SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: All talk of “the end of seasons” on primetime aside, it’s become so boring to ponder the crippled stragglers stumbling to the finish line of the current TV season that speculating about next fall’s new shows – almost none of which have been in front of a camera yet – looks like a lot more fun. Almost all of the networks have given the green light to a variety of comedy and dramas, and if you can decipher the insider code of a trade journal like Variety, you might have half a chance of anticipating what will debut on the small screen after you’ve put the sunscreen away and sent the kids back to school.

Vancouver local girl Lauren Lee Smith – last seen here in Intelligence and by all of your dirty-minded buddies on The L Word – has been given the lead in CBS’ Can Openers; the title is supposedly inside slang for brain surgeons, and Smith will play a young neurosurgeon beginning her hospital residency, in a show already being described as a Grey’s Anatomy clone.

While it has to be understood that, at this early stage of the game, we’re talking about working titles, it feels like CBS is being too clever by half. Two other shows promoted to pilot status by the network last week are going in front of the cameras as Mythological X (a psychic tells a woman that she’s blown off the love of her life, which sends her on a backtrack through her phone book) and NY-LON (a London businessman falls in love with a New York City record clerk; the title has nothing to do with synthetic fabrics and everything to do with the cities in question. If they wanted to be really clever they would have called it LGA-LHR. Or 212-020.)

NY-LON is an American remake of a UK show whose mere seven episodes ran back in 2004, and it joins two other UK imports ordered by Fox earlier this month – Spaced (a man and woman pretend to be a couple to rent a flat, based on a show that ran for two seasons from 1999-2001) and Outnumbered (a family comedy that debuted on BBC last year.) The latter has just added Alina Foley, the daughter of Kid In The Hall Dave Foley, as the family’s youngest daughter, and Ridge Canipe as her older brother.

ABC was very busy last week, giving the go-ahead to three shows. Bad Mothers’ Handbook is a comedy pitting three generations of women in a family against each other, from two writers who worked on Judd Apatow’s brilliant-but-cancelled 2001 college comedy Undeclared. If you’re as tired of police procedurals as I am, ABC will be your kryptonite this fall – Finnegan, The Unusuals and Castle are all set in and around police stations in New York and Los Angeles. Judging from all this furious transatlantic licensing and copping of cop shows, the writers’ strike inspired a real renaissance of creativity, both in the executive offices and behind the laptops.

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