ABC presented its fall schedule to advertisers today with the usual barrage of corporate-speak (“Let’s build innovative-creative!”; “Audience, brands, content — it’s a natural fit!”) and the by-now traditional roasting by Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel called Lost “what it must be like to be trapped inside the head of Paula Abdul.” He ridiculed ABC exec Steve McPherson for saying the network wants to “break the mold, and then introduces a new medical drama from Shonda Rhimes.” (That would be Off The Map, a mid-season show about young hot American doctors “in the Amazon.”) Kimmel also took shots at the other networks, saying that Fox’s plan to air a special episode of Glee after the Super Bowl is an attempt to set a new record for the number of middle-aged American men saying simultaneously, “What the f— is this?”
The usual proviso obtains for the quick takes on new shows below: The observations are based on clips; shows may be considered better or worse once entire episodes are released.
There are six new shows for the fall season:
My Generation: ABC’s McPherson called this “the most ambitious show of the fall.” It’s about a group of 2000 high-school graduates ten years later — we’re supposed to think a documentary crew is following them around chronicling their hopes and dreams. The fact that the show is named after a song by the Who and that ABC used music by the Rolling Stones and Buffalo Springfield to run beneath the clip suggests this new generation is still too reliant on a certain older one.
Detroit 1-8-7: A smart-looking police procedural, starring Michael Imperioli and James McDaniel — the wisecracks work, the cop crime-solving seemed involving. Only possible drawback: It, too, looks as though it’s filmed by a documentary-film crew following the protagonists: Lots of looking into the camera and talking to them (us).
Better Together: Two sisters, one a committed singleton (the recurring joke is that she refers to her status as “a valid life-choice”) and one who’s gotten engaged to a guy she barely knows. Looks fairly wrist-slitting, except for the fact that the casting is good, including JoAnna Garcia (Privileged) and Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) as the young women’s mom.
Body of Proof: Dana Delany as a brain surgeon who, after a car accident, becomes a bitter medical examiner. Delany is so good, she can pull off lines like, “The body is the evidence,” but she might not be able to make something fresh from what may be another forensics show. And the fact that ABC is putting it on on Fridays at 9 doesn’t demonstrate much confidence. I’ll watch for a while; but then, I also watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in that time period.
No Ordinary Family: Among those with a taste for super-heroism, this looks like one of the season’s riskiest new shows with potential. Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz head up a family that suddenly acquires super-powers (he seems invulnerable; she has super-speed; their two kids have powers it was difficult to discern). Could be fun; could be The Incredibles in live-action. Without costumes.
The Whole Truth: A legal drama in which you’ll see both sides of a legal case: The defense, headed up by Rob Morrow with permanent five-o’clock-shadow so you know he’s not still on Numb3rs, and the prosecution, led by Joely Richardson, looking castly relieved to be let out of the nut-house known as Nip/Tuck. If you already miss Law & Order, you’ll probably like this.
Secret Millionaire: A reality show in which millionaires go undercover and work in, the press releases says, “some of the most impoverished and dangerous communities in America.” Sound familiar? That’s because it’s an American version of a British show that aired on Fox.
Of the mid-season (or “later in the fall,” as McPherson preferred to term them) shows, Mr. Sunshine, starring Matthew Perry as the owner of a sports arena, co-starring Alison Janney as his boss, looked the most amusing.
You have to be a sucker for Perry’s poker-faced-wiseguy delivery, and I am. Plus, co-starring Better Off Ted‘s Andrea Anders: that’s good, even if the sight of her reminds us to mourn the passing of Ted.