Sunday, September 8, 2013

ABC TV Fall 2013 Schedule -- Once Upon a Time at ABC...


ABC comes on strong this season with a whole new Tuesday and handful of other new series, including a spin-off two years in to their Sunday night success Once Upon a Time.  Lots of new comedies -- four in total -- but the biggest anticipation (at least from fanboys and girls of all ages) is the new comic book movie-inspired Marvel action adventure series which leads off Tuesdays.
The cast of "Betrayal"
Beginning on Sunday, ABC's solid performances from Once Upon a Time and Revenge will be joined by the network's attempt to find a truly compatible 10pm show to mesh with Revenge's soapy intrigue.  They've hit upon Betrayal, an American adaptation of a hit Dutch show, and if you love watching sex, subterfuge, romance, family complications, political ambition, murder, courtroom hysteria and the like then you will definitely want to tune into Betrayal.  The attractive cast includes Hannah Ware (Starz' Boss, Oldboy), Stuart Townsend (Chaos Theory, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Chris Johnson (The Vampire Diaries, Against the Wall, South Beach), veteran actor James Cromwell (Babe, Six Feet Under, American Horror Story, 24, L.A. Confidential and many more), Henry Thomas (E.T., Psycho IV, Indictment: The McMartin Trial), Wendy Moniz (Guiding Light, Nash Bridges, Damages), Elizabeth McLaughlin (The Clique), and Braeden Lemasters (Men of a Certain Age, Six Feet Under). Whether or not Betrayal captures the sheer fun of watching ridiculously complicated personal entanglements the way Revenge does is yet to be seen.  Betrayal premieres Sunday September 29th at 10pm.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tuesdays for ABC start off in superhero mode -- but with a down-to-earth twist -- as revered Executive Producer Josh Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) brings us Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a spin-off from the collection of big-screen mega-successes The Avengers, Thor 2, Iron Man and the rest.  The throughline to the movies is actor Clark Gregg reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson; the agent perished in The Avengers but Whedon is bringing the likeable character back to life again here.  Coulson is the guy who puts his expertise to the test fashioning a cadre of specially-talented individuals who do the work of superheroes when there are no superheroes around to do it. In addition to the Everyman quality brought by Gregg (The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Shield), this imaginative adrenaline-charged hour features its own cadre of young and good-looking actors including Brett Dalton (Blue Bloods, Killing Lincoln), Ming Na-Wen (ER, Eureka, Push, Two and a Half Men, the voice of Mulan), Iain De Caestecker (British series The Fades), Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me), and singer-actress Chloe Bennett (Nashville, The Nightlife).  Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres Tuesday September 24th at 8pm.

Meet "The Goldbergs"
Following the excitement of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents' derring-do, ABC takes a step backwards with half-hour comedy The Goldbergs, set in the 1980s and designed to push all the right nostalgia buttons.  The gimmick is that one son takes home movies and the show, narrated by the son, takes off from those antics.  It's a family comedy and whether or not you like it probably will depend on how well you take to the cast.  Playing bombastic, Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is the dad, Wendy McLendon-Covey (Reno 911, Bridesmaids) is the mother, veteran actor George Segal (Just Shoot Me!, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Owl and the Pussycat, A Touch of Class and so many more) is the sassy grandfather, Hayley Orrantia (The X Factor) is the cute teen daughter, Troy Gentile (Nacho Libre, Drillbit Taylor) is the teen boy and Sean Giambrone is the geeky youngest son with the camera.  Based heavily on producer Adam F. Goldberg's own family experiences and home movies, The Goldbergs will have to win over comedy seekers already getting laughs from Fox's successful New Girl The Goldbergs premieres Tuesday September 24th at 9pm.

The cast of "Trophy Wife"

Ex-wives and resentful stepchildren provide the comedy fodder for the next new show on Tuesday night.  Trophy Wife is the tale of a perky young blonde who becomes the third wife of a rich older lawyer, inheriting his fractious exes in the transaction.  The plot is based on the real-life experiences of one of the writers, a trend that appears to be growing as the original ideas pool is evidently drying up. Giant gleaming kitchens, huge houses, sassy teenagers -- I think we can see where this is going.  This kooky free spirit has her work cut out for her. 

The titular Trophy Wife Kate is played by Malin Akerman (Suburgatory, Watchmen, Children's Hospital, The Comeback), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Good Guys) is the clearly smitten lawyer, Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock, Mystic River, The Newsroom, Royal Pains, Damages) is Whitford's ambitious first wife who's a brusque physician, Michaela Watkins (New Girl, Enlightened, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Saturday Night Live) is the hippy-dippy second wife, Natalie Morales (90210, Parks and Recreation, White Collar) is Kate's best friend, and Bailee Madison (Wizards of Waverly Place, Once Upon a Time), Ryan Scott Lee (Super 8) and Albert Tsai are the trio of children who live with their father. Does this Trophy Wife get the prize?  The pilot uses a squished hamster as a joke line, an unnecessary touch that isn't very funny, so I say not yet.  (Also, the premise of the show is a lot like that arc on New Girl where she got involved with a rich older guy and also when Hannah from HBO's Girls had a brief fling with a loaded M.D.  This is one fantasy that just won't die.)  However, if you like the idea of an unlikely Cinderella, this is well-performed by a very able cast.  Trophy Wife premieres Tuesday September 24th at 9:30pm. 

