ABC’s new comedies may look all kinds of sketchy, but their new dramas are looking all kinds of buzzy.
Sunday night supernatural soap “666 Park Avenue” already has devilishly good guilty pleasure potential, and the network’s other two fall dramas boast quality casts and strong pedigrees.
“Nashville” (premiering Wednesdays at 10 p.m.) keeps Connie Britton on TV following five seasons on “Friday Night Lights” and one on “American Horror Story,” casting her as a fading country music star facing off with a younger rival (“Heroes” cheerleader Hayden Panettiere). It’s written by “Thelma & Louise” Oscar winner Callie Khouri and directed by prolific documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler (“The September Issue,” “The War Room”).
“Last Resort” (premiering Thursdays at 8 p.m.) brings back beloved Emmy winner Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Streets,” “Men of a Certain Age”) as the captain of a ballistic missile submarine who disobeys a direct order to fire nuclear weapons at Pakistan. “Felicity’s” soul mate Scott Speedman co-stars in the series from ace showrunner Shawn Ryan (“The Shield,” “The Unit”) and director Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).
Here’s what we’re wondering after watching ABC’s promos for both shows…
1) Can “Nashville” keep the “Revenge” buzz going?
Last season there was very little pressure on “Revenge” to perform Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ABC’s heavily hyped pilots “Once Upon a Time” and “Pan Am” were on Sundays, and even “Charlie’s Angels” garnered more advance attention in a Thursday slot. But then “Revenge” outdid all its fellow newcomers save “Once” in the ratings and stole the spotlight as ABC’s breakout media-adored hit. That means greater expectations for “Nashville,” and even more scrutiny for early glimpses at the show like this one.
2) How does military-set “Last Resort” fit into a night of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”?
“Last Resort” doesn’t have to do much to make ABC happy in its Thursday timeslot, but it does need to perform at a level that isn’t damaging to aging lead-out “Grey’s Anatomy.” Are the two shows compatible at all? ABC chief Paul Lee claims the “Resort” pilot tested very well with women, and the promo is clear to emphasize this isn’t just a show about manly men under the sea.
3) Will Connie Britton’s “Friday Night Lights” history help or hurt “Nashville”?
It’s a bit of a mixed blessing to have Mrs. Coach on your show. There’s no doubt Britton is a crazy talented actress who should’ve won an Emmy (or two) for her incomparable work on “Friday Night Lights,” but the fiercely loyal “Friday” fans may start to attack if “Nashville” doesn’t live up to the same high standard. After all, Tami Taylor deserves the very best.
4) Should we set aside all thoughts of Vic Mackey and Frank Pembleton when watching “Last Resort”?
Just as Britton brings the positive baggage of “Friday Night Lights” to “Nashville,” the iconic quality TV pasts of Braugher and Ryan will raise expectations for “Last Resort.” But the promo reveals a drama seemingly free of the grit and edge that helped define “The Shield” and “Homicide,” so it may be best to leave the past in the past and try to approach the submarine show with a fresh perspective.
5) Is ABC making a shameless play for the heartland with dramas about the military and country music?
Call it cynical audience-baiting if you like, but there’s something intriguing about these series’ unique concepts and offbeat milieus. Considering network TV dramas usually unfold in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, it’s actually refreshing to see two series set in unusual locations: an exotic island and Music City, USA. If nothing else, maybe we’ll get some fresh vacation ideas out of it.
Watch and ponder the promos for yourself: