Fall TV Preview 2020: “Such as it is”

Well, if this were a normal year, we’d be talking about fall TV shows. And, I’d be snarking about how there is nothing new under the sun, or how many shows had cops, or whatever. But, of course, it’s 2020. And this year has been anything but normal.

Usually, fall television production is done in the summer. This year, it seems that while many existing shows have found ways to start producing new episodes, the broadcast networks have chosen not to premiere a lot of new stuff.

Kinda funny because…

it seems like the streaming channels and even the premium TV channels are finding ways to get new content out there even if it’s not at the same rate. This year we are seeing only seven new shows premiere on broadcast. Take a look at what I’m talking about here.

NBC

NBC continues its slate of crime and reality shows this year. There’s but a single situation comedy (Superstore) on the fall schedule. The only premiere is Law & Order: Organized Crime which continues that franchise with a series centered around Elliott Stabler. This means that producer Dick Wolf has five hours of television on NBC per week, which may be an all time record.

FOX

Fox continues to focus heavily on sports, reality, and animation. The network plans to premiere two programs this fall:

Filthy Rich

This drama, led by Sex and the City alum Kim Catrall, seems to be very much in the mold of HBO’s Succession.

Next

Starring John Slattery of Mad Men, this is some sort of procedural crime drama that pits government agencies against artificial intelligences. From what I can see it’s equal parts Mission Impossible and X-Men.

CBS

Inexplicably, Dick Wolf has a hold here, too, with his FBI franchise, but there are also three hours of NCIS to contend with. CBS debuts two new-ish shows this season, as well as putting season one of streamer Star Trek: Discovery on prime time.

B Positive

This is being called a comedy. Starring lesser-known actors, it’s the story of what happens when an organ donor strikes up a friendship with a person who needs an organ.

The Equalizer

There’s little information to be found, but this appears to be a reboot of the 1980s series of the same name.

ABC

ABC joins in with a scant two new programs, Big Sky which is “another” police drama, and a reboot of the old game show Supermarket Sweep. There’s also the vastly revamped Dancing with the Stars, which ditches the longtime hosts in favor of Tyra Banks and perhaps a more modern look and feel.

So yeah. Seven shows.

That’s right, if you were counting, a mere seven shows will premiere this fall, about one fifth of the number that normally crowd the docket. Some of the shows we expected have been pushed later in the year, where they will hopefully be able to get a more conventional production schedule.

I guess to be really honest it’s pretty impressive that even this many new programs have made it through development. I think I understand part of the problem. The process of getting a show through its early growing pains is unique. It’s different from the process of running an existing show. This is especially true with broadcast which has such wide reach and therefore tends to have higher budgets. It probably takes a lot more meetings. There’s a lot more in-person work to approve things like production design and to build sets. So I will give credit where it’s due, I just hope things get back to normal, television-wise, pretty soon.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.