As it often does, ABC is going to throw up a bunch of new series in the fall — eight in all, including a completely new lineup on Wednesday nights — which will make sorting through the pile a little tough.
Will all of those new series, plus three more scheduled for midseason, stick? Probably not — that’s just how TV works. But based on the clips it showed at Tuesday’s upfront, ABC had a pretty good development season. Here’s a rundown of what the network has on tap (except “Modern Family,” which has already received its own post after ABC screened the full pilot, and the unscripted “Shark Tank,” which wasn’t screened).
Also note that the trailers ABC played for upfront attendees are different than the excerpts linked below. The capsule reviews are based on the longer material from the upfront.
“Cougar Town” (watch a clip)
Don’t be thrown off by the nudge-nudge, wink-wink title. We should all be so lucky to look as good as Courteney Cox does in our mid-40s, but she does really nice work here as the newly divorced mother of a teenager (Dan Byrd) who’s re-entering the single world and unsure of how to proceed. Self-deprecation suits her well.
“Eastwick” (watch a clip)
Pretty sure I’m not the target audience for this show, based on John Updike’s novel and the 1987 movie. The setup is the same — a devilish guy named Darryl Van Horne (Paul Gross) helps three women (Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman) realize their supernatural abilities, and some earthly ones too. I’m not sure if the trailer was badly cut or if there are deeper issues, but it didn’t do a lot for me.
“Flash Forward” (watch a clip)
ABC showed us the first act of the pilot Tuesday afternoon, and the best word to describe it is “Lost”-ian. Like that show, it grabs you right away with a cataclysmic event, but early signs are that it will be character-driven as much as mystery-driven. Can’t wait to see the full pilot.
“The Forgotten” (watch a clip)
ABC gets a Jerry Bruckheimer crime show, and it looks just as cold and mechanical as a lot of the other series he produces. Leaden dialogue and a really unfortunate device wherein the victim narrates the action (let’s hope that’s just for the trailer and not a weekly feature) make this the biggest miss of all the clips ABC showed.
“Hank” (watch a clip)
Kelsey Grammer can do blustery elitists in his sleep, and he’s well-cast here as a Wall Street tycoon who loses everything and has to move back to his hometown and spend more time with his wife (Melinda McGraw) and kids. While it was nice to see hints that the couple might actually enjoy their increased closeness (at least sometimes), “Hank” still came across as awfully broad, with a laugh track jacked up to 11.
“The Middle” (watch a clip)
Imagine “Malcolm in the Middle” told from Lois’ perspective, and you have a decent idea of the tone of this show. Granted, that’s not a bad place to start. Stars Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn look like they have pretty good chemistry, and the kids aren’t obnoxious. Going from “Hank” to this might be a tough sell, though.
“The Deep End” (watch a clip)
ABC chief Steve McPherson described this show as “Grey’s Anatomy” with lawyers, and that looks like a pretty apt summary. The brief glimpses of the lead characters — first-year associates at a high-end law firm — didn’t offer much beyond a few surface traits. It will probably take seeing the full pilot to form a complete opinion, but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot new here.
“Happy Town” (watch a clip)
After the none-of-this-was-real ending to “Life on Mars” that the producers of this show gave us, it’s hard to put a lot of trust in them. The show, about a small town whose dark secrets resurface, has a great look to it, but the trailer offered very few details on what those secrets might be. We’re going with the wait-and-see approach on this one.
“V” (watch a clip)
The framework of the story looks basically unchanged from the 1980s miniseries that inspired it: Alien visitors arrive on Earth promising an end to mankind’s suffering, but their motives are not entirely pure. The production values look good, and a lizard-skin money shot at the end of the trailer at least has me curious to see the full pilot.