It's the second day of upfronts, and while I was excited for this afternoon's ABC event because V is one of the new shows I'm most looking forward to, they had already announced this morning that it wouldn't be debuting until midseason, which dampened my enthusiasm a little. On the plus side, it was another upfront presentation that is conveniently streamed so that I didn't have to trek anywhere to see it.
Jimmy Kimmel kicked it off with an introduction of Anne Sweeney, ABC Television's president, who talked economy stuff and ads and showed actual commercials. Then Mike Shaw, ABC's president for sales and marketing came out. Ugh. More of the boring money/ad talk. I realize that is why they do these presentations, but I'd appreciate it they could mix it up a little bit.
Finally, they showed the entire first act of Flash Forward, which is about ten minutes. That's better than a clip. My feed kept freezing up and I have absolutely no idea what was happening on this show. There's a lot of chaos, car chases, explosions and Joseph Fiennes. The entire show is about a worldwide blackout that lasted two minutes and 17 seconds and everyone got to see a glimpse of what would happen six months in the future. Stephen McPherson, ABC's president of entertainment came on to the stage and explained that he's excited about this series because the creators have a bible and a plan. That's refreshing.
McPherson ran through the schedule really quickly. It's interesting that Scrubs and Better Off Ted will be back at some point -- I thought they were both goners. He also played a clip that was supposed to pay tribute to Lost, which is a nice thought, but mostly it was just a reminder of how popular the show is. During this footage, a song called "Addicted to Lost" plays. Horrifying. Then they play a commercial for ABC that has characters from all of their shows interacting, like Charlie from Lost playing foosball with Courteney Cox, and Jack Shepherd flirting with Susan Mayer. It was actually kinda cute, and more clever than a lot of actual television.
Then it was time for the new dramas. First up was The Forgotten, which is something you should never name your show because reporters will make jokes about how they've forgotten it already, or how it is totally forgettable. And in this case, those reporters will be right. It looks like another procedural, with a team of amateurs trying to solve John/Jane Doe cases. The only catch is that they focus on unidentified victims. Boring. That was followed by the clip for Eastwick, which looks really dull as well. I don't remember much about The Witches of Eastwick move (I was more of a fan of Hocus Pocus) and this might be loyal to the source material, but it just seems to take a talented group of actresses and give them stupid material to work with. And do women in 2009 really need a devilish rogue of a man to help them lead more fulfilling lives?
The clip for Happy Town reminded the audience that it was from the network that brought you Twin Peaks. This doesn't look anything like Twin Peaks, aside from the fact that it is a small town and there are murders and kidnappings, so it irks me that they tried to make the connection. This might end up being a fine series (though it sorta feels like a Stephen King knockoff), but I'm wary of getting attached to this type of show because they'll probably cancel it and I'll never find out who the culprit is. Then there's The Deep End, which looks like a typical legal drama about new budding lawyers. I'm not a huge fan of lawyer shows, but this one has a great cast including Billy Zane, as a badass high-powered legal eagle who threatens to set someone on fire, and Tina Majorino, who I will watch in pretty much anything. Including this, probably.
Then, finally, they showed an extended trailer for V, which totally lived up to my expectations. The special effects were top notch and the drama looks intense. It seemed to have everything that made the '80s series great, but upgraded for the 21st century BSG/Star Trek style. And the cast is terrific: Elizabeth Mitchell, Scott Wolf, Morena Baccarin (yes, from Firefly) and more familiar faces. Hands down the most promising footage that ABC showed us.
After the drama clips, the presentation cut to a scene of Sally Field reading Jimmy Kimmel a bedtime story, which led into Jimmy doing a bit of standup. He broke the ice by saying that all of ABC's late night comedy talent is on one stage together, and the camera zooms out to show him standing alone. He started to throw out some random statistics, which he then said were total bullshit. He told the audience that he's going to get real, and that of the new shows they are hyping, "We're gonna cancel about 90 percent of them.... possibly more. I can't help but notice that right after we announce the new ones that we announce the midseason replacements. If we are so confident, why are we working on their replacements already. I'll tell you why... that's because we know most of them won't make it until Christmas." He's a prophet that one.
He continued by telling the media buyers in the audience that the network lies to them every year. "Remember the time we got you to buy time on that bingo show?" Ha. I really should watch his show more often. He then got a little self-deprecating: "ABC was hoping I wouldn't be here this year. They wanted Jay Leno. I know that. They wanted to put Jay Leno on at 11:30 and move me to 12:30 and it actually looked like it was going to happen until the last second when NBC said, 'No, we will not allow Jay Leno to go to ABC, even if we have destroy our own network to keep him.' That of course led to their new show, I'm Your Boston Affiliate, Get Me Out of Here." Zing! But NBC isn't the only network he took a swipe at. "Over at Fox, they announced that 24 would be back. As you know, that show was within a head butt of getting canceled. Next year I hear Jack Bauer is going to have a sidekick who is going to follow him everywhere he goes... who I hear will be played by Kiefer Sutherland's probation officer."
He then returned to picking on his own network. "I'm hoping that Steve will listen to me for once and put the blind guy from American Idol on Dancing With the Stars. We did one leg... why not?" He then says that they have a new marketing opportunity available. "Next season on Grey's Anatomy, your product could actually kill Dr. Izzie. She could be crushed by a case of Coke Zero or smothered in a Slanket. Just depends on how much you want to pay." Anyone else out there want to take up a collection? He caps it off with the final thought: "Maybe some of these shows will work, maybe they won't, but who cares, it's not your money."
Then we were show more cross-series promos, like Supernanny yelling at the big balls from Wipeout and Sally Field checking out a bevy of bachelors with roses. There was also Amanda from Ugly Betty turning down Dr. McSteamy, but hooking up with Hurley. Love it. And Rob Lowe crushing Ty Pennington's megaphone was a long time coming.
Then finally it was time for the comedies. If you like Kelsey Grammer, he's back. His new show Hank is about an exec who loses his job and savings and has to cope with real life and his bitter wife and kids. Timely, but terrible. And do you remember Malcolm in the Middle and their dysfunctional brand of family comedy? The Middle is sort of like that, except with Patrica Heaton and Neil Flynn raising a crazy brood. The youngest son is even a dead ringer for Malcolm's adorable little Dewey. Finally, imagine Desperate Housewives as a sitcom. Now imagine Courteney Cox in the Susan role and you've pretty much pictured her new Cougar Town show.
Then McPherson came back out and says that we might have noticed there was one show missing. Not really. It felt like this presentation had gone on forever. But then he told the audience that we were going to see the entire first episode of Modern Family, which actually turned out to be a good thing. While I had watched some preview clips and had been slightly interested, but not excited, the full episode had me laughing. The shows about three sets of families that all tie together, shot single-camera style. It's somewhat offensive, a little edgy, and genuinely funny for a family comedy in this day and age. I enjoyed it, especially thanks to Jesse Tyler Ferguson (who I adored on The Class) and Ed O'Neil (of Married With Children fame).
Then it was over. Let the countdown to V begin!
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