Upfront Aftermath 2: 5/17/11

The word from ABC

TV Eye Logo
TV Eye Logo

Yay! This time, there were no pesky technical difficulties to interrupt ABC’s Upfront presentation online. That’s not entirely a good thing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Going for pure, escapist entertainment is the mantra for ABC this fall, according to network spokespersons. After getting a glance at their brand new wares, their fall season comes off more like the place where women are tough and men are slack-jawed. That’s not to say there isn’t some fun and even a little excitement in what they teased, and I really like to refrain from offering full blown critiques from a preview reel, but in a couple of places, I groaned. Loudly.

But let’s talk about the fun stuff first.

The long awaited Charlie’s Angels remake looks suitably fun. Instead of rescuing three young women from the boring desk jobs they were assigned at the police academy, these angels are bad girls with rap sheets and mysterious pasts. I liked this iteration of the Angels in Annie Ilonzeh (General Hospital) as Kate Prince, Minka Kelly (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) as Eve, and Rachael Taylor (Grey’s Anatomy) as Abby Sampson. Instead of a dumpy, middle-aged handler from the original, the decidedly hunkier Ramon Rodriguez (The Wire) takes the role of Bosley.

Really driving the escapist theme home is Once Upon a Time from the creators of Lost. The series follows a group of people trapped in rural Maine who don’t realize they are characters from fairy tales. They’re good, they’re evil, and getting into all kinds of scuffles with one another.

Tim Allen returns to ABC after a 20 year absence to revive his role as the alpha male, this time surrounded by women he doesn’t understand, in Last Man Standing. Man Up features three men who apparently don’t want to grow up, while Work It appears to be a re-tooling of Bosom Buddies. This time, the men are in drag because they need work, so they have no choice but to put on their big girl panties, slap on some pancake makeup, and join the secretarial pool. (Did you groan?). Fortunately, after a re-scan of ABC press materials, Work It doesn’t appear on the fall schedule. So, here’s hoping it’s pulled from the hopper, once and for all. No questions asked.

Apparently aiming for the youthful, more snarky viewer, the Disney network is bringing Suburgatory to the line-up. The comedy features Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under) as a single dad who whisks his daughter from New York and all its bad influences to the gentle suburbs of upstate New York—only to discover that the sharks in this pool are much more vicious. And augmented.

When it comes to escapism, Revenge seems to hit the mark most satisfactorily. The series marks the return of Emily Van Camp (last seen in the now cancelled Brothers & Sisters) as a young woman who takes up residence in the Hamptons to seek revenge for some terrible thing that happened to her family. It’s opulent, it’s soapy, it’s a bit over the top, and even a little creepy—it looks like the perfect guilty pleasure.

And finally, adding to the list of Mad Men wannabes this fall is Pan Am. Set in the 60s, this one features beautiful stewardesses (back when flying was chic and being a stewardess was a glam job) in girdles and men who are cads, spies, or worse. Sigh.

On Wednesday, CBS and the CW have their Upfront presentations. I wasn’t invited to their webcast, so I’ll be writing blind. Still, check back. It should be fun to hear how they gloss over the whole Charlie Sheen – Two and A Half Men debacle.

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Broadcast TV, Fall TV Season 2011, Upfronts

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