TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: ABC newsflash

Stephen McPherson, President of ABC Entertainment, just emerged onto the stage – after having the Jonas Brothers as his opening act, no less – and offered up the following tidbits of information:

* McPherson wouldn’t commit to when or if the remaining episodes of “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Eli Stone,” and “Pushing Daisies” would air. Maybe this is just my perception, but his comments about his regret that they couldn’t give the producers enough time to wrap up their series properly made it sound like he was saying, “If we had, then we’d probably work a little harder to get them on the air, but since we didn’t…”

* As to the “Scrubs” ratings, he’s thrilled for Bill Lawrence and all the guys on the show. “It’s been great for us,” he said. “Another year…? It’d be tough without Zach (Braff), but Bill and I are talking about it.” The talks, however, would seem to be contingent on how the ratings continue to be, so if you’re watching, don’t stop!

* ABC is not going to be picking up “King of the Hill.”

* “Samantha Who?” has frustrated the network with its numbers, but they’re trying to figure out a second series to serve as a solid comedy block.

* The odds of “Life on Mars” returning for a second season seem to be slightly better than even money. McPherson admits that, as far as his ratings expectations for the series, “the bar is not very high,” given that they’ve always battled with getting ratings in the post-“Lost” timeslot.

* As for the end of “According to Jim,” McPherson thinks this is probably the final run, “but we should probably leave that open.”

* With “Private Practice,” he thinks they’ve “really found the show” this season. “I think we’ve really upped the stakes as far as the quality of the medical stories we’re telling,” he said. “We’re really pleased with the numbers.”


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Greetings to the New Show: “Life on Mars”

It’s time to lead off with another one in my seemingly endless series of shameful admissions, but for such an avowed Anglophile as myself, this one really hurts: I’ve never seen a single episode of the original British version of ABC’s new series, “Life on Mars.” And, frankly, I’m really, really embarrassed about it, because, boy howdy, is it a show that’s right up my alley.

Here’s the premise of the British version: Sam Tyler, Detective Chief Inspector with the Greater Manchester Police, is hit by a car in 2006…and when he wakes up, he’s in 1973. Not only that, but he’s a Detective Inspector with the Manchester and Salford Police Criminal Investigation Department. That’s right: he’s still Sam Tyler…and people in 1973 know him as such. So the question at hand is whether or not he’s traveled in time or if this is all just an elaborate fantasy concocted by his mind while he’s in a coma.

Totally awesome concept, no? I don’t know how I missed out on it, especially since it also takes its title from a David Bowie song, but on the up side, it means that I can appreciate the American version a lot more, since I won’t be constantly comparing it to the British version or complaining that it’s a word-for-word Xerox, problems which kept me from latching onto “The Office” right away.

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