ABC announced its new fall shows today. Here are mini-reviews of seven of ’em. Warning: they’re based solely on short clips provided by the network, so I (and you) reserve the right to adjust the grades of them, up or down, once full-length episodes are available. But that will be… in the fall. Who wants to wait to have an opinion until then? (Clips added where available.)
• Modern Family This sitcom follows three very different suburban families including Married… With Children‘s Ed O’Neil as a guy who’s married a much younger woman, and a gay couple who’ve just adopted a Vietnamese baby. It has a crisp knowingness that seems very promising.
• Eastwick That sound you hear is John Updike rolling over in his grave: This TV version of The Witches of Eastwick, starring Rebecca Romijn and Lipstick Jungle‘s Lindsay Price, looks amazingly lame, as though ABC had put it through a Desperate Housewives wringer and then squeezed out all the jokes.
• Flash Forward The season’s trickiest premise: in a worldwide event, everyone blacks out for two minutes, 17 seconds and has mysterious visions. It all looked like a muddle in a brief clip, but since it is a complex idea, and is created by David Goyer (The Dark Knight) and Brandon Braga (24), it could be better than it seemed.
• Cougar Town Poor Courtney Cox: Why can’t this woman find another good TV project. She plays a desperate divorcee with a son, and she’s trying to get back in the dating game. Worst exchange in the clip I saw: “When was the last time you got laid?” Cox’s character: “I almost hooked up with my son last night.” What? Huh?
• Hank Kelsey Grammer stars as a self-described “rich white man” who’s suddenly downsized. Yes, he’s working another variation on his Frasier character, but yes, it’s still funny.
• The Middle Patricia Heaton (Grammer’s partner in the recent, short-lived Back To You) seems miscast as the harried wife of Neil Flynn (Scrubs‘ janitor). Heaton is called upon to be frantic, slinging a bag of fast food on the table and yelling, “I made dinner!” It’s like pre-Everybody Loves Raymond-era humor.
• The Forgotten A group of amateur detectives solves unidentified-victim murder cases. They’re called the Identity Network. They’re earnest but hardboiled, intense but… dull. With 24‘s Reiko Aylesworth and Tell Me You Love Me‘s Michelle Borth.