Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fall Lineup Frenzy: ABC

ABC was the comeback kid for the 2004-2005 season with two new, great shows in Desperate Housewives and Lost. Now, they are trying to keep the comeback going. However, they won't make any friends with African-American audiences after abruptly cancelling My Wife And Kids. I'll admit that the show wasn't the greatest but what is it with shows by the Wayans getting cancelled before even having so much as a final episode? And My Wife And Kids ended with a cliffhanger at that! Anyway, here is what I think of ABC's 2005-2006 Lineup. (Info from The Futon Critic at this link.)

NOTE: I will be talking about some midseason shows in this post because of ABC's unique situation with Monday Night Football. All other midseason stuff announced in these lineups will be chronicled in a special post.


8:00 p.m. “Wife Swap” (through January. New night and time)
9:00 p.m. “Monday Night Football” (through January)

(The following will premiere after MNF)

8:00 p.m. “The Bachelor” (new time)
9:00 p.m. “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” (new comedy series)
9:30 p.m. “Jake in Progress” (new night and time)
10:00 p.m. “What About Brian” (new drama series)

“Emily’s Reasons Why Not” (half-hour comedy, Monday, 9:00 p.m., ET – after Monday Night Football) – Emily Sanders is a successful young woman with terrific taste, great friends and a fabulous job in publishing. She didn’t get to this place in life by accident. She worked hard and always followed a set of self-imposed guidelines referred to as the “Reasons.” Reasons why not to take that new job offer, reasons why not to tell a vacation fling to look you up if he’s ever in Los Angeles, reasons why not to trust your crafty, back-stabbing former assistant, Glitter Cho. However, when Emily crosses professional lines and gets involved with the roguishly handsome, two-timing author of their new bestseller, there’s no denying that somewhere along the way her internal GPS system crashed. She’s got to get back on track, and once again be heedful of the trustworthy reasons that help her navigate her way through life.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same title, Heather Graham stars in this comedy about one independent woman’s adventures in life, friendship, love and their infinite possibilities…

Heather Graham (“Scrubs,” “Boogie Nights”): Emily
Nadia Dajani (“Ned and Stacey”): Reilly
Khary Payton: Josh
Smith Cho: Glitter

Writer: Emily Kapnek (“As Told by Ginger”)
Executive Producers: Gavin Polone (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Vivian Cannon (“Thief”), Robin Schiff (“The Bad Girls Guide”)
Production Companies: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Pariah

“What About Brian” (one-hour drama, Monday, 10:00 p.m., ET – after Monday Night Football) -- Brian is the guy everyone wants as a best friend. He's the guy who'll stand by you at your wedding, drive you to the hospital, cheer your kids on at their little league game... the guy whom every wife dotes on and every husband wants to either grab a beer with or live vicariously through. But as all of his friends pair off and Brian emerges as the last bachelor standing, questions begin to arise in his head: Is there such a thing as Mr. or Mrs. Right? Why does love have to be so complicated? What is his problem with commitment? And the most pressing question of all -- could all of his problems stem from the fact that he is harboring a crush on his best friend’s girl?

At 34, Brian is the last single guy in his group of friends: his best friend, Adam, was going to break up with picture-perfect Marjorie, but proposed instead. Brian's sister, Nic, and her boy-toy husband, Angelo, are trying hard to have kids. The bohemian Dave and Deena have three little girls and no sex life. And, like all married people, they can't wait for Brian to join their "club," though they're not exactly sure why. As for Brian, well, he's a serial monogamist but still holds out hope that one day he'll open the door and be blinded by love.

”What About Brian” is from the producers of “Lost” and “Alias” and the screenwriter of “City of Angels” and “For Love of the Game.”

