Saturday, May 19, 2012

THE TELEVISION EVOLUTION 2012


Earlier this week, at the Upfronts ABC, The CW and other networks introduced their new shows for the 2012-13 television season, with very offbeat and interesting concepts, but a part of me feels that some of them might sound better as concepts, than they might turn out, when executed…

The thing about the shows being announced for the next season (2012-13) is that most of them that are generating buzz, already seeming like successes, are the ones that have completely different premises, or revolve around genres that are tried and tested. There’s CHICAGO FIRE (NBC), which is basically a drama involving a fire-fighting squad in Chicago, and all that goes down with the group of people, personally and professionally. Drama in profession has always worked, medical drama and crime undoubtedly being the most popular. That is why a CHICAGO FIRE sounds interesting, because it’s a genre that has worked and will always work, maybe with certain twists with certain shows.

The CHICAGO FIRE trailer:

That is, in fact, something that we’ve already seen, with crime shows that came after the CSIs and LAW & ORDERs of our time. There are crime shows involving psychics, forensic anthropologists, genius psychologists, etc. And now those twists are getting more twisted; not so much with crime shows and such, but even with more general genres (ironic that one should call it that!).

I think I can confidently say that today, a BROTHERS & SISTERS wouldn’t get picked up by a network, because the show had a very weak premise—a family drama with certain dysfunctions in the relationships. Today, the premise needs to be stronger than that for primetime TV, even though BROTHERS & SISTERS was picked up by ABC only about six years ago. Today, a simple high school drama won’t garner any interest, from networks at least. Even what will turn out to be a simple high school drama has to be packaged, and tweaked, for it to become a prequel to a hit TV show like SEX & THE CITY. In no way are the creators of THE CARRIE DIARIES (picked up by The CW) catering to the same audience (except for those youngsters, who’ll watch SATC on DVD today, ’cause they were too young to watch it when it was on the air). SATC is a brand that’ll sell and teenagers always want a high school drama to watch on TV. 

Even ABC's NASHVILLE, which is a simple drama, involving a family, has a stronger base—it's set against the backdrop of the country music industry. Packaging and creative treatment is definitely important to garner attention and a fan following these days. 

The NASHVILLE trailer:

Taking that to another level, there's THE NEIGHBORS, which is being called 'MODERN FAMILY, except with aliens'. It's another family-based comedy, set in a cul de sac, which isn't something new. But the bizarre premise of a family moving into a neighborhood of aliens is taking it a step beyond, arousing a certain amount of curiosity for its novelty factor. Also, the writers will have the opportunity to think completely out of the box while presenting the series. 


THE NEIGHBORS trailer:

And then there's bizarre of the drama kind. Trailers of LAST RESORT will show you how far-fetched concepts are getting. The show is about a group of submariners who are seeking refuge from the US because they refused to fulfill the command they got to blow up Pakistan. The refugees find a home on an island of ambiguous nationality among natives and prepare to fight against a larger conspiracy that the US government is building. Now while this might make an interesting movie, I almost dread the lengths that the writers might go to, in order to keep a series—about refugees fighting their country—alive. It could be a hit or it could just go terribly wrong. 
The LAST RESORT trailer:

And let’s talk about the most offbeat topics that form the backdrop of a few of the shows that will hit the TV screens this fall. Supernatural stuff works, and it has worked more so over the last few years. There have been shows like THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, SUPERNATURAL, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, etc, but the scope for varied topics within the genre is far from exhausted. There's 666 PARK AVENUE that is generating so much buzz. Besides the fact that it stars established actors like Terry O'Quinn, Vanessa Williams, Dave Annable and Rachael Taylor, it's the supernatural/horror factor that's working for it. That is the plus point, despite the fact that it follows the age-old formula of people moving into a haunted house (building in this case). The treatment may be different and the dimensions and subplots complex, but that is the basis. 
The 666 PARK AVENUE trailer:

And speaking about emerging popular genres, fantasy on television is still an up and coming genre and hence, a shows like ONCE UPON A TIME and GRIMM do well. In general, the fascination for fairytales has grown lately, with new film interpretations of Red Riding Hood, Snow White. And with the above mentioned shows being made, the genre is at its peak. That's why, The CW is confident about its modern interpretation of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which also starts this fall.
The BEAUTY AND THE BEAST trailer:

Beyond that, pop culture in general is a blanket deal. With the immense success of The Avengers, and the buzz being generated over the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, television is also catching up with the superhero genre. The CW has ARROW starting this fall and ABC is reportedly developing a series on The Hulk for the season 2013-14. 

The ARROW trailer:

So while the competitive ordering of new shows reflects the changing preferences of audiences, it's clear that simple and straight-forward family dramas, rom-com style sitcoms, and even profession-based dramas like crime and medical shows don't really interest networks without an unconventional twist or spin of sorts. But while I can understand certain niche genres garnering popularity, I'm not quite sure about the direction that completely offbeat and far-fetched concepts will take television. What will become of a show like LAST RESORT? How long the fairytale and superhero genres continue to be popular on TV? And what kind of spin will simple concepts like that of a haunted house get in order for them to be long-running series? These questions will only be answered with time as we discover television with a twist, this fall onwards. 


What do you think of the new concepts that'll hit TV screens this fall? Do you love or hate the emergence of the new popular genres? Share your views below…

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