Snap Judgments: ABC Upfronts

22 May

I thought Fox had a lot of upfront trailers and it did, but ABC blows it out of the water.  There’s 12. so this is kind of an epic preview but I arbitrarily decided not to break it up.  Honestly, there’s virtually no difference in quality from about 5-12, and I’d make it a virtually tie if I could, but that’s no fun.  None of them looks like anything I’d want to watch, but there’s nothing quite Dads-level cringeworthy either; it’s still a slight cut above CBS as well.  Dramas, as always get the edge, simply because dramas, as a general rule, never look as bad as comedies in trailers or first episodes.  The arbitrary rankings differences basically come down to how much I like this or that cast member. So, loads of forgettable shows, but as a teaser, there’s actually one show I definitively want to watch coming up at the end, so something to look forward to.

12.  Mixology

I hate the name.   It’s actually a decently clever pun on high end cocktails which are currently trendy and people getting together but I still don’t like it.  Anyway, Mixology is super high concept, probably more so than any new show, and especially noteworthy for a comedy.  Ten single people, one night, at a bar, trying to hook up.  For a whole season.  How is that going to last?  I have no idea.  I doubt it’s going to work, I’m not sure it can work, and it certainly doesn’t  seem like it will, but I kind of appreciate the balls of attempting it.  I don’t like the song that plays during the trailer.  The people mostly seem obnoxious and cliche, and honestly it’s not only probably not going to be very good but I would guess cancelled within six weeks.  That said, keep trying high concepts people!

11.Super Fun Night

It’s the Rebel Wilson show.  There you go, to start.  The premise seems to be that three friends, Wilson being the leader, haven’t either had sex, or at least much sex, and are looking to put their inhibitions away and get it going on.  Really though, it’s largely at least about how much you like Rebel Wilson.  A lot of people in the comedy world think Rebel Wilson is a riotous talent.  I mostly don’t really get it.  I don’t think she’s entirely untalented by any means, and I thought she did a pretty good job in Pitch Perfect.  That said, her comedy is just so over the top; there’s no subtlety, and while it’s certainly cool that there are comedic actresses who aren’t, let’s say, the traditional size of actresses, not every joke or gag Wilson makes has to be about her size, which is sometimes to me how Rebel Wilson comes off.

10. Back in the Game

It’s always great when the trailer has the main character delivering the premise, in forced exposition, to another character, rather than having to have a narrator do it.  Terry (Psych’s Maggie Lawson)  just moved from Michigan, having lost everything in a messy divorce, and she’s living with her father who crippled her emotionally growing up.  Due to a bunch of unfortunate circumstances (well, her son wants to play little league to impress a girl, but he’s not good enough to get on the team, so some folks start their own team, and they don’t have a coach), Terry must coach her child and a group of misfit kids in Little League.  James Caan players her emotionally distant old-school father.

9.  Killer Woman

We’re in cop show self-parody city here.  BSG’s Tricia Helfer is Molly Parker, a Texas Ranger who does things her own way, a lone wolf on a largely male force.  And don’t take my word for it.  As the trailer’s narrator says, “She follows the law, but not the rules.”  Really?  Come on.  Seriously?  She fights for justice.  She doesn’t damn care that there’s very little chance of making it out alive, or that they might all die in Mexico, or that if she’s wrong she’ll lose her job.  There’s lots of violence and sex and superiors telling her what she can’t do and she telling them what she can. It’s not good.  I considered moving it to the bottom, but dramas just can’t be as bad as comedies, because rather than not being funny, there’ll just be a bunch of guns shooting bad guys, and that can only be so bad.

8. Resurrection

Finally, our first supernatural show. Unlike the supernatural show coming up on this list, which seems at least somewhat dark, Resurrection seems uplifting and heartwarming, kind of Touch-y.  A boy who went missing thirty years ago shows up as the same age he was when he went missing, and we have to try to figure out how in the hell this happened since it’s not, you know, physically possible.  This sounds more like a movie than a show to me, as I’m not sure where they go with this for a full season.  It’s feel-good and that’s cool and all but it seems a little too fate-y for my liking; the trailer lets me know it will make me question EVERYTHING I believe!  I’m not sure I’m ready to do that.

7.  Betrayal

At first I thought it was going to be soapy, but by the two minute mark, it looked more weepy.  It seems very Nicolas Sparks-y.  A married female photographer has an affair with a perfect seeming man, then guilt and/or conflict lead to complications.  They seeming having something magical, but it could all come tumbling down.  Since it’s called Betrayal, I kept waiting for it to go action-y or creepy Fatal Attraction or A Perfect Murder-style, but it just seems like a serious show about romance and love and I guess betrayal.  More than most shows, this really isn’t for me, straight from the get go, so I’m hesitant to judge it too well or too harshly.  This group of shows is all about the same grade, as mentioned above, so this is just stuck in the middle and I bumped it ahead of Resurrection at the last second.

