ABC Fall Preview

ABC Fall Preview

Channing Dungey, ABC Entertainment Group president, described ABC shows not as money makers or ratings giants but as “our brand of storytelling” and said that ABC has spent years building a promise of relevant, compelling stories from bold, passionate storytellers.  I agree that ABC has a style different from the other networks and I think that most of what they have coming up will build on that style.

Monday starts as usual with Dancing with the Stars leading into the first new drama, The Good Doctor.  Tuesday is still a two-hour comedy block starting with the ever-steady The Middle but its companions are switched.  The Middle leads into Fresh off the Boat, followed by Black-ish and the first new comedy The Mayor.   Capping off Tuesday is the new drama, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World replacing S.H.I.E.L.D as it takes a little break.  Wednesday remains The Goldbergs, Speechless and Modern Family but American Housewife moves in Black-ish’s spot.  Last season’s freshman hit Designated Survivor remains in its 10PM Wednesday spot.  Thursday is just as it should be with Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.  It seems nothing works in Scandal’s spot but Scandal.  Unfortunately, this is its final season!  With the cancellation of Dr. Ken and Last Man Standing, Friday night welcomes Once Upon a Time, moving from Sunday.  Then the next Marvel project, Marvel’s Inhumans, premieres.  The night wraps up with 20/20.  Saturday is, of course, college football.   Sunday night as always starts with America’s Funniest Home Videos with Alfonso Ribeiro (“Carlton” to most) headed into his third year hosting.  Next is the summer-special-turned-permanent program, To Tell the Truth, with host Antony Anderson, followed by Shark Tank.  And the final new show for ABC is a dark Kyra Sedgwick drama, Ten Days in the Valley.

As is more the norm these last few years, the midseason shows are as much of a story as the fall line-up.  There are several promising dramas and comedies in the wings highlighted by Roseanne “season 10” and American Idol.  It was announced at the upfront that Katy Perry will be a judge on Idol and Ryan Seacrest has confirmed that he’ll host!

ABC New Shows

THE GOOD DOCTOR, Monday 10-11PM, Drama  Dr. Shaun Murphy is a young man with autism and savant syndrome who is brought to San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital by Dr. Glassman to be a surgical resident.  If a terrible accident hadn’t shown a spotlight on Shaun’s amazing medical abilities, the hospital would undoubtedly not have taken on an autistic doctor.  Shaun’s next challenge will be to convince his fellow doctors that his autism can be a valuable asset, not something to be treated as a disorder.  COMMENTS:  The Good Doctor was our favorite new drama for several reasons.  Freddie Highmore, as Shaun, is instantly likable and plays his character well.  Richard Schiff brings even more passion to Dr. Glassman than he did to Toby in The West WingThe Good Doctor is, at its roots, a medical procedural done very well, with obscure ailments and a variety of big personalities.


THE MAYOR, Tuesday 9:30-10PM, Comedy  Fort Grey, CA, has just elected a 27-year old floundering rapper, as mayor.  No one is more surprised than the mayor-elect, Courtney Rose.  Courtney was just trying to get some attention for his music and his first reaction was to refuse the job.  Courtney’s mom (Yvette Nicole Brown from Community) steps in to remind him that he really does care about his community and he should use this opportunity to make it better.  With his friends behind him and his new chief-of-staff, played by Lea Michelle, beside him, Courtney sets out to tackle the job.  COMMENTS:  This is a pretty typical ABC comedy.  It may or may not be tackling real societal issues but it’s hard to tell when everything is so happy and shiny.  However, it’s a sit-com so I’m not complaining.  I don’t see The Mayor pulling substantial numbers but it is very funny and sits in a nice spot after Black-ish so expect to see it hanging around.


KEVIN (PROBABLY) SAVES THE WORLD, Tuesday 10-11PM, Drama  It’s not every day a messenger from God arrives in the form of a meteor to tell you you’re one of the righteous.  Right?  That’s what happened to Kevin (played by Jason Ritter) who most definitely doesn’t feel like one of the righteous, or a little bit spiritual, or even very caring.  And now he finds out that he protects humanity just by existing and that there should be 35 other souls like him but mysteriously there aren’t.  He has to figure out why while he also builds his spiritual power.   COMMENTS:     I love Jason Ritter.  That’s about all I have good to say.  Maybe this is just a poorly done pilot because it didn’t convey what the series will be like.  It was just one awkward interaction after another with way too many holes in the storyline.  On the other hand, it’s possible that maybe the review team here is just a group of hardened, mid-Atlantic urban types who couldn’t appreciate the warm “meaning of life” plot.


