ABC: What’s New for Fall 2009

V (Tues., Nov. 3 @ 8:00 PM, ABC)

The competition: “NCIS” (CBS) “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox), “90210” (The CW)

Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Lourdes Benedicto, Logan Huffman, Laura Vandervoort, Morena Baccarin, Scott Wolf
Producers: Scott Peters (“The 4400,” “The Outer Limits”), Jeffrey Bell (“Day Break,” “Alias”), Steve Pearlman (“Reunion,” “Related”), and Jace Hall (“The Jace Hall Show”)
Network’s Description: A re-imagining of the 1980’s miniseries about the world’s first encounter with an alien race. Simultaneously appearing over every major city in the world, the Visitors (or V’s) promote a message of peace. Through their generous offer to share advanced technology, the V’s build a following that may actually hide a more malevolent agenda, one that twists a very deep component of human nature: devotion. While the world quickly becomes fascinated with the V’s and their link to wonders just beyond the reach of human understanding, FBI Counter Terrorist Agent Erica Evans discovers a secret hidden beneath the skin of every V – a secret that may threaten the lives of everyone close to her. Yet for her teenage son, Tyler, the V’s are his ticket to something big and hopeful — a new chance for mankind to unite in common goals. To Chad Decker, a career-hungry news anchor, his exclusive interview with Anna, the leader of the V’s, is crucial to his dominating the airwaves. Also unsure about the Visitors is Father Jack, a priest questioning his faith in the wake of the Visitors’ arrival. Seeking answers outside the church, Father Jack discovers there are other dissidents who believe the Visitors are not who they say they are, including Ryan Nichols, who is faced with his own life-altering decision when the V’s show up. Never has there been more at stake — it truly is the dawning of a new day.
The Buzz: Like “Eastwick,” there’s a certain instinct to ask, “Why do we need to revisit a 20-year-old property?” In the case of “V,” though, most of those who remember the show fondly will probably nod their heads and consider that, yes, special effects technology has evolved to a point where a concept like this one deserves to reap the benefits. And although the purists will no doubt grimace and claim that it won’t be the same without original creator Kenneth Johnson working behind the scenes, they need look no farther than “Battlestar Galactica” to have a good reason to consider the possibilities for a new “V.”
Pilot Highlight: Personally, I dug the showdown between Anna and Chad when he refuses to offer an interview consisting solely of softball questions and she informs him that either it’ll be all queries that paint the Visitors in a positive light or the interview will be canceled, but the episode’s tie-ins to terrorism were damned intriguing.
Bottom Line: There’ll clearly be a “we’ve seen this” reaction from the generation who grew up with “Independence Day,” but it’s already clear that this is not your parents’ “V.” It may not prove to have any more legs than ABC’s last stab at alien infiltration (“Invasion”), but it’s going to come down to whether or not the viewers who come in for the curiosity factor, thinking, “Hey, I liked the old show, I wonder how the new one will be,” are going to given enough to sell them right off the bat.

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TCA: ABC Executive Session

Compared to his broadcast network peers, ABC President Stephen McPherson had a pretty low-key executive session, admitting outright that he didn’t really have any grand announcements to drop on us, but he did discuss the following matters:

* “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” returns to ABC tomorrow. McPherson describes being on the set with Regis again as “nostalgic and energizing,” and assures us that the show’s return features the best million-dollar question moment in the entire history of the series. Big talk, but we’ll see.

* McPherson’s got class. He didn’t take the bait when asked for the obligatory comment about Ben Silverman’s departure, and he fully acknowledged that he’s interested in seeing what’s going to happen with Jay Leno, given that it’s the first time we’ve seen anything like this on TV in our lifetime.

* On the matter of viewers investing in series that could be yanked out from under them at any given moment, he made it clear that it’s not an arbitrary decision when a show is canceled. “How patient can you be?” he asked. “How much information do you have about the show? Is it being rejected? Is it slowly building? Is it stable at that label? How does it affect the rest of your schedule? The overall network?” Though they try to be as patient as they can be with a series, sometimes it just has to go. “Canceling shows is the worst part of my job,” he said.

* That’s as may be, but it sounds like dealing with Katherine Heigl’s outbursts can’t be a heck of a lot better. When asked about her actions, he replied, “I think it’s unfortunate. It’s not something I think you want to let consume you or your people, because it is what it is, and people are going to behave in the way they choose to behave, but I think there are so many people who work hard on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and all of our shows and go without any credit. Those are the people I’d be most concerned about.”

* When “Scrubs,” it’s still gonna be “Scrubs.” “It’s not changing its title,” confirmed McPherson. “It’s gonna be different in the sense of the construct of what’s going on, but it’ll be the same character dynamics as before, but it’s allowing Bill (Lawrence) to introduce new characters and spend time with them. But it’ll be the same tonal show, with the same kind of comedy and storytelling that you’re used to.” As noted, Zach Braff will be turning up for a few episodes, but McPherson says they’re going to “try to convince him to do more.”

* Despite appearances, “FlashForward” was not specifically created to be the heir apparent to “Lost.” “We would love for it to have even a part of the success of ‘Lost,'” McPherson admitted, ‘but the spec script was originally done, I think, for HBO, and we were thrilled to read it. But there was no development where we went, ‘Hey, let’s try to make the next ‘Lost’! It was just about good material.”

* It seems a bit weird that ABC should’ve rescued both Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton after their joint Fox failure, “Back to You,” but McPherson says they came about through very different circumstacnes. “We’d previously developed ‘The Middle’ and even shot it, but we just didn’t feel like we’d gotten the pilot to where it needed to be,” he said. “But then Patti got available, she struck us as the perfect person for the show, and she sparked to the script.” As for Grammer, his new series, “Hank,” was pitched “as a full show with him attached, and we felt it was really in the zeitgeist and a great character for him to be playing.”

* “Romantically Challenged,” the new Alyssa Milano / Kyle Bornheimer sitcom, is in talks for a midseason run, but McPherson isn’t sure where to put it at the moment.

* Despite rumors to the contrary, “Ugly Betty” was never canceled. It was just taken off the air to offer up episodes of “Samantha Who?” and “In the Motherhood,” and McPherson is very excited about the new season.

* In regards to Violet’s storyline on “Private Practice” last season, he acknowledged that he was “frightened by it” when heard about it, but “while it’s polarizing, it’s gained excitement about the show and the characters and the potential where we can go with it. We can go edgier at 10 PM, and it can be a different show than ‘Grey’s.'” McPherson declared the storyline to be a perfect example of why you should trust great show runners.

* And, lastly, for all of you “American Idol” fans, McPherson admitted that he has indeed reached out to Paula Abdul, and although he first said that he was sorry about what she was going through, he did managed to slip in that he’d love to see her on ABC.

  

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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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