Tomorrow Will Be Televised: Premiere Week Observations From the Passing Parade

Steve Sabol A new TV season starts this week, so here's some initial thoughts about it:

****On the broadcast side, look for CBS to break one, maybe two series out of the gate to maintain its top dog status. Those series: Elementary for drama and Partners for comedy. If you’ll remember last year, CBS had three rookie series, three, in the Nielsen top 20. Also, to their credit, the network reversed its atrocious call to cancel Unforgettable, one of those three top 20 newbies. Don't be surprised if that program begins its second season way before next summer.

For Fox, the new series buzz centers around one effort: The Mindy Project. Based on watching the pilot, it has the possibility of being the next great broadcast sitcom. Smart writing and ensemble cast, and when you have the brilliant cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond aboard (a coup until itself), it has a great shot.

At ABC, several newcomers--666 Park Avenue, Nashville and perhaps Last Resort--show promise.

For NBC, the bet is on Revolution (off a solid premiere last week) to be a Monday keeper in tandem with The Voice. Will that be enough to move NBC up, especially if their big emphasis on sitcoms on Tuesday through Friday nights doesn't catch?

And can anything work at The CW, or is this the season this channel gets taken off life support? Some bets are on newcomers Arrow and the Beauty and The Beast retool to keep The CW breathing.

****For the cable networks, it's more and more about being unafraid to launch new series in the fall. We've already seen a few go at it, with Bomb Girls from ReelzChannel and TV One's The Rickey Smiley Show. NFL Network's expanded schedule of Thursday night games will help things out if cable and satellite operators use it as a promotional stage for these newcomers, as well as returning favorites as AMC's The Walking Dead.

****Want to see how good Spanish-language telenovelas can be when you break molds? Check out Telemundo's superb Pablo Escobar: El Patron Del Mal (The Priest Of Evil), dramatizing the life of the infamous South American drug lord. Everything about it--acting, writing, videography, pace--is superb. There's a nice fly-on-the-wall documentary style in play, and for once in telenovelas, the music doesn't feel slapped-on or over-the-top, threatening to drown out the action every scene. Credit to Caralco TV for making this series, and despite Telemundo not publicizing this at their press or advertiser upfront events back in May, Escobar is getting viewers, breaking into the Nielsen top 10 of primetime Spanish-language series. It’s a must watch for anyone in the telenovela-producing biz.

****Great tributes last week for NFL Films president Steve Sabol, who passed away at age 69 after dealing with brain cancer for the past year-and-a-half. He'll go down as one of the great artistic innovators in all of TV, not just sports TV. Let's start a campaign to get Sabol a posthumous Peabody, lifetime achievement Emmy and induction in pro football's Hall of Fame in Canton (joining his father/NFL Films founder Ed) next year. What a triple crown that would be.

Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!