Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on ABC

Last year the critics unleashed tirades against Paul Lee at press tour. This year seemed quiet. Most critics felt angry at True Detective instead. What’s up with ABC? Resurrection was their new hit for two seconds until the network revealed few folks watched. The network re-did Sunday night at 9PM and 10PM. The fairy tale show continues, unfortunately. Revenge was cancelled, though ABC would like to produce a spin-off because Paul Lee thinks Revenge was and still could be the ABC brand. Paul Lee can think that, but why hurt the ABC image with that remark? Revenge took the conceit of Dumas’ novel, put it in The Hamptons, and four years of melodramatic General Hospital soapy material followed. No, ABC, don’t think Revenge was the best you ever had. Paul Lee really does, though. Besides The Muppets and Dr. Ken, it’s all nighttime soaps. None star Emily VanCamp.

ABC finished behind NBC and CBS. Yes, NBC beat ABC for the second straight year.

Note: For anyone unfamilar with 

ABC

THE MUPPETS

Created By Bill Prady & Bob Kushell

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 22 at 8PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2015) The Muppets return to primetime with a contemporary, documentary-style show. For the first time ever, a series will explore the Muppets' personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, breakups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires. This is a more adult Muppet show, for "kids" of all ages.

Thoughts: The mocking documentary-style that comments on and continues to build on the style of The Office, Parks & Recreation, Modern Family, and other such documentary-style sitcoms is not the way for The Muppets’ return to primetime. The formula wore out mid-Office run. Modern Family uses the formula exactly as Gonzo comments on in the trailer. Mockumentaries cheat. Writers can do a lot more with less work in the style than writers can without it. Gonzo’s meta-commentary about the cheat of the style doesn’t stop the writers from doing it, but in 21st century popular culture commenting on it makes it okay. Muppets documentary is the selling point. “See the Muppets as you’ve never seen them before.” The Muppets can be looser, more meta, and some of the jokes in the teaser delighted me, e.g. Gonzo reminding Ms. Piggy that they’ve starred together in six movies together. The Muppets could transcend the tired fake reality style. The teaser promises viewers an ongoing look at the dynamics of the Ms. Piggy/Kermit relationship, Fozzie Bear’s complicated love life, and hopefully the writers makes a Rizzo the Rat episode that lovingly parodies The Sot Weed Factor.

BLOOD & OIL

Created By Josh Pate & Rodes Fishburne

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 27 at 9PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2015) Billy and Cody Lefever dream of a new life beyond their working class roots and move to "The Bakken" in North Dakota, booming after the biggest oil discovery in American history. They're soon pitted against a ruthless tycoon who forces them to bet big and put everything on the line, including their marriage.

Thoughts: ABC somehow soaped up the oil boom in North Dakota. Don Johnson plays a tycoon who disowns his son, sees in Billy a new son, and the sister (is she the sister?) makes love to the tycoon’s son—or her brother. ABC’s marketing department cut together a confusing promo The promo states, “Sometimes you need to get dirty to get filthy rich.” Yes, ABC, yes. Unfortunately, ABC orders the same shows to series every year. These shows are something undeniably soapy, melodramatic, set in a dramatic place, that’ll eventually (or immediately) become a boring, clich├ęd series. Shows similar to Blood & Oil have lasted 3-4 seasons. I don’t think Blood & Oil will receive a second season pickup, but I’m an anonymous TV blogger. What’s there in the story beyond rich folk trying to stay rich, young folk trying to make money at the expense of Don Johnson, and shocking betrayals/scandalous romances?

QUANTICO

Created By Josh Safran

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 25 at 10PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2015) A diverse group of recruits has arrived at the FBI Quantico Base for training. They are the best, the brightest and the most vetted, so it seems impossible that one of them is suspected of masterminding the biggest attack on New York City since 9/11.

Thoughts: No interest in Quantico. Archetypes--with secrets--train together. The main character, a strong, diverse female character, sleeps with men and kicks ass, and someone framed her for masterminding the biggest attack on NYC since 9/11. I assume the “Pilot” concludes with that twist, because teasers ruin “Pilot” episodes.

DR. KEN

Created By Ken Jeong & Jared Stern & Mike O’Connell

Premiere Date: Friday, October 2 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2015) Doctor-turned-actor/comedian Ken Jeong ("Community," "The Hangover"), plays Dr. Ken, a brilliant physician with no bedside manner. He is always trying to be a good doctor as well as a good husband and dad to his two kids. However, these good intentions have a way of driving everyone crazy at work and at home. Luckily, his therapist wife, Allison, is just the right partner to keep things sane.

Thoughts: Ken Jeong worked for Community the last six years in between Hangover sequels. Actor contracts ended after season six, and the actors scattered. Jeong worked awhile on Dr. Ken, his semi-autobiographical (or fully autobiographical), and he’s at his most bombastic, histrionic, crazy brand of comedy. Dr. Ken has heart, as all network sitcoms do. Dr. Ken’s a doctor and a family man who tries to understand his teenage daughter and who tries to guide his individualist young son. He sucks with patients. It’s a Ken Jeong vehicle. The teaser shows him navigating a rave. Near the scene he joins his son on stage in a scene that reminded me of the drugs episode of Community as well as the group “rescuing him” during the pop n’ lock a-thon. Crazy Ken Jeong with heart.

The Friday comedies survive on ABC. Okay, well, Last Man Standing does. I think Dr. Ken has a shot to last a couple seasons in According to Jim anonymity. A person may come across it four years from now in syndication, watch it for five minutes, and then continue channel surfing. Suzy Nakamura’s a good co-lead choice. Her character appears more grounded than her Go On character. Any character opposite Dr. Ken needs that grounding.

WICKED CITY

Created By Steven Baigelman

Premiere Date: Tuesday, October 27 at 10PM

Premise: from ABC's press release, May 2015) "Wicked City" follows a unique case set in a noteworthy era of L.A. history, starting with a murder case from 1982 centered on the rock 'n' roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip. Alliances are formed between detectives, reporters, drug dealers and club-goers to solve a serial murder case.

Thoughts: The ABC Presentation Video of Wicked City highlights the Bonnie-and-Clyde relationship between Betty and Jack. The show’s executive producer also highlighted the ensemble storytelling. Detectives, reporters, drug dealers, and club-goers will have their point of views in the midst of murder mystery. TV period pieces mythologize its city. The city becomes the central character; if not the city then the time period. 1980s Sunset Strip will have more prominence than some characters. Network period pieces, more often than not, fail. ABC tried a plane period piece 3-4 years ago. Production values look great. The story and the characters? Not sure.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.