ABC isn't doing its actual upfront presentations until 4:00 p.m. Eastern (boo!), so we're on a little different schedule than we were with NBC and Fox yesterday. We'll just dive into the long list of clips (where they're available) and the materials the network is releasing to go along with them, and you can see what you think. Please do remember: these are early looks. They're just clips. Upfronts week is just a peek at what's out there, and we won't know until finished pilots arrive how any of this stuff is going to play in the long run. With that said: Onward.
Originally circulated with the title Don't Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23 (one of two ABC fall shows that has dropped the word "bitch" from its title, along with Good Christian Belles, the original title of which you can probably guess), this comedy is about a Midwesterner (so naive, you see) who moves to New York. She immediately falls on hard times that force her to move in with a keeee-razy roommate, because what would television be without crazy roommates? Oh, and James Van Der Beek lives in the building, playing himself. And there are Dawson's Creek jokes. SCORE.
Last Man Standing
Tim Allen returns to the family sitcom in Last Man Standing, in which — I am not making up this press release quote — "it's a woman's world, and this man's man is on a mission to get men back to their rightful place in society." It goes on to say that "you can't get manlier" than the character Allen plays, which I'm pretty sure is sarcastic. Or partly sarcastic. Or something. Created by Jack Burditt (who works on 30 Rock, so ... ?), it co-stars sitcom vet Nancy Travis as Allen's presumably too-powerful wife.
"Three modern men try to get in touch with their inner tough guys and redefine what it means to be a 'real man,'" according to — again — the press materials. The central question for these guys, it seems is, "What does it really mean to be a guy anymore?" What indeed! This is a pressing question!
So this one, rather than being about men's men and surviving in a woman's world, is about a single dad (played by Jeremy Sisto) who's trying to raise a daughter "without a maternal figure." He takes his daughter from New York City to the suburbs, where she is, among other things, "horrified by the big-haired, fake-boobed mothers."
So this one is about a man who is apparently the definition of parental sanity among all the terrible, terrible mothers. I am sensing a theme.
Yet another ABC fall comedy centered on the struggles of men with manhood, this one is about two guys who dress as women in order to get jobs as pharmaceutical representatives. One of them is married; one of them is a ladies' man, but both of them are "guy's guys."
As it turns out, you see, it's a challenging time for men, because times are changing, and now women outnumber men in the workforce (according to this show), which means there is what they call a "mancession."
That's right: a "mancession." And the only solution is DRAG, DRAG, DRAG! Of course, not the positive, fun, upbeat kind of drag, like on RuPaul's Drag Race, but the kind of drag that makes women look like idiots because they can't recognize two OBVIOUS MEN IN DRAG when they see them.
The clip is remarkable in that it contains almost nothing except gender-politics jokes — women wouldn't logically know anything about cars, women say "anyhooooo," and men find lesbians endlessly fascinating.
The adventures of Abby, Eve and Kate — they solve cases, they do a lot of kicking, you know the drill. What can I tell you that you won't see from all the kicking?
Good Christian Belles (coming midseason)
Leslie Bibb, who really made her name in Popular, the 1999 high-school show Ryan Murphy made a decade before Glee, plays a woman who returns to her hometown after a broken marriage and encounters everybody she was nasty to in high school. The interesting cast includes Kristin Chenoweth and Annie Potts, and the executive producers include Darren Star of Sex And The City and Robert Harling, who wrote Steel Magnolias.
Missing (coming midseason)
Ashley Judd is at the top of this mystery series about a mother who goes to Europe to find her lost son. Fortunately for her, she's a former CIA agent. (Can't hurt.) The show was created by Gregory Poirier, who wrote the story for National Treasure: Book Of Secrets, if that helps you place its possible tone.
Once Upon A Time
Lost producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are behind the second show that's been shown to advertisers this week (after NBC's Grimm) to focus on fairy tales becoming all too real. In this one, Jennifer Morrison (who spent years on House and has just finally been nudged out of a long arc on How I Met Your Mother) is a bail bonds collector who makes her way to an alternate world contained in a town named — no joke — "Storybrooke." (STORYBROOKE. DO YOU GET IT?) Ginnifer Goodwin is also here, as is Robert Carlyle of The Full Monty.
ABC is not being left behind as networks race to make shows about the '60s: this one is a soapy drama about the pilots and flight attendants on Pan Am. The cast includes Christina Ricci as a "rebellious bohemian," and one of the executive producers is Tommy Schlamme, Aaron Sorkin's partner on The West Wing (among other shows).
Emily Van Camp (Brothers & Sisters) stars in this drama as a woman who returns to her hometown to get revenge on everyone who has wronged her. There's no indication of why she needs revenge in the first place other than "something bad happened" (seriously, the release says "something bad happened"), but this is obviously a long-form serialized mystery of sorts, so ... good luck with that.
This is also a long-form mystery about finding a missing family member (kinda like Missing, to the untrained eye). In this one, the family of a famous wildlife expert with a popular TV show has to go looking for him after he vanishes. Done documentary-style, The River features a crew that includes both a "loyal mechanic" and a "lethal bodyguard."
Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice, presents a workplace drama about "a professional crisis manager" and her staff. You will be shocked to hear that they "specialize in fixing the lives of other people," but "can't quite fix the ones closest at hand — their own." That's irony, you see, in the same way the Grey's Anatomy doctors can fix impaled spleens but not their own commitment issues. OH THE DRAMA.