Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fall TV Previews, 2015: American Broadcasting Company

[It was pretty hot outside when I first sat down to write this. (It was Labor Day weekend.) And that signaled the approach of the Fall: that time of sweaters, leaves, pumpkin-spice everything . . . and the return of new Fall TV shows.]

Dean and I have teamed up again this year to break down the shows that you should watch. Dean has written an overview of Cable TV and, as usual, I am going to examine the main networks, starting with ABC.


It is a remarkable truth that the first hour of ABC's Sunday schedule is still devoted to America's Funniest Home Videos. I would have thought that YouTube had eliminated the insatiable need for Americans to see other Americans fall on their faces. But maybe this simply signals the continuing influence of Baby Boomers. They are not yet comfortable on YouTube, so they demand their video pratfalls in the usual way. And since most of Sunday is devoted to football anyway, why not begin the night with the visual equivalent of warm mashed potatoes with a big pat of melting butter?

My daughter Grace is very happy about the return of Once Upon a Time (returning, 9/27 @ 8). She started late, but caught up on Netflix and then watched last season live. As the name suggests, the show is about fairy tales--but twisted into modern settings. And sometimes the characters you remember from childhood have been changed slightly for this show. But Grace likes it. Maybe you've got a pre-teen or a Disney lover in your house that needs something to do on Sunday night?

The other two shows on ABC Sunday night are Blood & Oil (premieres 9/27 @9) and Quantico (premieres 9/27 @ 10). Blood & Oil's big draw seems to be the presence of Don Johnson. The show is described thusly: "Two working-class men lock horns with a ruthless tycoon while striving to cash in on the North Dakota oil boom." I assume that Johnson is the tycoon because I think he is now too old to be locking horns with anyone without the possibility of endangering a broken hip. But this shows sounds kind of ordinary, so let's see what Quantico is about--"The story of FBI trainees at the FBI academy in Quantico, VA, one of whom is a sleeper agent who will engineer a major terror attack on the U.S." 

Now, this sounds more interesting. It has got procedural elements of cop shows, it features everyone's favorite topic of disagreement--the government, it shows young people learning, and it mixes in everyone's favorite dramatic plot element . . . terror attacks. It seems like it might have some potential. (Click on this link to go check out its trailer and decide for yourself.)


Um . . . well, There is nothing on this day that is at all new. Dancing with the Stars (returns 9/14 @ 8) takes up a huge block of time and the night is wrapped up with Castle (returning 9/21 @ 10). Football, football, football rules the day!


Remember back on Sunday, when I speculated that America's Funniest Home Videos was still going because of Baby Boomers? Well, how about the premiere of The Muppets (premieres 9/22 @ 8), back in Prime Time television? Thanks to Jason Segel--who helped resurrect the movie version of the Muppets a few years back, and with the financial backing of owner Disney, your favorite felt fellows are back again. But this time the Muppet show takes some inspiration from The Office and other mockumentary series, following Kermit, Mrs. Piggy, and the rest of the gang away from whatever variety show they might be cooking up this time and chasing a bit of their home lives as well.

You know this will feature lots of cross over hits from other ABC stars--see the show's Twitter feed as evidence. But I'm not mad. A world with more Muppets is not a bad world.

There are no other brand new shows on this night for ABC. Fresh Off the Boat (returns 9/22 @ 8:30) debuted last year to good reviews. I haven't watched lots of sit-coms in recent years, but I guess this one is okay. (Though I do remember having a knee-jerk reaction--which I probably wrote--that it would traffic too much on Asian stereotypes. But . . . I guess it does that will skill?) But on this night I'm more invested in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (returns 9/29 @ 9) that anything else. The quality of the show has definitely had its ups-and-downs. But I'm a sucker for deep mythology and interconnectedness, so I've been involved in the MCU for a while now.


Midweek on America's network are lots and lots of sit-coms. But I really enjoyed black-ish (returns 9/23 @ 9:30) last year--even though I definitely dismissed it in my Preview column for 2014. (Sorry . . . but I was assuming, as I did with Fresh Off the Boat, that it would employ tired stereotypes.) However, the show is sharply written, and the characters are fun and inventive and even sometimes going against the stereotype. So, I guess I was the one with the problem. I look forward to another strong season from the writing team and I hope they work more of Lawrence Fishburne into the show this coming season. I realize he has other things going on, but I really enjoyed the dynamic between him and Anthony Anderson's Dre.

Other ABC shows on this day are all returning from past years--The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and Nashville. (You can see what nights they return with this handy calendar.) I've never watched any of these shows, so I'll leave it up to anyone in the comments who might want to toss in some opinions on how good these shows are? (I know that Dean likes The Goldbergs, at least . . . so maybe he would have something to say?)


As with Wednesday, this day is full of returning shows . . . but the focus shifts from sit-coms to dramas: Gray's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. As I've said previously in this space . . . how is it that Gray's is STILL going strong? (Or maybe not strong . . . but it is definitely still going.) How many years is it now? I don't know, but it feels so long that I kinda think the cast should look more this the image on the right . . . amirite?

I guess Gray's is the new CSI or the old Law & Order--an institution that just swaps in and out actors and themes as needed to fill a time slot year after year after year. NBC must look at this show and just wonder "What is that like? To have a show that just keeps going all the time and you just assume its going to be there like the sun coming up every day. But . . . not like Community, the show you tried to kill but it is like a zombie that just keeps getting up and dragging itself towards you again and again, relentlessly stalking you until you put a Yahoo-shaped bullet in its brain." And then NBC is sad and wishes that it had successful zombie series to make money. (And I hope--without doing any research--that NBC doesn't own AMC or anything obvious like that.)

BUT . . . we're talking about ABC, not NBC!


At the end of the work week, ABC has one new show, called Dr. Ken (premieres 10/2 @ 8:30). It is described  by the network as "An accomplished physician tries to balance his career and a hectic family life with two kids and a wife." 

And my initial reaction was to yawn and say "Next. . . " But then I looked at the cast. Ken Jeong (hey, speaking of Community!) and Dave Foley make me at least and pause to say "Go on . . ." But will Dr. Ken allow Jeong--who has always lived off his off-kilter manic skills to be something more grounded? And if so, will people want to see him doing that? Maybe he'll be a bit more acerbic, like Dr. House . . .  but with a bit of speedball mixed in? I assume it'll be something like that right--geniusy-type who is always pissing people off, but they put up with it because he's always brilliant and right? (Kind of a mainstream, Asian-inflected Sherlock Holmes? I want to make some sort of pun here on that idea, but I'm not sure how without being terrible at it. If YOU want to suggest something, the comments are just below, so be my guest.)

And . . . well, that's it for ABC. Saturday is all devoted to college football, so there is nothing you need to know there . . . except for this:

And though you might not know what that means as of this reading, you WILL know what that means tomorrow. Because Dean has also written HIS Cable Preview for the Fall, and he asked Good Cartoon Man to illustrate his post with similar quality, "good" cartoons.

Don't know who Good Cartoon Man might be? Then check out his Web site. If you like what you see, TELL HIM and maybe he'll get back to posting more often.

But, enough teasing. Dean's contribution will go up tomorrow and the rest of my posts will be following soon.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Get daily suggestions and methods for making $1,000s per day FROM HOME for FREE.