The Fall Lineup Frenzy series continues with ABC. Last season saw a true breakout hit in Grey's Anatomy, the buzz about Desperate Housewives and Lost taper off a little bit, a show that went from hit to dud in record time (Commander-In-Chief), and the endings of Alias and of Monday Night Football on broadcast television. This fall, ABC is premiering a ton of new shows and moving one of its most popular. The network has gradually been finding itself over the past couple of seasons and its ratings have gone up. Will the trend continue?
(All times are Eastern. New shows are in bold.)
8-9 p.m.: Wife Swap
9-10 p.m.: The Bachelor/Supernanny
10-11 p.m.: What About Brian
My Thoughts: Before ABC announced their lineup, there were rumblings that they might move Grey's Anatomy to Mondays. I wish that happened. That's not to say that the shows they have scheduled are bad. Wife Swap has its moments and The Bachelor can sometimes be enjoyable. Supernanny, which will probably replace The Bachelor after its run is finished, is a solid reality show. I was pleasantly surprised to see What About Brian renewed since I enjoyed the few episodes that were shown. However, I was hoping that with Monday Night Football gone, ABC would jazz up its lineup. Unfortunately, this lineup is pretty weak, especially compared to NBC, FOX, and CBS.
8-9 p.m.: Dancing with the Stars/Set For The Rest of Your Life
9-9:30 p.m.: Let's Rob...
9:30 p.m-10 p.m.: Help Me Help You
10 p.m.-11 p.m.: Boston Legal
From ABC's Press Release:
"Set for the Rest of Your Life" -- Just imagine: You're leaving the studio financially independent with a monthly payment for as long as you live! Yes, even if you are to live another 100 years. With a big smile on your face, you will be cashing a monthly check for the rest of your life. Now how does that sound? In this high-tension game show, the contestant will first battle for the highest monthly check possible. Does he end up with $50 a month? $500 a month? Or will he receive well over $10,000 a month? The contestant's next battle is even more important: Time! Does he win that payment just for one month? For a quarter of a year, half a year, one year? For three, ten, twenty years maybe? Or... for the rest of his life? And... did the contestant's partner, hidden in a sound-proof isolation booth away from where it's all happening, help to make that dream come true or turn that dream into a nightmare? "Set for the Rest of Your Life" is a game show for strong relationships only, that's for sure!
"Let's Rob..." (half-hour, Tuesday, 9:00 p.m., ET) - For almost 20 years, Eugene Gurkin has dreamt of opening a bar, but his dead end job on the late, late janitorial shift won't even fund a bottle of premium booze. In the wake of a co-worker's death, he catches an episode of television. Call it divine intervention, call it a dumb idea, but whatever it is takes hold of Eugene and soon he recruits a group of misfits into his "gang" for a heist to finance their dreams. The target: Rock icon Mick Jagger's super-luxe Central Park West apartment. Working together, this band of affable, new-age Robin Hoods, who have never even shoplifted a candy bar, are soon casing the joint and prepping for their crime. What they don't know is that there's a much richer target for them... the chance to find hope, self-esteem and confidence within themselves.
From Jon Beckerman and Rob Burnett, producers of "Late Show with David Letterman" and creators of "Ed," comes a hilarious tale of haves and have nots. Donal Logue ("Grounded for Life") stars. Mick Jagger appears in a cameo (he is not a series regular).
Donal Logue ("Grounded for Life"): Eugene Gurkin
Maz Jobrani ("Life on a Stick"): Gary
Sofia Vergara ("Four Brothers"): Esperanza Villalobos
Kevin Michael Richardson ("The Boondocks"): Rockefeller Butts
Lenny Venito ("NYPD Blue"): Francis "Squatch" Scuacieri
Josh Grisetti: Louis Plunk
EP/Writer/Director: Rob Burnett ("Ed")
EP/Writer: Jon Beckerman ("Ed")
EP: Mick Jagger
EP: Victoria Pearman
Production Company: Touchstone Television
"Help Me Help You" (half-hour, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., ET) - Whoever came up with the idea of group therapy? Take a bunch of people who are all really messed up in different ways and put them in a room together to try and help each other out. he group leader, Dr. Bill Hoffman, is probably the craziest and most self-obsessed of all, but his patients would never know it because he hides behind his very respectable celebrity image as a bestselling author of phenomenally successful self-help books.
Directed by Brian Dannelly ("Saved," "Weeds"), the series explores the comical side of group therapy as members of the group apply the good doctor's advice to the real world with enthusiastic effort, until they begin to realize maybe Dr. Bill should be doing the heavy lifting along with them. Ted Danson ("Cheers") stars.
