Friday, May 22, 2009

ABC’s 2009 Upfronts

Here's what ABC is planning for the coming season. ABC has a lot of shows that are not – as yet - scheduled

Cancelled: Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, Boston Legal, Life On Mars, Opportunity Knocks, In the Motherhood, The Unusuals, Cupid, According to Jim, Samantha Who?, Homeland Security USA.

Renewed: Saturday Night College Football, Brothers & Sisters, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle, Supernanny, America's Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, 20/20.

Moved: Ugly Betty.

New Shows: Modern Family, Hank, Cougar Town, Eastwick, Flash Forward, The Forgotten, The Middle, Shark Tank, V, Copper, Happy Town, The Deep End.

Not Yet Scheduled: The Bachelor, Wife Swap, Lost, Better Off Ted, Scrubs, True Beauty.

Complete Schedule (Changes in January as noted) Times are Eastern, adjust accordingly.

8:00-9:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars

10:00-11:00 p.m. Castle

8:00-9:00 p.m. SHARK TANK

9:00-10:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars Results
10:00-11:00 p.m. THE FORGOTTEN

8:00-8:30 p.m. HANK

8:30-9:00 p.m. THE MIDDLE
9:00-9:30 p.m. MODERN FAMILY
9:30-10:00 p.m. COUGAR TOWN
10:00-11:00 p.m. EASTWICK

8:00-9:00 p.m. FLASH FORWARD
9:00-10:00 p.m. Grey's Anatomy
10:00-11:00 p.m. Private Practice

8:00-9:00 p.m. Supernanny
9:00-10:00 p.m. Ugly Betty
10:00-11:00 p.m. 20/20

8:00-10:00 p.m. Saturday Night College Football

7:00-8:00 p.m. America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00-9:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover Home Edition
9:00-10:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00-11:00 p.m. Brothers & Sisters

Shark Tank is a reality show in which entrepreneurs bring their ideas to potential investors who critique their presentation and offer to invest in the ones they find most promising. The show is based on a Japanese show called The Dragon's Den which is currently produced in thirteen countries, including Canada, Russia, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The American investors include Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin Harrington, and Daymond John.

The Forgotten is a Jerry Bruckheimer series about a group of dedicated amateur sleuths who attempt to solve cases involving unknown victims. Stars Rupert Penry-Jones, Reiko Aylesworth, Michelle Borth, Bob Stephenson, Anthony Carrigan and Rochelle Aytes.

Hank is a comedy starring Kelsey Grammer as a titan of industry who suddenly finds himself unemployed, almost broke and forced to spend time with his wife (Melinda McGraw) and kids. But he believes that he on the road back to greatness.

The Middle stars Patricia Heaton in a comedy about a middle class family just trying to keep their heads above water.

Modern Family is described by ABC this way: "Today's American families come in all shapes and sizes. Shot from the perspective of an unseen documentary filmmaker, this comedy takes a modern look at the complications that come with being a family in 2009." Stars Ed O'Neil, Sofa Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Sarah Hyland, Rico Rodriguez, Nolan Gould, and Ariel Winter.

Cougar Town marks Courtney Cox's return to network TV. She plays a 40-something recently divorced woman forced to face the truths about dating and aging.

Eastwick is a series adaptation of the 1987 movie. Three women are drawn together by a mysterious man who unleashes unsuspected powers in them. Cast includes Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price, Jamie Ray Newman and Canadian Paul Gross.

Flash Forward is a science fiction series in which a mysterious event causes everyone in the world to black out for two minutes and experience a glimpse of their lives in the near future – if they're still alive then. Stars Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Sonya Walger, and Courtney B. Vance, and produced by David S Goyer and Brannon Braga.

V is a remake of the 1980's mini-series about Earth's first encounter with an alien race – a race which wants to have us for dinner. Stars Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Lourdes Benedicto and Moreno Baccarin as the alien leader named Anna in this version.

The Deep End deals with four young lawyers who are accepted as associates in one of the most prestigious law firms in Los Angeles and find they must work together to survive even as they are forced to compete as they find themselves in the middle of a power struggle between the firm's founder and the senior partner. Stars include Clancy Brown, Billy Zane, Leah Pipes, Tina Marjorino, and Ben Lawson.

Copper is a Canadian made series from Canwest dealing with five rookie cops plunged into the world of big city policing. No cast has yet been announced.

Happy Town is about Haplin, Minnesota. When the first serious crime in seven years takes place it starts to reveal the dark secrets of the town. Cast includes Amy Acker, Dean Winters Jay Paulson, Robert Wisdom and Sam Neill.


I'm really getting behind when it comes to getting these upfront articles out. Stuff keeps interfering.

Maybe the biggest move the biggest move that ABC has made for the coming season is the decision to move Ugly Betty to Friday nights. Conventional wisdom suggests that this is a vote of non-confidence from the network, and that may be right, however there seems to be a renewed effort on the part of NBC, ABCm FOX and The CW to program scripted material onto the night. Why should CBS - which has consistently been successful on Fridays - have the night all to itself?

ABC has been in bad shape and I have to say that this line-up doesn't help them out that much. They seem to be making a big push with their Wednesday sitcoms but the question I have to ask is how many of them will stick. There's some great talent there – Grammer, Heaton, Cox, O'Neill –but whether they'll be able to create a niche for themselves is another question. The competition, much of it from established shows, looks to be formidable.

Give my normal antipathy to sitcoms I'm more interested in the hour-long dramas. Mainly I want to focus on the shows that will be starting September. If I were to single out one as being the most interesting for me, I would probably say Flash Forward just because the concept is just so mysterious in a way that reminds me of what Lost has become. That said, I really don't understand the decision to put it into this time slot. True, Thursday is a showcase time slot, but there really doesn't seem to be the proper "fit" between this show and the Grey's Anatomy-Private Practice combo. Something like Eastwick or The Forgotten would seem, on the surface at least, to be a better fit for the night. The Forgotten seems like the most conventional of the three hour-long dramas debuting in September. I hate to say it, but it seems to be a typical Jerry Bruckheimer series. There's nothing wrong with that – I like a lot of Bruckheimer's shows, including the sadly cancelled Eleventh Hour – but it doesn't look like it breaks new ground and frankly I've come to expect "groundbreaking" material from ABC. While I doubt that I fit into the target demographic of Eastwick, I will probably watch at least a few episodes purely because of the presence of Paul Gross.

Looking at the mid-season shows, there is some interesting material there. We've seen V before of course, but the question any time you do a remake is whether you can bring out some element that makes it stand out from the original series. Battlestar Galactica had it; Bionic Woman didn't and Knight Rider was even worse than the original. From the description The Deep End remind me a bit of LA Law. The question for me is how much the conflict and in-fighting between the firm's senior partners will play into the series. Perhaps the most interesting of the mid-season shows is Happy Town in part because the network promotions are linking it to Twin Peaks. While I don't expect it to be a "new" Twin Peaks I wouldn't be surprised if it has some of the mysterious vibe that the older show had. The one show that holds no interest for me is Copper. The description seems very derivative of the old series The Rookies. Of course I am somewhat prejudiced because I have a poor opinion of many of the shows that Canwest-Global has produced in Canada.

Shark Tank as a formula that has had extensive success worldwide. While I think the concept should work in the US market even in this economy (or maybe especially in this economy), I'm not fully convinced the show will work during the main Fall-Winter season particularly when it is up against NCIS, Biggest Loser or even So You Think You Can Dance.

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