Scott D. Pierce: Networks’ new fall shows aren’t great, which isn’t good for local stations

With corporate owners going long on streaming services, what’s left for broadcast channels?

(Darko Sikman | ABC) Hilary Swank and Craig Frank star in "Alaska Daily."

I’ve been writing about the broadcast networks’ new fall shows since 1990, and never have I been less excited about the lineup than I am right now.

That is, in no small part, because the huge corporations that own the broadcast networks have decided that their futures are in streaming. Thus, they’re less interested in and less likely to pour money into broadcast shows.

And you’ve got to wonder how that’s going to affect local TV stations across the country, including here in Utah.

It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Disney (ABC), Paramount Global (CBS), Comcast (NBC) and Fox air less-than-scintillating shows, which attract fewer and fewer viewers, leaving local affiliates — including KUTV-Ch. 2, KTVX-Ch. 4, KSL-Ch. 5 and KSTU-Ch. 13 in Salt Lake City — without the kind of support they’ve had in decades past.

How bad is it getting? Reportedly, NBC is pondering giving the last hour of prime-time back to its affiliates — 9-10 p.m. MT on Mondays-Saturdays. In which case, don’t be surprised if KSL-Channel 5 adds yet another hour of local news. Because the zillion hours of local TV hours that currently air on local stations just aren’t enough.

OK, it’s only about 33 hours of local TV news per weekday on local stations. And that’s not counting simulcasts, repeats and locally produced magazine shows.

But as for entertainment shows on the networks, the fall season is pretty bleak. There’s nothing that feels fresh and innovative. It’s not all terrible — there are some seemingly good shows — but they’re more TV comfort food than something that will challenge the palate.


“Celebrity Jeopardy!” (7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) • Mayim Bialik hosts a prime-time version that — you guessed it! — features celebrity contestants. (Premieres Sept. 25)

“Family Law” (8 p.m., The CW/Ch. 30) • This Canadian import is a run-of-the-mill legal drama about a lawyer with a troubled personal life who joins her estranged father’s firm and works with her half-siblings. It’s OK. (Oct. 2)

“East New York” (8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): Perfectly fine but overly familiar cop drama that centers on the new boss at a Brooklyn precinct (Amanda Warren) who faces resistance because of her gender. (Oct. 2)


“Quantum Leap” (8 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): This sequel to the original to the 1989-93 casts Raymond Song as a new scientist following in the footsteps of Scott Bakula’s character, leaping through time. Can’t tell you if it’s any good, because NBC scrapped the original pilot and shot a new one, which it hasn’t shown critics as of this writing. (Sept. 19)


“Monarch” (Debuted Sept. 11; moves to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox/Ch. 13): I love me a good prime-time soap. This, unfortunately, is not one. It wants to be a cross between “Dallas” and “Empire,” with a family of country-music stars, but it’s just dopey, predictable and lame. (Sept. 20)

“The Rookie: Feds” (9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) • I’ll be the first to tell you that I quite enjoy “The Rookie,” even though it’s not a great cop show. This is sort of more of the same. It works largely because Niecy Nash-Betts is so likable as a middle-aged woman/newly minted FBI agent. It’s fun. (Sept. 27)

“The Winchesters” (8 p.m., The CW/Ch. 30): I watched all 327 episodes of “Supernatural” from 2005 to 2020, even though it got increasingly confusing and, at the same time, repetitive. This prequel is set in the early 1970s and features the parents of “Supernatural’s” Sam and Dean, hunting monsters and demons. It’s definitely repetitive and unnecessary. (Oct. 11)

“Professionals” (9 p.m., The CW/Ch. 30). This Irish/South African series is about a security specialist (Tom Welling, formerly of “Smallville”) who’s hired by a billionaire (Brendan Fraser) after a rocket explodes at launch. It’s really bad. (Oct. 11)


“The Real Love Boat” (8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): Husband and wife Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn host this dating/competition show that takes place on a cruise ship. Perhaps not surprisingly, this hasn’t been previewed for critics yet. (Oct. 5)


“So Help Me Todd” (9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): A successful attorney (Marcia Gay Harden) hires her ne’er-do-well son (Skylar Astin) to be her investigator in this legal drama/comedy. Love the stars, but the writing in the pilot is just not good. (Sept. 29)

“Walker: Independence” (9 p.m., The CW/Ch. 30) • This prequel to “Walker,” set in the late 1800s, centers on Abby Walker (Katherine McNamara), who is traveling from Boston to Texas to begin a new life when her husband is murdered. It’s a ludicrous attempt to make a Western with modern sensibilities, and it fails in almost every respect. (Oct. 6)

“Alaska Daily” (9 p.m.,ABC/Ch. 4): Hilary Swank stars as a high-powered New York City investigative journalist who is driven out of her job when she bases a report on documents that turn out to be fake. She lands in Alaska, working for a daily newspaper and doing what she does best. There hasn’t been a successful show about a newspaper since “Lou Grant,” which ended 40 years ago — but this one just might work. It’s probably faint praise, but this is the best new show on the broadcast networks this fall. (Oct. 6)


“Fire Country” (8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) • To get an early release from prison, a convict (Max Theriot) joins a firefighting team — but he didn’t expect to get sent to his Northern California hometown, where soap opera ensues. There are things to like about this, but the mix isn’t right, somehow. Maybe they’ll figure it out. (Oct. 7)

(Casey Durkin | NBC) Mayan Lopez as Mayan and George Lopez as George in "Lopez vs. Lopez."

“Lopez vs. Lopez” (8 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): George Lopez and his real-life daughter, Mayan, star as a father and daughter who make TikTok videos and argue in this throwback (and not in a good way) sitcom. At best, it’s mildly amusing. At worst, it’s just painful. (Nov. 4)


“Criss Angel: Magic with the Stars” (8 p.m., The CW/Ch. 30): Celebrities learn how to perform magic tricks and present them to judges. Including Angel. This wasn’t available for preview. (Oct. 22)

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