Barry Watson (“7th Heaven”): Brian
Matthew Davis (“Legally Blonde”): Adam
Polly Shannon (“Street Time”): Marjorie
Rick Gomez (“Band of Brothers”): Dave
Amanda Detmer (“Kiss the Bride”): Deena
Raoul Bova (“Under the Tuscan Sun”): Angelo
Rosanna Arquette (“Pulp Fiction”): Nic

Executive Producer/Writer: Dana Stevens (“City of Angels”)
Executive Producers: J.J. Abrams, Thom Sherman, Bryan Burk (“Alias,” “Lost”)
Executive Producers/Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (“Arrested Development”)
Production Company: Touchstone Television, Bad Robot

My Thoughts: While the early season lineup for this day is bleh, the midseason lineup looks intriguing. The Bachelor needs an injection of something and fast. All they really have to do is get someone who is not White and they have instant buzz. I know that there has to be a Black, Latino, or Asian guy somewhere that would be good for The Bachelor. That being said, Emily's Reasons Why Not only looks interesting because of Heather Graham. She was hilarious during her stint on Scrubs and if her new show can feature the charm she displayed while on Scrubs, it could be pretty good. And anyone who is laughing at a writer from As Told By Ginger writing this show probably hasn't watched it. Meanwhile, What About Brian has potential. Will Barry Watson's fans follow him to this mature (but not that mature) show? And will J. J. Abrams magic touch continue? The one thing I find funny about the Monday lineup overall is how ABC goes from courting guys with football to courting women once football is over.


8:00 p.m. “According to Jim” (new time)
8:30 p.m. “Rodney” (new time)
9:00 p.m. “Commander-in-Chief” (new drama series)
10:00 p.m. “Boston Legal” (new night)

“Commander-in-Chief” (one-hour drama, Tuesday, 9:00 p.m., ET) -- Mackenzie Allen has a lot on her plate… She has twin teenagers and a six-year-old at home, an ambitious husband at the office, and she is about to become the first female President of the United States.

Before that happens, however, Mackenzie, who serves as Vice President, has to decide whether or not to go against the dying wishes of the current President, who has asked her to step down and let someone "more appropriate" fill his shoes in the Oval Office. Not only does the President want her to resign, so does the entire party that elected her in the first place.

But when the moment of truth arrives, Mackenzie isn't willing to be a mere footnote in history. Instead of allowing her detractors to keep her down, she decides to trust her instincts and accept the most powerful job in the world.

”Commander-in-Chief” stars Academy Award®-winner Geena Davis and comes from Rod Lurie, acclaimed writer/director of the Oscar-nominated film, “The Contender,” and creator of the critically acclaimed ABC series, “Line of Fire.”

Geena Davis (“Thelma and Louise”): Mackenzie Allen
Donald Sutherland (“M*A*S*H”): Nathan Templeton
Harry J. Lennix (“Ray”): Jim Gardner
Ever Carradine (“Once and Again”): Kelly Ludlow
Kyle Secor (“Homicide: Life on the Street”): Rod Allen
Julie Ann Emery (“Line of Fire”): Joan Greer
Andrew James Allen: Horace Allen
Caitlin Wachs: Rebecca Allen
Jasmine Anthony: Amy Allen

Executive Producer/Writer: Rod Lurie (“Line of Fire”)
Executive Producer: Marc Frydman (“Line of Fire”)
Director: Rod Lurie
Production Company: Touchstone Television, Battle Plan Productions

My Thoughts: This is kind of an unusual lineup. They put two guycentric comedies before a show about a female President? What kind of a lead-in is that? My friend Steve once told me in a conversation that female-lead dramas that don't feature ensemble casts don't work. He didn't mean they don't work as shows but that they don't last long. He said that none did last but I reminded him of the now-cancelled Judging Amy (and we thought of Providence). I was reminded of the conversation because it was news of Geena Davis playing a female President lead to his comments. I'm looking forward to seeing Commander-in-Chief. Geena Davis is a very good actress and I think that she could be very believable as President of the United States. It will be good to see a take on The White House that is different from The West Wing. This very well could be ABC's breakout show of next season.


8:00 p.m. “George Lopez” (new night and time)
8:30 p.m. “Freddie” (new comedy series)
9:00 p.m. “Lost” (new time)
10:00 p.m. “Invasion” (new drama series)

“Freddie” (half-hour comedy, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., ET) -- Four women to every man are great odds when you're a single guy out on the town, but not ideal when it comes to your living situation. Freddie is a young, successful chef with his own restaurant, a stylish bachelor pad and a trust fund baby for a best friend. The world should be Freddie’s oyster at this stage in life, but bachelorhood isn’t working out exactly as he envisioned.

