Greetings to the New Season: ABC – UPDATED

Another day, another network upfront. Now it’s time to say hello to ABC’s Fall 2010 line-up. No accompanying videos at the moment, but you can get an idea of what to expect from the descriptions they’ve provided…and be sure to let us know what you think of the potential of the new series!

UPDATE: Hey, look: ABC came through with videos!

MONDAY

8 – 10 PM: Dancing with the Stars

10 – 11 PM: Castle

TUESDAY

8 – 9 PM: No Ordinary Family: The Powells are about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. After 16 years of marriage, Jim and Stephanie’s relationship lacks the spark it once had, and their family life now consists of balancing work and their two children, leaving little time for family bonding. During a family vacation set up by Jim in an attempt to reconnect, their plane crashes into the Amazon River. But this is where the fun starts for the Powells, as they soon discover that something’s not quite right. Each of them now possesses unique and distinct superpowers. But saving and savoring their family life will be equally important, as they try to find purpose for their new powers and embark on a journey to find out what defines and unifies them.

The Powells are a totally relatable family who happen to be a little bit amazing. Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”) stars as Jim Powell, Julie Benz (“Dexter”) as Stephanie Powell, Romany Malco (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) as George St. Cloud, Tate Donovan (“Damages”) as Mitch McCutcheon, Autumn Reeser as Katie Andrews, Christina Chang as Yvonne Cho, Kay Panabaker as Daphne Powell and Jimmy Bennett as JJ Powell. The pilot was written and executive-produced by Jon Feldman. The series is executive-produced by Feldman, Greg Berlanti, Morgan Wandell and David Semel, who also directed the pilot. Joe Hartwick, Jr. serves as producer.

9 – 10 PM: Dancing with the Stars (Results Show)

10 – 11 PM: Detroit 1-8-7”: What does it take to be a detective on America’s most dangerous streets? Get ready to be part of the action when a documentary crew rolls with some of Detroit’s finest, offering an insider’s glimpse behind the curtain of a Homicide Unit. The cameras unearth the crisis and revelation, heartbreak and heroism of these inner city cops — moments of raw exposure when they address us directly, as well as private moments when they forget they’re being filmed.

There’s the damaged but driven Detective Louis Fitch, a wily homicide vet who is the most respected — and most misunderstood — man in the division; Detective Damon Washington, Fitch’s new partner, who finds the first day on the job is a trial by fire, complicated by the imminent birth of his first child; Detective Ariana Sanchez, sexy, edgy and beautiful, who has emerged from a rough background to become a rising star in the department; Narcotics undercover cop John Stone, a streetwise smooth talker, clever and quick with a smile made for the movies, who is teamed with Sanchez — a combustible pairing rife with conflict and sexual tension; Sergeant Jesse Longford, a 30-year veteran struggling with his impending retirement from the force and the city he loves, who, together with his partner, Detective Aman Mahajan — a fully Americanized son of Indian immigrants — form an amusing mismatch of experience and enthusiasm, intellect and instinct, old school and new world, but whose combined skills have never encountered a case that couldn’t be cleared; and all are headed by Lieutenant Maureen Mason, a strong-willed single mom struggling to balance home and work. “Detroit 1-8-7” stars Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) as Detective Louis Fitch, Jon Michael Hill as Detective Damon Washington, James McDaniel (“NYPD Blue”) as Sergeant Jesse Longford, Aisha Hinds (“True Blood”) as Lieutenant Maureen Mason, Natalie Martinez as Detective Ariana Sanchez, D.J. Cotrona as Detective John Stone and Shaun Majumder as Detective Aman Mahajan. The pilot was written by Jason Richman. Executive producers are Richman, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and David Zabel. Jeff Nachmanoff directed the pilot.

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TV in the 2000s: The Shows that Defined the Decade

A recent issue of Time magazine has the phrase “The Decade from Hell” emblazoned across its front cover. It’s referring to everything America has gone through in the past ten years, and it’s difficult to argue such an assertion: it’s been a shitty decade on a national level. During such times of stress, people inevitably turn to entertainment as a form of release, and although the methods in which we’ve distracted ourselves over the last ten years have unquestionably diversified, television remains the most easily accessible outlet for most Americans.

Within the format itself, the whole concept of reality TV must surely have been the biggest revolution of the decade. It’s really easy to bag on reality TV – mostly because the bulk of it is so damned unreal – but anybody who spends any time in front of the tube has surely had at least a couple of reality series they consider appointment TV. The two concepts that paved the way for everything else are undoubtedly “Survivor” and “American Idol.” The former, of course, opened the floodgates for the genre, and while it’s seen a considerable dip in the ratings department over the years, 12 million viewers isn’t a viewing figure to sneeze at. The latter, despite all the bitching and moaning and cries of “it’s not as good as it used to be” that accompany each new season, remains one of the most watched shows on the tube, likely due to the fact that it’s strictly a talent competition.

