2017 Network Upfronts and Fall TV Outlook


Network Upfronts occurred this week in NYC and as an avid TV viewer this part of the year is an exciting time. For those not familiar with Upfronts they are the presentations put on by the major networks to advertisers and ad buyers. The primary goal of these presentations is to sell advertisement space which also helps fund network operations and as well as the TV series which we enjoy (and will enjoy in the future). To add to the “WOW” factor of the event the networks bring out their actors and actresses from their shows to help sell their show/series. Literally. it is a who’s who of TV stardom.

In the weeks and sometimes months prior to the Upfronts each of the networks screen prospective pilots, plan for the next season by ordering new series, cancelling some series (oh no), and plotting out their schedules. Over the past few weeks the news emanating from the networks has been met with a wide range of emotions. Most notable was the online fan reaction to Timeless which lead to a resurrection from the land of cancelled TV series. According to The Hollywood Reporter (who tabulated numbers – Link ) there were 39 new orders for scripted series, 71 renewals, and 33 cancellations.

After reflecting on the news and watching the trailers available I drew up my shortlist of new series which will be on my ‘watch list’ this fall.

Star Trek: Discovery

Overview: This new series, which will air on the CBS All Access SVOD platform in the US & Netflix globally, will focus on the crew of the USS Discovery. A trailer was released this week (click here) which gave us the first glimpse of the series and the cast. While there is not much in the way of details we do know that series takes place 10 years before the Kirk and Spock era of the Star Trek timeline. The cast will include a few notable faces including Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca (the captain of the Starship Discovery), Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd (the charismatic conman and intergalactic criminal), Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru (the science officer), Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Stamets, James Frain as Sarek (a Vulcan astrophysicist and Spock’s father), and Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiu (captain of another ship called the Shenzhou).

My take: The trailer looked really good. There are hallmarks of the J.J. Abrams vision of the Trek universe and the characters are certainly unique so I will look forward to giving this a shot. The casting is certainly interesting and I am hopeful the stories will be a good foundation to the series.  

The Gifted

Overview: A suburban couple’s ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.

My take: The trailer looks good and I am very hopeful for a solid run for this series.

REVERIE Pictured: Sarah Shahi as Mara Kint, Dennis Haysbert as Charlie Ventana (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

Overview: This series stars Sarah Shahi as Mara Kint, a college professor and former hostage negotiator who is trying to save people who have lost themselves in a highly advanced virtual-reality program. Kint had faced a personal tragedy and learns that in helping people she is also saving herself. The cast will also include Dennis Haysbert (24), Jessica Lu, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Kathryn Morris.

My take: While there is no trailer I have been a fan of Sarah Shahi since Person of Interest. CBS did not pick up her updated Nancy Drew series last year however the premise for this series is quite interesting. I am looking forward to hearing and seeing more about this series in the coming months. If there is a panel at SDCC I will certainly add it to my schedule.

Update 6/13 – The series will have a 10 episode run and is scheduled for mid-season. The pilot was shot in Vancouver with production moving to LA for the main run.

Black Lightning

Overview: I wrote about this series previously in March when the first image of the Cress Williams suit was released. The series bringing DC’s first African American Super Hero will premiere mid-season on the The CW. The story is about Jefferson Pierce, a hero who hangs up his suit and his secret identity but is pulled back into the fight as the vigilante who goes by the name Black Lightning.

My take: The trailer was good and there will be a different appeal primarily due to the demographic. The pilot was shot in Atlanta and should also give viewers a different look & feel. Personally, I am hoping this is a successful series and starts a trend.

The Crossing

Overview: Refugees from a war-torn country seek asylum in a small American fishing town, only the country these people are from is America… and the war they are fleeing hasn’t happened yet. As the government tries to uncover the truth behind this mysterious migration, only one thing is certain: The lives of the people here — both the townspeople and these newcomers — will never be the same. The cast includes Steve Zahn, Natalie Martinez, and Sandrine Holt.

My take: The trailer caught my interest halfway through when they dropped the ‘hook’ for the series. I am very curious to see how this series progresses.  


Overview: When his career is ruined by scandal, superstar magician Cameron Black (Kingsman‘s Jack Cutmore-Scott) has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, influence and illusion — the FBI. Using every trick in the book and inventing new ones, he will help the government catch the world’s most elusive criminals while staging the biggest illusions of his career.

My take: The trailer was an interesting blend of Castle and Now You See Me. Magicians and Illusionists have always interested me from a young age so I will give this series a shot.

The Gospel of Kevin

Overview: Kevin Finn (Parenthood‘s Jason Ritter), a cluelessly self-serving person, is on a dangerous path to despair. In a downward spiral, Kevin returns home to stay with his widowed twin sister (Reba‘s JoAnna Garcia Swisher) and niece. On his first night there, an unlikely celestial being appears to him and presents him with a mission — to save the world.  