The cast of "Lucky 7"

Tuesday night ends with a drama that's getting some good buzz.  Lucky 7 is the story of seven gas station employees who win big in a lottery, and it's based on a British hit series with the same premise. Since winning a lottery has now become the actual American dream -- forget about working hard and prospering the old-fashioned way -- this could touch the audience in just the right place.  The cast includes Isiah Whitlock (The Wire, Veep), Matt Long (Private Practice, Jack & Bobby, The Newsroom), Stephen Louis Grush (Detroit 1-8-7, Steppenwolf Theater), Lorraine Bruce (The Syndicate, the British version of Lucky 7), Anastasia Phillips (Murdoch Mysteries, Skins, Bomb Girls), Summer Bishil (Towelhead, The Last Airbender), Luis Antonio Ramos (The Huntress, Queens, Early Edition), and Christine Evangelista (The Good Wife, Killpoint).  Lucky 7 premieres Tuesday September 24th at 10pm.

The cast of "Back in the Game"

Wednesday is ABC's true comedy night, with the returning The Middle and Modern Family offering support to two new sitcoms.  At 8:30pm ABC premieres Back in the Game, the story of a female softball player and her young son who are forced by circumstances to move back in with her ex-pro ballplayer father.  The son isn't a great athlete and doesn't make the local Little League, but when all the other athletic misfits come together into their own weird team, our ex-softballer steps in to lead them as coach, with help from her cranky dad.  Maggie Lawson (Psych, Party of Five, It's All Relative) stars as daughter Terry, veteran actor James Caan (Las Vegas, The Godfather, Misery, Brian's Song) is her unfettered father, Brit actress Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Doctor Who) is a rich woman who bankrolls the team, Griffin Gluck (Private Practice, United States of Tara) is Maggie's son, Ben Coldyke (How I Met Your Mother, Work It) is another coach with a crush on Maggie, J.J. Totah (Jessie) as a boy with lots of fabulousness, along with Kennedy Waite and Cooper Roth as other teammates.  Other than being pretty much a doppelganger for The Bad News Bears, Back in the Game will have to prove that it's got the comedy skills to make this one score big.  Back in the Game premieres Wednesday September 25th at 8:30pm.

The post-Modern Family 9:30pm slot goes to newcomer Super Fun Night, the Conan O'Brien-exec produced sitcom starring fearless Australian comedy charmer Rebel Wilson.  Wilson (Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect) is Kimmie, a newly-minted junior attorney with two best girlfriends and a standing evening-in each week with them.  When her suave boss invites her to a business party out, she figures it's time that she and her friends take their act on the road.  Wilson co-stars with Lauren Ash (Lars and the Real Girl, Scare Tactics), Liza Lapira (Don't Trust the B-- in Apt. 23, 21, Cloverfield, NCIS, Dollhouse), and Kevin Bishop (Muppet Treasure Island, The Kevin Bishop Show) is the new boss.  Though everybody seems to agree that Rebel Wilson is a unique delight in her other performances, early buzz on this series is waaay on the dismal side, Wilson's innate talent notwithstanding.  (FYI, NBC passed on a multi-camera version of this show last season.)  Plus, if you like her real Australian accent you won't get to hear it here -- she plays American.  Super Fun Night premieres Wednesday October 2nd at 9:30pm. 


Thursday at 8pm brings Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the much-anticipated spin-off from Sunday night's storybook adventure Once Upon a Time which is entering its third season.  Known also as Once in Wonderland and set in atmospheric Victorian England, the series boasts creative input from Lost alumni and promises the same intricate fantastical plotting and high quality production values as its parent series.  Sophie Lowe (Beautiful Kate, The Slap) stars as Alice, along with Michael Socha (Being Human), Peter Gadiot (The Forbidden Girl), Emma Rigby (Ripper Street, Hollyoaks), Naveen Andrews (Lost, Sinbad), John Lithgow (Dexter, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The World According to Garp, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, Terms of Endearment) as the voice of the White Rabbit, Keith David (They Live, The Cape, ER) as the voice of the Cheshire Cat, and rocker Roger Daltry (from The Who) voicing the Caterpillar.  Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premieres Thursday October 10th at 8pm.

Overall, ABC seems to have a winner -- if all the portents are correct -- in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and couple of other maybes.  We'll discuss this more on our night-by-night analysis.

Next Up, CBS!

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