6. Trophy Wife

The Trophy Wife trailer is mercifully short but not particularly promising.  A stacked cast it has, with Bradley Whitford as a serial marrier now on his third and significantly younger wife, played by Malin Akerman.  Akerman has to contend with two of Bradley’s exes, played by Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, each of whom have kids with Whitford.  Dysfunctional families, angry exes, Akerman doing silly things to try to fit in and gain the respect of the kids and their mothers.  This is primarily here because I didn’t want to put all the dramas in a row and I like several of the cast members.  It doesn’t look very funny, though.

5. The Goldbergs

This sounds exactly like the beginning of the trailer to Chris Meloni’s ‘sitcom set in the ’90s, Surviving Jack, except set in the ’80s.  They didn’t have the internet or twitter or Kimye!  They had all the culture you remember and love, like Alf and Wang Chung, and REO Speedwagon which comes up twice, including a extended scene of Jeff Garlin singing along to “Can’t Fight this Feeling.” Patton Oswalt is the narrator, telling the tale of his childhood from our present and starring Garlin as an old-school ’80s dad.  Oswalt’s narrator is the youngest of three and his special gimmick is that he captured the family on that new ’80s technology, video tape.  Garlin’s angry dad Murray is quite the character, dispensing tough love to his kids, and never knowing how to actually tell them how he really feels. There’s plenty of ’80s period music, but it’s a little obvious for my preference.  They trailer is at least 2 minutes longer than it should be. I like the people, but I hate the concept.  I’m sorry Patton and Jeff, but it looks terrible, and the only reason it’s this high is because of the involvement of those two.

4. Mind games

Christian Slater is in the Kyle Bornheimer/Will Arnett group of actors constantly starring in failed shows, having starred in and failed in Breaking In, My Own Worst Enemy, and The Forgotten in recent years.  Steve Zahn and Christian Slater play a pair of quirky brothers, one bipolar, one an ex-con, who try to use their particular sets of skills to change people’s minds through manipulation.  From Steve Zahn’s explanation of their activity halfway through the trailer, it sounds like this is a humorous USA version of Inception, except they implant the ideas externally rather than inside people’s brains.  Again – how is this not on USA?  It’s got two characters who are great at what they do, but have personal problems, and they’re very much capital C characters.  In fact, it seems like I’d like it about as much as most USA shows.  It’ll be fun, light, fairly enjoyable, but not particularly interesting and could get old after seeing a couple of seasons of the same thing.  Still, that’s easily good enough for the fourth spot.

3.  Lucky 7

6 lucky misfit co-workers, all poor and down on their luck and scrimping and saving every penny to get through the day, win the lottery.  One seemingly smart co-worker who saved his money instead of putting it in the lottery pool apparently doesn’t (sending a terrible message that it’s advisable to spend money on the lottery).  Drama ensues.  It’s pretty non-descript and I doubt it will be good because it’s a network TV show but it’s actually not a bad idea for a show, and while it doesn’t look particularly good, it doesn’t look particularly bad either.  There’s potentially something here, and there’s several routes the show could depending on what tone they’re going for, but I’m guessing middle of the road drama.

2. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Once Upon a Time is one of a few network dramas that other cool people like that I don’t (also: The Good Wife, Scandal).  Because of that, ,I  have very little confidence in this show going forward because of its connection to the original.  That said, it would also be unfair not to note that, judging from the trailer, it looks significantly darker and better potentially than the original.  The concept, in which it seems like Alice is being held in a psychiatric facility because her father believes she’s insane, due to her stories about seeing and meeting supernatural places and people, is actually a pretty great one. I have a hard time believing that people who make one show I don’t like much would spin off a show that I like a lot better, but based on the trailer this belongs here.

1.  Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dare I say I’m actually excited about a show?  It feels weird to be writing a nearly entirely positive review of a trailer, but that’s what happens when Joss Whedon is involved.  I’m a full fledged Whedon-ite, and while it doesn’t mean that everything he touches will be exemplary, it certainly improves the chances greatly.  It looks good, it’s got some patented Whedon dialogue and humor, which always lightens the earnestness and self-seriousness often present when superheroes are involved.  I could go on, but it’s been a long entry and I don’t want to ruin a clear cut number one.  I’m in.

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