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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Ms. Bacall, is that you?

I’m intensely skeptical, but someone claiming to be movie/stage legend Lauren Bacall has an account on Twitter and is doing a pretty good job of sounding like the woman born Betty Joan Perske. Well, some of the time, anyhow.

For those of you who may not be familiar with her, Bacall’s status is entirely earned. A born entertainer, she became one of the screen’s sexiest young sirens playing opposite the substantially older Humphrey Bogart, whom she married. After starring with Bogie, and stealing all her scenes, in Howard Hawks’ “To Have and Have Not” and “The Big Sleep,” she graduated to more mature roles over the years and she became a Broadway star and occasionally popped up in great movies like “The Shootist,” and TV shows like “The Rockford Files.” Now nearing her mid-eighties, she continues to work and be terrific in movies like Paul Shrader’s political thriller, “The Walker.” She even allowed herself to be robbed and mistreated by Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) on an episode of “The Sopranos.”

Lauren Bacall in As Karina Longworth points out, her posts do have a Betty Bacall like cadence, so if you’d like to think that’s actually her, I can’t stop you and I might be tempted to join you. I’m in awe to even think it might be for real.

It’ll be sometime before we find out the truth behind these Tweets. In the meantime, a great Bacall moment or two. We’ll start with her most memorable scene from “The Big Sleep,” which was actually added to boost her role after the success of “To Have and Have Not” and their marriage made Bogart and Bacall one of Hollywood’s hottest couples.

After the flip, I’ve got a couple of iconic clips with Lauren Bacall in her way, way pre-Twitter days.

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ABC cancels “Life On Mars”

Another good show bites the dust.

Granted, I wouldn’t put “Life On Mars” on the same level as last season’s time-traveling seriees, “Journeyman,” but “Life On Mars” has (had) a stellar cast — Harvey Keitel, Jason O’Mara, Gretchen Mol, Michael Imperioli — and a great premise. It debuted to strong ratings (8.2) but in recent weeks, ratings fell to the 3.0-3.7 range, which simply aren’t good enough to justify the expensive cast and production. (Coincidentally, “Journeyman” had similar ratings at the end of its run.)

The show will complete its 17-episode freshman-season order with an episode written as a series finale, wrapping the loose story ends, explaining how Tyler was transported back in time and perhaps bringing him back to his own time.

The show was a remake of a popular U.K. series that ran just 16 episodes (as planned). U.S. networks tend to try to bleed a hit for all its worth instead of getting in and getting out. Sometimes it works (“The Office”) and in the case of “Life On Mars,” sometimes it doesn’t. It turns out that the U.S. version will run one more episode than the U.K. version, so let’s hope that the creators have ample time to wrap things up. It looks like they do.

  

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New York Comic-Con 2009: The Wrap-Up

You know you’re on the right bus for Comic-Con when a guy comes aboard wearing a Flash t-shirt…and he’s followed a guy toting two enormous bags in which to carry swag…and then that guy is followed by Darth Vader.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe Lord Vader wasn’t actually on the bus with me, but he was most certainly present – and in various heights, weights, shapes, and sizes, no less – during the course of the New York Comic-Con, which took place at New York’s Javitz Center from February 6th through the 8th.

Our man Jason Zingale has been our resident San Diego Comic-Con attendee for the past couple of years, but Bullz-Eye was also in the house for last year’s NYCC, thanks to our man in New York, Jonathan Flax. (Granted, he’s often a quiet man, but he’s still there for us when we need him.) This year, however, I couldn’t resist the chance to take in Comic-Con for myself. The San Diego event takes place immediately after I’ve already spent two-and-a-half weeks in L.A. for the July TCA Press Tour, and by that point, I just can’t be away from my wife and daughter any longer; fortunately, the NYCC takes place long enough after the January TCA tour that I was able to feel comfortable heading out of town to attend. It was disappointing that I had to take in all of the sights, sounds, and events all by my lonesome, but lord knows there were plenty of other people with whom I was sharing the experience. I might’ve come by myself, but I was in no way alone.

Day 1:

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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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