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TCA Roundup: Event Programming

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While you carried on blissfully unaware with your life this weekend, the Television Critics’ press tour continued making the world safe for new TV shows. Or is that from them? In any event, a roundup of the news from NBC and ABC’s presentations:

* The producers of NBC’s sci-fi/thriller/mystery serial The Event would like your patience. The pilot, debuting next month, is just an “appetizer” to lure viewers in, but the series will soon start answering questions. Which, having seen the pilot, I hope will include: “Why am I supposed to care about these paper-thin characters?” and “Why am I starting to feel fond nostalgia for Surface?”

* NBC’s chief diagnoses the network’s recent problems: “We’ve taken too few chances.” Also: “We’ve made too many changes too quickly.” So it’s done the seemingly impossible: NBC has made a lot of changes, few of which were apparently risky, and yet those changes managed to be for the worse. And you think it’s easy running a broadcast network?

* All right, I guess this is an example of taking a chance while not making a change: Steve Carell or no Steve Carell, The Office will stay on the air until NBC has wrung the last possible dime out of it. Let’s hope this is a non-change for the better.

* At NBC’s sister cable-news channel, MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell‘s coming primetime show got a name (The Last Word) and premiere date (Sept. 27). Besides his past as a political aide, O’Donnell’s credits include the later years of The West Wing. Sadly, Jimmy Smits—playing a former judge on NBC’s Outlaw—will be unavailable to play the President.

* At ABC, meanwhile, after Detroit banned documentary crews from riding along with police, reality derailed Detroit 1-8-7‘s plan to used fiction to imitate reality. Do I have that straight?

* ABC’s just-barely-started new president, Paul Lee, is not ready to answer that question yet. Or that one. Or that one. Lee’s biggest fan? NBC, which must be deeply grateful that ABC dumped Steve McPherson, thus supplanting it as the network-in-turmoil of this summer’s TCA.

* My Generation‘s producer calls his series (one of the most promising fall pilots) “the first real show of the Internet era.” So the six years of online discussion and interaction you devoted to Lost? It actually took place in the afterlife.