Series about gay couples, the mafia, and quirky families, plus comedies galore
The four major networks—ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox—announced their schedules for the 2012-13 TV season this week, sealing the fates of dearly departed favorites (so long, CSI: Miami), quickly putting struggling freshman series out of their misery (adios, GCB), and saving a handful of beloved shows that were barely skating by (welcome back, Community!). The big news, however, was the unveiling of each network's slate of new shows.
From gay couples to Kevin Bacon, alien neighbors to mob doctors, and everything in between, here's what to expect from the new crop of TV series when you tune in next season:
When Glee, Modern Family, and Community launched in 2009, critics cheered that the notion dominating the later half of the '00s—network comedies are dead—was wrong. The trend continued and then, last year, comedies erupted on TV: New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Up All Night, Last Man Standing, and close to 10 other new shows debuted, to various success. Next season, sitcoms will be inescapable.
There will be 15 new comedies premiering next season, adding to the two dozen that will be returning. The Matthew Perry-led group therapy comedy Go On and Ryan Murphy's new series about a gay couple trying to have a baby, The New Normal, among other new sitcoms, will give NBC four nights with comedy blocks for the first time in over a decade. Hit Fix's Alan Sepinwall aptly describes a "six sitcom pile-up" on Tuesday nights, when NBC's aforementioned new shows will face off against ABC's Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 as well as Fox's New Girl and buzzy new entry The Mindy Project, from The Office's Mindy Kaling, a strongly-voiced comedy that gives off a distinct "Are You There Vodka, It's Me Zooey Deschanel" vibe. Friday nights will house comedy hours again, with both ABC and NBC housing sitcoms there next season. The return of TGIF?
2. The search for the next Modern Family...
Two seasons ago "friends hanging out" comedies were en vogue, with Perfect Couples, Friends With Benefits, and Happy Endings all premiering. Last season launched the gender wars, with female-led shows like New Girl and Whitney facing off against dude-centric offerings Last Man Standing and Man Up!. Next is the year of the high-concept family comedy.
Capitalizing on the successes of The Middle, Raising Hope, and especially Modern Family, the networks seem to be gunning for the next family-friendly hit with enough edge to woo adults and enough quirk to please the kids. The Neighbors, which will air in the plum post-Modern Family time slot, reverses the 3rd Rock From the Sun conceit: A human family moves into a new community, only discover their entire neighborhood is populated by aliens. Fox's The Goodwin Games forces three estranged siblings to move back in with each other in order to inherit their father's estate. Ben and Kate (Fox) follows the hijinx when a flaky brother moves back in with his single-mom sister; How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life (ABC) follows the hijinx when a single mom moves back in with her parents; 1600 Penn (NBC) follows the hijinx when a family moves into the White House.
3. ...and the still-elusive next Lost
Since Alias, 24, and Lost successively bowed off the airwaves, networks have struggled to launch another high-octane series that hooks viewers with equal parts adrenaline, action, and mystery. But that hasn't stopped them from trying; see Flash Forward, The Event, Awake. Next season's most obvious play for the Lost throne is ABC's Last Resort, about a mutinous submarine crew forced to start their lives over on a remote island paradise. The network's Zero Hour is a conspiracy-focused thriller starring ER's Anthony Edwards as a paranormal enthusiast who collects Da Vinci Code-like clues to solve the abduction of his wife. NBC's Revolution, from Lost creator J.J. Abrams, depicts a dystopian world in which an epic disaster has caused all energy to cease existing, while The Following casts Kevin Bacon as the next Jack Bauer, a gruff, rulebook-out-the-window FBI agent who must recapture a serial killer who escaped from jail—as well as the cult the killer inspired.