Are we there yet?

Watching the last two upfront presentations by Fox and CW (OK, watching a herky-jerky CW on my computer at home; convergence conschmergence), there were several strong emotions — especially regarding the caterers who fed me and a lot of ridiculously young-looking media buyers throughout the week.

Still, there was one major wince-inducing moment Thursday, and a minor one.

With the disclaimer that it’s never a good idea to prejudge these things, I can’t help feeling Fox has bitten off more than it can chew with "K-Ville," a series that uses the remnants of Hurricane Katrina as the jumping-off point for a drama about New Orleans cops. Not only is the show fraught with political land mines, but it risks trivializing an event that is still extremely raw — and whatever cash shooting in the Big Easy pumps into the local economy is unlikely to make up for that.

CW has its own potential headache with "Aliens in America," a comedy that hinges on a nerdy kid being saddled with a Pakistani exchange student who’s a Muslim. Although that would seem like a great way to puncture stereotypes, again, big guffaws over the Muslim kid getting discriminated against in school is going to require an extraordinarily deft touch. Will the payoff be worth the headaches? Somehow it’s hard to imagine that being true in either case.

Fox-CBS also join ABC-NBC is the customary "two networks develop what looks to be the exact same show" sweepstakes. In the latter case, it’s the "Sex and the City"-derivative "Cashmere Mafia" and "Lipstick Jungle," respectively. Fox and CBS, meanwhile, both went the immortal cop route, with Fox’s "New Amsterdam" (some kind of witchcraft mumbo-jumbo) following CBS’ "Moonlight," featuring a vampire detective. (And yes, I remember "Forever Knight," but that was awhile ago.)

One poster accused me of being unduly generous in saying two similar shows might survive, so let’s sum it up this way: They have as much chance of surviving as anything else that isn’t scheduled immediately after "American Idol." Come to think of it, that probably explains why TV execs are so attracted to the concept of something that can’t be killed.

– Brian Lowry

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