The new fall season is all here and that means it’s time once again to take a look at the new network lineups. I don’t get screeners or anything because I’m not what they call a Legitimate Internet Journalist. So that means I’m limited to trailers and press releases and Wikipedia. But I do my best and that counts for something. This week, I’m looking at ABC because I am compelled to do this in alphabetical order. And I’ll tell you right now, ABC has not produced many trailers yet.
The Baker and the Beauty – There’s no trailer yet for this midseason entry, but we know it’s a musical romantic comedy based on an Israeli series about a baker and an international superstar who fall in love. The original was extremely popular is Israel but it seem to me like a series with musical elements on American TV is pretty well doomed to cult status and even then, only if it’s exceptionally well done (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the gold standard here and that only lasted because the CW doesn’t know they can cancel shows). Maybe the conventions of a musical are too hard to buy into on an ongoing basis. I don’t know, I’m no scientist. It could be fun but none of the creative team really jump out at me. Since there’s no trailer, all I can say is it will have to look spectacular to get me on board.
Don’t – No trailer for this one either, but it’s probably going to be a summer series. It’s a physical competition game show and big whoop, but here’s the clincher. It’s hosted by Adam Scott. And we all love Adam Scott. In fact, let me just quote Adam from the press release and we’ll all agree to at least try it out: “I’m very excited to be the host of ABC’s new game show Don’t. As a fan of both games and shows, I feel we may be onto something here.” Yeah, you got me.
Emergence – ABC sure loves its vaguely sci-fi dramas with airplane-related themes. I mean, they’ve been trying to get another LOST-style hit for fifteen years now, to the extent that I would have lost money if you asked me to bet which network Manifest is on. (It’s on NBC, and I watched most of the season and still find that surprising.) This one has Alison Tolman as a police chief who takes in a mysterious girl found near the site of a plane crash. And she wasn’t on the plane according to the…. manifest! (See? People are going to get these shows confused.) The girl has powers, mystery people are seeking her and it looks like a variation on the standard non-Shondaland ABC drama. And yet, I feel like I’m still going to check it out at least. I mean, you’ve got Alison Tolman, Clancy Brown, and Donald Faison. That’s not a cast I’m turning my back on.
For Life – There’s no trailer for this midseason entry that Wikipedia describes as both “a legal thriller” and “upcoming”. That’s not much to go on. But it starts Nicholas Pinnock from Counterpart and Indira Varma from Luther and Game of Thrones. They’re both good. But I can’t imagine what it would take to get me to watch a lawyer show at this point. I mean, that one show with Hayley Atwell didn’t keep my interest and it had Hayley Atwell.
Mixed-ish– The second spinoff of Black-ish (I don’t like that hyphen either, but ABC insists on it) and the first to air on network TV, this focuses on the childhood of Tracee Ellis Ross’ character, Bow. And it’s a lot to take in because the trailer includes the ATF raid on the cult where she spent her early years. And from there it’s about her and her siblings re-entering society as mixed-race kids who don’t even know that’s unusual. It’s honestly an interesting setup and the trailer has some laughs. The main show can be anywhere from excellent to fine. Gary Cole is in the cast as Bow’s grandfather (and Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s father). This is all positive stuff. It’s probably worth a look, though it’s the fourth sitcom on ABC to feature a present day character narrating adventures of their past self (plus Black-ish which has contemporary character narration), which is just getting weird. ABC is to Wonder Years narration what the CW is to DC superheroes.
Stumptown – This trailer is straight up rad. I was already locked into this one because it’s based on a pretty great comic from best Batman writer ever Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth. Cobie Smulders plays a Marine veteran trying to make it as a private detective in Portland. The ads ABC is running look fine and fun, but don’t have a lot of flavor of the comic. Well, the trailer nails what I want from Stumptown. My one hope is that there’s an arc to it and it’s not just a case of the week thing. Basically, Rucka’s my guy, Smulders is generally pretty great, and the awesome supporting cast includes Camryn Manheim, Michael Ealy, and freaking Jake Johnson. He’ll be the second Spider-Man to co-star with Smulders! This is a sure thing for me and network dramas are getting to be a harder and harder sell every year.
United We Fall – No trailer for this midseason sitcom about a married couple who lets one of their mothers move in with them. It’s not clear from the cursory information available to me which partner has the mother. But Jane Curtin is playing the move-in grandma and that’s pretty good. That’s all I have to go on, but it sounds like what the people of Earth would agree is a sitcom. This season on ABC it’s all either “it’s a musical romantic comedy based on an Israeli hit” or “this is a sitcom / legal show – we’ll figure out what’s interesting later”. Oh, also it’s a bad title for a comedy.
Videos After Dark – This is very confusing. Reportedly, this is a spinoff of America’s Funniest Home Videos (which you didn’t know was still on), presented by original host Bob Saget. It features videos with more adult content, which makes me think we’re going to see a lot of sexual misadventures or something. However, this appears to have aired twice last season and though it’s showing up on some schedules, ABC’s own website does not include any mention of it. Is it even real?
What I’m Watching – The only sure thing is Stumptown, which I’m genuinely excited to see. I’ll probably at least check out Don’t for Adam Scott and Emergence gets a couple of chances to win me over. And I assume I’ll watch Mixed-ish the way I watch all ABC sitcoms – if there’s no recording conflict and I remember it’s on, I’ll have a pleasant half hour.
2018 Follow-Up – Last year, there were eleven new shows announced as part of the fall line-up, including one rebranding (The Conners). Of those, one’s fate is undecided (Grand Hotel, which is still airing its first season), and The Conners, A Million Little Things, The Rookie, Single Parents, and Schooled were comfortably renewed. Of the six cancellations, spinoff Dancing with the Stars Juniors, Marcia Clark self-insert fan fiction The Fix, The Kids are Alright, and Whiskey Cavalier finished out their seasons. That means only The Alec Baldwin Show was a quick cancellation, and we all saw that one coming. So while more than half the new series weren’t renewed, they also didn’t have any two episode cancellations, so it could be worse. Also, I really enjoyed Whiskey Cavalier and I’ll miss it.
Next week, be astonished as CBS has a show that I want to watch. Those guys almost never manage that!