Returning shows are always interesting to follow because of the questions associated with returning shows. For example, can a show that experienced a successful first season maintain the quality for a second season? The sophomore slump is very real in television; however, there are as many shows who had a rocky first season that returned with a second season that won over many new fans like The Office, Parks And Recs, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc. There are shows who experienced a drop-off in season two only to return with creative resurgence in the third season. Essentially, to quote Forrest Gump, returning shows are like a box of chocolates because you never what you're going to get.
For the next week or so, The Foot will preview each returning show on all the major networks. The Foot will even sneak in a preview for shows like Dexter. Unlike the preview of new shows, I'm not evaluating which shows will get reviews in this blog because I covered that in a post on Friday. In case you forgot, I'll most likely provide thoughts or a full review for shows that I actually like. The Preview of Returning Fall Shows is more in the spirit of EW's yearly preview or the many previews that will run on television websites but, of course, I'll add
Today, we begin with the now LOST-less ABC. I won't include any reality shows because I dislike reality television. Let it begin:
The Show: Brothers And Sisters
What Season?: The Fifth
Returns To Air: September 26, 2010 at 10PM
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) "Brothers & Sisters" heads into its fifth season as executive producers Ken Olin, Greg Berlanti and David Marshall Grant continue to follow the California-based Walker family through the complicated maze of American life today. The compelling one-hour drama series is about a collection of five enmeshed and somewhat damaged adult siblings and their strong but passionately devoted mother, Nora Walker (Oscar and Emmy Award winner, Sally Field). The Walkers' lives have not been without challenge; romance, parenting, illness, politics, divorce, infidelity, addiction, arrest, war and even death have pushed each of them to the limit, but they continue to work toward living their lives as individuals, while loving each other unconditionally and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy after the loss and lies of their larger-than-life family patriarch, William Walker.
What To Expect Part Two: Usually, the press releases released at the upfronts include more than the premise, especially for a show in its fifth season. The ABC Press Release says nothing about what to expect; therefore, I had to research. I remember the promos for last season's finale as I watched LOST on a weekly basis. I remember distraught men and women on the scene of a car wreck. Televisionwithoutpity.com summed up the fourth season finale like this:
"The silliest forty minutes of manufactured drama followed by the saddest five minutes of television ever."
What I do know is Rob Lowe has joined the cast of Parks and Recs because his character on Brothers & Sisters died. The show will resume its narrative a year after the tragic car crash. Fans will find out whether Robert and Holly survived the car crash, and Saul will deal with the news that he is HIV-positive while Kitty will deal with life after her husband. Sounds fun.
The show only earned an 18 episode pickup so this could be their last season. Emily Vancamp is leaving the show after a 2-3 episode arc to resolve her character's story. I would've liked to share some quotes from the showrunner but cannot find any interviews about season five. You see, I'm trying to deliver quality and I can't. Grant me press access, ABC.
The Show: Castle
What Season?: The Third
Returns To Air: September 20, 2010 at 10PM.
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) During this past season, Castle and Beckett's relationship has grown stronger as they've dodged bullets, captured killers, and solved countless murder cases in their unorthodox partnership. But by the Season Two finale, Beckett's new relationship with a robbery detective has pushed Castle away, forcing them both to confront their feelings for one another. When Castle leaves to finish writing his second Nikki Heat novel, Naked Heat, Beckett has to watch him walk away, unable to express her true feelings and unsure whether he will return to the precinct.
What To Expect Part Two: I have more to add about the finale and what to expect thanks to something called research. Among the Castle fans, the Castle/Beckett development is a huge cliffhanger because Castle actually gave up on ever entering a relationship with her at the same time Beckett realized she had feelings for Castle. In the third season, Nathan Fillion teased that the hook-up between his character and Beckett will happen sooner rather than later. I assume Castle returns to work alongside Beckett investigating crimes and whatnot.
Castle received a 22 episode pickup for season three so fans should feel safe about the future of the show. I included the clip of Nathan Fillion (as Castle) dressing up as Malcom Reynolds because it's just so cool.
The Show: Cougar Town
What Season?: The Second
Returns To Air: September 22, 2010 at 9PM.
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) Courtney Cox stars as Jules Cobb in her Golden Globe(R)-nominated role as a recently divorced mom in her forties facing the often humorous challenges, pitfalls and rewards of life's next chapter. Along for the journey are her teenage son, her ex-husband and friends, who together make up her dysfunctional yet supportive and caring extended family... even if they have a funny way of showing it sometimes.
What To Expect Part Two: Once again, the ABC Press Release tells nothing about the second season; therefore, I again research what to expect. ABC, grant me press access. Last season's finale was described as one of the most satisying by the good people over at televisionwithoutpity.com and the show is beloved despite logic being thrown out the window for comedy. I gathered Cox's character, Jules, is dating two men at the same time and, after a display of silly hats, all was forgiven.
The season two premiere will feature Jennifer Aniston as a guest star. Beyond that, I am clueless about Cougar Town despite my best efforts to gather information.
The Show: Desperate Housewives
What Season?: The Seventh
Returns To Air: September 26, 2010 at 9PM
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) The primetime soap with a truly contemporary take on the "happily ever after," "Desperate Housewives" returns for its seventh season. After losing her business, Bree (Marcia Cross) begins the process of rebuilding her life by telling Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker) a secret that could end their friendship; Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom (Doug Savant) face a rough road ahead as they welcome a fifth child to their ever growing brood; and Susan (Teri Hatcher) and Mike's (James Denton) financial woes have forced them to rent out their house and leave Wisteria Lane. But when Paul Young (Mark Moses) mysteriously returns to the neighborhood as the new tenant, suspicions will rise.
