Upfronts 2017: Complete Coverage
Another Upfront Week has come and gone. The networks are bringing back numerous shows from TV’s past, including Will & Grace, Roseanne and American Idol, and even trotting out a few new ones. Military shows, including The CW’s Valor, NBC’s The Brave and CBS’ Seal Team, had a big presence among the new offerings.
Hopefully they do better than last year’s Upfront Week trend, time travel shows.
Here are 10 things that truly stood out, at least for us, during this year’s Upfront Week.
1. Seth Does Standup
ABC funnyman Jimmy Kimmel was back home in Los Angeles to be with his newborn son, which meant his annual skewering of all things upfront did not happen. Fortunately, Seth Meyers, host of Late Night on NBC, picked up some of the slack during NBC's presentation.
NBC has a huge hit in This Is Us, he noted, a most uncommon position for the network to be in. “This Is Us is the first NBC show in 13 years to be the top-rated program of the week,” he said. “So maybe a better name for it would be This Is Unlike Us.”
Meyers also commented on the post-truth era we’re living in, and remarked how the upfronts “have been post-truth since the beginning.”
2. ‘Us’ and Them
The NBC upfront also had a lengthy, but impactful, close-up for This Is Us, with a video showing fans of the series talking about why it’s meaningful for them, and then a surprise-meeting stars of the program.
When the This Is Us cast took the stage, Milo Ventimiglia said of season two, “You might even find out how Jack died next year.”
Watch Trailers for NBC's New 2017-2018 Shows
3. Other Seth Sings
It’s a big season for Seth MacFarlane, with his new comedy/drama The Orville airing on Fox, and the 300th episode of Family Guy coming up in January. The multi-talented producer stepped onto the Beacon stage at the Fox upfront and, backed by an orchestra, sang a bit about how the upfronts work.
Now the networks try to woo you
“All our shows are hits,” they said.
But they said the same thing last year
And those shows all shit the bed.
Watch Trailers for Fox's New 2017-2018 Shows
4. Marchese’s Silent Treatment
Another theme of Upfront Week was putting down the digital competition for what may be an insufficient user experience on their platforms. Joe Marchese, Fox ad revenue chief, had that in mind as he said, “We as an industry have done studies to demonstrate that having the sound on is a more effective way to deliver your commercials. Seriously. Let me repeat that.”
Marchese then continued his address with zero sound, before concluding, out loud, “That is the secret to the future of advertising. And tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers.”
5. What’s Spanish for ‘Shift’?
Attendees at Univision’s presentation at the Lyric Theatre may have tired of hearing about Univision viewers’ five passion points by, say, the third one (it was “family,” if you’re scoring at home). But Steve Mandala, executive VP of sales, livened up the crowd when he mentioned talk of a “shift” in Spanish-language viewing. (Telemundo had “Shift Happens” as its upfront theme.) “We’ve heard a lot lately about some kind of shift happening,” he said. ”I ever so politely tell you that that is a crock of shift.”
6. Kimmel Sends His Regards
While Kimmel could not be at the ABC upfront, he did send a letter for Ben Sherwood, president, Disney|ABC Television Group, to share with the crowd at David Geffen Hall. The reason why Kimmel could not attend was not the birth of his son, he said. The real reason? A boycott regarding the cancellation of Dr. Ken.
Watch Trailers for ABC’s New 2017-2018 Shows
7. Must See Moonves
It wouldn’t be Upfront Week without Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. chairman and CEO, taking a shot or two at the competition. It was at the network’s schedule-sharing breakfast event that Moonves summed up CBS’ new schedule, and had a swipe at NBC’s too.
“We are, forgive me, Warren Littlefield, Must See TV,” he said.
8. Tripping Up Trump
Several hours later, Stephen Colbert, basically a non-factor at CBS' 2016 upfront show, stepped onstage at Carnegie Hall during the CBS upfront for a little song and dance, and a few shots at President Trump. Colbert said he and Trump have more in common than one might think.
“We’re both TV hosts,” said Colbert, “who spend most of our time talking about Donald Trump.”
Watch Trailers for ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Young Sheldon’ and More
9. Muse It or Lose It
Kudos to The CW for hiring real rock bands to open up its upfront presentation. Last year was Fitz and the Tantrums, and Thursday saw the Grammy winning Brit rockers Muse perform. Granted, it was just one song, but the network explained that the track, “Dig Down”, is central to a new CW “image campaign.”
No band truly gets pumped for a corporate gig at 11 a.m., but Muse was game. For our money, it beat ABC’s Backstreet Boys by a mile.
10. Rachel Rocks
Sticking with the CW musical theme, the network’s presentation saw Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stars Rachel Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin and Vincent Rodriguez step out for one of Bloom’s nutty musical numbers. The song was “We’ll Never Have Problems Again.”
“We’re problem free, that’s you and me,” sang the trio.
And with the final Upfront Week presentation wrapping things up not even an hour after it started, attendees may have felt that way too as they walked out of the theater.
Watch Trailers for The CW’s ‘Dynasty,’ ‘Black Lightning’ and More
Upfronts 2017: Complete Coverage