Freddie loved growing up in a house full of women. He loved the energy of everyone running around, loved cooking for them all, but now he's finally realizing why his father used to lock himself in the bathroom just for some peace and quiet. Still, Freddie believes family always comes first, which is why he insisted his sister, sister-in-law, niece and grandmother come live with him after his brother passed away. Slowly but surely they are taking over his domain, and voicing their many opinions about his love life. Freddie will have to learn to balance his role as provider, brother, grandson, and uncle, all while trying to enjoy what should be his swinging single days.

The creative forces behind “The Drew Carey Show” and “George Lopez” serve up a comedic dish based on the raucous femme-filled real life of star Freddie Prinze, Jr. (“She's All That,” “Scooby Doo”).

Freddie Prinze, Jr. (“Scooby Doo”): Freddie
Jacqueline Obradors (“NYPD Blue”): Sofia
Brian Green (“Beverly Hills, 90210”): Chris
Jenny Gago: Grandma
Chloe Suazo: Zoey

Executive Producers/Writers: Bruce Helford (“The Drew Carey Show,” “George Lopez”), Freddie Prinze, Jr., Bruce Rasmussen (“The Drew Carey Show”)
Producer/Writer: Conrad Jackson
Executive Producer: Deborah Oppenheimer (“The Drew Carey Show,” “George Lopez”)
Production Companies: Warner Bros. Television, Mohawk Productions, The Firm

“Invasion” (one-hour drama, Wednesday, 10:00 p.m., ET) -- For centuries man has searched the skies for signs of intelligent life… but to no avail.

What if the explanation lay in the fact that aliens were already here... already among us? And what if all of the natural disasters we’ve been experiencing of late were smokescreens designed to mask something far more ominous?

When yet another devastating hurricane threatens Florida, temporarily cutting off a small town at the edge of the Everglades, U.S. Park Ranger Russell Poole takes heroic measures to keep both the town’s citizens and his family safe. In the middle of the violent storm, his young daughter is the only one to see small lights floating towards the water, seemingly unaffected by the vicious winds. At the time he thinks nothing of her claim, but begins to suspect that something may indeed be amiss when his missing ex-wife is found naked, with no memory of what happened during the storm.

As the tiny town struggles to recover while his nemesis, the Sheriff, quarantines the entire area, Poole begins to investigate the strange goings on, unwittingly beginning a fight for the survival of the human race.

Veteran writer/producer Shaun Cassidy and celebrated director Thomas Schlamme (“The West Wing”) bring you the suspenseful tale of a blended family that finds itself at the center of a conspiracy to mask an alien takeover that is happening one neighbor at a time.

William Fichtner (“Black Hawk Down”): Sheriff Underlay
Eddie Cibrian (“Third Watch”): Russell
Kari Matchett: Mariel
Lisa Sheridan: Larkin
Tyler Labine (“That Was Then”): Dave
Alexis Dziena: Kira
Evan Peters (“The Days”): Jesse
Ariel Gade: Rose

Executive Producer/Writer: Shaun Cassidy (“American Gothic”)
Pilot Executive Producer/Director: Thomas Schlamme (“The West Wing”)
Production Company: Warner Bros. Television, Shaun Cassidy Productions

My Thoughts: George Lopez and the new comedy Freddie are linked in more ways than just sharing producers and writers. George Lopez has routinely said how much he idolized Freddie Prinze, Sr. for being the first Latino to star in his own series. Lopez is currently the only Latino with his own show on network TV but who gets to do it next? None other than the son of the first Latino to star in his own series, Freddie Prinze, Jr. Talk about six degrees of separation... I'm not sure if Freddie will last very long, though, because Freddie Prinze, Jr. isn't exactly as good as his dad was. Maybe he'll prove his comedic skills with this show (and show the world that Scooby-Doo and She's All That aren't the best things he can do). I hope the writing and the supporting cast will be good enough to make this show funny. Invasion sounds like a good compliment to Lost. The idea of invaders already among us (or of a group gradually taking over from within) isn't new, but like Lost, it could have enough twists and concepts to make it fresh and interesting.


8:00 p.m. “Alias” (new night and time)
9:00 p.m. “The Night Stalker” (new drama series)
10:00 p.m. “Primetime Live”

“The Night Stalker” (one-hour drama, Thursday, 9:00 p.m., ET) -- There are things in the dark, things adults deny but children are right to fear…

When a pregnant woman is snatched from her home, the shocked citizens of L.A. believe it’s an act of domestic violence. But crime reporter Carl Kolchak suspects that the truth is far more complicated. That’s because 18 months ago Kolchak’s wife was killed in a bizarre fashion and he has been the FBI’s no. 1 suspect ever since.