Ted Danson ("Cheers"): Dr. Bill Hoffman
Charlie Finn ("The Dukes of Hazzard"): Dave
Jim Rash ("That '70s Show"): Jonathan
Suzy Nakamura ("Dodgeball"): Inger
Darlene Hunt ("I Heart Huckabees"): Darlene
Jere Burns ("Good Morning Miami"): Michael
Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle"): Guest Star/Anne
EP/Writer: Jennifer Konner ("Undeclared")
EP/Writer: Alexandra Rushfield ("Undeclared")
Director: Brian Dannelly ("Weeds")
Production Company: Regency Television
My Thoughts: This is an interesting mix of shows. ABC must be pretty confident in Dancing With The Stars to bring it back in the fall. The key to that show remaining popular is finding the right mix of semi-well-known stars, obscure stars, and has-beens. Set For The Rest Of Your Life, which will likely premiere once Dancing With The Stars ends, probably won't be the second coming of Millionaire but it might be fun to watch. Let's Rob… probably got made because of the success of My Name Is Earl. The premise doesn't seem as series-ready as Earl, but I like the cast. Help Me Help You could be fun as long as Ted Danson doesn't play his new character like "Becker As A Self-Help Guru."
8-9 p.m.: Dancing with the Stars/George Lopez & According to Jim
9-10 p.m.: Lost
10-11 p.m.: The Nine
From ABC's Press Release:
"The Nine" (one-hour, Wednesday, 10:00 p.m., ET) - So much in life is beyond your control. You may go about your day like any other when suddenly a random moment, an accident, a blessing, even a stranger redirects your life forever. And on that day, it's up to you to decide if that moment will stop you in your tracks or lift you up to new heights.
Nine people will face just such an unexpected twist when they are caught in a bank robbery gone wrong and endure a 52-hour hostage standoff that will leave more than one person dead. When all is said and done, these people will never be the same. They will share the common bond of what happens inside the bank and will be forever affected and intertwined because of it.
From the creator of "Without a Trace" and an executive producer of "The West Wing" comes a dramatic character study that will keep audiences hooked with the mystery of what happened during the hostage standoff. Each episode will begin with a flashback to reveal another 10 minutes of the hostage crisis, uncovering why and how these nine strangers are still linked today. Tim Daly ("Wings"), Chi McBride ("Boston Public") and Scott Wolf ("Party of Five") star.
Chi McBride ("Boston Public"): Malcolm
Jessica Collins ("CSI"): Lizzie
Tim Daly ("Wings"): Nick
Kim Raver ("24"): Kathryn
Scott Wolf ("Party of Five"): Jeremy
John Billingsley ("Star Trek: Enterprise"): Egan
Lourdes Benedicto ("24"): Eva
Camille Guaty ("Prison Break"): Franny
Owain Yeoman ("Troy"): Lucas
Dana Davis ("Veronica Mars"): Felicia
EP/Writer: Hank Steinberg ("Without a Trace")
Co-EP/Writer: K.J. Steinberg ("Beautiful People," "Judging Amy")
EP/Director: Alex Graves
Production Company: Warner Bros. Television, Sunset Road Productions
My Thoughts: Wednesday is a pretty good night for ABC with Lost, but they have had a problem finding a good complement for it. Neither Alias or Invasion worked out. However, they may have found a good companion show for Lost in The Nine. Character studies and flashbacks figure heavily into Lost, so it's possible that the same tactics could work again on The Nine. The only concern I have about this show is that it may end up not being different enough from its lead-in.
8-8:30 p.m.: Big Day
8:30-9 p.m.: Notes from the Underbelly
9-10 p.m.: Grey's Anatomy
10-11 p.m.: Six Degrees
From ABC's Press Release:
"Big Day" (half-hour, Thursday, 8:00 p.m., ET) - If "24" married "Father of the Bride," their child would be "Big Day." Everything matters at a wedding, and the smallest imperfections can reverberate throughout the event as if lives actually hang in the balance. Choice of side salad? A trivial decision you would think, but for the mother of the bride, this might as well be the most critical decision of her life, and if you're the caterer, you'd better get it right. That's just the beginning -- the maid of honor accidentally drinks the best man's contacts after sleeping with him, and the father of the bride wants to stop the wedding. Things are about to get even more complicated for Danny and Alice, as their day turns into a season-long roller coaster where nothing goes according to plan. Over the course of an entire season, each episode will focus on one day - Danny and Alice's wedding day.
