The headline said this: "Fox renews Lucifer and Rosewood." And I said, "Really? Why?"
It's that most peculiar time of the year – pilots and renewals time. It's a mess; it's mad, bewildering – and awe-inspiring. But not always in a good way. I am reminded of the guy who goes to the opening game of the Toronto Maple Leafs' season, sees them lose and holds a sign declaring "There's always next year." Optimism, cynicism, realism and desperate hope, all mixed up. That's the network TV racket.
With so much content on so many platforms, the network game is only for the true optimist. Every honcho in the TV racket is hoping for the next Empire to land or to find the next procedural that will run as long and as lucratively as NCIS. Especially a show like NCIS, actually. Since critics never pay attention, there's no distracting buzz on Twitter and millions of people enjoy it. A lesson to us all, right there.
Sometimes, mind you, it's simply a matter of filling holes in the schedule. Lucifer is hellishly bad, a spin on the police procedural with the Devil himself, having fled Hell and hanging 'round on Earth, as the sidekick to a detective. Swear to God, that's what it is. As for Rosewood, here's part of my review from months ago: "About three-quarters of the way through the first episode, the criminal is cornered. He glares and barks, 'You got nuthin' on me, lady cop. Ain't never gonna pin those murders on me!' That's dialogue so old and tired it should have died a natural death several decades ago. And the fact it's still alive should be of interest to science." But, still, some honcho has to put something – anything – in that slot in the schedule.
Looking at what is being cooked up for next season on the mainstream networks is a job I'm paid to do. So you don't have to. Because you might, at times, lose the will to live. And yet there are always intriguing ideas that might, just might, tickle your fancy come fall-season time.
The show Designated Survivor isn't just a pilot being cooked up – it's going straight to series on ABC. Here's the gist – "A lower-level U.S. cabinet member (Kiefer Sutherland) is suddenly appointed president after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union kills everyone above him in the presidential line of succession." Advance publicity also says it's "a family drama wrapped around a conspiracy thriller about an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation." Indeed. When somebody pitched it, the upshot was probably this: "It's The West Wing crossed with 24 and starring Kiefer Sutherland." Winner.
And then, by Jove, there is this, a still-untitled pilot synopsized as "A roguish lesbian and her best friend, a neurotic straight male, navigate their dysfunctional, co-dependent friendship and the world of dating." Hey, it could be the next New Girl.
It being an election year, presidental figures and their offspring are hot. The pilot Conviction is about one Carter Morrison (played by Agent Carter's Hayley Atwell) who is "the brilliant but ne'er-do-well daughter of a former president, blackmailed into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles's newly created Conviction Integrity Unit. She, along with her team of lawyers, investigators and forensic experts, work together to examine cases where there's credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime." A procedural, then, but if Hayley Atwell is in it, I will proceed to watch. It's how TV works. Network honchos know that much.
Last but not least, because this list go on and on until we all whimper quietly in a corner, there's a show that sounds like such an utter mess of melodrama that it might be brilliant. Broken, which was originally titled the Meaghan Oppenheimer Project, has everything – "A ruthless Dallas divorce attorney's life begins to unravel when her emotionally damaged, love-addicted sister resurfaces triggering self-destructive tendencies and exposing long-hidden family secrets." Oh man, that's a stew of perturbations so big, it's already boiling over. And yet, attached to this project are Anna Paquin, Penelope Ann Miller, Blair Underwood and T.R. Knight. And an executive producer is Reese Witherspoon. Me, I'm exhausted from just reading the brief description.
We all seek deliverance from despair. It may be coming. It may not. But Lucifer's coming back. He has visited network TV and likes what he sees. Think about that.