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Dancing with the Upfronts: Dramas, Comedies in at Eye

With just a day to go before CBS officially unveils its 2007-08 schedule to advertisers, the Tiffany network nonetheless announced some early pickups for a few dramas and comedies. The selected few are a rather bizarre mix of period drama, supernatural mystery, musical, and a rolled over comedy from last year. (I said they were a diverse bunch.)

First up is Laughlin, a US adaptation of popular Brit skein Blackpool (which aired on this side of the pond as Viva Blackpool on BBC America), which fuses musical and mystery genres into one, overblown package. Series, which comes from Sony, BBC, and CBS Paramount, stars Lloyd Owen (Monarch of the Glen) as an owner of a small-time casino who dreams of transforming little Laughlin, Nevada into another Vegas but his plans are disrupted when an associate turns up dead. Hugh Jackman produces and guest stars in the pilot.

Then there's Moonlight (formerly known as Twilight), from Warner Bros. Television, which follows a private detective (Alex O'Loughlin) who is a vampire (hmmm, yes, I too thought of Angel and Forever Knight when I heard that) as he struggles with the curse of his immortality. I give it three episodes before it's yanked and put on innertube.

The most original program that CBS has developed this year is Swingtown, a 1970s-set period drama about some suburban partner-swapping couples, which would feel much more at home at sibling network Showtime than at CBS; still, it boasts a fantastic cast including Jack Davenport (Coupling) and Grant Show (Dirt), even if it does feel miles away from the tone of the innumerable CSI installments--and assorted other procedural dramas--the network currently airs.

Finally, there's Cane (formerly known as Los Duques), an intricate soapy drama about the members of two feuding families in the sugarcane/rum business in Florida; it's smart, slick, and has mega-watt star power in Jimmy Smits, Nestor Carbonell, Polly Walker, Alona Tal, Rita Moreno, and Hector Elizondo. (If you couldn't tell, I liked it.) It comes from CBS Paramount.

On the comedy side, CBS has officially picked up comedy Big Bang Theory, starring Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons as a pair of theoretical physicists who meet a women (Kaley Cuoco) who teaches them about life outside the science lab. Project, from Warner Bros. Television, was developed last season.

Keep an eye on fellow comedy pilots I'm in Hell (starring Jason Biggs and Undeclared's Timm Sharp) and star-studded The Captain, about a washed-up 20-something writer who moves into the legendary Hollywood apartment complex. Project stars Fran Kranz (The TV Set), Chris Klein, Raquel Welch, and Jeffrey Tambor. Both are said to be under strong consideration for series orders.

CBS announces their 2007-08 lineup Wednesday, May 16th.


Anonymous said…
I think it's bizarre that they're doing an American version of Viva Blackpool. The original Brit version was pretty good but I just don't see it playing here.

Swingtown and Cane both have great casts but, otherwise, don't really interest me. Of the two, Cane sounds like it has more potential. I'll at least check out the first episode (if only because Rome is over and I need my Polly Walker fix).

I haven't heard anything about The Captain but that looks like it could be fun. Do you have any more info on it? Is it supposed to be good?
Anonymous said…
CBS is definitely trying to branch out, that's for sure. I just don't see Swingtown working, as it's set up. I think it becomes their desparate housewives and the swinger stuff fades out.
Anonymous said…
So ... am I nervous or optimistic that none of the early CBS leaks have said anything about Jericho at all ... ???
Unknown said…
I think you mean Raquel Welch. ;)

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