The writers of "What Women Want" and "13 Going on 30" take a full season to dissect the biggest day in any family's life. Marla Sokoloff ("Desperate Housewives"), Josh Cooke ("Four Kings") and Wendie Malick ("Just Shoot Me") star.
Marla Sokoloff ("Desperate Housewives"): Alice
Josh Cooke ("Four Kings"): Danny
Wendie Malick ("Just Shoot Me"): Jane
Kurt Fuller ("Desperate Housewives"): Steve
Miriam Shor ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch"): Becca
Stephen Rannazzisi ("Kitchen Confidential"): Skobo
Stephanie Weir ("Fun with Dick and Jane"): Lorna
EP/Writer: Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa ("13 Going on 30")
Director: Michael Spiller ("Jake in Progress")
Production Company: Sony Pictures Television
"Notes from the Underbelly" (half-hour, Thursday, 8:30 p.m., ET) - Andrew and Lauren have just found out they're going to have a baby, and they're having a difficult time following rule number one - keeping it secret. Suddenly switching to decaf, becoming a teetotaler at cocktail parties, and going to the OBGYN are all difficult to keep from family and close friends.
Well Andrew and Lauren are about to learn that, when the secret gets out, the politics of parenthood can be just as demanding as raising a child. Sometimes all that "help" from loving but intrusive parents and "advice" from well-meaning but competitive friends who are trying to show you what great parents they are is not exactly what you're looking for. Knowing what's best for the child could be the easiest part... maintaining your relationships with family and friends can be the real challenge.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld and two producers of "Two and a Half Men" create a comic take on life's greatest adventure. As these friends watch their lives change to accommodate the little stranger, their relationships change in ways they never expected before they were expecting. Peter Cambor and Jennifer Westfeldt ("Kissing Jessica Stein") star.
Peter Cambor ("Up to the Roof"): Andrew
Jennifer Westfeldt ("Numbers"): Lauren
Melanie Paxson ("Cupid"): Julie
Rachael Harris ("The West Wing"): Cooper
Michael Weaver ("Monk"): Danny
Sunkrish Bala ("Barbershop"): Eric
EP/Writer: Stacy Traub ("What I Like About You")
EP: Eric Tannenbaum ("Two and a Half Men")
EP: Kim Tannebaum ("Two and a Half Men")
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld ("Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events")
Production Company: Warner Bros. Television, The Tannenbaum Company
"Six Degrees" (one-hour, Thursday, 10:00 p.m., ET) - Who will you touch? Who will touch you? They say that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person through a chain of six people, which means that no one is a stranger... for long. In this hour-long drama from the producers of "Lost" and "Alias," six very different New Yorkers go about their lives without realizing the impact they're having on one another - yet. A mysterious web of coincidences will gradually draw these strangers closer, changing the course of their lives forever. Is it happenstance? Fate? Is there a greater force at work in our world, guiding us along and connecting our lives?
This intriguing tale of intertwined destinies reminds us that romance, success, peace or forgiveness might be right around the corner, but they can also be lost in an instant. It's a story that underlines just how small the world really is, and how someone just five people away might be shaping our future right now. Jay Hernandez ("Friday Night Lights"), Erika Christensen ("Flightplan"), Bridget Moynahan ("Sex and the City"), Dorian Missick ("Lucky Number Slevin"), Hope Davis ("About Schmidt") and Campbell Scott ("The Secret Lives of Dentists") star.
Jay Hernandez ("Friday Night Lights"): Carlos
Bridget Moynahan ("I, Robot"): Whitney
Hope Davis ("Proof"): Laura
Campbell Scott ("Loverboy"): Steven Casemen
Dorian Missick ("Lucky Number Slevin"): Damian
Erika Christensen ("Traffic"): Mae Anderson
EP: J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Alias")
EP: Bryan Burk ("Lost," "Alias")
EP/Writer: Stu Zicherman ("Elektra")
EP/Writer: Raven Metzner ("Elektra")
Director: Rodrigo Garcia ("Six Feet Under")
Production Company: Touchstone Television
My Thoughts: Thursday is the best and worst night of television. It's the most important day for advertisers but the worst day for TV addicts because too many good shows come on at the same time. With this lineup, ABC really seems to be courting female audiences. The two new comedies look to be the opposite of NBC's male-driven Thursday comedies. Big Day has an interesting, high-concept premise. If done right, it could be really good. I am just a little worried that the show won't be able to keep things up for a whole season. 24 has perfected keeping one day interesting over a whole season, but the old saying is that comedy is a lot harder to do than drama. Notes From The Underbelly sounds a little generic but it looks like it will make a good fit with Big Day. I'm expecting the ratings for Grey's Anatomy will dip just a little bit in its move to Thursdays but it will probably be better than what ABC was showing before. As for Six Degrees, let me just say that it doesn't really interest me right now. The idea of people being linked together in mysterious ways is one that has been done a lot, especially in film. In fact, it's a sometimes important aspect of Lost (the characters frequently appear in each others' flashbacks). While I'm confident in the producers' ability to produce good television (they did work on Lost and Alias), Six Degrees is going to have to be very good in order to keep the Grey's Anatomy audience.
