A video reel of the fall 2008 primetime TV schedule.
Jimmy Kimmel knows how to deliver an industry joke with some sting, as he proved to advertisers getting a first look at ABC’s fall schedule last week.
‘‘Here at ABC we are very excited about both of our new shows,’’ Kimmel said to knowing laughs.
Both. One is a game show produced by Ashton Kutcher, the other an adaptation of a series done by the BBC. It’s hardly a burst of creativity from a network that proudly introduced eight new series last fall.
The fall schedules rolled out last week with limited fanfare provided evidence of how deeply network television was hurt by this winter’s writers strike. The pain from those wounds will linger into next season precisely when the networks — already hemorrhaging viewers — can least afford it.
Here are links to the networks' new fall grids (or click here for this overview of all of them):
The new fall ABC schedule (PDF document)
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW have collectively promised 16 new shows in the fall. Last fall, those five networks debuted 27. Take CBS and the CW — with the same, very traditional corporate owners — out of the mix, and the decline is 18 to 8.
The ‘‘new’’ fare includes remakes of ‘‘Beverly Hills 90210’’ (on the CW) and ‘‘Knight Rider’’ (on NBC). There are a handful of ideas taken from formats that have already succeeded elsewhere in the world (including CBS’ ‘‘The Ex List,’’ from Israel and NBC’s ‘‘Kath & Kim,’’ from Australia). There are big-name producers you’ve heard from before (Jerry Bruckheimer, David E. Kelley, J.J. Abrams).
Fantasy continues to be hot, too, and several series require a willing suspension of disbelief. ABC expects you to follow a detective transported back to the 1970s by a car crash; CBS a woman who has turned her life upside down based on a psychic’s prediction.
Television executives have always been shy about seeking bold new ideas, and this year ‘‘people are hedging their bets a little more,’’ Bianculli said.
CBS is particularly conservative, especially since the network took some real chances last year with a musical and gothic thriller that failed to last.