Kolchak's determination to find the truth behind his wife's mysterious murder has led him to investigate other crimes that seem to have some kind of supernatural component. But he's trying to piece together a puzzle that keeps changing shape. Who or what is committing these crimes? How are they all related? And why do some victims end up with a strange red mark on their hands in the shape of a snake? With sidekick Perri Reed, a sexy if skeptical fellow reporter in tow, Kolchak will go to any lengths to answer these questions. But when he does discover the truth – will anyone believe him?

Stuart Townsend (“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”): Carl Kolchak
Gabrielle Union (“Something the Lord Made”): Perri Reed
Eric Jungmann (“Not Another Teen Movie”): Jain McManus
Cotter Smith (“X2”): Tony Vincenzo

Executive Producer/Writer: Frank Spotnitz (“The X Files”)
Executive Producer/Director: Daniel Sackheim (“The X Files”)
Production Company: Touchstone Television

My Thoughts: ABC continues the sci-fiish vibe with a new, younger version of the classic TV series The Night Stalker. I'm glad to see Gabrielle Union in a TV series, although I wish it wasn't in a (probably) thankless sidekick role. With some X-Files veterans behind this remake, it could be interesting. There are going to be a lot of critics (and viewers) that will compare this show to the original. I hope it's different enough to not warrant such comparisons.


8:00 p.m. “Supernanny” (new night and time)
9:00 p.m. “Hope & Faith”
9:30 p.m. “Hot Properties” (new comedy series)
10:00 p.m. “20/20”

“Hot Properties” (half-hour comedy, Friday, 9:30 p.m., ET) -- In a Manhattan real estate office, four very different women cater to high-end clients while coping with their own personal predicaments. Married to a handsome 25-year-old, fortysomething Ava Summerlin wants to start a family, while self-improvement junkie Chloe would settle for any guy who can remember her the next day. Recently divorced, after being married ten years to a gay man, voluptuous Lola dreads jumping back into the dating pool, and the latest addition to this eclectic work group is rich girl Emerson Ives, who instantly bonds with the women upon learning that her supposedly virginal fiancé was anything but. And the ladies' office neighbors from down the hall, therapist Dr. Sellers Boyd and plastic surgeon Dr. Charlie Thorpe, help keep things lively around the water cooler.

In the tradition of “Designing Women,” “Golden Girls” and “Sex and the City” comes an uninhibited comedy with real career women trying to have real relationships. One of the Emmy Award-winning producers of the mega-hit “Frasier” reveals just how exciting the world of New York real estate can be.

Audra Blaser: Emerson
Stephen Dunham (“Monster-in-Law”): Charlie
Evan Handler (“Sex and the City”): Sellers
Gail O'Grady (“NYPD Blue”): Ava
Nicole Sullivan (“King of Queens”): Chloe
Sofia Vergara (“Chasing Papi”): Lola

Executive Producer/Writer: Suzanne Martin (“Frasier”)
Production Company: Interbang Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

My Thoughts: The first thing I must say is that it was a very good idea to move Supernanny to an earlier time slot. I never thought it made much sense to air a show like that at 9 p.m. (Central Time) in the first place. Overall, this Friday lineup looks to appeal greatly to women. While the info for Hot Properties states shows like Designing Women as influences, it probably would not have gotten on the air if not for Desperate Housewives. It has a good lead-in in Hope and Faith but I don't see it being a huge hit.


8:00 p.m. “ABC Movie of the Week”

My Thoughts: See Saturday in the NBC post.


7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”

My Thoughts: Did anyone think that this lineup was going to be fooled with at all? I didn't think so. There was no reason to change anything and they didn't. 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on Sundays belongs to Desperate Housewives the way Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time belonged to Friends.

Overall Thoughts: ABC's new schedule looks to go after two audiences primarily: women and genre (sci-fi/horror) fans. They gained those audiences last season thanks to Desperate Housewives and Lost and they want to keep them. Their new shows don't look as strong as last year's, but they have a lot of potential. I hope that ABC's appeal to these audiences doesn't fail miserably and that they can build on the young foundation not just of Lost and Desperate Housewives but Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy too.

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