ABC: What’s New for Fall 2010

TUESDAY

No Ordinary Family (Tues., Sept. 28 @ 8:00 PM, ABC)

* The competition: “NCIS” (CBS), “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), “Glee” (Fox), “One Tree Hill” (The CW)

Starring: Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Romany Malco, Autumn Reeser, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Stephen Collins

Producers: Greg Berlanti (“Eli Stone”), Jon Harmon (“Tru Calling”), David Semel (“Life”), Morgan Wandell

Network’s Description: The Powells are about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. After 16 years of marriage, Jim feels disconnected from his workaholic wife, Stephanie, and two teenage children, Daphne and JJ. To encourage family bonding time, Jim decides the family will join Stephanie on her business trip to South America. When their plane crashes into the Amazon River, they barely enjoy a moment to celebrate their survival before returning to the grind of everyday life. But they will soon realize that their lives have been forever changed. Each member of the family starts to show signs of new, unique and distinct super powers. Will their newfound abilities finally bring them together or push them further apart? For the Powells, embarking on a mission to understand their new abilities becomes the key to rebuilding their family life, as they learn what defines and unifies them. Despite the fact they can collectively lift a car, run at lightning speed, read your mind and calculate the dimensions of the Eiffel Tower — all before you say “superhero” – they are first and foremost an average family with everyday problems.

The Buzz: Decidedly strong at Comic-Con, as you’d expect, and there’s no question that ABC’s treating it as a major player in the season, given all of the intrusive pop-ups promoting the series during its current programming. The big question, though, is whether or not non-nerds (and as a nerd myself, please understand that I’m simply using this phrase as to separate us cool kids from those other people) can be sold on the show.

Pilot Highlight: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the members of the family discovering their respective abilities make for the most fun, but as for the best of that bunch, it’s a tie between Jim learning how to jump and Stephanie speeding around the track.

Bottom Line: The pilot is a heck of a lot of fun, offering a sense of humor and a sense of adventure that’s more like a live-action “Incredibles” than another “Heroes,” but given the tough competition, superhero fans had better tune in from the get-go, keep on coming back for more, and spread the good word on the show for all they’re worth if they want “No Ordinary Family” to stick around.

Detroit 1-8-7 (Tues., Sept. 21 @ 10:00 PM, ABC)

* The competition: “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Parenthood” (NBC)

Starring: Michael Imperioli, James McDaniel, Aisha Hinds, D.J. Cotrona, Jon Michael Hill, Shaun Majumder, Natalie Martinez, Erin Cummings

Producers: David Zabel (“ER”), Jason Richman (“Bangkok Dangerous”), Kevin Hooks (“Prison Break”), David Hoberman (“Monk”), Todd Lieberman (“The Kill Point”)

Network’s Description: What does it take to be a detective in one of America’s toughest cities? Follow one homicide unit as Detroit’s finest reveal the crisis and revelation, heartbreak and heroism that characterize these inner city cops in this series shot entirely in Detroit, Michigan. 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 and sage of the department struggling with his impending retirement from the force and the city he loves, who, together with his partner, Detective Vikram 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. The unit works with the primary medical examiner, Dr. Abbey Ward, who has an unusual hobby in her off-hours-roller derby. The men and women of Detroit Homicide are as smart and tough as they come. They have to be, as they struggle with their own inner demons, using only their sharp sense of humor to keep them grounded while working the neighborhoods of the historic Motor City.

The Buzz: The show earned a few headlines when it had to deal with an impossible-to-predict change from its original faux-documentary format after a real death in Detroit during the filming of an episode of A&E’s “The First 48” led the city to ban camera crews from following cops around. The producers, of course, have put the most positive possible spin on the situation, but given that it was one of the few things that instantly helped the show stand out from its fellow police dramas, you know it had to hurt, especially since there hasn’t really been any buzz about the show.

Pilot Highlight: The conclusion to Washington’s first day as a detective. You won’t see it coming, and it wipes away many of your concerns that the show might wallow in schmaltz.

Bottom Line: The cast is strong, but the show still ends up feeling like a typical cop drama. Having both Imperioli (“Life on Mars”) and McDaniel (“NYPD Blue”) back on the beat is nice, and the last scene of the first episode will no doubt bring just about everyone who’s watching back for Episode #2, but it still may not be enough to help “Detroit 1-8-7” compete against two shows that absolutely do have buzz.

