Fall 2011 Preview and Predictions: ABC

19 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

ABC’s got more new scripted shows than any of the other networks, but they also have a couple that look certain to fail, so it’s a trade off.  Charlie’s Angels, Revenge and Pan Am debut within a week, while everything else comes later.

Charlie’s Angels – 9/22

My friend posited that the only reason the original Charlie’s Angels was popular was because there was no easy access to attractive women on the internet in the 1970s.  That may be a bit simplistic, but this edition of Charlie’s Angels certainly doesn’t seem to be doing anything to improve views of the franchise.  There’s nothing to see here; while it probably won’t be embarrassing, I don’t think it will be very good, and I think audiences will not find much reason to watch the show.

Verdict:  12- I don’t think that ABC has put a ton of eggs in the Charlie’s Angels basket so it may not feel obliged to keep it around too long if it’s unsuccessful.  Other ’70s adaptation Wonder Woman didn’t even make it to TV, so maybe the trend isn’t there.

Last Man Standing – 10/11

There are few instant obvious choices for pure unredeemable terribleness on the schedule, but we’ve got one here.  I’m not sure what the exact word opposite of can’t miss would be (must miss?), but this would be categorized under it.  Tim Allen plays a Colorado man whose home life is dominated by women, his wife, played by Nancy Travis, and his three daughters.  He’s a man emasculated by their constant and overbearing female presence and misses times when men where  men.  Oh, and Hector Elizondo is in it for some reason.

Verdict:  12- This just be my easiest 12- of the entire season.  If it didn’t have Tim Allen on it, it wouldn’t be on TV.  Even if it did have Tim Allen, it wouldn’t be on TV if ABC didn’t owe him so much for years of Home Improvement

Man Up – 10/18

This series, part of the Man block with Last Man Standing, also deals with emasculation and seems at first blush about as likely to succeed as Last Man Standing.  The show is about three men who have decided they want to “man up” and start being well, more manly.  About the only thing I can see offhand to like is the appearance of Mather Zickel who plays a news magazine host in my favorite episode of Childrens Hospital and a pornographic film maker in a fantastic episode of Party Down.

Verdict:  12- It both looks terrible at worst and mediocre at best, has absolutely no buzz or backing and nothing to recommend it.  ABC has more new shows this fall than anyone; some of them have got to fail.  It’s supposed to be better than Last Man Standing to be sure, but that’s not saying much.

Once Upon a Time – 10/23

The other fairy tale show (along with Grimm), Once Upon a Time stars Jennifer Morrison, best known as Cameron from House, as a bail bondsman who finds out she may be the daughter of Snow White, and that she may be the only one who can save both the real and fairy tale worlds from, well, something bad, I’m sure.  The show takes place in Storybrooke,Maine where fairy tale characters like Snow White and Prince Charming have regular jobs (much like the comic series Fables, which I recommend to anyone who thinks this premise sounds interesting).  It has a very minor bit of cache coming from a couple of Lost writers.

Verdict:  13+ – one of the shows I could very easily see going either way, both critically and commercially, so I’ll take the easy way out.  I could see it being great, as the premise is interesting, or being terrible, as sometimes ambitious premises have the lowest floor, but it’s mostly likely to be somewhere in the middle

Pan Am – 9/25

The other early ‘60s show (along with The Playboy Club), Pam Am for sure looks like the better of the two.  Pan Am features Christina Ricci and others as Pan Am flight attendants who are also somehow involved with espionage.  The tone is light and fluffy rather than serious, and I’m interested enough to at least give it a chance, though I’m still quite apprehensive.

Verdict:  Renewal – it’s a good fit on ABC’s Sunday night next to Desperate Housewives, as hopefully for it, it will put people in the proper mood for a show that is closer in tone to Desperate Housewives than to Mad Men

Revenge – 9/21

Revenge is loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo, the basic plot of which I finally had explained to me last week.  Instead of in France, Revenge is set in the Hamptons where mysterious woman Emily Van Camp of Everwood and Brothers and Sisters looks to take the title action on Madeleine Stowe and friends.  Every year, one or two series intrigue me for reasons I can’t quite explain, usually series where I don’t know enough information to make me realize they will be bad, so the series sound open to any possibilities.  I think this year’s edition is Revenge.

Verdict: Renewal – I may be well be wrong (on all of these, actually) and the show may be terrible, but I have not taken a subway not filled with Revenge ads in the last two weeks and if I’m intrigued maybe other people will be.  And maybe it will actually be good!

Suburgatory – 9/28

TV’s answer to satirical the-jungle-that-is-suburban-high-school movies like Mean Girls and Easy A, everyone is already labeling star Jane Levy as the new Emma Stone or Lindsay Lohan.  Levy plays a girl who was moved from NYC to the more affluent ‘burbs by protective single dad Jeremy Sisto.  I might be getting ahead of myself, but this show could actually be good; it’s a time tested premise, but what will make or break it is how it’s done.  Alan Tudyk of Firefly and Rex Lee of Lloyd in Entourage fame appear in the show as does Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines as a catty neighbor.

Verdcit: 13+ Writing up that preview I almost convinced myself that it would be good enough to just put renewal on a whim, but I’m going to be cautious.  I haven’t seen a whole lot of advertisements around for it.  However, if it actually is good, I think ABC could be a decent home for it.

ABC is the last of the networks to be previewed, so it’s time to sit back and see how the shows go from here.  We’ll be here all week with reviews, and probably another broad cable show preview at some point.

4 Responses to “Fall 2011 Preview and Predictions: ABC”

  1. Beardface September 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Home Improvement might be my least favorite popular sitcom of all time, so Last Man Standing will probably get renewed just to spite me.

    Are you insinuating that you’ve never read The Count of Monte Cristo? If so, what the hell is wrong with you?

  2. Anonymous September 20, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Is Once Upon a Time based on Fables?

    • televisionthedrugofthenation September 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      It’s not, in Fables they’re actually in New York, and a number of other differences, it just has an eerily similar premise.


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