ABC's New Fall and Midseason Shows: Your First Look

Television Without Pity

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We're still trying to figure out what ABC's execs were talking about at their upfront presentation when they claimed they were the "number one must-keep" network, but at least they had something resembling a sense of humor about their shows, talking about while their Bachelors may not stay engaged, they're viewers are. And then, as usual, they unleashed Jimmy Kimmel, whose show has been on the air for ten years, which is about nine longer than I predicted way back when. He joked to the ad buyers in the crowd that "We don't know what we are doing. We have no idea what people want to see. If we did, we wouldn't have an upfront; we'd just put the shows on the air and you'd just mail us a check." Then he added, "That show "Work It"... you know we were just kidding about that, right?" Of course, he had to rip on the other networks as well. On NBC: "Spinning chairs and a monkey. This truly is a golden age of television." On Fox's "X Factor": "No one knows talent like Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. Britney Spears wanted to be a judge since she's spent the last ten years appearing before them." On CBS: "For the 18-to-49-trips-to-the-bathroom demographic." On The CW's new musical chairs show: ""Oh Sit!" It used to be called "Steaming Pile o' Sit", but they shortened it." Still, his best joke was also at "The X Factor" and "Idol"'s expense: "I feel bad for Paula Abdul. She's the Rosa Parks of bipolar talent show judges. No one was more dedicated or more medicated." It's a good thing that Kimmel was funny, because none of ABC's new comedies looked amusing at all.

[Photos: ABC's 2012 Upfront VIP Party]

Comedies

"The Neighbors" (Wednesdays at 9:30 PM)
Were you thinking it was about time that an alien comedy (like "Mork & Mindy", "Alf" or "3rd Rock from the Sun") made a return to primetime? So were the people at ABC. A horribly unlikeable Lenny Venito is married to Jami Gertz, playing humans who end up moving into a gated community with a bunch of aliens. Oh, and all of the aliens have named themselves after famous athletes and bleed green goo out of their ears when they cry. It's somehow supposed to be a perfect fit with "Modern Family", but unless the Dunphys are secretly aliens (and Alex might be), we see little in common here.

[Photos: ABC's New 2012-2013 Shows]


"Malibu Country" (Fridays at 8:30 PM)
Reba McEntire's discovered that her husband is a cheating jerk, so she ditches him and moves to California to live with her mother. Mom is a pot-smoking Lily Tomlin, who lives next door to Sara Rue. Also, former "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" star Jai Rodriquez is the music agent who helps Reba restart her singing career. Perhaps he could help Connie Britton over on "Nashville". I sense a crossover event waiting to happen.


"How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)" (Midseason)
Sarah Chalke is a single mom who has moved home (along with her daughter) to live with her very frisky parents (played by Elizabeth Perkins and Brad Garrett). She wants to get a life, while her parents are less than thrilled about being built-in babysitters since they act outrageously and inappropriately at all times. It had a couple of funny lines, and didn't have an oppressive laugh track, but it's going to be hard to escape the suckiest title of the season.

"The Family Tools" (Midseason)
While I underestimated the appeal of Tim Allen that has kept "Last Man Standing" on the air, I'm pretty sure this one will be cancelled quickly, if for no other reason than it features the super-annoying Kyle Bornheimer... a known showkiller. He plays an incompetent failure who has moved back home to help his ailing dad with the family business. He accidentally shoots nails from a gun at his friend and there is a laugh track. The whole trailer made us feel bad for Leah Remini, which is saying a lot.

Dramas

"Nashville" (Wednesdays at 10 PM)
Still too early to tell if this is going to be my new guilty pleasure or if it is a genuinely good show, but I know for sure that I'm going to be watching every second of this "Country Strong" rip-off. It stars Connie Britton (I can't get enough Tami Taylor) as the older country singer whose career is faltering. She's pitted against young, hot, auto-tuned star Hayden Panettiere. Eric Close and Powers Boothe are also in the mix, so this looks like it could be fun. Probably more entertaining that "Smash" at least.


"Last Resort" (Thursdays at 8 PM)
When I saw the description for this show earlier today, I shook my head. Because a series about a naval submarine whose crew decides to set up shop on a small island and create their own country after they are attacked by the U.S. government just sounds preposterous. It looks ridiculous played out on screen as well, but yet, somehow, the footage hinted at something that could end up being entertaining, like a Tom Clancy movie on a TV budget. Perhaps that's thanks to the collective power of Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman.


"666 Park Avenue" (Sundays at 10 PM)
z Sell your soul to some sort of devil-like force in order to live on the Upper East Side? May sound unrealistic to most people, but damned if I wouldn't consider it. Living with poltergeists and a creepy Terry O'Quinn couldn't be all that bad. The show stars O'Quinn as the building owner, Vanessa Williams as his wife and Rachael Taylor and Dave Annable as the cutesy couple who have just moved in. It looks dark and twisty, with a bit of a supernatural bent, and has the potential to get me hooked. It's like a less over-the-top "American Horror Story" for network TV, with a little bit of "Rosemary's Baby" thrown in for good measure.


"Mistresses" (Midseason)
Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes and Jes Macallan are all friends in various stages of their lives looking for love and some good sex along the way. It seems like it's trying to be the new "Desperate Housewives" by way of "Sex and the City", but missing the mark on both. In a post-"Fifty Shades of Grey" world, this show is going to have to be a lot more steamy to pique anyone's curiosity.

"Red Widow" (Midseason)
After Radha Mitchell's husband gets killed by some illegal gang/mob organization, she has to protect her family while going against the criminals and the FBI to figure out exactly how her husband died. At least that's what the press release tells me because the footage mostly focused on the husband dying and not what happens in the aftermath. Frankly, I'm not sure I really care to find out.

"Zero Hour" (Midseason)
This show looks full-on crazy. I was rolling my eyes at the fact that Anthony Edwards was married to "Real World" alum Jacinda Barrett (because that seemed strange enough). Then she gets kidnapped (which is not a good set-up for a long-term show). Then the teaser showed some kind of Rambaldi box and mumbled dialogue from "The Da Vinci Code", some psycho-eyed babies, random religious imagery and a Frozen Donkey Wheel version of young Anthony Edwards . Oh, and there are Nazis. It's all of the insanity you can stand in one convenient place. So if you want some wannabe "Lost"/"Alias"/"Event"/"Missing" hybrid, you've got it.



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