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TV's not-quite fall launch

After a summer in which the “Be Kind” lady, Ellen DeGeneres, has a hostile work environment and the super-happy guy from Netflix’s Cheer has been arrested on child pornography charges, we are now, more than ever, in need of a new TV season.  It’s time to change the channel.

However, that’s easier said than done.  Given the delays in production for most shows, the new fall TV season which usually ran over two weeks starting the third week of September (so … now) has been tossed out the window.

New and returning shows are premiering whenever they have enough episodes banked.  And given the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants manner in which Hollywood is functioning, those dates are changing daily.

With the exception of a few reality and game shows, anything starting this week was already mostly-produced before the pandemic shut studios down.  But even those are playing musical chairs daily in order to fill the voids that continue to pop up in the schedule.  So while many scripted shows are being promoted, the majority simply say “Coming Soon.”

For example, the Cobie Smulders-led Stumptown, which was renewed for a second season just months ago, has suddenly been cancelled altogether.  Apparently, ABC did not want to wait until next spring for new episodes.

CBS recently announced the return of Sunday night movies because their scripted series – including the NCIS franchises – are nowhere near ready to air.  So Sunday nights are going Old School (literally), along with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Scream, and Coming to America – the last being just a tad ironic given the current state of immigration and the civil unrest in the US.  But what’s television without a sense of humour?

Furthermore, Survivor, isn’t returning this fall because the crew couldn’t go to Fiji to shoot.  And while Love Island managed to produce its second season without an island – or real love – at a hotel in Las Vegas, that wasn’t an option for Jeff Probst’s show.  Frankly, between COVID-19 and the aforementioned civil unrest, playing Survivor in the U.S. is just too dangerous.

Some shows were ready to begin production, just waiting for the go ahead, when centuries of bad blood hit the fan.  After George Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests, writers for the cop-comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine scrapped four new episodes and went back to the drawing board.

Likewise, many police procedurals are looking at how at their content can be more representative of the current climate.  Meanwhile, long-running reality series Cops and Live PD were pulled weeks ago with no plans to bring them back in the future.

And now with a Presidential election on the way, televised debates will also wreak havoc with the schedule.

This summer, it seems every time one fire was dealt with, another broke out.  (My apologies to the entire west coast for that analogy.)  So viewers are going to have to be patient with the fall TV schedule.

After all, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s always someone out there playing with matches.