Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blogging the 2009 Upfronts: ABC

Day 2! And I'm actually more well-informed than usual! Read on for the ABC fall lineup and my thoughts after seeing the upfront presentation. New shows in bold.

8pm: "Dancing with the Stars" (two-hours)
**8pm: "The Bachelor" (post-DWTS)
10pm: "Castle"

8pm: "Shark Tank"
9pm: "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show"
**9pm: Scrubs (post-DWTS)
**9:30pm: Better Off Ted (post-DWTS)
10pm: "The Forgotten"

8pm: "Hank"
8:30pm: "The Middle"
9pm: "Modern Family"
9:30pm: "Cougar Town"
10pm: "Eastwick"

8pm: "Flash Forward"
9pm: "Grey's Anatomy"
10pm: "Private Practice"

8pm: "Supernanny"
9pm: "Ugly Betty"
10pm: "20/20"

8pm: "Saturday Night College Football"

7pm: "America's Funniest Home Videos"
8pm: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
9pm: "Desperate Housewives"
10pm: "Brothers & Sisters"
- - - - - - - -

Super happy to see "Better Off Ted" back on the schedule, albeit not until DWTS is finished (though ... doesn't that show do spring AND fall seasons? Will we only get "Ted" during December and January?).

Moving "Ugly Betty" to Fridays seems to cause a bit of rhubarb, but I think it's fine. That's a show that's been spending more and more time sitting on my DVR anyway. The only issue is that with "Betty," "Dollhouse," and NBC's "Southland" (which I've been told is good) all on Friday night, I may not be able to follow them all. (Though hungover Saturday viewing is gonna be stellar.)

It's also interesting to see the Wednesday lineup of entirely new shows. ABC has done this before -- the last one I can remember was 2007 with Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money on Wednesdays -- and it's kind of sink-or-swim for the shows.

Speaking of the new shows, ABC has a lot of them. I saw footage of most of them today, so here's a semi-quick rundown (I'm skipping "Shark Tank" and "The Forgotten," which I didn't see):

"Hank": Kelsey Grammer traditional sitcom -- verrrrry traditional sitcom given the "highlights" I saw. Grammer plays a canned CEO who is forced to move to the sticks and spend time with his pampered family. Oh so timely and whatnot. Won't be watching.

"The Middle": Patricia Heaton plays an ultra-harried wife and mother in middle-America (get it?) Indiana. The idea might have promise if they'd cast an actress who can really go there as the mom. Won't be watching.

"Modern Family": We got to see the entire episode, and I will tell you I laughed a lot. It's not quite "Arrested Development," but in its best moments it's on the same wavelength. I was reminded most often of the VERY short-lived ABC series "Sons and Daughters," only this had more big laughs (and obviously ABC is hoping it'll do better with viewers). It's basically a Big Family comedy revolving around three couples linked by family. Highlights for me were Ed O'Neil (semi-crusty dad dating Sofia Vergara, who ABC has apparently decided is GOING TO HAPPEN GOD DAMN IT), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (as one half of an adopting gay couple -- I have a feeling the easily offended may take offense, but funny trumps a lot, and they got the funniest bit of the pilot) and Ty Burrell, who plays husband to Julie Bowen and plays him as completely, wonderfully bizarre. This might be too weird to succeed, and it still needs to develop every character so they work, but I am very much looking forward to it.

"Cougar Town": Look ... whatever, I am really looking forward to this one. Yes, it was ridiculous to see Courteney Cox pinching at her stomach like she's worried she's getting fat. Yes, there are numerous ways to offend women given the premise. But the footage I saw seemed to walk the line between having fun with the idea of a fortysomething single woman trying to shake things up in her life by dating young hot guys without having fun at her expense. And it was funny, not that I'm surprised with Bill Lawrence at the helm. Also, I am a big, big fan of the cast: Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps, Christa Miller, Josh Hopkins, Brian Van Holt, and Carolyn Hennessy. Sold.

"Eastwick": Remake or "reimagining" or whatever of The Witches of Eastwick. On the bright side: They've brought Veronica Cartwright along for the ride. On the not-so-bright side: everything else. I like Rebecca Romijin just fine and I heard good things about Lindsay Price on "Lipstick Jungle," but when you invite comparisons to Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer, you are going to lose. (Seriously, what were they thinking having Romijin -- the Cher analogue -- attempt the slapping scene from Moonstruck??) Looks bad, you guys.

"Flash Forward": Apparently they showed a good chunk of the pilot, but I missed it. Luckily, this is the show I knew most about going in. It's based on this novel, and basically: the entire population of Earth blacks out for 2 minutes and experiences events from 21 years in the future. Then, just as suddenly, they're back in their own lives, left to deal with what they saw. The cast is decent (Joseph Feinnes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Sonya Walger), but it's the premise that has me totally geeked. They want to make this the new "Lost," but I'm not sure I like the 8pm Thursday time slot.

"The Deep End" (midseason): It seems like TV tries to make this show every year: Hot young lawyers! Sexy! Principled! Swimming with sharks! The clips I saw seemed spirited enough, and lord knows I love Tina Majorino, I don't see this standing out enough to make much of a ripple, particularly not at midseason.

"Happy Town" (midseason): Creepy small town drama, looks like a Stephen King adaptation. Something about a town with some terrible events in its past ... but which may be coming back to haunt them. I'm making it sound worse than it is -- it shows promise. Not enough Amy Acker for my taste (certainly not enough to justify keeping her away from "Dollhouse"), but it could end up being a better version of "Harper's Island." (Not that I'm not currently LOVING laughing at "Harper's Island" every week.)

"V" (midseason): The ballyhooed remake of the celebrated sci-fi miniseries doesn't have any nostaglic campiness that I can see. Which is bad news for loyalists but good news for everyone else because this shit looks like it might be AWESOME. Yes, they outright steal the "spacechips hovering over every major city on Earth" thing from Independence Day; and they outright steal the logo shot from Lost, but it looks like a high-action thriller with a brain from where I sit. Can't get enough of those. Plus: Elizabeth Mitchell, Scott Wolf, Morena Baccarin, and Alan Tudyk. Not too shabby.


JA said...

"Yes, they outright steal the "spacechips hovering over every major city on Earth" thing from Independence Day"

Pleeeeeeease tell me that I'm missing a level of snark here and you realize that Independence Day stole that shot from the original V miniseries! Otherwise I might have to hit you with a bag of wet dicks. ;-)

Joe Reid said...

Ahhh, well. I suppose that's a horse of a different color then. (Though, honestly, did they show it? Were the effect that good back in 1492?)

Regardless, I apologize for not being 1,000 years old and not seeing the "V" miniseries.