Upfronts: Highlights and lowlights from ABC and CBS

05.19.10 8 years ago 10 Comments


Dan and I spent the vast majority of today’s mega-length podcast talking about the network upfronts, but we recorded it before CBS did their actual presentation for advertisers, complete with clips of the new shows. And since I didn’t get a chance yesterday to offer any random thoughts on ABC’s shows, I’ll have takes on both network presentations coming up after the jump…

Most promising clip reel: Probably ABC’s “No Ordinary Family,” with Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz as a family who get superpowers. It looked like a lot of fun, and a good use of Chiklis, who was by far the best part of the “Fantastic Four” movies.

Other cut-downs that made me curious to see more:
I like the cast and concept of CBS’ “Blue Bloods” and the trailer looked solid (albeit in the usual CBS meat-and-potatoes style). ABC’s “Body of Proof” doesn’t seem like a show I’d watch regularly, since it’s a crime procedural that airs on Friday, but it’s a pretty unabashed Dana Delany star vehicle that steps back and lets her do her thing, and I fully support that.

Trailer that defied expectations in a good way: I wasn’t looking forward to CBS’ “Hawaii Five-O” remake, both because I don’t understand Nina Tassler’s fascination with leading man Alex O’Loughlin, and because I think the original is remembered way too fondly just because of its (admittedly awesome) theme song. But the cut-down looked fun, and exciting (and expensive), and as Kono, I’m glad to see that (to paraphrase What’s Alan Watching?/Firewall & Iceberg logo designer Dave Loehr) Grace Park is now carving out a career playing gender-bending versions of ’70s TV characters. The one caveat: O’Loughlin still doesn’t seem that interesting, and was pretty badly upstaged in the clips by sidekick Scott Caan.

Trailer that defied expectations in a bad way: CBS’ “The Defenders” seemed like a show that could go either way. Yes, it’s a legal show with Jim Belushi as its star (along with Jerry O’Connell), but if you look past “According to Jim,” and “K-9,” and… well, a lot of his filmography, Belushi’s a guy who’s proven himself capable of giving interesting performances when he wants to and/or is asked to, and the idea of a light-hearted show about slick Vegas lawyers sounded like it could be entertaining. But the clip showed Belushi just coasting on his innate Belushi-ness. Pass.

Biggest cognitive dissonance: ABC’s “My Generation” is a show I’ll reserve judgement on till I see a finished pilot, since the concept (a documentary crew follows a high school class in 2000, then revisits the graduates 10 years later) didn’t seem to lend itself well to the upfront trailer format. But I had to laugh when the trailer for a show about Generation Y opened up with The Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” which is like the quintessential boomer/hippie anthem of the late ’60s.

Best use of actors on-stage:
ABC brought out most of the grown-ups from “Modern Family,” and the gag was that they had all agreed to not read the scripted banter on the teleprompters – all, that is, except Eric Stonestreet, who would keep interrupting his co-star’s more relaxed conversation with lame non-sequiturs (like a “Cougar Town” joke about Sofia Vergara). Stonestreet was funny as always, and the bit played well in both the room and those of us streaming it elsewhere.

Most disappointing use of an actor on-stage: Just as Fox had Jane Lynch play Sue Sylvester to insult Kevin Reilly’s hair for a few minutes, CBS brought out Jim Parsons in character as Sheldon, but the audience clearly didn’t get all the physics jokes (or even that they were jokes). Parsons’ appearance was at least salvaged when Sheldon ran back on stage later to confront William Shatner and ask, rapt, for him to answer all of his many questions.

Most confusing use of actors off-stage: CBS had several of the stars of “NCIS” in the theater, and only asked them to wave to the crowd from their seats. Ditto for Parson’s “Big Bang” co-stars, and for Neil Patrick Harris (who was there with Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders). How do you not get NPH up on stage to do something? Meanwhile, one show’s cast did get to come on stage: “Undercover Boss,” where the CEOs paraded out, stood together for 10 seconds, then walked off. Riveting. (I wonder how much profitability suffered at each company for the side trip.)

Forget the title: Fix the show. The sitcom based on the @shitmydadsays Twitter feed looked horrible.

Upfront Week comes to an end tomorrow with the CW, and pilots should start rolling in within the next few weeks.

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