8-9 p.m.: Betty The Ugly
9:00 p.m.: Men in Trees
10:00 p.m.: 20/20
From ABC's Press Release:
"Betty the Ugly" (one-hour comedy, Friday,8:00 p.m., ET) - In the superficial world of high fashion, image is everything. Styles come and go, and the only constants are the wafer-thin beauties who wear them. How can an ordinary girl -- a slightly plump plain-Jane from Queens -- possibly fit in?
If you took a moment to get to know Betty Suarez, you'd see how sweet, intelligent and hard-working she is. But few people do because, in the world of fashion, Betty is the oversized square peg in the petite round hole. When publishing mogul Bradford Meade hands the reigns of his fashion magazine, Mode, over to his son, Daniel, he specifically hires Betty as his son's new assistant - mostly because she's the only woman in NYC Daniel won't sleep with. Though this "player" is reluctant to accept her at first, Betty's indomitable spirit and bright ideas will eventually win him over. Neither of them really knows the ins and outs of the fashion world, but the two of them are a formidable team against the label-wearing sharks who will do anything to see them fail.
Executive producers Salma Hayek and Silvio Horta, the creator of "Urban Legend," bring the Latino television phenomenon to an English-speaking audience. America Ferrera ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") and Eric Mabius ("The L Word") are the "Working Girl" couple who tackle the colorful, cutthroat world of fashion head on.
America Ferrera ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"): Betty Suarez
Eric Mabius ("The O.C."): Daniel Meade
Ana Ortiz ("Boston Legal"): Hilda
Vanessa Williams ("Chicago Hope"): Wilhelmina Slater
Tony Plana ("24"): Ignacio
Ashley Jensen: Christina
Becki Newton ("Charmed"): Amanda
Mark Indelicato: Justin
Alan Dale ("The O.C."): Bradford Meade
EP/Writer: Silvio Horta ("Jake 2.0")
EP: Ben Silverman ("The Office")
EP: Salma Hayek ("Frida")
EP: Jose Tamez ("The Maldonado Miracle")
Director: Richard Shepard ("Criminal Minds")
Production Company: Touchstone Television
"Men in Trees" (one-hour, Friday, 9:00 p.m., ET) - Finding a good man in today's world isn't as difficult as some women think. You just have to watch out for the signs. You wouldn't drive with a blindfold on but, for some reason, women continue to date with one.
Relationship coach Marin Frist knows what to look for, what to avoid and what will make her happy. As the many fans of her two bestselling books could tell you, we're all in charge of our own happiness. Marin's personal happiness includes the upcoming wedding to her "perfect man." But like many people full of advice, she fails to apply it to herself. On her way to a speaking engagement in Alaska, she learns that her fiance has cheated on her... the wedding plans are instantly over. Slapped in the face with personal failure, a snowstorm then leaves her stuck in a small town full of the one thing she really doesn't need -- available men. Marin's friends and her publisher try to lend long-distance support, but the fact remains she's been living with her eyes closed for too long. Now that they're finally open, she sees the amazingly beautiful world surrounding her, and for the first time she'll have the chance to stop and breathe. Now if she could just get the raccoon out of her hotel room, this place might be perfect.
From the head writer of "Sex and the City" and the director of the Academy Award(r)-winning "Walk the Line" comes a fun and sexy drama about finding love in the most unexpected places. Anne Heche ("Nip/Tuck") stars.
