I love this time of year! The summer heat starts to dissipate, the kids go back to school, and the tv networks launch a plethora of new shows. Every year I enjoy researching these shows before they ever air: who stars in them? what are they about? what shows are they up against? And most importantly, why should I care? With that in mind, I’d like to share my initial impressions of the five biggest networks’ new offerings. I’ll start with ABC, since, as usual, they have the most promising new crop of comedies and dramas.
- Apt. 23 – This roommate comedy has a naive midwesterner choosing her new roommate (Krysten Ritter, the girl from Veronica Mars and Breaking Bad), because she is friends with James Van Der Beek. That’s about the only interesting thing about the show, and all the characters seem pretty unlikable. It is funny that James Van Der Beek plays himself, but I think that will get old. Think I’ll skip this one.
- GCB – I think that if you want to go there and name a show something controversial like “Good Christian Bitches” then you should own it and not shorten it to GCB. No one knows what that means! They should have found a more suitable name that wouldn’t alienate much of what is probably their target audience. I hear that at one point they changed the name to “Good Christian Belles,” but I’m sure they want a name that conveys a snarkier tone. It is about a woman returning to her hometown of Dallas after a nasty divorce, only to encounter the mean-spirited ladies she went to high school with. Based on the trailer, this show looks like it is trying too hard to be clever. I would totally skip this one, but Kristin Chenoweth is in it, so I may at least watch the pilot. I also think it’s weird that Leslie Bibb is playing mother to a teenager! She was on that WB show Popular when I was in graduate school 10 years ago! That wasn’t really that long ago, was it?
- Charlie’s Angels, Last Man Standing, Man Up – I lump all these together because they seem to emphasize the same thing: females are starting to dominate the world. Do we really need a Charlie’s Angels tv show again? The first movie was okay, the sequel was so so. I’m not interested. And Last Man Standing is basically Home Improvement 2.0. Man Up seems mediocre at best. Not even worth writing about here.
- Missing – Sounds like it has potential with Ashley Judd as a former CIA operative on a mission to find her missing college aged son in Europe. Perhaps too specific a plot to last long, but I’ll watch the pilot.
- Pan Am – This is ABC’s obvious attempt to recreate the success of Mad Men. May be too stylized to work on network tv. I don’t find myself very interested, but then I never got into Mad Men either. Unlike Mad Men, there isn’t much buzz about this show. Critics are calling it boring and saying you’ll fall asleep watching it.
- Revenge – This one stars Emily Van Camp as a woman out for revenge against a bunch of rich people for destroying her father’s life. What happened to our sweet Amy Abbott from Everwood? Could be a good soapy show, plus it marks the return of Nick Wechsler (Kyle on Roswell) to tv! (He’s been floating around as an occasional guest star for the past decade…)
- The River – I enjoyed the preview for this one. Features some good actors (Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope, etc.), and looks pretty spooky! I like a good adventure thriller, so I’ll check this one out. It centers on the mysterious disappearance of a popular wildlife expert in the Amazon, and when his family and crew go on a quest to find him, they stumble upon something frightening and deadly.
- Scandal – This is the one that stars our beloved Desmond (Henry Ian Cusack) from Lost. For that alone I’ll watch the pilot. But it actually looks really good. Not necessarily a show you’d have to watch every week, either. But it looks very well done. It’s about a team of lawyers whose job is to make their clients’ scandals go away. The premise doesn’t sound too exciting, but the trailer actually made it look pretty riveting.
- Suburgatory – Hate the name, somewhat offended by the obvious mockery of the suburbs since that’s where I live! But this one actually looks like it has similar humor to Clueless, which I loved. Fitting, then, that it stars Jeremy Sisto (he played Elton), but how weird that he’s the dad! He moves his teenage daughter to the suburbs, where she is less than impressed by her fellow students and everyone else. It also stars Alan Tudyk (Dollhouse, V, Firefly), who is overdue for a successful show, and Ana Gasteyer. I’ll check this one out.
- Work It – Worst. Idea. Of. This. Season. The preview was embarrassingly awful to watch! This is Cavemen bad. If it succeeds, then there is definitely something wrong with Americans. It’s about two unemployed car salesmen who dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps. A similar premise may have worked for Tom Hanks in the early ’80s show Bosom Buddies, but I just have no interest.
- Once Upon a Time – I am excited about this one! I am intrigued by the cast (Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, etc.), anything from the Lost writers must be pretty good, and it has that epic feel to it. Hope it finds an audience! Like everyone else, I’m having trouble understanding exactly what it’s about, so I’ll just say that it’s about the real world and fairy tales colliding.
So there you have it: ABC’s new shows for 2011-2012. Some of these won’t premiere until midseason, but it’s good for the network to advertise them now. I’m not completely sold on any of these shows, but I am hopeful that at least Once Upon a Time and Suburgatory will be worth adding to my viewing lineup. Which of these shows are you looking forward to or rolling your eyes at?