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2011 Upfronts - ABC Brings Back "Jiggle TV"

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 17, 2011 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 17, 2011 |

ABC had a pretty crap year last season, as you can tell just from the list of canceled shows: “The Whole Truth,” “My Generation,” “V,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Mr. Sunshine,” “Off the Map,” “No Ordinary Family,” “Detroit 1-8-7,” “Better with You.” They’ve got some good shows, sure, and “Dancing with the Stars” still carries the network financially and ratingsly, but I have it on good authority that the network’s internal motto of late has been “At Least We’re Not NBC.” Which is true, but isn’t saying much.

The Alphabet has a new guy running things this year, but he says the same shit everyone else says: “We’re thrilled to be launching a really diverse and ambitious schedule that balances the strength and stability of our returning hits with a slew of bold new shows.” Bold new shows? Let us be the judge of that, Mr. Paul Lee.

(At the time of this posting, ABC has only released little clips, which are what the videos below are. They should be releasing full trailers later, so we may do a follow-up post with some of those videos.)

Mondays. At 8 p.m. it’s two hours of “Dancing with the Stars” followed by “Castle.” It’s a little surprising that ABC has decided not to try to launch a new show off of “Dancing with the Stars,” but what’s more surprising is that a Nathan Fillion show is going into its fourth season. No word on what they’re planning to do when “Dancing” isn’t airing, but presumably this is where they’ll put some of those dramas that are sitting on the midseason shelf (see below).

Tuesdays. Tuesdays start off with a pair of new comedies at 8, “Last Man Standing” and “Man Up.” At 9, it’s an hour-long results show for “Dancing with the Stars,” and at 10 it’s “Body of Proof.” So, again, ABC is content to let a returning show take the post-“Stars” vibes, rather than trying to launch a new show. Curious.

When you scroll down to Wednesday’s schedule, you’ll see “Cougar Town” isn’t there. It’s not getting a fall premiere on its old night. Instead, in between the cycles of “Dancing with the Stars,” “Cougar Town” will air on Tuesdays at 9, followed by the new “Apartment 23.” A bit of a bummer, as it means the shows ratings are probably going to take an even further hit, but at least we’re getting another season (the studio says the show can still get a full episode order, despite the late start, because it can air in the summer, but don’t be surprised if this is the last season of “Cougar Town,” and an abbreviated one at that).

As for the new show “Last Man Standing,” ABC says this: “Today it’s a woman’s world, and this man’s man is on a mission to get men back to their rightful place in society.” If that doesn’t sell you, what about this — it stars Tim Allen. Yeah, I’m out, too.

Yup. Definitely out.

“Man Up,” meanwhile, is about “[t]hree modern men try[ing] to get in touch with their inner tough guys and redefine what it means to be a ‘real man.’” And playing one of these three men? Dan Fogler. Jesus Christ, ABC, what hell are you doing with this Tuesday night line up?

Man, I love love love Teri Polo, but this show … nope. I just can’t do Fogler. Can’t do it.

As for “Apartment 23,” the show that comes on later with “Cougar Town,” is about a midwestern girl (Greama Walker) who’s moved to NYC only to quickly find herself out of a cush job and being scammed by her new roomate (Krysten Ritter, who was lovely in her dark role on “Breaking Bad,” less so in the crappy “Gravity”). I could tell you more, but all I really need to tell you is this … it also stars James Van Der Beek … as himself.

I … don’t … want … your … midseason comedy.

Actually, I’m mildly intrigued, chuckled at the self-deprecating Van Der Beek business, and will totally give this a shot.

Wednesdays. “The Middle” leads the night of at 8 — do you or anyone you know watch this show? — followed by the new “Suburgatory.” At 9, it’s “Modern Family” as usual, and then “Happy Endings” has been given the plum post-“Modern Family” slot, as ABC hopes to see what it’s now calling “the new buzz show” retain some of “Modern Family’s” ratings. “Happy Endings” isn’t groundbreaking, but it really is turning into a quality little comedy, sort of a comfort-food kind of TV show. Meanwhile, at ten, ABC shifts far away from comedy with the new “Revenge.”

“Revenge” stars the lovely Emily Van Camp as a girl who moves to the Hamptons. Folks think she’s new to town, but she’s actually returned here to get revenge for some bad shit that apparently happened to her family here. It also stars Madeleine Stowe, who sure does yell:

I like Stowe a lot, and I thought Van Camp was pretty good on the few episodes of “Brothers & Sisters” I saw her on, but I’m not remotely interested in this show. I also have a sneaking suspicion it won’t be on very long.

“Suburgatory,” meanwhile, is curious. It stars Jeremy Sisto, not one you usually think of in terms of comedy, as a single father who moves his teenage daughter from NYC to the suburbs, where she has to learn to live in the scary that can be suburbia. It also stars Cheryl Hines and Alan Tudyk (!), which is what makes me curious. But it comes from someone responsible for “Hung,” which makes me less curious. Let’s go to the tape!

Yeah, still curious, despite the lack of Tudyk in this clip, and will give this show a shot.

Thursdays. “Charlie’s Angels” is back, boys and girls. Because why not? That’ll be followed at 9 by “Grey’s Anatomy” and at 10 by “Private Practice.”

“Charlie’s Angels,” which Paul Lee calls “pure candy,” is of course a remake of the 70’s show which critics called “Jiggle TV” because, the lovely Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd sure did jiggle. The show is set in Miami and is about “a thief, a street racer and a cop who got in a little too deep” getting a second chance by solving cases for Charlie, their unseen boss. Don’t get me wrong, Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor are lovely. But look at those three, pictured in the header. And then look at these four:


I’ll take the originals, 70’s trappings and all, every time. As for this show, well, let’s see:

Again, I’ll take the original, because 70’s cheese is way better than 2011 action-cheese.

Fridays. It’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” followed by “Shark Tank,” followed by ol’ reliable “20/20.”

Saturdays. College football. The only broadcast network programming I actually watch on Saturdays.

Sundays. Yes, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” is still on the air, and it’s still on Sundays at 7. “Desperate Housewives stays in its Sunday night at 9 p.m. slot, and it’s sandwiched in between two new shows, “Once Upon a Time” at 8 and “Pan Am” at 10.

“Once Upon a Time” comes from some former “Lost” producers and, like “Grimm” is another modern-day fairy tale thing. While NBC’s “Grimm” is a dark procedural-type show that sounds like a “Fables”-y knock-off, “Once Upon a Time” is a more family-oriented, alternate world thing. It stars Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), and Robert Carlyle (Rumplestiltskin) among others and doesn’t look terrible:

It looks terrible, don’t get me wrong. Just not italics terrible, and I can see plenty of folks being into this cheese. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this works out pretty decently as a “Desperate Housewives” lead-in.

“Pan Am,” meanwhile, is Christina Ricci’s first TV show — she plays a Pan Am stewardess, a “rebellious bohemian” who has become “a buttoned up professional.” (I was going to make a cheap joke about her gimongous forehead playing an airline tray, but I’m better than that.) ABC says this about the show: “Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all - and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.”


So it’s ABC’s spin on a “Mad Men” show. Am I crazy for thinking that it doesn’t actually look all that bad, as much as you can judge based on a single clip? Although it’s curious that Ricci doesn’t make an appearance in the clip, right?

Midseason Fillers. ABC has five midseason shows sitting on the shelf ready to go. There are four dramas — “Good Christian Belles,” “Missing,” “The River” and “Scandal” — plus a comedy, “Work It.” According to ABC, these are all good shows they’re committed to and which are likely to make it on the air. The latter part is probably true, as I’m sure they’re going to need to rejigger some of the crap above.

“Good Christian Belles” was originally called “Good Christian Bitches,” but God forbid ABC get a little racy. The show is a set-in-Dallas soap staring Leslie Bibb as “the ultimate high school ‘mean girl’ … forced to return home in disgrace after her marriage ends in scandal.” She and her teenage kids are trying to fit in with the place she long ago left, etc etc. Kristin Chenoweth (loved by some, hated by others) and Annie Potts (“Ghostbusters, what do you want?!”) are also in it, along with some others.

I’ll say this — having lived in LA for as long as I have, I actually have very few friends plugged into the entertainment industry. And that is more than fine by me. But I do have a buddy at ABC who said that, of all the pilots, this was the one that was getting the most buzz and which he thought was great. Is my friend to be trusted? I don’t know, because we don’t have a clip yet.

“Missing” is Ashley’s Judd’s television series debut (assuming the show makes it to air), about a woman traveling across Europe trying to find her study-abroad son, who’s gone … wait for it … wait for it … missing. It also stars Sean Bean, in a role just a bit different from his “Game of Thrones” Eddard Stark and while it sounds mildly interesting for the type of show that it is, I found most of that interest drying up when I learn that it comes from the writer of National Treasure: Book of Secrets. But it’s not fair to prejudge based on the writer’s earlier crap movie, is it? Tough, I’m doing it anyways.

“The River” stars Bruce Greenwood as a television wildelife expert who goes missing in the Amaon, leading his friends, family and crew to track him down. Even though it’s on the shelf at the moment, ABC is supposedly pretty keen on the show.

Based on that clip, I get why, but I think their excitement is misplaced. I get what they’re going for with the tone and style, but if this makes it to the air, I think it’s going to be a stupendous flop, regardless of whether the show can even pull off what it’s going for.

“Scandal” is Shonda Rhimes’ latest, a drama about a crisis manager and the people who work for her. Weekly crisis? Yeah, that sure sounds like Shonda’s wheelhouse.

Yeah, that’s our boy Dez, but no no no. See ya in your next TV show, brother.

And finally, “Work It,” a “high-concept comedy” that sounds like a modern-day “Bossom Buddies.” It’s about two dudes who dress up as chicks to get a job as drug reps.

No, no a thousand times no. I’m out.

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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