Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Network Upfronts 2010: ABC Says, "More Shonda Rhimes, Please!"

Yesterday, I watched the ABC upfront. ABC has apparently adopted the philosophy of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if Shonda Rhimes wrote it, order it."

ABC has something going for it that NBC doesn't: First-place status. Not total-viewer status--that's CBS. But ABC and Fox have been dueling it out in the adults 18-49 demographic in recent years, especially during the spring when Fox has American Idol. Both ABC and Fox attract the kind of young, upscale viewers that NBC used to have with Friends and Seinfeld. Okay, I'll stop with the industry-speak.

Sidenote: NBC will tell you it's got the #1 show in the fall, but they're really just talking about Sunday Night Football, which doesn't count. It's a sporting event, not a television show.

Anyway. Regarding the first part of ABC's philosophy, the network is leaving most of its schedule alone. Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and Dancing with the Stars and the entire Sunday night lineup are staying put. ABC does have a couple of holes in its schedule--it needs something to replace Hank on Wednesdays and FlashForward on Thursdays.

Here is a rundown of ABC's new shows:

No Ordinary Family (Tuesdays at 8PM)--Julie Benz from Dexter and Michael Chiklis from The Shield are parents whose family discovers they have superpowers after their plane crashes and they fall in a pond filled with magical shiny water. This one actually looked okay. Not knock-your-socks-off, but definitely potential. Grade: B-.

Detroit 1-8-7 (Tuesdays at 10PM)--It's a documentary-style drama following homicide detectives in Detroit on their jobs. It looked gritty and depressing. As I watched the trailer, one question kept running through my head: "Why would anybody WATCH this show?" I'm not even asking that sarcastically. I genuinely want to know. Grade: C.

Better Together (Wednesdays at 830PM)--A comedy about two sisters, one of whom is in a longtime dating relationship (we're talking 9 years) and the other is in a 7-week relationship and gets engaged. And their parents have been married 35 years and are totally wacky. Better Together looks cute and funny. And Joanna Garcia is in it, so you know it's good (R.I.P. Privileged). This show will fit right in with the rest of the Wednesday comedies. Grade: B+.

The Whole Truth (Wednesdays at 10PM)--I'm calling it now: The first canceled show of the season. At least on ABC. The Whole Truth is about telling both sides of a legal case, from the defense and the prosecutor. And, like, the defense attorney and prosecutor are totes BFFs from Yale Law! Oh, the drama! Grade: D.

My Generation (Thursdays at 8PM)--If you combined the Fox show Reunion and the ABC show Life As We Know It, you'll get My Generation. Wait, I just described this show using two shows that got canceled after the first season. Yikes. But fear not--this one's decent! It follows the lives of a bunch of twentysomethings, comparing who they are today to who they were in 2000, when they were seniors in high school. There's no other way to say it: It just. looked. good. Definitely worth checking out. Also, there's an Asian American actress in it named Anne Son. She plays a woman who, as a shy and geeky senior, slept with the high school jock and got pregnant by him and never told him...until ten years later. Dun dun dun! I don't even care that they totally ganked this plotline from Life Unexpected. I'm really hoping the show takes off. Grade: B+.

Secret Millionaire (Fridays at 8PM)--Fox aired it, and now ABC bought it. I don't know why. The concept is nice--rich people go into poor communities and live and work anonymously amongst the poor and decide to give $100,000 to the most deserving people. I'm already watching Undercover Boss. Sorry, Secret Millionaire. Grade: C.

Body of Proof (Fridays at 9PM)--Dany Delany, I love you. So I don't know why ABC is punishing you by giving you your very own show...and scheduling it on Friday nights! This show looks good--it's about a medical examiner solving crimes. And from the looks of the trailer, Dana can definitely carry her own show. Hey, ABC, I'd move this one to Tuesday nights at 10PM and get rid of that Detroit show. Grade: B.

Happy Endings (Midseason, TBA)--It's about couples. I actually forgot what this show was about (what with the glut of new couples comedies), so I just looked up the description from ABC. Okay, it's about what happens when a couple breaks up but they remain friends but not really because one of their mutual friends starts to like the guy and now everyone has to choose sides or something. Elisha Cuthbert from 24 is in it. I don't have anything else. Grade: D. Also, please change the title.

Mr. Sunshine (Midseason, TBA)--Matthew Perry plays a guy turning 40 and he runs a sports arena and his boss is Allison Janney. And there's a blond girl in it who he likes, but the girl is dating his boss or whatever. Blahh... I can see why this one's on the back burner. Grade: D.

Off the Map (Midseason, TBA)--The long-awaited eighty-seventh medical drama from Shonda Rhimes, the goddess behind Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. Off the Map, which needs a fresh title ASAP, is about three doctors who decide, screw this cushy life in NY/LA/Wherever We're From. We're going to South America! And of course, they're all fishes out of water, just like that episode of Chuck where Ellie and Awesome go to do Doctors Without Borders in Africa and it's pouring rain when they arrive and Ellie is miserable and Awesome contracts malaria but then it turns out the FBI guy was the one who made him sick. Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Off the Map. The trailer looked bleh. Also, I don't like the jungle setting. I'll give this one a shot, because Shonda has been 2-for-2, but I just don't know if this one will work out. Grade: C.

All in all, not a bad crop, but no standouts either like last year's Modern Family. Oh, well.

(Pictured: The cast of No Ordinary Family. Tom Shayes, you're alive! Rita, you're alive! Lady from CSI: Miami who got blown up by a car bomb, you're alive!)

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