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A Preview Of ABC's Surprisingly Good Fall Line-Up

By Emily Cutler | Guides | September 10, 2015 |

By Emily Cutler | Guides | September 10, 2015 |

I know I just got done talking a lot a shit about you, ABC. But that was your old line-up. Your “We’re Never Going To Die!” line-up. Once your ratings fell, you had to figure out how to fight your way back. And in a reverse NBC, since you’d been broad, you opted to go niche. Or as we refer to it around here “good.”

Honestly, I was a little surprised as how decent the line-up seems. Maybe it’s the lowered expectations of broadcast TV or the segmentation of TV viewing, but since I currently, actively watch five shows on ABC that might make it my favorite network (although for street cred, I’ll still say it’s FX). That is not a thing I acknowledge easily.

So how have they done so well? For starters, they’ve ditched the old formats for their comedies. Laugh tracks don’t play anymore. Safe jokes don’t work anymore. And no one wants to see another comedy about a group of guy friends and the chick they want to sleep with. NBC and Fox, I’m looking in your general direction. They’ve also decided that their dramas can have intriguing plot devices and compelling characters. Plots that don’t include teaming up cops with various eccentric specialists. It might surprise you, but it turns out, the vast majority of the law enforcement world actually has never been a sidekick.

They maybe also cloned Shonda Rhimes because, my god, is she crushing it. The next time I start looking down my nose at anyone’s TV choices, you remind me that I’ve watched and enjoyed both Grey’s Anatomy (the first season was great! I stand by that!) and How To Get Away With Murder. I did, I enjoyed them. God help me, I enjoyed them.

So what are all of the shows you’ll be surprisingly delighted by? They’re listed below along with a rating from 1 to 5 Selfies. A Selfie includes not just the quality of the show, but how superior the show is compared to my first impression. black-ish , for instance, would garner 4 Selfies. The name made me think it would be OK, but not great. Then it turned out to be the best network comedy of the season.

And before we move on, obligatory John Cho gif.


R.I.P., Selfie.

Blood & Oil

Ugh. As soon as I get done talking about how well you’re doing, you give us this crap, ABC. Not good. Dallas Version 2.0 is doing nothing for me. Nor is whichever Gossip Girl guy that is. If you want a soap-y, intriguing night time drama, only allow ones that involve Rhimes. Otherwise you get some bland nonsense with all of the terrible dialogue and none of the fun.

0 Selfies


Quantico seems so much like a Rhimes knock-off that I had to check if she were somehow involved. Turns out it’s the guy behind

">Gossip Girl and Smash. Not great. It might be a decent show, but since it’s going up against an already full Sunday night it’ll be difficult to remember to watch it. I do need to note that this is how you put a person in jeopardy while still making her character competent, NBC. Government agencies work against the main character. Not with them.

1 Selfie

The Muppets

I’m still a little on the fence about The Muppets. I love the Muppets, I love the Muppet movies, I still regularly listen to The Muppet Movie soundtrack. So while I would like more Muppet material, I’m still a little apprehensive about them accidentally ruining a part of my childhood. But the commercials are really funny. And mocking the documentary style that gave ABC it’s biggest comedy while still using it is fairly subversive for a “kids” show. And I legitimately laughed every time Gonzo said, “Sure, Gary.” I would have watched before just out of loyalty, but now (creepy marketing campaign aside) I’m actually excited.

4 Selfies

Wicked City

This trailer is a little different because of a recent recasting that put Jeremy Sisto in Jack Rothenberg’s role. I’d recommend watching the trailer cut from the pilot (here) to get a better idea of how the show is supposed to look. Because while I’m not sure how well Sisto will do in the detective role, I’m positive that ABC just proved why they’re the best of the major four networks. Somebody over at ABC looked at this guy:

Ed Westwick.jpg

and realized, “Oh, yeah, he’s a serial killer.” He should not be any kind of love interest in any drama, teen or otherwise, unless he’s stabbing ice picks through the back of girls’ necks. The show might completely fall apart under the weight of the investigation, but I’ll still be watching until then.

3 Selfies

Dr. Ken


0 Selfies

The Catch

Shonda Rhimes, Mireille Enos, a powerful, successful woman wronged by a no good man. It might (like most of Rhimes’ shows) only have one decent season in it, but I am going to savor the shit out of the season in wine-sipping style.

3 Selfies

The Family

On the one hand, child kidnapping, rape and murder are going to be incredibly difficult topics to cover without the show getting bogged down in the unrelenting misery of the situation. On the other hand, if they can pull it off, it would make for some pretty amazing TV. And it seems to give Joan Allen enough material to make it work. How will audiences respond to a woman and mother who uses her son’s kidnapping and ten year absences for political gain? I don’t know. But between Allen, Matt Saracen and Gavin Graham Greg Lestrade, I’ll need to at least find out.

3 Selfies

Of Kings and Prophets

The issue with doing any Biblically based story is that most people have already heard it. And the production costs to make the ancient world not look like a high school version of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will need to be huge. ABC isn’t afraid of spending money when it needs to (Lost), but they’ve also been unwilling to let a show end when and how it should in order to keep a ratings hit (Lost). It’s still iffy, but Ray Winstone pushes it over the edge for me.

2 Selfies

Uncle Buck

Confession time: I’ve never seen Uncle Buck the movie. I know, I know. But I can’t watch it now either. It’s dated, I don’t have any sentimental attachment to the movie, and it would only be a let down. But other than the child pornography at the end of the trailer (what the hell was that?), the show seems maybe funny. And like NBC a decade earlier, ABC’s comedies have built up enough goodwill that I’m ready to give them all a chance. Now really, stop joking about exposing a teenager’s naked body on the internet. That’s super gross.

2 Selfies

The Real O’Neals

There was no way I wasn’t going to watch this show. Loosely based on Dan Savage’s own childhood, starring Martha Plimpton and Stan from Mad Men, The Real O’Neals might be another “off-beat” family comedy, but that’s kind of what they’ve been kicking ass with lately. It might also just be a backlash from all of the helicopter parenting and white people problem shows, but I’ll never tire of watching parents be mean to their teenage children. Snark on, Mrs. O’Neal. Snark on forever.

4 Selfies

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