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TCA Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 6

Day 6 of the TCA Press Tour was all about the American Broadcasting Company – that’s ABC to you and me – presenting their slate of programming for Fall 2010, along with a couple of new entries that are technically midseason entries but will likely find themselves slotted into the schedule sooner than that. (You know how it goes: there’s always a show or two that gets the boot within a couple of episodes, thereby giving one of the relief squad a chance to go in early.)

Give Kevin Brockman, ABC’s head of publicity, full credit for getting the first big laugh of the day: he walked onto the stage holding a giant stuffed pink elephant named Binky, allowing him to be flanked by the real elephant in the room while addressing the metaphorical one, which was the somewhat unexpected departure of Steve McPherson, the network’s former President of Entertainment.

“On Tuesday, we issued a statement announcing Steve McPherson’s resignation from ABC Entertainment Group,” said Brockman. “I realize you all may have questions, obviously. That is what you do for a living. But to save us some time and hopefully make this as productive as possible, I just want to say that Tuesday’s statement still holds. It is literally all we are going to say on the subject. So you may ask, but you will get the same answer. So I’m just saying please know that is the statement. We have given it. We will give it again if we need to. But in the spirit of trying to make things as productive today, just realize that that’s where we are. We really have nothing more to add.”

And, indeed, they did not. Someone tried a bit later in the morning to get Paul Lee, McPherson’s hastily arranged replacement, to say something on the matter, but…well, we’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s talk about the panel that preceded Mr. Lee’s executive session.

Detroit 1-8-7

Can it really be possible that “Detroit 1-8-7” is the first police drama to be set within the city of Detroit? That would seem to be the case, and yet it seems like such an incredible oversight that it’s never been done before. More impressive, however, is the fact that the show is actually being filmed in Detroit.

“There are a lot of benefits to shooting in Detroit,” said producer David Zabel. “Included in that is that there is a bit of an infrastructure forming of crew. We are filling out our crew with a lot of locals. A lot of locals are working on the show, and hopefully in the long run what will then happen is that a lot of the locals who are working at mid-level positions are going to get better at these jobs and rise up and be doing more of the key department-head work as well. Overall, they’ve been doing quite a bit of feature work in Detroit, so there’s some aspects there that are well in place, but there are some things that are a little bit of a learning curve, and we’re sort of going through that together. A lot of the key department heads are from Los Angeles for now, but the vast numbers of the crew are largely local hires. In certain key departments we had to bring from L.A. in order to have qualified people so that we could deliver the show. Also, they are shooting seven features right now in Detroit, so even the talent pool that exists locally in Detroit is spread a little thin right now. But as the series goes on, I think we’re going to get more and more people that are local working on the show.”

As happy as I am for Detroit that they’ve got this series filming in their fine city, I must say that I got more than a little bored with the plethora of questions about that particular aspect. I was much more interested in the fact that the original conceit of the series as seen in the pilot which was screened for us in advance of the TCA tour – the detectives were being filmed as part of a documentary – has been thrown out the window due to the fact that, as a result of an unfortunate event in Detroit, the city has banned documentary filmmakers from following police officers around. With that having been put into play, they couldn’t exactly show such a thing going on within “Detroit 1-8-7,” now, could they?

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The Shield 7.13 – Family Meeting – Series Finale

Another one of television’s great dramas has come to a close, and if I were to rank the series finale compared to some of the other big ones from the past year or so, it would probably fall somewhere between the disappointing conclusion to “The Sopranos” and the pitch-perfect ending to “The Wire.” It wasn’t great, but it was certainly satisfying, and it wrapped up just about every loose end other than Aceveda’s bid for mayor. Fans of the series have been following these characters for seven years now, and instead of just running through the episode as usual, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to discuss the fates of each character one at a time.

Vic Mackey:

For as much bad shit that happened throughout the episode, this was probably one of the more shocking of the bunch. A lot of people didn’t think it was possible for Vic to get his comeuppance without death or incarceration, but when you consider the kind of person that he really is, it made sense. Vic only needs a few things in life – family, friends, and a badge – and the fact that he no longer has any of them is kind of like sentencing him to his own personal hell. Olivia said it best after Vic begged her to tell him where his children were: “You said goodbye to them the minute you shot another cop in the face.”

The Shield 7.13

All of Vic’s friends are gone, Corrine has put his kids into witness protection, and his new gig at ICE is a boring desk job typing up weekly analysis reports on gang activity in the city. Some might say he’s got it good compared to what could have happened (after all, he’s only obligated to work at ICE for three years and he’s a free man), but the look on his face when he was being shepherded through the mandatory tour of the facilities said enough. That last moment when he grabs his gun and walks out of the office seemed to indicate that he might actually be okay with the cards he’s been dealt, but if that’s the case, then it doesn’t seem like he’s really paid for his crimes at all.


