Tuesday, May 22, 2007

TV: My Unfair Previews, Fall 2007: ABC


I'm back with more Unfair Previews. ABC went second at the upfronts, so I'll tackle them next. And they've got a bit more to tackle. NBC is introducing five new shows for the Fall. ABC is throwing eight shows against the wall (as well as three already-announced mid-season shows), and waiting to see what sticks. I'll address the initial eight only.

On Monday, there's Sam I Am, which mixes together Green Eggs and Ham, Memento, and Regarding Henry. Mostly Regarding Henry, in that it's exactly the same as Regarding Henry. An asshole loses his/her memory, and tries to be a better person afterward. Christina Applegate takes the Harrison Ford role. Christina Applegate is easy on the eyes. Also: I hate her. She hasn't been funny since she was a Bundy. This looks terrible. And the fact that it's a stand-alone half hour doesn't bode well -- by which I mean, like last year's Help Me Help You (which, I remind you, is not coming back for a second season), it doesn't have another half hour program slotted in the same hour; instead, it follows the 90-minute Dancing With the Stars. Which means the only viewers it's going to attract are those who are already watching Dancing With the Stars. Or possibly those who switch channels because they can't stand watching Rules of Engagement after Two and a Half Men on CBS. Which, now that I think about it, might be a fairly substantial audience.

I admit, I've kind of enjoyed the series of 15- or 30-second "Caveman" commercials for Geico over the years. Interesting discovery: judging from the clip for Tuesday's Cavemen, the new sitcom based on those commercials, it takes a full 38 seconds of exposure to those characters to make me want to kill myself and anyone else within reach. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Far, far worse even than the phrase "sitcom adapted from a commercial" can conjure in your mind. Let me make you hate it even more: ABC's site describes it as "a hilarious and thought-provoking social commentary on race relations in today's America." Doesn't that make you want to punch someone in the face? I know I do!

Also Tuesday is Carpoolers, a sitcom about four suburban schmucks who bitch about stupid shit while carpooling. I like Jerry O'Connell and Jerry Minor, but this is horrendous. I mean, look at the names of three of these characters: Gracen, Laird, and Aubrey. Those names are so contrived for "quirkiness" I want to smack the crap out of them. No offense to people named Gracen, Laird, and Aubrey (hell, my name is Tom Collins, so who am I to talk?), but couldn't one of these assholes have had a normal name? What's wrong with Joe? Saul? Karl? Miguel? Sanjay? Muhammed? Wen? Ichiro? (The fourth carpooler is "Dougie," which, while slightly more believable, still bugs me.) In addition, there is a character on this show named "Marmaduke." Need I say more? Maybe just one word more: avoid.

Wednesday is all-new for ABC, which to me spells disaster, but hey, what do I know? First up is Pushing Daisies, about a guy who can bring dead people briefly back to life in order to solve their murders. It's from Barry Sonnenfeld (whose TV work includes The Tick, Karen Sisco, and Notes From the Underbelly -- which, by the way, I have been enjoying a great deal, and am glad to see will be returning mid-season) and Bryan Fuller (Heroes, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me), so you know there's some dark humor mixed in with the fantasy here. There's an interesting cast: Lee Pace (Aaron on Wonderfalls) is the lead, and there's also Chi McBride, Kristen Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ellen Greene. I'm not entirely sold on it, though. Seems a little too cutesy, a little too thinks-it's-more-clever-than-it-is. And this looks to be the best of the night's offerings.

My sister and her family were visiting a couple weeks ago, and we all were staying at my mother's. The women watched the two-hour Grey's Anatomy episode launching Kate Walsh's spinoff, Wednesday's Private Practice, while my sister's husband caught some Z's and I monkeyed on the computer in the other room. I have never watched a full episode of Grey's Anatomy, and I never will, but I watched a lot of this one, drawn as I was by my sister's and my mother's groans of disgust at the awfulness of this spinoff pilot. And I have to say, despite my long-standing love for Kate Walsh (one of the Objects of My Affection), that was some terrible shit. Holy cow, was that bad. I know the episode got huge ratings, but I have to imagine that was just because of the hype; how many of them are going to say, "Yeah, I really liked that brain-dead insult to my taste and intelligence," and tune in to the new show next Fall? What a shame: it's got a fine cast, but they're stuck in a sinkhole of a show. Sort of like Studio 60. And like Studio 60, I expect Private Practice to hit big initially, and quickly lose most of its audience, resulting in cancellation after one year. In fact, I'll bet five bucks this show is dead in one year with the first person who comments accepting the bet.

The final new Wednesday show is Dirty Sexy Money, a soap about a principled lawyer (Peter Krause) hired to protect a debauched millionaire family (headed by Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh). It also features Samaire Armstrong, whom I loved on Entourage, and William Baldwin, who may be the last sane Baldwin brother, shockingly enough. The show seems like a lot of fuss and bother with very little of interest grounding it. No thanks.

Thursday's Big Shots is Carpoolers set at the country club: four men bitching about how rough they have it, only these four are super rich, which makes them even more obnoxious. It's got a decent cast -- Michael Vartan, Joshua Malina, Dylan McDermott, and Christopher Titus -- but the characters seem too vile to want to connect with. For example, Malina's character, according to the website, is "a lovable pharmaceutical big shot whose life turns upside down when his wife and mistress become best friends." Yeah, that's who I want to spend time with: one of the pharmaceutical giants who is destroying the health care system of this country, who also is a philanderer. But hey, he's lovable! Eh, maybe not so much. ABC promises these characters are "greedy, horny and competitive -- yet sexy and likable -- CEOs." I say, bite my ass. I'm going to pass on these "likable," "lovable" tycoon douchebags. That's right, I'm declaring class war, baby!

Women's Murder Club is ABC's addition to Fridays, which I would say instantly dooms it to failure, if it weren't following Men In Trees, ABC's inexplicable Friday night hit. Still, I don't give it much of a chance. San Francisco Detective Angie Harmon (SF again! Hey, maybe she can figure out what's happening to Kevin McKidd on Journeyman) heads up what appears to be an all-female Star Chamber, doling out justice where the legal system drags its feet. I don't know if they turn their evidence over to the D.A., or whatever, because it seems like they're supposed to be a secret society, or if they just carry out their own sentences. Doesn't matter. This show can't, and won't, work. I'd be amazed if it made it to 2008.

That's it for ABC's Fall Season. Back tomorrow with CBS!

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