MARVEL’S INHUMANS, Friday 9-10PM, Drama  Marvel is pairing with ABC Studios and IMAX to release the newest Marvel series, Inhumans.  The Inhumans are a physically and intellectually superior race living just out of our sight.  Trouble has begun in the royal family where the king’s  brother, Maximus (played by Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones) no longer wants his people to hide from the humans.  He tries to overthrow Black Bolt, the mute king (played by Anson Mount of the AMC series Hell on Wheels).   The first two episodes will be released only in IMAX Theaters on September 1, prior to the show’s premier on ABC later in September.  COMMENTS:  Marvel’s fans are a tough group of critics and the success of this show will depend on pleasing them.  The pilot and second episode will be released through IMAX so all anyone has seen is the trailer, and many Marvel fans weren’t pleased.  There were complaints about the costumes, Medusa’s hair and the IMAX quality.  However, anticipation is a powerful advertising tool and it seems fans still have faith that ABC will pull it off.  In fact, voters on the website predict the show will succeed by a 57/43 score.


TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY, Sunday 10-11PM, Drama  Jane is a writer and producer who is working on a police drama when her daughter is kidnapped.  Trying to find her unravels more and more secrets, mysteries and lies from everyone involved, including Jane.  The season will cover one day per episode.  ABC, after already ordering the full 10-episode season, has described Jane, played by Kyra Sedgwick, as a strong, powerful woman who is also dangerously flawed.  COMMENTS:  There is a lot of powerful drama in these characters and the situations.  Kyra Sedgwick has a huge following and seems perfect for this role.  The only thing I can see that might get in the way of the show’s success is the time slot.  Having this intense series coming out of ABC’s reality block of To Tell the Truth and Shark Tank might be problematic.



ABC Mid-Season Replacements

For the People  This Shondaland legal drama focuses on the newest class of Assistant US Attorneys and Federal Public Defenders.  These young men and women are driven and passionate about proving themselves and being the best.   However, in  law, only one side can win.

The Crossing  The Crossing is a sci-fi mystery where a small town sheriff (Steve Zahn) and the FBI try to find out where a group of refugees came from.  Most of the 500 refugees died trying to get there.  The survivors claim to be from the not-too-distant future, where more has changed than we can imagine.

Alex Inc.  Alex Inc is the Zack Braff comedy where Alex realizes he is unhappy in his career and it’s time to quit, follow his dream and open his own business.  But really, that’s just the backdrop.  This is a feel good, perfect ABC comedy about a loving supportive family and quirky co-workers and friends.

Deception  After being set up for murder, Cameron Black, a world famous illusionist, goes to the FBI.  Cameron wants to find out who tried to frame him and convinces DEA Agent Kay Daniels that he can help her at the same time, using his illusions to catch her targets.  The concept is a bit far-fetched but when you allow yourself to forget that, it’s very fun and entertaining.

Roseanne  Yes, the FULL original cast of Roseanne is returning to ABC (including Sara Gilbert who was not at the upfront).  I didn’t watch the original Roseanne and there wasn’t a pilot for this new one, so I’ll share what I’ve been reading.  For the nine years that Roseanne aired, the show ranked in the top four for six seasons, peaking at a tie for #1 with The Cosby Show in season three, in the Nielsen ratings.  TV Guide ranked Roseanne #35 in a list of the top 50 Best Series of All Time.  Roseanne took an everyday American family in the 90’s and made ratings history.  It will be very interesting to see if they can match even a portion of that success.

Splitting up Together  Splitting Up Together, starring Jenna Fisher (The Office) and Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement) is about a couple who has grown apart and decides to divorce.  For the sake of their kids and finances, they live on the same property and shared custody means taking turns living in the house.  I laughed and I teared up watching them start over and rediscover themselves, their family and even each other.