Continuing my look at the new network TV offerings for the fall, this week I’m turning my attention to ABC. ABC has crafted a nice niche for itself, as the only major network with a lot of programming about and for older women. At the same time, many of their shows have enough broad appeal to become water cooler shows. In particular, last year Revenge was a big success for them. This season they’re sticking with what’s worked for them in the past, but will these specific shows take off?
The Neighbors: Everything about this show seems unbelievably tacky. They’ve taken a premise with infinite possibilities—the idea of following the only human family living in a community entirely made up of aliens—and chosen to use it to make incredibly tired and outdated sitcom jokes about marriage. They also expect us to laugh at the name “Dick Buttkiss.” I refuse. The Neighbors premieres September 26 at 9:30.
Nashville: I’m glad networks are continue to explore musicals as a genre, since I strongly believe that the failures of Glee and Smash are failures of those particular creative teams, not signs of an inherently problematic genre. This show definitely has a lot of promise with its unique but approachable premise—exploring power struggles and personal problems within the world of country music—and two powerhouse lead actresses, Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”) and Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”). If executed properly, this could be a real winner. Nashville premieres October 10 at 10:00.
Last Resort: After watching the trailer for “Last Resort”, the only thing I can say definitively about it is that it will be intense. With a lot of networks playing it safe, it’s nice seeing a premise as ambitious, unique and provocative as following the crew of a war submarine after they were targeted by the U.S. What I can’t tell from the trailer is whether or not this will be executed with the amount of intelligence that a premise like that requires. Since I haven’t seen creator Shawn Ryan’s previous shows, “The Shield” and “The Chicago Code”, I can only say that this one could go either way. Last Resort premieres September 27 at 8.
Malibu Country: All you really need to know about this one is “Reba’s getting a new show.” Since I was a fan of her previous show, I’ll be tuning in. It also has a strong supporting cast including the incomparable Lily Tomlin. Malibu Country premieres November 2 at 8:30.
666 Park Avenue: This supernatural drama is about a couple that moves into an apartment building that might be owned by the devil, or at least some people possessed by a demonic force. That premises is cool enough that I definitely think I’ll be watching every week, even if it ends up being a show where most of the appeal is cheese factor and crazy twists. It stars Vanessa Williams (“Desperate Housewives”) and none other than John Locke himself Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”). 666 Park Avenue premieres September 30 at 10.
The Verdict: The Neighbors looks jaw-droppingly awful, but the rest of ABC’s slate seems interesting and potentially very watchable. With four shows that have strong enough premises and talents to get my attention, I’m sure ABC will end up having at least one show that becomes appointment viewing this season.
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