We're still trying to figure out what ABC's execs were talking about at their upfront presentation when they claimed they were the "number one must-keep" network, but at least they had something resembling a sense of humor about their shows, talking about while their Bachelors may not stay engaged, their viewers are. And then, as usual, they unleashed Jimmy Kimmel, whose show has been on the air for ten years, which is about nine longer than I predicted way back when. He joked to the ad buyers in the crowd that "We don't know what we are doing. We have no idea what people want to see. If we did, we wouldn't have an upfront; we'd just put the shows on the air and you'd just mail us a check." Then he added, "That show Work It... you know we were just kidding about that, right?" Of course, he had to rip on the other networks as well. On NBC: "Spinning chairs and a monkey. This truly is a golden age of television." On Fox's X Factor: "No one knows talent like Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. Britney Spears wanted to be a judge since she's spent the last ten years appearing before them." On CBS: "For the 18-to-49-trips-to-the-bathroom demographic." On The CW's new musical chairs show: "Oh Sit! It used to be called Steaming Pile o' Sit, but they shortened it." Still, his best joke was also at The X Factor and Idol's expense: "I feel bad for Paula Abdul. She's the Rosa Parks of bipolar talent show judges. No one was more dedicated or more medicated." It's a good thing that Kimmel was funny, because none of ABC's new comedies looked amusing at all.
From the fashion to the lingo to the logo (and, let's face it, the title itself), this show is so hilariously stuck in the '80s that I actually had to look it up to make sure that it wasn't meant to be set thirty years prior. I would have still questioned it, had it not been for the use of smartphones -- well played, Jane By Design. I guess this just leaves one question as far as this inevitably short-lived series goes: Do the writers know less about being a high school student or about working in the fashion industry?
Instead of leading off with Jimmy Kimmel to get us warmed up and excited about these new shows, ABC's upfront presentation jumped right in, so Jimmy didn't come out to make the obligatory gay/British jokes about his new boss Paul Lee until halfway through the event. Actually, thirty minutes in was perfect timing for him because that was about when I become fairly horrified with the new crop of shows. But even Kimmel seemed off his game, making easy jokes about CBS ("More people die watching CBS than any other network") and NBC ("they'll be selling their ads on Groupon this year") and Fox's X-Factor ("It's like American Idol meets a mirror"). He did get in some decent cracks about the upfronts in general: "Remember those shows that we were so excited about last fall? We cancelled all of them... and yet here you are again. We think you might have a gambling problem." Not unfunny, but he was better in previous years. As for the network's gobs and gobs of new shows? They've been better in years past, too. There wasn't a single one that blew me away or cracked me up the way that Lost or Modern Family had done at first glance.
ABC's annual presentation is usually the highlight of upfront week for one reason alone: year after year, Jimmy Kimmel appears on stage and absolutely kills with a series of rapier-sharp riffs about the TV industry. This year was no exception. After dry, but typical, business speak from ABC execs, clips from several new dramas (more on them later), a dull montage of Lost cast members reflecting on their series and Matthew Fox on stage trying hard to look awake, Kimmel came out firing. Regarding NBC: "I read in The Times this morning that Jeff Zucker is building a 40-ton containment dome that they hope to lower down on to the fall schedule." Regarding Law & Order's cancellation and L&O: L.A.'s pickup: "The last time NBC took a show from New York and moved it to L.A., it ended up as the lead-in to George Lopez on TBS." On Fox's decision to give Glee the post-Super Bowl spot: "[They are trying] for a record of 40-year-old drunk guys saying, 'What the fuck is this' all at the same time." On the limited longevity of CBS's Undercover Boss: "If your new bus boy shows up and speaks English, he is probably the president of Fuddruckers." On Charlie Sheen's massive CBS deal after his Christmas incident: "Tiger Woods must feel like a real dumbass right now."
Kimmel's own network didn't escape unscathed, either: "We're looking for shows that break the mold and then [ABC's president of entertainment] introduced another medical drama from Shonda Rhimes." And then he closed with an off-hand comment that made me giggle: "I have not missed a single episode of Five since the lizard aliens landed on Earth. Oh, V?" Granted, he also had some lines about "fluxing" and how at least broadcast TV is more popular than newspapers, but I'm trying to focus on the funny, which is more can be said for ABC's new slate of comedies. Good thing the network's new batch of dramas might make up for them. Here's our first take on all nine brand-new series:
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.
I never thought I'd be wishing for the day when the Bachelorette was on again... but that was before I saw what ABC had to put in its place. Monday nights on the alphabet kick off with High School Musical: Get in the Picture which I ranted about yesterday a bit. It is so tediously dull that I actually conked out on the couch watching it. Never a good sign. It's just so sanitary and kind and up with people that it makes me want to bang my head into the wall, except Nick Lachey's soothing voice calms me down and puts me in a deep slumber instead so then when I wake up I have forgotten the torture I've been subjected to. It is like one of those little mind wiper things from Men in Black or the pills that they give people on Torchwood... but then see commercials and get flashbacks. Until I doze off again. This vicious circle will probably keep on going for months.
Hit the reboot button. That's what ABC is doing this fall, working harder to rejigger returning scripted shows than to introduce new ones. Thanks to the winter's coma-inducing writers strike, network suits with good reason fear that we barely remember last fall's truncated newbies, like Dirty Sexy Money, or even midseason arrivals like Eli Stone. Or that when we do, we're not so gung-ho to revisit whatever vague recollections linger in brain cells since lashed by the likes of Wipeout.
So during ABC's two days this week at the Television Critics Association's L.A. fall-preview press tour, the network presented only one new scripted series -- a New York-ization of the '70s cops in the witty British drama fave Life on Mars. Instead, ABC's promotional and creative efforts this strike-slapped season will shift away from launching fresh/untested titles and toward nurturing familiar/underachieving shows to reach their full potential.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Perrineau will play some sort of variation on Reno 911!'s Travis Junior. "Perrineau will play Det. Leo Banks who is always agitated and never takes off his Kevlar vest as he worries that he might die." While normally I'd say we need another cop show like a hole in the head, I have to support Travis Junior's jump to primetime. And Michael's death, while we're on the subject. He was no damn good
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