The five networks have announced their schedules for the 2022-2023 season and the lineups – as always – are a mix of programs that are familiar with new offerings looking to lure viewers. The best way to describe the approach being used by the networks in the upcoming season is that they are not taking any chances with the 20 new series.
Despite having to deal with the continuing options of cable channels and premium services, the networks also must face the growing TV giant of streaming services. The fact Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+ and others can lure the biggest names in talent to feature film-quality TV productions is the biggest threat to networks.
Instead of the networks responding with their own TV versions of weapons of mass appreciation, the executives have circled the wagons by hanging on to the majority of their programs for last year. That is a short term fix but the future for the upcoming network season is full of big questions.
Here’s a look at some of the trends for the 2022-2023 season.
Families fade: The end of “This Is Us” on NBC and “black-ish” on ABC translates into major losses because both shows featured first-cast casts and great writing. A great indicator for how strong a new TV season is going to be is when there are new programs that look like award winners from the start. When “This Is Us” launched in 2016 and “black-ish” in 2014, there was no doubt that they would be major success stories for the networks.
There doesn’t look to be such a family-oriented series of this quality among the new shows for this fall.
CW not so super: The CW Network had created a very distinct image for itself with the embrace of TV shows based on comic book characters. That image is changing.
The end of “Supergirl” and the cancellations of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “Batwoman” and “Naomi” reduces the number of shows in the superhero genre. And, returning shows “Flash” and “Superman & Lois” will not be on the air until mid-season. The only new offering in the genre is “Gotham Knights.”
This is odd considering the superhero genre is so hot.
Go with what you know: The lineups continue to reflect the practice of loading nights with programs from the same franchise. CBS continues to have three shows in the “NCIS” world and will continue to devote Tuesdays to the “FBI” trilogy of programs.
NBC will keep its Wednesday night lineup of “Chicago” based programs – with “PD,” “Med” and “Fire.” It also will keep its Thursday lineup of a trio of “Law & Order” offerings in place. And, ABC continues to devote Thursdays to the “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” pairing.
This works as long as the parts remain equally strong and viewers don’t finally tire of the franchise.
Go with what you know Part 2: One of the programs being added to the CW Network lineup this fall is “The Winchesters,” is a prequel to “Supernatural” while “Walker Independence” is an origin story set in the 1800s for the “Walker” series.
This is a way to launch a show that has some recognition but comes with some serious concerns. There will be no tension for “The Winchesters” because no matter how powerful a demon they face, there is no doubt they will survive because the brothers have to be around for “Supernatural.”
The “Walker” prequel comes across as being slightly out of time because events in “Walker Independence” will unfold so many years before the current “Walker,” the links will be thin at best.
Then this is ABC’s “The Rookie: Feds” that is a spinoff of “The Rookie” while NBC is going to make a leap in time to bring back “Quantum Leap.” Both show a lack of creativity on the part of the network executives.
Even the new FOX drama “Monarch” is just a revamping of the “Empire” blueprint with country music as the backdrop.
Who is laughing now? Comedies continue to fall behind dramas and reality shows when it comes to network programming. Only six new comedies will be on the 2022-2024 schedule to replace the six comedies that got canceled.
CBS ended “B Positive,” “United States of Al” and “How We Roll” and while NBC canceled “Kenan” and “Mr. Mayor.” ABC’s big comedy loss was “black-ish” while FOX dropped “Pivoting.”
The CW has only marginally embraced comedy with reality shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Would I Lie To You?” And the only comedies that work on FOX are of the animated variety.
Saturday wasteland: The CW is the only network trying to bring some original life to Saturdays as the rest have resorted to sports and repeats. Networks no longer get the same big ratings for their shows that they once garnered. That means the pressure would not be as great for a new scripted series on that night as there has been in the past.
The lack of interest in Saturdays and new family comedies coupled with so many nights of block franchises makes the 2022-2023 season one of the least exciting prospects in decades.