My take: They had me at ‘Kevin’ but in all seriousness this does look engaging. I will give it a shot.

The Orville

Overview: A live-action, one-hour series set 400 years in the future that follows the adventures of The Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship, as its crew, both human and alien, face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of everyday life.

My take: Alright this seemed a little like Galaxy Quest meets Star Trek. I will place faith (and hope) that Seth will make this as interesting as Family Guy.

Other things to note about the schedule

Agents of Shield will return to our screens after Inhumans completes its run. This unfortunately leaves us to wait longer for answers to the season finale.

No word on the exact date for The X-files but this is a ‘must see’ on my list. We will be treated to 10 episodes and I hopeful there will be a significant promotional presence at SDCC and NYCC this year.

No word on return of 24: Legacy or Prison Break. If they do return it may be in the following season

Timeless will return in 2018 (sounds like a line from a Bond movie – right?). The series could return as early as Spring 2018.

Elementary does not start its sixth season until 2018. So far the order is for 13 episodes however that can change if there is a shakeup in the fall.

Looking ahead to the Fall 2017 here is the lineup for the major networks:

8 p.m.
The Voice (NBC)
Lucifer (Fox)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
The Big Bang Theory/Kevin Can Wait (CBS)
Supergirl (CW)
8:30 p.m.
9 p.m.
Kevin Can Wait/ME, MYSELF AND I (CBS)
9:30 p.m.
ME, MYSELF AND I/Superior Donuts (CBS)
10 p.m.
Scorpion (CBS)

8 p.m.
The Voice (NBC)
Lethal Weapon (Fox)
The Middle (ABC)
The Flash (CW)
8:30 p.m.
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)
9 p.m.
Superstore (NBC)
The Mick (Fox)
Black-ish (ABC)
Bull (CBS)
Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
9:30 p.m.
The Good Place* (NBC)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine* (Fox)
10 p.m.
Chicago Fire (NBC)
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)

8 p.m.
The Blacklist (NBC)
Empire (Fox)
The Goldbergs (ABC)
Survivor (CBS)
Riverdale (CW)
8:30 p.m.
Speechless (ABC)
9 p.m.
Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Star (Fox)
Modern Family (ABC)
9:30 p.m.
American Housewife (ABC)
10 p.m.
Chicago P.D. (NBC)
Designated Survivor (ABC)
Criminal Minds (CBS)

8 p.m.
Gotham (Fox)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Thursday Night Football (8-11 p.m. Sept. 28-Oct. 26)/The Big Bang Theory (Nov. 2) (CBS)
Supernatural (CW)
8:30 p.m.
Great News (NBC)
9 p.m.
This Is Us (NBC)
Scandal (ABC)
Mom (CBS)
Arrow (CW)
9:30 p.m.
Life in Pieces (CBS)
10 p.m.
How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)

8 p.m.
Blindspot (NBC)
Hell’s Kitchen (Fox)
Once Upon a Time* (ABC)
MacGyver (CBS)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)
9 p.m.
Taken (NBC)
The Exorcist (Fox)
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
Jane the Virgin (CW)
10 p.m.
Dateline (NBC)
20/20 (ABC)
Blue Bloods (CBS)

7:30-8 p.m.
Bob’s Burgers (Fox)
8 p.m.
The Simpsons (Fox)
Dateline Saturday Night Mystery (NBC)
Saturday Night Football (ABC)
Crimetime Saturday (CBS)
8:30 p.m.
Dateline Saturday Night Mystery (NBC)
9 p.m.
Dateline Saturday Night Mystery (NBC)
Family Guy (Fox)
Crimetime Saturday (CBS)
9:30 p.m.
Dateline Saturday Night Mystery (NBC)
Last Man on Earth (Fox)
10-11 p.m.
Saturday Night Live (encores, NBC)
48 Hours (CBS)

7 p.m.
Football Night in America (NBC)
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
60 Minutes (CBS)
8 p.m.
To Tell the Truth (ABC)
8:20 p.m.
NBC Sunday Night Football (NBC)
9 p.m.
Shark Tank (ABC)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
10 p.m.
Madam Secretary (CBS)

Overall, after looking at the schedule I did not see any major issues or conflicts in my viewing schedule. I think the schedule across all of the platforms is balanced. Based on the trailers for the new series I am certainly looking forward to the Fall 2017 season. 

What are your top picks? Click here to join the TV conversation on the FoCC forum.


Kevin aka "DRWHO42" watches a lot of TV and avoids spoilers like the plague. He is an avid Whovian, Trekker, fanboy, gamer, traveler, planner, self-professed gym rat, and Starbucks espresso loyalist. When not plotting out his schedule for the next tent-pole movie or watching his favorite shows he is on the hunt for pop-culture TV & Movie media news. More importantly he is a frequent attendee of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC). Follow him on Twitter @kevinDW42 @FoCCBlog