What To Expect Part Two: Wow. The Press Release just about covered it. I have something else to add, thanks to the good people over at TWoP: there will be drama regarding a character switched at birth. Of course there will be. And how about an actual promo being released? ABC, you're too kind.
There is speculation that this will be the show's final season.
The Show: Grey's Anatomy
What Season?: The Seventh
Returns To Air: September 23, 2010 at 9PM
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) The doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital deal with life-or-death consequences on a daily basis -- it's in one another that they find comfort, friendship and, at times, more than friendship. Together they're discovering that neither medicine nor relationships can be defined in black and white. Real life only comes in shades of grey.
What To Expect Part Two: Back to research mode now. I remember the long promos for the finale last year which involved a gunman in the finale. The finale took the internet by storm, even Alan Sepinwall felt compelled to review it and The Sports Guy Bill Simmons made fun of it through tweets. My newsfeed on facebook blew up with statuses relating to Grey's Anatomy. I guess people still love this show.
The show's seventh season will open with a wedding between two mysterious characters while the season will provide closure to the relationship between Izzie and Alex which will seemingly cause drama with the current girl Alex is dating. That's all my research found.
The Show: The Middle
What Season?: The Second
Returns To Air: September 22, 2010 at 8PM
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) Patricia Heaton stars in this warm and witty single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. Frankie Heck is a superhero. Well, no, not an actual superhero - not unless you count getting her kids out the door for school every morning as a superfeat. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, this harried wife and working mother of three uses her wry wit and sense of humor to try to get her family through each day intact. Frankie and husband Mike raise their kids with love and solid Midwestern practicality. Axl is the oldest, a teenage jock who eats the family out of house and home and walks around in his underwear. Then there's Sue, their extraordinarily ordinary pre-teen daughter who fails at everything she tries with great gusto. Brick, the youngest son, is an odd kid whose best friend is his backpack. Together
What To Expect Part Two: The May 2010 Press Release reads like they're selling a brand new show to the advertisers. I thought The Middle did well last season. The season one finale ended with one of the kids possibly being held back for a year because an old librarian (Betty White) is angry about overdue books while Axl (Charlie McDermott) might be smarter than everyone thinks and the daughter was held out of yearbook. Will these storylines extend into next season? I would think so.
The Show: Modern Family
What Season?: The Second
Returns To Air: September 22, 2010 at 9PM
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) Today's American families come in all shapes and sizes. The cookie cutter mold of man + wife + 2.5 kids is a thing of the past, as this comedy takes a modern and often hilarious look at the complications that come with being a family today.
What To Expect Part Two: I figure the sitcoms receive this kind of press release because the show won't stray from the original premise and conceit very often. It's nice way of saying the show will be formulaic but as long as the formula is good then that is okay. I'm in research mode again.
According to Zap2it, An early episode of the season will focus on the family's experience of an earthquake and the aftermath of that experience. Fans will meet Cameron's (Eric Stonestreet) mother. Series creator Steve Levitan plans on putting different characters together because he and the writers are constantly trying to find new realms of humor within the family.
The show has a ton of momentum after winning the Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The Show: Private Practice
What Season?: The Fourth
Returns To Air: September 23, 2010 at 10PM
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) In the years since Addison's arrival, the practice has undergone enormous changes, with financial turmoil and personal tragedies taking their toll; Naomi is now at the helm of the competition, Pacific Wellcare, and the doctors split down the middle between the two practices. Their bonds were further tested as friends ran into the unexpected arms -- and beds -- of others for support and comfort. Through it all, these tight knit doctors have worked together to find solutions to their patients' needs, encountering medical cases that challenge their abilities and their ethical and moral ideals. Now they must deal with the biggest tragedy the practice has ever faced -- the death of one of their own, Dell. These doctors may be pros in the hospital; it's their private lives that need a little practice.
What To Expect Part Two: I actually mistaked this show for Grey's Anatomy while researching the seventh season of Grey's. TWoP expressed displeasure with Paul and Violet becoming a couple again but feel excited about the new relationship between Addison and Sam. I assume both couples will have contrived and cliche storylines in the upcoming season. A seemingly beloved character was killed off so one should expect drama from that fallout.
Why does ABC have so many soap-opera dramas in primetime?
The Show: V
What Season?: The Second
Returns To Air: November 2010 (Time & Date TBD)
What To Expect: (From ABC Press Release) Appearances were deceiving in "V," the thrilling new drama series about the world's first alien encounter. Simultaneously appearing over every major city in the world, the Visitors (or V's) arrived offering wonders of technology and promoting peace. While the world quickly embraced the V's as saviors, an FBI Counter Terrorist Agent -- and others making up the resistance group called The Fifth Column -- discovered that the Visitors are not who they said they are. Will humanity stop being fooled and realize the Visitors' true intentions before it's too late and they take over Earth?
What To Expect Part Two: Well, there was the birth of a half-breed in the finale, a defection, the Fifth Columnization of Lisa (huh?), a death and the first family dinner between Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Anna (Morena Baccarin). I think some crazy bleep is going to happen in season two. Since the season premiere is a ways off, there isn't much news about the second season of V.
OTHER RETURNING PROGRAMS ON ABC:
Dancing With The Stars premieres September 20 at 8PM
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition premieres September 26 at 8PM
Saturday Night College Football returns this Saturday
Tomorrow will be the full preview for the returning shows on NBC.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK