With the 2009-10 TV season now well under way, it’s a good time to take a step back and look at the 30 new (and newish) shows that have premiered this year. While some have been declared successes right out of the gate (ABC’s Modern Family, CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles, FOX’s Glee), others haven’t been quite so lucky (cough, Melrose Place, cough).
Click Image Below to View 25 Winners, Losers, and Draws of the TV Season
This season saw one broadcaster, NBC, close up shop on the 10 p.m. hour, converting that previous home for scripted drama to a cheaper talk-show alternative with The Jay Leno Show. At the same time, cable programming continued to encroach on the competition, delivering huge numbers and proving that there is still an appetite for quality programming. While the 10 p.m. hour has now become crucial for cable channels, ratings are up overall on cable and networks like USA, FX, and TNT already have or are looking to expand their schedule into other nights.
Even with increased competition from cable channels, some broadcast networks have played it safe. NBC’s decision to decrease the number of hours it programs comedy and drama hasn’t won it many favors from TV critics and the Hollywood creative community. (Or viewers, for that matter.) Fox opted to bring back dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance right after the conclusion of its summer cycle, while several scripted shows languished on Fridays (or, in the case of Fringe, get dumped on Thursday, a hugely competitive night) or remain on the network shelf until midseason. CBS stuck with their formula of crime dramas, albeit with some notable exceptions (legal show The Good Wife) and some not-so-notable ones (medical drama Three Rivers).
Still, there have been some risks that have paid off, such as ABC investing in previously creaky genres like family comedies; NBC allowing Parks & Recreation to find its creative footing in its first full season (and become a critical darling); and Fox continuing the Herculean promotional push they made with Glee last spring by rolling out a number of multiplatform extensions and issuing a DVD box set of the first 13 episodes in the middle of the season.
In other words: Fortune favors the bold, even in television.
Jace Lacob is the writer/editor of Televisionary, a Web site devoted to television news, criticism, and interviews. Jace resides in Los Angeles. He is a contributor to several entertainment Web sites and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.