It occurred to me while writing this that the only show I watched last season on ABC was V., which was canceled despite a far-too-late season/series finale that considerably upped the show’s potential. However, that one hour of programming is more than the 0.0 hours I watch on CBS. This season, ABC doesn’t offer me any real incentives for tuning in. And yes, I have heard good things about Modern Family. Let’s see what’s coming.
8-10 p.m. Dancing with the Stars
10-11 p.m. Castle
Both shows are stalwarts on ABC’s schedule and seemingly make a good pairing.
8-8:30 p.m. LAST MAN STANDING
8:30-9 p.m. MAN UP
9-10 p.m. Dancing with the Stars the Results Show
10:00-11 p.m. Body of Proof
Two new comedies, both with the word ‘man’ in the title (capitalizing on the highly popular former-Charlie Sheen sitcom, perhaps?) and both trying their hand at condemning the emasculated society in which we live. While the two series purport to be about a man claiming his place as King of the Castle, being network television, one expects XYers to be treated as stupid-albeit-caring rough necks and women as genius caretakers. It’s the same philosophy behind modern beer commercials where guys have to watch football and drink Bud Light shamefully, hiding in some sort of attic.
Last Man Standing marks Tim Allen’s first return to network television since the conclusion of Home Improvement in 1999. Although we’ve recently seen what happens when a 90s sitcom star tries to return to his old stomping ground, Tim Allen’s show, as terrible as it looks (and it looks terrible), probably has more overall appeal than Paul Reiser’s Curb Your Enthusiasm-lite. It also seems to be the first true family “sitcom” on the networks in awhile with a laugh track, nuclear family, lack of irony or cleverness, and a patriarch as a lead. (Didn’t Bill Engvall have something similar on TBS a few years ago?). Tim Allen (who still seems to understand the genre) plays a father confused by this crazy world where men go to tanning salons and there’s this thing called Glee as he mourns what happened to our society. While this concept might have potential (especially if the show wanted to take a more All in the Family approach), this is not that series. (Didn’t Fox try to do something like that with Michael Rappaport a couple seasons ago? I do realize that this complaint about our culture is not new or groundbreaking- Denis Leary (and many others) did commentary on it decades ago- but the best series in relatively recent years to respond to the topic was Mike Judge’s long-running animated program King of the Hill.
While Last Man Standing features Tim Allen as a father yearning for a day when men could be men, able to take control of their own lives and rear children in a non-coddling way, Man Up goes the opposite route by focusing on the 30s man-child. The three main characters in this program play video games, have man caves, and seem in a state of arrested development despite at least one of them having children. We might look down on them but the announcer tells us that they’re thinking of growing up. It seems to be a single camera sitcom and stars Dan Fogler the probably-would-have-been-huge-in-the-80s comic actor who generally plays the best friend role, such as to Dane Cook in Good Luck Chuck and to Topher Grace in Take Me Home Tonight.
Although both these shows look horrible, I wouldn’t be surprised if they find an audience.
After these come the results show for Dancing with the Stars and the second season of Female Quincy
8:00 p.m. The Middle
8:30 p.m. SUBURGATORY
9:00 p.m. Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Happy Endings
10:00 p.m. REVENGE
The only new sitcom on this day’s two hours of comedy is Suburgatory, an over-the-top and, based on the trailer, easy targeted look at the blandness and falseness of upper middle class suburbia. Though unlike many other series in the genre, this one seems to “star” the child (a snarky teenage girl) rather than the parent (who, in this case, is played by character actor Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under, May)). It does appear to have more potential than the two Tuesday shows.
ABC seems to have devoted a lot to comedy development despite its longest lasting comedy, Modern Family, being only two years old. The fall season has three hours of laffs between Tuesday and Wednesday and the mid-season has even more including The Bitch in Apartment 23/The B***H in Apartment 23/Apartment 23 and Bosom Buddy’s redux Work It.
Reven8e stars Emily Van Camp (Brothers and Sisters, Everwood) as a young woman who returns to the Hamptons to seek vengeance on those who did something bad to her father years earlier. In her quest, she discovers the seedy underside of the prestigious beach community. And, despite being in her mid to late 20, Emily Van Camp apparently became rich enough to buy a lavish house in the Hamptons and smart enough to conduct intricately designed schemes to destroy these people’s lives. Long term possibility is questionable considering Kill Billionaires apparently has a finite number of people for her to stop, but it might attract an audience looking for a prime time soap opera.
8:00 p.m. CHARLIE’S ANGELS
9:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy
10:00 p.m. Private Practice
After a failed attempt at a film franchise, Charlie’s Angels returns to ABC. While the original 1970s series was unique for its time due to it being one of the first to star female protagonists, we’ve had three decades of girl-power since then. Nevertheless, as a pure, eye candy action show Charlie’s Angels could work. It has better production values than a USA show, which, let’s face it, this show probably is at its heart and looks to avoid the cheese that made the movies so unbearable. It also might find more favor than the new Bionic Woman and <Knight Rider, NBC’s embarrassing attempts to reboot old series
The voice of new Charlie lacks the power of John Forsythe, though.
8:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00 p.m. Shark Tank
10:00 p.m. 20/20
One of the few spin-offs more successful than its base show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition returns for its ninth year. Shark Tank returns for its second and 20/20 for its 34th.
8:00 p.m. Saturday Night College Football
7:00 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos
8:00 p.m. ONCE UPON A TIME
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. PAN AM
Once Upon A Time stars House’s Jennifer Morrison as a young woman who gets a room in a hotel in a mystery town where “time stops.” What makes this land unique is that apparently houses real fairy tale characters, including Jennifer Morrison’s doppelganger Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love, Something Borrowed) as Snow White, Lana Parrilla (24, Miami Medical) as an evil queen, Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, SGU: Stargate Universe) as Rumpelstiltskin, and others. The show seems to alternate between the characters existing as real people in “real life” and as fairy tale characters in a “fairy tale” world as everything approaches an epic battle with mankind’s fate in the balance, etc., etc., etc. Once Upon A Time, however, seems to have more uniqueness than NBC’s Grimm, which also poses the question of what happens when story book characters are real.
Another companion piece to a new offering on NBC, ABC presents Pan Am, the second new show this season set-in-the-60s and attempting to capitalize on the popularity of Men Men. Like NBC’s The Playboy Club, this show (which is about stewardesses and stars Christina Ricci) also features young women utilizing their sexuality to take control of their lives at the first time when that was possible (one of the characters runs away from her wedding to apply for the job). Unlike The Playboy Club, which has components of crime and scandals, this show seems to operate on a more “realistic” plain (no pun intended), by focusing exclusively on the simple lives and adventures of Pan Am flight attendants. As the show (at least from the promo) tries to replicate the look of different international cities, Pan Am will need to prove its worth quickly to obtain continued investment from ABC. The question then becomes whether the novelty of having a show set in the 1960s will be enough for it to survive.