Anne Heche ("Nip/Tuck"): Marin Frist
James Tupper ("Gilmore Girls"): Jack
Suleka Mathews ("The West Wing"): Sara
Derek Richardson ("Felicity"): Patrick
Emily Bergl ("Gilmore Girls"): Annie
Abraham Benrubi ("ER): Ben
Sarah Strange ("Life As We Know It"): Theresa
Seana Kofoed ("Law & Order"): Jane
John Amos ("The West Wing"): Buzz
EP/Writer: Jenny Bicks ("Sex and the City")
EP: Kathy Conrad ("Walk the Line")
EP/Director: James Mangold ("Walk the Line")
Production Company: Tree Line Film, Perkins Street Productions, NS Pictures Inc., Warner Bros. Television
My Thoughts: ABC broke ground in giving George Lopez his very own show and now look to do so again with Betty The Ugly. This show looks to be the only show on primetime television lead by a Latina (could it also be the first?). I think it has the potential to be a hit, especially with the capable America Ferrera as its star. The premise of Men In Trees could have easily been turned into a sitcom (and a potentially bad one at that) so it's fortunate that it's being played mostly for dramatic purposes. Anne Heche has done well in her stints on such shows as Everwood, but it will be interesting to see if she can carry a show on her own.
8-11p.m.: ABC Saturday Night College Football
My Thoughts: Saturday is a primetime wasteland. Putting college football on Saturday night is a very good idea. Football junkies will tune in, especially if there are some marquee matchups. Way to go ABC for trying.
7-8 p.m.: America's Funniest Home Videos
8-9 p.m.: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9-10 p.m.: Desperate Housewives
10-11 p.m.: Brothers & Sisters
From ABC's Press Release:
"Brothers & Sisters" (one-hour, Sunday, 10:00 p.m., ET) - The adult children of William Walker, along with their respective families, have gathered to celebrate Kitty's birthday. Little do they know that, on this day, their lives will take a dramatic turn.
Kitty's radio success has led to a TV pundit job in Los Angeles, but her New York boyfriend just proposed. Down to earth Thomas has joined forces with his sister, Sarah, a high powered executive and mother of three, in an effort to fix the family business. Kevin's well-ordered life is shaken by the news that his ex-wife is moving his adolescent son to Texas. Justin, a Gulf War vet, has kicked nicotine, but other addictions keep him from moving forward in his career and love life. These siblings are about to find out that underneath the idyllic family fagade lie many secrets that threaten to either tear the family apart or bring them closer together.
As told through the insightful eyes of the family's most outspoken and public sibling, Calista Flockhart ("Ally McBeal") stars alongside Rachel Griffiths ("Six Feet Under") and Ron Rifkin ("Alias") in this warm, humorous and relatable drama from producer Ken Olin ("Alias") and Jon Robin Baitz, one of Broadway's most prominent playwrights ("The Substance of Fire").
Calista Flockhart ("Ally McBeal"): Kitty Walker
Ron Rifkin ("Alias"): Saul Ashman
Balthazar Getty ("Alias"): Thomas Walker
Rachel Griffiths ("Six Feet Under"): Sarah Walker
Dave Annable ("Reunion"): Justin Walker
Patricia Wettig ("Prison Break"): Holly Harper
John Pyper-Ferguson ("Smallville"): Jed Traylor
Sarah Jane Morris ("Felicity"): Jennifer Walker
Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak ("CSI"): Teddy Traylor
EP/Writer: Jon Robin Baitz ("The Substance of Fire")
EP/Director: Ken Olin ("Alias")
EP: Marti Noxon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer")
Production Company: Touchstone Television
My Thoughts: If it ain't broke, don't fix it…too much, anyway. ABC's Sunday night lineup was enviable last season. This fall, it's a little more vulnerable with Grey's Anatomy's move to Thursdays, NBC's NFL football, and CBS ending its Sunday movie tradition. ABC may not have too much to worry about, though, in bringing in Brothers And Sisters. It will already garner a lot of buzz for the return of Calista Flockhart to TV. Plus, the post-Desperate Housewives spot was not only the launching pad for Grey's Anatomy but also Boston Legal. It is entirely possible that that spot may indeed make Brothers And Sisters into the next must-see Sunday drama. In a side note, do the people behind Brothers And Sisters realize the superficial similarities between it and ABC's recently cancelled comedy-drama Sons And Daughters? Not only are the titles of the shows similar but both of them also have multiple characters with the last name Walker.
Overall: ABC did not keep most of the new shows it premiered last season. With such a large slate of new shows, history could repeat itself. Some of their new shows look like they could be gems while others will have to overcome weak-sounding premises. The key for the network seems to be courting female audiences. Many of their new shows are female-lead and if they can get more women to tune in beyond Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, things will certainly be looking up for the alphabet net.
Coming Up Next: CBS