Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall TV Preview 2010: ABC

That giant sucking sound that you hear is the vast hole that LOST left in the ABC programming schedule. Over the past six years, ABC counted on a guaranteed ratings hit every week that the show was on. But that time is done and ABC must turn the corner and think of something else to generate critical buzz, fan excitement, and advertising cash.

Do you think they can do it?

I've spend a few minutes looking over their weekly programming schedule and . . . well, the best thing that I think they've got going for them now is the Wednesday night lineup of comedies, anchored by Modern Family. which returns for its second season fresh from its Emmy win.

I haven't watched Modern Family, so I am not qualified to truly speak on the show. But if it won an Emmy, it must be quality, right? (Don't believe it for a second. I point you to many, many years of Emmy wins for Everybody Loves Raymond.)

Here's a breakdown, night by night.


Nothing is new on this night. If you have watched TV at all in the past decade, you know all about America's Funniest Home Videos (really? still?), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (the only nice thing I'll say here is that the longer the show is on, the greater the chance they'll eventually get to my house), Desperate Housewives (plastic surgery is the key to keeping this show relevant, I think), and Brothers and Sisters (I have no opinion).

Dancing with the Stars rules this night from 8-10 pm. And then Castle returns for another (third?) season.   When I've watched Castle, I've liked it . . . and I have always appreciated the presence of Buffy & Firefly alum Nathan Fillion. But I've never scheduled Castle as appointment TV--and haven't programmed my DVR to capture it. But . . . with LOST not in the rotation anymore, maybe there is room on the machine for something pretty worthy? Otherwise, Monday isn't very interesting.

And here is where we get to our first new shows to consider on ABC, at 8 pm and 10 pm. The nine o'clock hour has something else to do with Dancing with the Stars, about which I will say no more.

No Ordinary Family is about Michael Chikls returning to TV after the finally wrapped up The Shield. And his character is a police sketch artist. (Really? I've not hung out at police departments, but do the sketch artists look like Chiklis? Now . . . if he stabs suspects with his charcoal pencil . . . then maybe.) Oh, but wait. The title is No Ordinary Family. And what makes them extraordinary? Super powers!

No, I'm serious.

He gets strength. His scientist wife gets superspeed . . . and yes, this might sound a lot like The Fantastic Four. But get over it. And I'm kinda skeptical. September 28 @ 8 pm

The other new show is Detroit 187 a show that was originally going to be shot The Office documentary style, following Michael Imperioli's interrogator and his partner as they dealt with police procedural injustices back and forth across 8 Mile. But then reality got in the way when an actual girl was killed during an actual A&E documentary about Detroit cops. And so the pilot was reedited and some parts reshot. Can it still be compelling if its just like everything that came before it? September 21 @ 10pm

The Middle returns for its second season, but I can't say more about it than that.

A new show called  Better With You tells funny tales about three couples at different points in their romantic relationships. I think you'd get a better show if you took asked Paul and Jamie Buchman (of one of my favorite shows, Mad About You) and put them in a time machine back to the start and midpoint of the series. September 22 @ 8:30

Modern Family and Cougar Town are the anchors around this night for ABC. Both shows are (seemingly?) well received and people like them. But I've got to wonder about Cougar Town (a returning show from last year in which Courtney Cox plays an older woman always on the prowl for younger sexual conquests--or at least that was it was about in the beginning; I'm sure it's gotten deeper and richer since fulfilling its initial pitch.

ANYWAY . . . all of the promos for Cougar Town, to this point, have bent over backwards to remind us that sometime during this season, Jennifer Aniston will show up to have (more than?) one Very Special Episode with her former Friend.

And the world awaits . . .

The Whole Truth is cranked out by Jerry Bruckheimer's Hit Factory. Positive aspect: It's got Maura Tierney. Middlin' aspect: It's got Rob Morrow. Negative aspect: It's the one millionth televised drama about the courtroom. (And yes, I'm counting Night Court as part of that list.) September 22 @ 10 pm

The majority of the content of this night is devoted to Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. At this point, who cares?

My Generation sounds like a semi-high-concept show that ABC might hope can give the network some credibility against critics that say nothing "important" is ever on TV anymore. But that is only what it sort of sounds like. It is a fictional show shot in faux-documentary style (a la The Office . . . and once, Detroit 187) that "catches up" with nine high school graduation from Texas a decade later. Expect it to be ignored by Thanksgiving. September 23 @ 8 pm

If you watch TV on Friday, then you might be interested to know that ABC is returning 20/20 for yet another year at 10 pm. But it'll never be as critically hailed as 60 Minutes or even as "of the moment" as Dateline NBC used to be. And you know what . . . 20/20 damn well knows that . . . and is crying about it right now in the bathroom.

Secret Millionaire is a new show that sounds like someone got their Joe Millionaire peanut butter in their Undercover Boss chocolate. But, it is a show about . . . well, I'm confident that my intelligent readers can figure out what it is. And I'm also confident that no one will care, except perhaps the ghosts of Andrew Carnegie and Jacob Riis. _____? @ 8 pm

And finally, there is Body of Proof, a show that is notable for the presence of Dana Delany (who I once liked in China Beach long ago) and Jeri Ryan (who I also liked as Voyager's Seven of Nine). Delany plays a former surgeon who was sidetracked by an accident and became a medical examiner. _____? @ 9 pm

But, well, it's Friday night and no one will watch and neither of these shows were even approved by ABC fast enough to be listed in the Fall TV preview issue. So . . . take that for what you will.

ABC Saturday Night Football . . . and then whatever else comes along in the winter of 2011.

So, ABC has, in my opinion a very ordinary lineup coming out next week. It's midweek lineup will likely be the saving grace. And I may give Castle a whirl. But all I can say is Jack, Hurley, Kate, and Sawyer aren't walking back through that door folks.

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