Upfront Update and Finale Watch Time

I just can’t get to local links today, we have too much going on in TV. And I’m too invested in it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from studying my click-throughs, it’s that you guys love yourselves some renew/cancel news. and I am nothing if not an accommodating man. So here’s the latest at each network (bold indicates PopRox-approved shows) before Upfronts next week. I’m not hitting all of the canceled or awaiting renewal shows, just the ones I think are interesting. If you’re looking for an update on Charlie’s Angels, head back to December. 

If you’re tired of this and can’t take it anymore, scroll down and you can check out reviews for the season finales of New Girl, Vampire Diaries and Parks and Recreation. If you can’t take that anymore either, umm, sorry. See ya next week.

i'm actually happy parenthood will be back. and no, it has nothing to do with the possibility of minka kelly returning. really, it doesn't. ok, maybe it does a little.

NBC: The network is just batcrap crazy these days. They’ve obviously bought too many shows to fit in its fall season, so there is going to be some major winter/spring season scheduling. Because, apparently, it went so well for Perfect Couples and Bent the last two years. Let’s not bother with the new stuff, we have all summer to watch trailers and pilots. But we finally got word Thursday that Parenthood and (most likely) Office will be back next year, both for full seasons. 

Renewed: Community, Law and Order: SVU, Parenthood, Grimm, Fashion Star, Smash, Office (just about), 30 Rock

Recent canceled or done: Nothing since the beginning of the year.

Important still waiting shows: Parks and Rec (see below), Up All Night, Harry’s Law, Whitney, Awake

bring it back, just for another halloween episode

ABC: This … this is not good. I’m worried about Happy Endings. I know it doesn’t hold Modern Family’s audience, I know it’s a little talky and a little too Sorkin-esque for a lot of people, but damn if it isn’t one of the funniest shows on TV. Like, cable funny. It’s one of the few network shows that can go toe-to-toe with any comedy on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, FX, wherever, and not have to give an inch. But after ABC’s round of renewals last night, Happy Endings isn’t on the list. That’s not cool.

Renewed: Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, The Middle, Suburgatory, Revenge, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Bachelor, Shark Tank, Dancing with the Stars

Recently canceled or done: Cougar Town, technically, since it’s moving to TBS.

Important still waiting shows: Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B–, Body of Proof, GCB, Last Man Standing, Private Practice, Scandal

not a surprise that alcatraz is gone

FOX: With Touch coming back, it’s pretty well set.

Renewed: Simpsons, Family Guy, Fringe, Glee, New Girl, Raising Hope, Touch, American Dad, Kitchen Nightmares, The Cleveland Show, Bob’s Burgers, X Factor

Recently canceled or done: Alcatraz, The Finder, Breaking In (again), I Hate This Show My Teenage Daughter, House

CBS: Zzzzzzz … zzzzzzzz … wait, what, who’s there? Oh, sorry. Fell asleep just thinking about CBS.

Renewed: Announced a while back that just about everything would come back for next year.

Recent canceled or done: A Gifted Man

Important still waiting shows: CSI NY and Miami, Two and a Half Men, Unforgettable

CW: Yup, it’s still on the air.

Renewed: Vampire Diaries (see below), Supernatural, 90210, America’s Next Top Model

Recently canceled: Nada recently.

Important stil waiting shows: Gossip Girl, Nikita, Secret Circle, Sucker Ringer, Hart of Dixie. And yeah, I know those are all stretching “important” so we’ll say “interesting.”

she's completely up to you. i can't push you one way or the other.

NEW GIRL: This is one of those shows that I really like, but I feel like I should never recommend. It’s a very funny show, has improved about 200 percent since the start of the year — when it was still very good — and makes me laugh at least five times an episode. The Nick riffs at the end of each episode (“Be nicer to Coach or he’ll find other white people to live with”) are hysterical and have become one of TV’s best running gags. These are all good things. Maybe I’m just not ready to go to bat for New Girl if push came to shove, and I know it. When there is a threat that Community might get canceled, I get all talky and vindictive and threatening in a “How dare you NBC!!!” and a “Tanks fer nuttin’, Middle America!!!” kind of way. I think Community is a perfect look into my own sense of humor, so I don’t mind standing up for it. Same for other shows like Happy Endings, South Park or Arrested Development. Those four shows are good indicators of what I define to be “funny.” New Girl is close — it’s just not totally there. CC is pretty painful and it doesn’t seem like she knows what funny would be if it dropped from the sky, fell on her face and started to wiggle. Winston is like Shawn Respert — can’t create his own shot. He’s decent when he’s playing off someone, but if it’s up to him, he’s not creating any laughs. And yeah, I just made a Shawn Respert analogy. Google it, bee-yatches. But Nick is probably my new favorite character of the year and Schmidt has improved so ridiculously much over the past few months I can’t even adequately explain it. So here we are, just me and Zooey Deshasomething. And now I’m realizing — she’s the reason I can’t recommend her own show. I can tell you that a I really like it, but she’s such an acquired taste, an instant like-her-or-lump-her talent that you’re almost scared to talk about her for fear of being lumped in with the rest of the hipsters. Me? I like her. Or I at least like the show, or her in the show. I don’t like her music, I wanted her to die in (500) Days of Summer and she brought absolutely nothing to the table in Yes Man, which I guess was the point. So I certainly wouldn’t call myself a fan of hers, especially when I can only truly recommend her recently in Your Highness. And maybe that’s why I can’t stand up solidly for the show, because I’m not ready to stand in her corner. That doesn’t mean the show — or Deshasomething — can’t be funny. Or very good. It just means I don’t feel comfortable enough to be the one responsible for having you watch the show, only to be barraged with angry emails with disparaging links to Stuff White People Like. Anyway, I really liked the finale, and I really like the show. That’s all I’ll say. FINALE GRADE: B+. SEASON GRADE: B+.

