In any other year, today would be the official start of the fall television season in the US. There would be hype for the new shows, the excitement of seeing the conclusion to last season's cliffhangers, and maybe a pang or two knowing this was the final season of a favorite program. This year, however, there is none of that, well except for the Supernatural fans.
In a typical year, production for the fall season kicks off principal filming in late July or early August to make September premiere dates. This year, with quarantines still in place for California, New York, and Vancouver over the summer, filming was delayed, thus delaying the fall season as well. And to add to the pain, episode counts for this season will likely also be curtailed as a result of the filming delays. Seasons that are typically twenty to twenty-two episodes may only be fifteen to eighteen by the end of the season.
The good news is, several productions have started up again. Supernatural wrapped filming on its delayed finale. Several CBS productions including NCIS, Magnum PI, and Bull (filming in California, Hawai'i and New York respectively) have all either started filming or will begin filming in the next few weeks. Filming is also set to restart for the Dick Wolf trifecta of Chicago Fire, Med, and PD by the end of September. If all goes to plan, these shows could be premiering in October or November.
What all of this means for now is the Fall schedule is a pretty thin mixed bag of reality shows that wrapped before the shutdown in the Spring, a few freshman shows a network didn't get around to airing last season, existing programs bought from other sources, and reruns. Networks are betting heavily that this is all temporary and they will be able to return to something like their regular programming grids by late Fall or at least by January.
So what can we watch for the next few months?
The CW pulled no punches at its upfronts in May, noting that productions were unlikely to be filming in time for September premieres. The only returning show for the fall season is Supernatural. The Winchesters will premiere their last seven episodes in October before riding off into the syndication sunset. The rest of the network's regular programming including Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, and Riverdale will all, hopefully, premiere in January. Instead, the CW plans to air a mix of programs brought over from the DC streaming channel (Swamp Thing, for example) as well as shows bought from overseas networks including Coroner which has aired two seasons on CBC in Canada and Dead Pixels, a British comedy that has already aired on Channel Four.
FOX execs released a collective sigh of relief when the NFL agreed to continue the football season as planned. The decision saved the network's Thursday night programming. Likewise, with the ability to work remotely, the Sunday animated block is also intact. The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Bless the Harts, and Family Guy are all set to return September 27. The Masked Singer will roll on as planned with its new season set to start September 23. In addition, the network has a couple of freshman shows held over from last season, neXt and Filthy Rich, that it can use to plug holes in the fall schedule.
NBC had high hopes of airing a normal fall schedule, but those hopes were dashed in recent weeks, and most of its regular programming won't return until some time in November. Sunday nights were saved thanks to the NFL, but the network had planned to premiere its regular grid of dramas and comedies without delays. With that no longer possible, the Peacock is also pulling content from other sources. Transplant, a Canadian production from CTV, joins a schedule full of reality shows, The Voice is set to premiere with only a short delay in October, a few reruns, and endless Dateline blocks to fill holes in a schedule left empty by quarantines.
As previously noted, several CBS shows will start filming again soon, but the network hasn't announced any premiere dates for its returning shows. Fans might see new episodes of their favorite shows beginning in November, but chances are the network will hold any new material for after the new year. In the meantime, the Eye did announce that the first season of Star Trek: Discovery would air on the parent network, no real surprise there. The rest of the schedule for at least the month of September and into early October will amount to reality shows wrapping up from the summer and repeats.
ABC is still betting it will be able to salvage something of a fall season, pushing back its premieres to the end of October. In the meantime, the network plans a grid of reruns, movies, and game shows to fill the time.
So what will you be watching this fall? (Other than season two of The Mandalorian.)
Written by LadyShelley on Sep 21, 2020