Thursday, September 04, 2008

ABC Fall TV Preview

This week has been full of posts on network shows offered as the Fall TV season begins.

I've already covered 1) NBC, 2) The CW, and 3) FOX. Tonight it's ABC's turn (and don't worry, no lame and contrived themes tonight. Just straight talk about television).

Monday: I've never liked to dance very much. When I was a young middle school and high school kid, just trying to get the courage to talk to girls I liked, dancing was completely out of the question. If one broke into sweats standing, talking, and looking a desirable girl in the face, then how could one summon the gargantuan gumption to add standing that much closer and touching on the shoulders and (God forbid!) the hips!? So, that said, Dancing With The Stars [9/22 @ 8 pm] just isn't the show for me. I know some people just love it and appreciate the scintillating power of dance, but I could find better things to do. Plus, I am generally suspicious of reality programming, but that suspicion grows more pronounced when I see that the show (such as DwtS) spreads itself out over several nights--thereby metastasizing its hold upon the TV week. I want shows to be neatly contained boxes of entertainment. If I wanted multi-part miniseries, I'd build a time machine and go back to 1986.

I'll admit that I didn't give Samantha Who? [10/6 @ 9:30] much thought last year (and I'm still not advocating it as worth your time), but it seems to have done well enough to keep itself alive for a second season. Of course, this might be more a result of the writer's strike and the resultant discombobulation from that. Perhaps ABC just didn't have better options? I can't tell you if Christina Applegate's Samantha character has continued to suffer from memory loss--which was the point of the first season--but I suspect it being the series major stumbling block. How do writers keep up the conceit of memory loss for an extended period of time, or, how do they prevent a show NOT about memory loss being anything but yet another romantic comedy?

Did you know that Boston Legal [9/22 @ 10 pm] was still on television? Sure is. And did you know that James Spader and William Shatner are still involved? Are there two men that have aged less gracefully, suffering from unfortunate weight gains?

Tuesday: One of the network's new shows kicks off this night--a reality game show called Opportunity Knocks [9/23 @ 8 pm]. The show's description indicates that a roving show will arrive at the home of unsuspecting families, will gather the neighborhood to be the audience, and will then proceed  to ask trivia questions about the family members  themselves and the things in their home. It's supposed to be a way of seeing if the family really knows each other--and while I'll admit that is more friendly-seeming than The Moment of Truth (see Fox's preview), it has a faint whiff of being something cooked up by the Bush administration to search for and identify illegal aliens trying to secure a green card.

Dancing With The Stars spreads from your colon to your liver on this night, beginning at 9 pm.

ABC's Tuesday night wraps up with Eli Stone [10/14 @ 10 pm]. This show is well done, I guess, and I really like the presence of Alias alumni Victor Garber, but at the end of the day, this is just another Lawyer Show that is gussying itself up by giving the title character a brain aneurysm that gives him visions to defend his clients better. It feels like late Fifties cars that were festooned with larger and larger tail fins to no significant utility. Some people liked it and some people saw threw it.

Wednesday: All three shows at midweek are returning shows from previous years, but the best of the bunch is Pushing Daisies [10/1 @ 8 pm]. The highest of High Concept shows, it follows the travails of Ned the Pie Man who has the odd power to bring dead things back to life with a touch. However, a second touch on the reanimated object brings an irreversible death. Ned uses this power in two ways. It helps him run his pie shop economically (he can by the older fruit at a lower cost) and he partners with a local private detective to "interview" the newest inhabitants of the morgue to solve murders. Add to this quirky stew the fact that he reanimated his recently deceased childhood sweetheart, but can never touch her again and you have poignant romance on top of quirk. Further add unnatural set decorations, Barry Sonnenfeld design touches and the narration of Stephen Fry, and all I can say is catch up now!

Private Practice [10/1 @ 9 pm] is also back from last year. I'm not a fan of Grey's Anatomy so I don't find anything compelling to say about this show. It's a spinoff of Grey's and follows the continuing struggles of surgeon Addison Forbes Montgomery as she deals with medical struggles and romantic ups and downs. Physician, heal thyself!

Lastly on this night, Dirty Sexy Money [10/1 @ 10 pm]. The name alone compelled me to kick off last year's ABC 2007 Fall preview. But now, I'll just leave you with the name. Review the link and choose for yourself.

Thursday: The only new show on ABC Thursday night is called Life on Mars [10/9 @ 10 pm]. It follows a NYPD cop that gets thrown backwards to 1973 New York and must find a way to live in the unfamiliar past and find a way to get home. If you think it feels a bit like Quantum Leap, I agree. If you think it also sounds similar to a British television show of the same name, then you are either well read or you subscribe to British cable.

The other shows on Thursday are Ugly Betty [9/25 @ 8 pm] and Grey's Anatomy [9/25 @ 9 thru 11 pm]. I kind of feel that Ugly Betty fills a void left by the earlier and best years of Will & Grace. I don't know this for a fact, but I think that the same demographics of TV viewers liked both shows. I also feel that Grey's Anatomy mostly appeals to women, but I may be wrong with that as well. Still, these shows do well and pull in decent numbers.

But, let's get to the big elephant in ABC's Thursday night room . . . LOST. It won't be back on the air until January 2009. I cry about this a little bit every day. But it gives you the time to recommit yourself to the show you should be watching. I've been writing about TV all week and I can confidently say that there is not another on any of the regular networks that puts more effort, more quality writing and storytelling into a complex plot that can engage the mind and captivate the imagination. Put it on your Netflix queue. borrow Seasons 1-3 from me. Purchase Season 4 this Christmas. You don't want to pass up this opportunity!

Friday: ABC has a pretty weak draw of shows on this night--Wife Swap [10/3 @ 8 pm], Supernanny [10/3 @ 9 pm] and 20/20. I propose to ABC that they combine these three shows into a three hour extravaganza entitled Supernanny Swap/20. This crazy reality show/news program will ask rich families swap their nannies and au pairs with less fortunate wives in lower income brackets. Watch the spoiled nannies struggle to help minimum wage families make ends meet while oppressed middle class mothers try to relax with more opportunity for luxury.

Weekend: Saturday night on ABC is all about college football. On Sunday you get America's Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives [9/28 @ 9 pm], and Brothers and Sisters [9/28 @ 10 pm]. I watched Desperate Housewives with energy its first season but quickly lost season the next year and began watching less and less of all TV on Sunday night since. But you might like Sally Field on Brothers and Sisters and you might find that Desperate Housewives regained some of its zip last year. If so, enjoy.

So, if you are still with me here, I strongly suggest that you give Pushing Daisies a try and make every effort in the world to enjoy LOST while you have the chance.

Until tomorrow night, when I set my sites on CBS . . .

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