It's Upfront Week, when the broadcast networks announce their fall schedules, which means I'll be busier than usual. But I hope to have time each day to comment at least briefly on each new schedule (and, if not, I'll provide links the following morning to my longer columns about them). Keep in mind that I will only be going to one or two of the upfronts in person, since they're long and boring and designed entirely to cater to advertisers, and since watching the five-minute cut-downs of each new show always ruins the experience of seeing the new pilots. (Those should start trickling in early next week.) So except for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," which I read the pilot script of months ago, any comments about new shows will be based entirely on the premise and the talent involved.
For once, I actually watched "Grey's Anatomy" on a Sunday night, but I'll still be watching it on a Monday thanks to this bizarre two-night, three-hour "finale" plan. But depending on how things go tonight (not to mention where ABC moves it when they announce their schedule tomorrow), I'm not sure I'll be back in the fall.
I'm not sure I have ever laughed at hard as an intentionally dramatic moment on a TV show as I did during Izzie's crying jag to convince Denny to let her mess up his heart. That entire subplot underlined everything I've grown to hate about this show and most of its characters. It's annoying enough when, say, Meredith and Cristina are gossiping about their boyfriends in the middle of a bomb scare, but for Izzy to risk two lives (Denny's and the legitimate recipient) because she's getting frustrated at how long it's taking for Denny to get a heart? George should have brained her with a bedpan as soon as he realized what she was up to. Add to that George scolding Callie for daring to speak the truth to poor, fragile Meredith, plus the shooting of Burke, one of the few characters I still like unreservedly, and my patience is really being tried here.
I was still firmly in the show's corner as recently as the Super Bowl episodes, and Shonda has the talent to pull out of this tailspin, but first she needs to take a step back and stop looking at all her stories and characters with unwavering devotion.
Meanwhile, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Saturday Night Live" was probably the best episode since the Jack Black show that introduced "Lazy Sunday" and "Christmastime for the Jews." The Al Gore-as-president sketch was the first good political sketch the show's done in years. (You can watch it here until NBC's lawyers get their usual cease-and-desist letter over to YouTube.) The monologue/film clip about "The 'Seinfeld' Curse" was also good, though Julia spoiled a lot of it in promotional appearances a day or two before. (By the way, the "Curse" is one of the dumbest media creations of all time; it's not like Jerry and company sold Babe Ruth for cash or turned away a man and his goat.) And the MySpace sketch (in which the mother of a teenager and a group of pedophiles all take lessons on how to set up a MySpace account) was a rare example of a sketch without an obvious current events or celebrity hook, that had one basic joke but many funny variations within that, and that was just well thought-out from start to finish.
NBC call is in an hour. Back later.