Hey, ABC! Lifetime just called. They say they want their brand positioning back. The alphabet network – home to several strong franchises centered around strong female leads (Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico) – is filling the holes in its fall schedule with four shows built around female protagonists, plus one with what’s-his-name from 24.
It’s the first set of picks from ABC’s new entertainment president Channing Dungey, whose inaugural slate is also notable for some notable cancellations (long-in-the-tooth Castle; too-small Marvel’s Agent of Carter) and scheduling moves, like relocating The Middle to Tuesdays to create a two-hour comedy block and pushing Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to 10 p.m. Here are some snap judgments on the new fall shows, which I suspect will launch the Dungey era with a hit or two.
Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET, after Grey’s Anatomy
Here’s the show ABC picked to spell Scandal while Kerry Washington is on maternity leave. Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) plays an aggressive, unethical TV news producer who routinely colludes with an aggressive, unethical high-profile defense attorney played by Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me) for mutual advantage. He helps her get ratings; she helps him get cases.
Like Lifetime’s UnREAL, Notorious promises a dirty-sexy-cynical media industry satire from an insider’s perspective: the show is inspired by the professional experiences of veteran cable news journalist Wendy Walker and lawyer Mark Geragos, whose famous clients include Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson. The premise should allow the writers to churn topical themes through the show’s drama grinder.
What I can’t really glean from the choppy trailer is tone. It seems edited to emphasize engaging, soapy fun. Are we actually supposed to view these media-manipulating cads as heroes and delight in their sleaze? A cooler satirical POV – à la UnREAL — might make for a more interesting show, albeit one with narrower appeal than ABC would like.