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The Shield 7.12 – Possible Kill Screen

If there’s one conclusion to “The Shield” I never thought possible, it was Vic Mackey receiving a Get Out of Jail Free card for all the crimes he’s committed in the past. Death? Sure. Jail? Why not? Heck, I’d even expect Vic to run away to Mexico before the feds ever agreed to give him full immunity, and after the events of this week’s episode, I still don’t think that’s how it’ll end. Of course, I have to start at the beginning first, as so much happened tonight that it felt epic compared to most weeks.

After Shane and Mara’s last robbery failed to yield the kind of cash they were hoping for, the fugitive couple has hit a dead end. Mara physically can’t take anymore, and she’s not doing so well mentally either after killing two people in an attempt to save Shane from a robbery gone wrong. With her shoulder busted and her pregnancy in its final stages, she begs Shane to throw in the towel and take her home. Shane isn’t doing so hot (he might have a big of drug problem and he nearly kills Tina when she tries to bring him in), but he isn’t about to give up any time soon. Unfortunately, I don’t think Shane has much of a choice. The presidential motorcade that will allow them to make their escape is less than 24 hours away, but with Mara hurt and no car to get around, it’s only a matter of time before Shane either gets arrested or killed.

The Shield 11.12

Sure, they’ve got Corrine working to find them a new mode of transportation (which Vic agrees to take care of), but when the meet is compromised when Vic smells a trap, it pretty much guarantees that Shane and Mara are screwed. It also means that Corrine has to be arrested and thrown in jail to give Vic the impression that she wasn’t in on the set-up, and now, all Vic can think about is saving his annoying traitor of a wife. Luckily, Olivia has managed to secure Vic a job at ICE, as well as full immunity as long as he is able to successfully take down Beltran and his drug ring. When he discovers that the deal is only for him, however, and not Ronnie as well, he quickly turns it down.


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The Shield 7.11 – Petty Cash

Does Vic Mackey ever read the newspaper? Because if he did, maybe he would know that there are a lot easier ways to find a job than getting in bed with the Mexican drug cartel. Vic’s been really pushing his luck this season, but none of that compares to his latest plan, which involves convincing Beltran to do business with the blacks (who control 40% of the drug trade in Farmington) and then skimming cash from their first deal. Forget for a moment that Vic has severely pissed off his black associates by essentially forcing them into business with the Mexicans, because once Beltran finds out about Vic stealing money from him, all bets are off.

Vic is hoping that the feds will be able to nail Beltran before it ever comes to that, and for the time being, his plan seems to be working. Not only has he gained trust with Beltran (claiming that he’s his own personal action hero), but he also has the cash needed to pay back Shane. Of course, he’s so busy running around town like a chicken with its head cut off that he gets Ronnie to deliver the package to Corrine. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that by doing so, he’s also escaped certain arrest at the hands of Claudette, who’s idly waiting by with Dutch to pounce on him when he arrives. That’s the good news. The bad news is that now Claudette has even more to pin on poor Ronnie when it’s time for his comeuppance.

The Shield 7.11

Vic hopes that he’ll be able to change both his and Ronnie’s futures by securing jobs with ICE and thereby earning immunity from their less righteous pasts, but while helping bring down Beltran should make Olivia’s boss at least consider that option, he knows that it’s going to take a little more than that. This explains why he’s returned Olivia’s blackmail file to her with no strings attached. Of course, though he isn’t holding the file as leverage against her like Aceveda, giving it back to her and then demanding a big favor is pretty much the same thing. It seems to have worked, however, and Vic and Ronnie are one step closer to being clear of this giant shit storm. They’ve even intercepted the letter that Shane sent to Claudette, but when Ronnie opened it, all he found was a note addressed to him teasing how he was Vic’s little bitch.

No matter what happens in the end, one thing is for sure: Shane is a lot smarter than everyone thought. By sending that bogus letter and setting up the meet that he had no intentions of going to, Shane bought himself a lot of time – time that he needed to put together some extra cash before him and Mara leave town. Though his first plan to rob a stash house doesn’t go quite as planned, Mara suggests they break into the safe at her real estate company. Though they got much less for the cashier’s checks than they were expecting, it should be more than enough to get them where they need to go. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to matter in the long run, because unless Vic gets off scot-free, there’s no reason Shane should either. Then again, Vic seems to have won over the approval of Corrine yet again with his handling of Cassidy in his final scene, and though it may not seem like she has any more worth to Claudette and Dutch, she might just end up being the wild card when all is said and done.

  

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