that we would have responded with something along the lines of “Watchatalkingaboutwillis?” Yet here we are, on the eve of the start of the 2011-12 television season staring at a schedule in which a lack of timeslots and the proliferation of the PVR/DVR has resulted in a Friday night featuring the likes of high profile newcomers such as A GIFTED MAN and GRIMM joining fan favorites like FRINGE, SUPERNATURAL, NIKITA, and CHUCK. In other words, the Networks have done their part and built it, now all that’s left to see is whether or not audiences will audiences come.

Is J.J. Abrams capable of thinking inside the CBS procedural style box?
If a decade of remarkable television productions has taught us anything about J.J. Abrams, it’s that when it comes to mythologically-rich maddeningly-addictive television, he has no equal. Unfortunately, mythologically-rich maddeningly-addictive television isn’t quite CBS’ cup of tea. Which, is what makes us all the more interested in PERSON OF INTEREST, Abrams latest endeavor that sees him teaming up alongside story-teller extraordinaire Jonah Nolan (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, The Prestige). Will the talented twosome be able to successfully balance the Tiffany Network’s need for a close-ended procedural while managing to inject enough of a mythology into the show for those who have tuned into see the mysterious Michael Emerson do what he does best? Or will we have another UNDERCOVERS on our hands?

Can Ashton Kutcher save TWO AND A HALF MEN?
Does Mr. Demi Moore have what it takes to replace whatever it is that Charlie Sheen brought to the table so that creator Chuck Lorre will be able to fulfill his dream of swimming in an actual pool of money Scrooge McDuck style? Sadly, and please understand how much we loathe ourselves for even having to write this sentence, we will be among the millions of curious viewers tuning into TWO AND A HALF MEN’s season premiere to find out just that.

How long until NBC moves UP ALL NIGHT to Thursday?
After years of trying to find a broad relatable and hilarious hit that — with apologize to the brilliance of PARKS AND RECREATION, COMMUNITY and 30 ROCK — might actually strike a chord with Americans who don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, the Peacock Network has finally done it! That’s the good news. The bad news is that rather than schedule Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph’s UP ALL NIGHT in the plum-post OFFICE timeslot that the half hour laugher so richly deserves, the proverbial powers that be have made the curious decision to put it up against some little music competition called THE X FACTOR. Evidently, when it comes to NBC, the more things change, the more they stay the same (See: Last year’s decision to schedule OUTSOURCED following THE OFFICE versus PARKS AND RECREATION)

Will ABC be able to replace their aging roster of hits?
Remember how NBC spent the better part of FRIENDS’ 10 seasons on the air failing to capitalize on its success? Well, that’s sort of how we feel about ABC over the course of the past few seasons. Particularly this one that sees DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES about to follow in LOST’s footsteps and most of the original cast of GREY’S ANATOMY eyeing the exit. Do any of the Alphabet Network’s approximately 323 new shows have what it takes to step up and fill the void that will invariably be left by those about to say farewell. Having seen LAST MAN STANDING, MAN UP! WORK IT, CHARLIE’S ANGELS and and G.C.B, we’re going to go out on a limb and say no.

Can GLEE get its groove back?
Although you wouldn’t think it based on their sold out concert tour, chart full of bestsellers, not to mention the inordinate amount of headlines generated anytime Ryan Murphy opens his mouth, GLEE’s second season wasn’t exactly music to our ears in terms of enjoyability and coherent storytelling. Can an actual writer’s room and what Murphy promises as a refocus on the show’s core characters get this once entertaining show back on track? Stay tuned.

Can TERRA NOVA possibly live up to the hype?
Now that the question over whether or not the oft-delayed time-travelling dinosaur-infused science fiction family epic will actually air as scheduled is off the table (Note: On September 26th at 8PM set your TiVo to season’s pass! Trust us), the only question really remaining isn’t just whether or not the Steven Spielberg executive produced series can possibly live up to the hype, but if enough viewers will tune in to sustain this multi-million dollar series to infinity and beyond.

Whose bright ideas was it to premiere all of these amazing shows up against one another?
Yes, we realize we ask this every year. That said, we’ve always found it curious as to why Networks that spend hundreds of millions, heck probably billions of dollars annually to develop a handful of television shows from page to screen would choose to premiere them all within the span of the exact same week or two. Seriously. There’s a very good reason movie studios don’t schedule the opening of their two-hundred million dollar Batman adventure up against an equally expensive Spider-man saga. For lack of a better word, it’s just plain stupid. Raising the slightly awkward albeit painfully obvious question: Would it not make far more sense economically to implement some sort of system in which each of the major networks rotate premiere weeks on a yearly basis in an attempt to give each of their shows the best chance to succeed? We’re just sayin’

  • Anonymous

    I’m stoked for X Factor…..but my DVR is only so big, and the time I have to watch television isn’t infinite. 
    And something else to pay attention to….will anyone be watching DH now that CBS is going all The Good Wife on its ass?

  • Nick

    Really?  What can yet another talent show offer that the half-dozen already on the air don’t?  That said, we’re about to see just how popular Cowell really is.

    Point #10 is spot-on.  Why can’t the TV networks get in-sync like the movie studios are?  They’re cannibalizing themselves and each other, wasting millions…because people just cannot watch everything all at once.  There’s a good reason why most cable hits air in the off-season of network TV.  

  • Craig

    But ABC has Pan Am, Revenge, Once Upon A Time and The River. You don’t think any of those have potential? 

  • While I think PAN AM will be an out of the box hit, the other three, while all excellent in their own right, have me concerned. I loved REVENGE but don’t love the fact that ABC has failed to launch anything at Wednesday at 10PM in a handful of seasons. ONCE UPON A TIME’s pilot was fantastic, but whether creators Kitsis and Horowitz have what it takes to sustain a series remains to be seen. As for THE RIVER, while excellent, doesn’t exactly scream “mainstream” hit like a DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES did.

  • Craig

    But The River is more akin to LOST which you mentioned in your question.  You also mentioned the Wed 10p timeslot regarding Revenge. Surely The Whole Truth was never gonna be a hit like DH, LOST, or GA no matter where it was scheduled. Lots of people seem to like Revenge. IF it’s gonna work at all, I’d Imagine it has a decent shot vs. two older skewing and older procedurals. I can’t imagine the compeition being the problem for it or the Wed 10 slot. It’s not exactly facing X Factor.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t wait for Fringe and will follow it where ever it goes!