A swing and a miss.
If you remember during last year’s ABC upfronts, Entertainment President Paul Lee boldly went to no man had gone before, proclaiming “I think we have a lot of big swings” with last year’s fall schedule. Indeed. A swing and a miss.
A couple big misses, actually. Remember how highly touted the reboot of “Charlie’s Angels” was last year? Wait, what’s that? You completely forgot that someone actually tried to breathe life into the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise on broadcast television in 2011? Oh, but it’s true, friends. Around this time last year, you couldn’t go five clicks of the mouse without coming across some article regarding how ABC was poised to bring the classic series back. How about “Pan Am?” Does that ring a bell? You know — one of about 69,295 shows aimed at profiling flight attendants during the 1960s that debuted last fall didn’t even make it to March and Christina Ricci is now left to do nothing but wonder how she can become relevant again.
Actually, maybe the biggest miss of them all turned out to be a simple foul ball. “Last Man Standing,” Tim Allen’s return to television, continues to live as it is slated to come back on Fridays sometime in November. With any luck, the pitcher will sit him down with some high heat, now that the count sits at 1-2. Then, of course, there is “Once Upon A Time.” The network’s somewhat surprising ABC-is-always-good-for-one-of-these hit of 2011 is back this fall at 8 p.m. on Sundays. It’s like I said last year — for every “Work It,” ABC always seems to have another “Lost” ready to get in the game and drive in two runs on a triple (are you tired of the baseball metaphors yet?).
In any case, below are three talking points from this year’s ABC upfronts. We’ll finish up the coverage soon with everybody’s favorite Charlie Sheen-less network, CBS. Enjoy.
ABC TALKING POINTS
1. “Raise your hand if you’ve ever said, ‘Did you see what happened on ‘NCIS’ last night?'” Such were the patronizing words of late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel during his annual upfronts roast. Oh, but if he only knew how poignant his words could be. ABC lacks that exact type of crime drama that is always good for a sizable chunk of ratings winnings. NBC had it with its “Law And Order” franchise. FOX has it with … well, is it me, or does FOX always try to appeal to the crime drama bunch with at least five new shows a year? ABC, meanwhile, doesn’t really have that type of tried-but-true formula (and no, “Castle” doesn’t count). Instead, the Disney-owned network seems to love relying on reality programming and quirky comedies. I mean, my God. Give a network a “Modern Family” and they move a mile. All things considered, a lot of ABC’s hyped-up offerings last season fell so flat, they were lucky they had “Dancing With The Stars” and the series-ending season of “Desperate Housewives” to fall back on. One has to wonder that if the network can’t come across another “Once Upon A Time” this year, how long will it take before the suits start clamoring for the next “NYPD Blue?” We might find out sooner than we think.
2. Movies. One thing Lee seemed to harp on, from all the reports regarding ABC’s time in the box, is the fact that he was able to pull in some movie personalities to work behind the scenes on new series for the fall. “Nashville,” for instance, comes from Callie Khouri, who also happened to write “Thelma And Louise” (and oddly isn’t the ABC show Reba McEntire will star in come September — that prize goes to “Malibu Country”). “The Neighbors,” meanwhile, features aliens and will be created by Dan Fogelman. Who is Dan Fogelman, you ask? That’s a good question. He wrote one of the better romantic comedies to hit the big screen last year, “Crazy Stupid Love,” duh. And now ABC seems to think he can turn a story about aliens who happen to own a gated community in New Jersey into something that’s worthy of the prime post-“Modern Family” spot on Wednesdays. It’s odd, really. How many times have we seen movie-related personalities turn their attention to the small screen and fail? The answer is more times than you could say “TGIF” in the span of 30 seconds. To think that these guys will come in and provide programming worthy of a second thought is akin to thinking “Terra Nova” was going to last more than one season. It’s a lesson nobody seems to learn: Success in the film world never means that success in the television world is imminent. In fact, at this point, it’s even become the exception to the rule. Aliens and country music. There’s no way they could fail, right?
3. Goodbye to you. Goodbye to you. In addition to the aforementioned “Pan Am,” “Work It” and “Charlie’s Angels,” other shows we bid farewell to include “The River,” “Missing,” “Man Up!” “GCB” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” All is not lost, though, as we will say hello to “666 Park Avenue,” a show with a description that has the word “mysterious” in it at least 207 times. The buzziest of the bunch seems to be “How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life),” a show featuring Sarah Chalke (or, as some of you may know her, “Darlene” from “Roseanne” and “That One Girl From ‘Scrubs'”), Elizabeth Perkins and Brad Garrett (or, as some of you may know him, “The Tall Dude On ‘Everybody Loves Raymond'”). “The Family Tools” features Leah Remini and that’s all you really need to know about that. And something called “Mistreses,” a show about “the scandalous lives of a sexy and sassy group of four girlfriends, each on her own path to self-discovery,” will be waiting in the wings for “Nashville” to eventually be cancelled so it can move in somewhere. When reached for comment, Leah Dunham mumbled something about “Girls” and whined a little.