all this and paul rudd? why isn't anyone watching?

PARKS AND RECREATION: NBC has been taking some of the anxiety off its comedy fans, renewing Office, Community and 30 Rock. Strangely, Parks and Rec isn’t on that list, which is weird since it’s been its best comedy this year. It’s not going to get the ratings of The Office, the extreme geek love Community gets or the teacher’s pet treatment 30 Rock receives. But there’s poor Parks and Rec, the most consistently funny of the bunch this season, sitting there twiddling its Thumbs, waiting for the phone to ring like a girl waiting for a prom date. “Hey, Aziz, get off the phone making prank calls, NBC might be calling! I better call them and make sure they didn’t call. Did you call? No? OK, umm, well, we’ll just wait in case you need to call.” It sucks. Maybe they’re negotiating between a full season and a shortened season, who knows. But from a quality standpoint, if any of NBC’s Thursday comedies deserves to be renewed from a quality standpoint, it’s Parks and Rec. Even better than just laughs, you get genuine emotion and character development. Even with my windows and doors closed last night, the pollen count in the Sadowski living room was off the charts when Ben said he never wrote the concession speech. At least it must have been, because my eyes were starting to water for some reason. It’s everything we ask our comedies to be. It deserves another 22-episode season. And incidentally, does anyone play drunk better than Rashida Jones? It’s a pet peeve of mine, when someone can’t play drunk. I’ve never forgiven Nicole Kidman for her ridiculous “drunk” performance in Eyes Wide Shut, which, remarkably, was the worst part of that movie. But Jones continues to move up my Funny Lady List because she can actually pull off drunk, and make it totally believeable. She’s done it like three times on Parks and Rec, and she’s nailed it every time. FINALE GRADE: A. SEASON GRADE: A.

so, a cheerleader, huh? no other way for us to figure out we're in the past?

VAMPIRE DIARIES: (MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS COMING, WATCH OUT!!!) I’d all but given up on V-Di, as the cool kids call it. And for the most part, I still have. The logic of this season has been laughable, even by V-Di standards. And the standards of vampire/werewolf/witch logic overall. You can almost envision the writers sitting around in a room planning this season thinking, “Do you really think all these teenage girls who live for this show will really buy that Rick can have a vengeful alter ego that we can turn into a vampire who hates vampires? Yeah? Then let’s go with it!” And that was just at the top of the list — the top 10 travesties of the logic of the third season of V-Di are just too much to even think about, let alone list. But for a show like this, the sins of a season can almost always be offset by a killer (see what I did there?) finale, one that makes you excited for what could be coming next year. And that’s exactly what V-Di delivered — a great, suspenseful finale. We had some needed cast trimming (Rick, Matt maybe), the preferred amount of Stefan-Damon interaction and the brooding/stand-up comedian/tough nuts version of Damon we’ve come to know and love without making a big deal about it. Better yet, we had something the show hasn’t had in months — logic. There were three or four times in the finale where I said, “Aww, c’mon, not again!” because I saw the show drifting into sloppy, unexplainable territory. And every time, the show offered up a perfectly logical, perfectly suitable explanation. Damon shows up in Elena’s past? Oh, wait, he can compel her, right. Rick gets killed then shows up immediately at the Gilbert house? Oh, right, Jeremy is the Haley Joel Osment of the show. Elena is alive? Oh right, the doctor lady has her full arsenal of vampire blood that shed on her before evil Rick dumped it all out. Does it make sense in the real world? Of course not! But this isn’t the real world. Mystic Falls gets a little latitude. And for at least one episode, they made it all make sense. FINALE GRADE: A-. SEASON GRADE: Was a D, now a C-.

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