Monday, September 19, 2011

The Flaming Nose Fall 2011 Network TV Preview, Pt. 1: Sunday Night

Another year, another TV season, another batch of hopefuls, each eyeing a full-season pick-up and maybe life beyond even that.  It doesn't happen very often, and even less often these days with so much TV available on venues other than network TV, and still matters.  Even though most of us don't even receive the broadcast networks over-the-air anymore -- everybody's a cable or satellite channel now, even if they don't start out that way -- they are the bedrock of TV and will remain so until their economic model completely poops out.  Let's hope that isn't too soon.

We'll start at the very beginning, which for us is Sunday night.  If we were going ala classic TV Guide, we'd start on Saturday, but that's just too out of the box even for TFN.  (Besides, Saturdays now are mostly encores of what's playing the rest of the week, so it definitely shouldn't lead the pack.)  So Sunday it is.

Sunday:  ABC is throwing the most out there, with two new series skewed towards the non-youthful (who are watching Fox), non-general male (who are with the NFL), non older-audience (CBS's traditional line-up) available.  Actually, they've gone quite imaginative, with the fairy-tales-are-real drama Once Upon a Time at 8pm, and Pan Am -- their attempt to capture some of the 1960s Mad Men style -- at 10pm out of a declining Desperate Housewives.  Fox is adding the new comedy series Allen Gregory (voices by Jonah Hill and French Stewart), about a precocious spoiled rich kid who transfers into a public elementary school, into their always successful animation line-up in the secure 8:30pm slot. 

Coming at us first from ABC will be Pan Am (premiering in two weeks on September 25).  Historically speaking, the most famous and popular stewardess movie from the period Pan Am is set was 1963's Come Fly With Me, starring Dolores Hart (who left Hollywood to become a nun), Pamela Tiffin and Hugh O'Brian, and while Pan Am may strive for the same wardrobe groove, it's a whole new flight pattern.  (The flight attendant genre also got a kick from the book/TV movie Coffee, Tea or Me? and the section in 2002's feature Catch Me If You Can where the serial imposter played by Leonardo DiCaprio masquerades as a Pan Am pilot.)  Though most of the glamour has gone out of air travel these days, Pan Am aims to recreate the era when boarding a plane was full of excitement, the stewardesses all pert and young and the pilots stalwart and handsome.  Will nostalgia for that long-gone time entice audiences enough to tune into Pan Am?  Is the promise of a talented and good-looking young cast enough to bring viewers to the gate? 

Christina Ricci stars, long grown up from her Wednesday Addams days and a very talented actress (stunning in Monster, among other roles) who leads the female contingent including talented Quebec actress Katrine Vanasse, Australian Margot Robbie, and Kelli Garner.  In the pilot cabin are Michael Mosley (Scrubs) and Mike Vogel (The Help, Blue Valentine).  You can't base a show only on costumes and a snazzy mise-en-scene, and maybe we're going to wish this were on cable so that at least we'd get some nudity.  The airplane-in-distress genre hardly seems appropriate anymore, so probably nix that trope used to pep up most aviation-set movies over the years.  Is there actually an overwhelming desire for more 1960s style?  (We'll ask more questions like this when we discuss NBC's The Playboy Club.)  Pan Am promises romance, espionage, adventure and the show clips look jazzy and gorgeous.  Will we be a frequent flier on ABC's Pan Am?  Book us an aisle seat for now...

Premiering on October 23rd on ABC, Once Upon a Time boasts a provenance including writers from Lost, something that already puts this on the viewing short list, and a fanciful storybook setting that's at the very least intriguing.  A great cast -- Jennifer Morrison (House, M.D.), Ginnifer Godwin (Big Love), Lana Parrilla (Miami Medical, Swingtown), Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Hamish Macbeth, Trainspotting), Josh Dallas (Thor), and Jared Gilmore (Don Draper's son on Mad Men) -- ably populates this parallel world-tale. 

Anybody who's been eating up Game of Thrones, Spartacus, True Blood, or anything else remotely fabulous and fantastic will want to tune into Once Upon a Time, if nothing else than to see a show lavishly produced with all the oomph that a broadcast network can throw behind a show.  Unfortunately, imaginative premises don't always guarantee anything, particularly viewer loyalty, but if Once Upon a Time can grab enough female viewers away from The Amazing Race (viewers who already clearly like adventure, but ostensibly more realistic) it might have a chance.  ABC doesn't have a designated rerun slot anywhere on its schedule to replay OUaT -- unfortunate -- but if there's enough positive buzz and the promise of wondrous things on the small screen then we'll be cheering for this one to work.  Fantasy isn't easy on TV -- hey, nothing really is anymore -- but if it's imagination you're seeking, Once Upon a Time could be your favorite destination this fall. 

Pt. 2:  Monday, coming up next!

1 comment:

Dean Treadway said...

You're so right about PAN AM needing some nudity! Otherwise...well...what's the point??