On “American Idol,” the only backstabbers are the judges, and since they aren’t part of the competition, their amusing duplicity is championed. The contestants, on the other hand, are innocents, and once the competition is underway, we’re given no peek into any possible backstage drama, which is a good thing, because by the time the audition rounds are over, we’ve had enough drama to last the whole season. Everything that comes after is all about who can best transfix us for three minutes a week via one pop ditty. It actually says something positive about the U.S. that “American Idol” remains our #1 form of reality entertainment, even if the actual reality is that the vast majority of Americans couldn’t care less about buying the winner’s album six months after they’re crowned.

You might think reality TV is a bunch of crap, and in most cases you’d be right, but the whole idea of it, to my mind, led to an important revolution, and that is serialized nighttime television (the classic “soap” formula notwithstanding). Reality shows taught viewers how to become invested in characters, how to be concerned for their eventual fate, and, most importantly, how to pay attention to an ongoing storyline, and the need to tune in every week. It didn’t take long for the networks to figure out that there was an audience for shows that didn’t continually hit the reset button. “24” must have been the first successful show of the decade to embrace the serial formula, and it embraced it whole hog. It required you to tune in for every episode, because each installment was another hour of a single day in the life of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer. That “24” premiered less than two months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was pure happenstance. That it became enormously popular with viewers? Probably not so much. America needed some fictitious reassurance that there were folks on the job who could get shit done, and “24” filled the prescription.

Strangely, “24” didn’t open the network floodgates for more such programming right away. It took a few years, and then “Lost” made its mark. The number of “Lost” episodes I’ve seen could be counted on two hands, but that’s not because I didn’t like it, but because real life got in the way of it being appointment TV. Yet I viewed the pilot for “Lost” several months before its 2004 premiere, and when it ended I was convinced that I’d seen the second best TV pilot ever made. (“Twin Peaks” stills sits at #1.) The fact that a show as intricate as “Lost” still has a hardcore, central audience is perhaps a testament to that pilot. “24” started a new story with each new season; “Lost” required that you tune in for every episode of every season.

Another sci-fi series that did just that was “Battlestar Galactica,” a show that, due it being on a niche network (Syfy), never amassed a huge audience yet snagged boatloads of publicity and awareness nonetheless. It was no small feat to take an utterly laughable short-lived series from the late ‘70s and re-envision it for modern audiences, but Ron Moore and company did just that…and they did it far more successfully that anyone ever guessed possible. Most amazingly, the show taught us a lot about ourselves, by thoroughly defining what it means to be human, and as the damaged ‘00s dragged on, there may not have been a more important lesson to be learned.

On the same day I saw the “Lost” pilot, I saw another pilot for a completely different kind of series. While I didn’t rank it as one of the greats, there was one thing I was sure of: it would be a massive hit…and it was. “Desperate Housewives” was precisely the sort of vapid, soapy fare that had been absent for far too long on American TV. It clued into the seemingly bland suburban construct which surrounds so many Americans, via the Lynchian notion that “all is not what it seems.” Most anyone who lives a suburban life can no doubt relate to that idea, because wherever there are groups of people, there are bound to be some of them that are fucked up. “Housewives” is littered with fucked up suburbanites of all shapes, sizes and types, but they’re kooky and funny and there’s always some twinkly music playing in the background that in the end makes everything OK. It is not great television, but over the years it has, for the most part, been immensely watchable in the most disposable sort of way.

Around the same time period as “Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” made some major waves. It’s a series I have never watched and never plan to, but I’d be foolish to omit it from discussion since it brought two annoyingly obnoxious terms to the TV table: McDreamy and McSteamy. I haven’t heard either in a few years, but there was a time when they seemed to define everything that was wrong with television. I assume “Grey’s” fans have grown out of it…or maybe the show killed one of those guys off? I’ve no idea and can’t be motivated to investigate. Presently, there’s a brand new version of it going around, through cinema, via Camp Edward and Camp Nimrod. People can be so easily distracted it makes you wonder why some shows actually try harder.

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Entourage 6.10 – Berried Alive

Consider this just another case of art imitating life, but I couldn’t help but think about T.R. Knight’s recent decision to leave “Grey’s Anatomy” during tonight’s episode. Drama has been put through the wringer ever since his altercation with Dan Coakley, and now that his character on “Five Towns” looks to be headed for Comaville, his screen time is sure to be reduced. Just like Knight, Drama is more concerned with the work than the paycheck, and when he learns that the producer of the new “Melrose Place” has him in mind for a role, he goes to Lloyd for help getting out of his contract.

