ABC puts comfort, escapism on tap with ‘Pan Am,’ ‘Charlie’s Angels’

At the ABC upfronts in New York, Entertainment Group President Paul Lee explained the network’s thirteen new shows as reflective of what viewers are searching for in today’s tough economic climate. “It’s a time when I think people are looking for pure entertainment, and I think television can really provide that,” Lee says. “It’s a balance between comfort and escapism.” With that in mind, here’s a look at ABC’s new programming for 2011-2012.

“Pan Am”
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: It definitely won’t be for comfort if the opening trailer is any indication. The friendly skies weren’t so welcoming to female flight attendants in the early 1960s (yes, another series set in the early 1960s) as they dealt with weigh-ins, military grade inspections of their uniforms and, ahem, girdles and unwanted advances from passengers. And yet, it still looks better than flying Southwest from Burbank to Las Vegas. Another plus: Christina Ricci (“The Addams Family”) stars.
Why You Might Not: With this series, “The Playboy Club” and “Mad Men,” you may have your fill of retro chic.
“Work It”
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: This 21st century “Bosom Buddies” follows two alpha males who, unable to get jobs in the current “mancession”, pose as women to land gigs as pharmaceutical sales reps. So, if you’re tired of watching ancient reruns of Tom Hanks in a dress, this might be for you.
Why You Might Not: See clip below.
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: Kerry Washington (“Ray”) stars as a professional crisis manager with a dysfunctional staff who specialize in fixing the lives of other people but are hopeless at sorting out their own. If that sounds like a fitting description of some other ABC series, it should be noted that “Scandal” was created by “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” mastermind Shonda Rhimes.
Why You Might Not: If you don’t like Rhimes’ other series, you probably won’t like this, either.
“Charlie’s Angels”
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism. Definitely escapism.
Why You Might Want to Watch: You miss the jiggle TV of the 1970s and can’t understand why Drew Barrymore and friends didn’t pump out more “Charlie’s Angels” movies. This series will likely be closer to the big screen version, as Barrymore is an executive producer of the series. But don’t look to her to put on the latex catsuit this time around. The angels are Annie Ilonzeh (“General Hospital”), Minka Kelly (“Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights”) and Rachael Taylor (“Grey’s Anatomy”).
Why You Might Not: The groaningly bad dialogue in the trailer is one reason. But whoever watched the angels for their dialogue?
Comfort or Escapism? Comfort
Why You Might Want to Watch: Jeremy Sisto (“Law & Order,” “Six Feet Under”) plays a single dad who, after finding condoms on the nightstand of his daughter Tessa (Jane Levy) decides they need to move from New York City to the suburbs. Let’s just say it isn’t a natural fit. But with neighbors like Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), there’s laugh potential.
Why You Might Not: New Yorkers turning up their noses at big-haired suburbanites may not play well to… well, anyone who doesn’t live in Manhattan.
“Apartment 23”
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: When small town girl June (Dreama Walker) moves to New York and promptly gets swindled by Chloe (Krysten Ritter, “Gilmore Girls”), she turns the tables on her victimizer. Chloe is so impressed she pulls June into her weird, colorful band of friends, which include James Van Der Beek (who plays himself as a snarky, callous jerk). Ritter has long needed her own show, and we can’t wait to see Dawson go rogue. Entertainment Group President Paul Lee gushed over the show, describing it as “deeply inappropriate.”
Why You Might Not: Snarky city dwellers could be funny or they could be annoying. Too soon to tell.
“Last Man Standing”
Comfort or Escapism? Comfort
Why You Might Want to Watch: Tim Allen returns to series TV as an outdoorsy, pick-up driving man’s man who’s surrounded by women – namely his wife Vanessa (Nancy Travis) and their three daughters. If you miss having Tool Time or that caveman bark of Allen’s, this show will go directly into your TiVo programming.
Why You Might Not: If you didn’t watch “Home Improvement” in the 90s, this traditional family sitcom doesn’t sound dramatically different.
“Once Upon A Time”
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: Jennifer Morrison (“House”) stars as Emma Swan, a mother whose ten-year-old son decides is the missing daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming based on his book of fairy tales. She isn’t buying it until she visits his strange New England town of Storybrooke and discovers magic (and fairy tales) in the air. The big names in the cast (Ginnifer Goodwin of “Big Love” as Snow White, Robert Carlyle of “The Full Monty” as Rumpelstiltskin) might pull you in.
Why You Might Not: You outgrew fairytales when you were six.
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: What’s a pretty young girl like Emily (Emily Van Camp, “Brothers & Sisters”) doing all by herself in the Hamptons? Plotting vengeance, of course. She’s determined to make the rich and powerful pay for ruining her family and its reputation when she was just a kid. Expect scenery chewing and soapy goodness aplenty.
Why You Might Not: While watching the rich get theirs might be fun, it’s probably not great for your karma.
“Man Up”
Comfort or Escapism? Comfort
Why You Might Want to Watch: Three modern men try to get in touch with their inner tough guys while drinking non-dairy hazelnut creamer and playing video games. One asks himself, “What would Tobey Maguire do?” Teri Polo (“Meet the Fockers”) plays a long suffering wife.
Why You Might Not: You may need to watch a war movie afterwards to get your testosterone levels up.
“The River”
Comfort or Escapism? Escapism
Why You Might Want to Watch: Wildlife expert and TV personality Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood, “Star Trek”) mysteriously disappears while in the Amazon. His son Lincoln and mother Tess finance a rescue mission by agreeing to let documentary filmmakers tag along on their quest into the jungle.
Why You Might Not: It could be exciting and mysterious, or it could be “Lost” with nausea-inducing “Cloverfield” camera work.


What looks like appointment viewing to you?