What Drama doesn’t realize is that Lloyd has just left Ari for Adam Davies. Ari, meanwhile, has to find out about the betrayal from Vince, and in an attempt to spite Lloyd, he personally goes to Coakley to help out Drama and entice him to stay at the agency as one of his clients. It works at first, but when Lloyd tries to win back his only client with, I must admit, a damn good speech, Drama discovers where his best bet lies. Ari isn’t even mad about it since he wouldn’t have the time to properly invest in Drama’s career anyway, but it will be curious to see how far they take this new rivalry. I can’t imagine Lloyd will be gone for too long, but they’ll definitely drag it out until either the season finale or next season’s premiere. Drama, on the other hand, is taking a big risk by leaving “Five Towns,” and it would seem almost too easy if he did get the gig. Then again, maybe he’ll be able to win over the network by proving that he really can act – at least, when compared to the standards of other likeminded shows on The CW.

entourage_6-10

While Drama ponders a career move, Eric decides to confront Ashley about why she’s been giving him the cold shoulder. As expected, it all boils down to her trust issues. When Eric laughs off the most recent incident involving a misunderstanding about Vince’s alias (check out last week’s post if you’re confused), she decides that if they’re going to stay together, he has to promise that he won’t screw Brittany the Assistant and give her the freedom to read his e-mails. Eric agrees at first, but after conferring with a few sources and realizing that Ashley may be crazy, he decides to break it off. As it turns out, Ashley is a little nuts (as evidenced by her mini breakdown in the middle of a restaurant), and it’s probably smart for Eric to get rid of her before things get worse. It’s a shame, because Alexis Dziena is pretty easy on the eyes. Then again, Kate Mara isn’t too bad herself, and we all know Sloan will be back before long.

Turtle’s current predicament might seem just as cut and dry, but he’s certainly making it more complicated than it needs to be. When Jamie Lynn admits to being jealous about his new admirer (which, for the record, I find totally ridiculous), Turtle begins second guessing his ability to stay loyal. While I understand where Turtle’s coming from in that this is the first time he’s ever had one woman interested in him, let alone two, it’s absurd to think that any sorority girl would trump Jamie Lynn Sigler. For starters, she’s obviously only interested in him because he’s famous (Best line of the night: “Is that Vincent Chase? Who are you?”), and second, he’s already dating Meadow freaking Soprano. Granted, her new job offer is certainly going to throw a wrench into their relationship, but if given the choice between Jamie Lynn and the new girl, is there even any doubt as to who he should pick? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  

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ABC: The Fall Schedule

And Upfronts Week rolls on, with the American Broadcasting Company offering up their slate for the new season. Sadly, as Mr. Paulsen revealed yesterday, “Samantha Who?” will not be returning for Season 3 (and that rather depresses me, as I quite liked the show), but on the up side, “Better Off Ted” did score another season. Woo-hoo! You can view the network’s fall schedule below, along with info on the new shows and details on what to expect come the mid-season.

Monday:

8:00 PM – Dancing with the Stars
10:00 PM – Castle

Tuesday:

8:00 PM – Shark Tank

From Mark Burnett, executive producer of “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” and Sony Pictures Television comes “Shark Tank,” an exciting new reality show that gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to make their dreams come true and become successful – and possibly wealthy – business people. But the entrepreneurs must first try to convince five tough, multi-millionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they need to jumpstart their ideas.

9:00 PM – Dancing with the Stars Results Show

10:00 PM – The Forgotten

From executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes a crime show in which a team of dedicated amateurs work on cases involving unidentified victims. After the police have given up, this group must first solve the puzzle of the victim’s identity in order to then help catch the killer. They work to give the deceased back their names, lest they become — The Forgotten. Stars Rupert Penry-Jones as Alex, Reiko Aylesworth as Linda, Michelle Borth as Candace, Bob Stephenson as Walter, Anthony Carrigan as Tyler and Rochelle Aytes as Detective Grace Russell.

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“Lost” tops online streamed TV programs

“Lost” and “SNL” are also popular online.

Lost, Saturday Night Live and Grey’s Anatomy were December’s three most popular entertainment TV programs streamed from tagged network websites and embedded network video players, according to VideoCensus data from Nielsen Online (via MarketingCharts).

In its first public release of ratings for online individual TV programs, Nielsen reported that ABC.com’s Lost had 1.4 million unique viewers in December — the most among streamed online broadcast TV network entertainment programs. NBC.com’s Saturday Night Live was a close second, with 1.1 million unique viewers, followed by ABC.com’s Grey’s Anatomy with 879,000 unique viewers in December.

The network websites included were from broadcast networks that had tagged their online offerings: ABC.com, CBS Television, CWTV.com, FOX Broadcasting, and NBC.com. The rankings exclude Hulu, which currently does not report VideoCensus data at the program level.Rankings include unique viewers who viewed a full episode, part of an episode or a program clip during the month.

“As I see it, the broad diversity of top television network entertainment programs online suggests that there is more to online viewership than a simple extension of the TV audience,” said Jon Gibs, VP of media analytics, Nielsen Online. “While the online popularity of some shows, like Grey’s Anatomy suggests that some people are using the internet to catch up on programs they usually watch on TV, the online popularity of other programs like Saturday Night Live, indicates that there is a web audience that might otherwise not watch these programs at all. These viewers are driven by a morning-after water-cooler effect.”

Nielson’s reports are incomplete until they start including numbers from Hulu as well, and we also need information about how these numbers stack up against popular online video sites.

It would have been interesting to see numbers from Novemeber and October, as “SNL” surely led the way with its political coverage.

  

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