ABC first impressions: Are the new dramas over-hyped?
Saying goodbye to "Lost" means that ABC has a rather big void to fill in their collection of one-hour dramas -- but they're confident that they have it covered. So confident, in fact, that they brought in "Lost" star Matthew Fox to present their two most exciting dramas to advertisers at the Upfronts.
Apparently, "No Ordinary Family" and "My Generation" are "event television," the way that "Lost" has been over the years. Though we're looking forward to both shows, we can't help but think that ABC might have shot itself in the foot by promising they'll be as epic as "Lost."
In addition to the two milestone series, ABC is introducing four other dramas. Here are our first impressions.
"No Ordinary Family"
Regular people going about their regular lives suddenly develop superhero powers! Haven't we seen this before? Now that NBC has canceled "Heroes," it seems pretty ballsy for ABC to give this concept another shot.
Granted, the shows do seem very different. On "No Ordinary Family," Michael Chiklis and TV darling Julie Benz star as a couple whose family is in a plane crash. They land in phosphorescent water which infects each family member (including a daughter and son) random superpowers. The preview features the family trying to balance their extraordinary abilities with their ordinary lives.
We've loved every single project that Greg Berlanti has done, including the failed "Eli Stone" (we know, we know), so we're definitely going to tune into this one. The cast seems great and the special effects are fantastic - especially when Chiklis's character learns that he can't fly, but he can sure as heck jump.
"My Generation" ( watch clips)
We're more excited about this series than any other new drama; we just hope it lives up to the hype. It's a faux documentary, with the idea being that cameras followed nine students during their senior year of high school in Austin in 2000, and the documentary crew is now returning 10 years later to see how this decade has shaped their lives.
It's a premise that will certainly resonate with the target demographic. World events that have occurred in our lifetimes were highlighted in the preview, including Bill Clinton's impeachment and 9/11 -- things that are not often explored in scripted dramas, but that are certainly relevant to our lives even today.
We're excited about the cast, a collection of highly underrated young actors. Daniella Alonso, who was fantastic on "Friday Night Lights," stars, as well as Michael Stahl-David of "The Black Donnellys." Arguably the biggest name on the cast list is Jaime King, who plays a good old Texas beauty queen who is unsatisfied in her life and her marriage.
Hopefully, this one will live up to our expectations. It joins "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" on Thursday nights.
This gritty cop drama was not highlighted as "event television" in the presentation. (ABC may have made a mistake by singling out two dramas in particular, as it makes the rest look particularly sub-par.) Detroit has the highest murder rate in the country, so it makes sense as the setting for a show about homicide detectives. They're going for authenticity, with many scenes shot with a hand-held camera and a cast without any big-name stars.
Still, this one feels like just another cop procedural, and the market is pretty much cornered on those between NBC and CBS. We don't understand ABC's choice to pair it with "Dancing With The Stars" - after watching C-list celebs get their groove back, we're not in the mood for murder drama. Well, not usually.
"The Whole Truth" ( watch clips)
For once, we've got a legal show that's about the defense and the prosecution. Usually, when we see a trial go down on-screen, we're firmly on one side of the case, but this new series will ask audience members to make their own call about who's guilty and who's innocent.
The defense lawyer is played by Rob Morrow, who is always charming, but the role of prosecutor has yet to be cast. Joely Richardson played the part in the pilot, but she's since decided to drop out of the series in order to spend more time with her family. It's hard to judge the preview when half of the cast is changing, but we'll definitely tune in for the first few episodes of this new drama, if only to give them points for originality.
"Body of Proof" ( watch clips)
ABC is putting the difficult Friday night timeslot on the shoulders of "Body of Proof," Dana Delany's starring vehicle. We loved her on "Desperate Housewives," but her "Body of Proof" character bears little resemblance to Katherine Mayfair.
As a former top neurosurgeon, Megan Hunt was in a car accident that rendered her surgical skills useless. After she kills a patient on the table, Dr. Hunt tries to rebuild her career as a forensic medical examiner, because "you can't kill someone who's already dead."
Despite Delany's presence, we're not too enthused for this show. There are countless other forensic dramas to watch. We'll DVR the first few episodes, but we're not expecting a long-term relationship here.
"Off the Map" ( watch clips)
This mid-season show is what we've come to expect from ABC... but we don't necessarily mean that in a good way. As Jimmy Kimmel quipped at the Upfront presentation, "I think Steve MacPherson said it best earlier when he said we're looking for shows to break the mold...and then introduced a new medical drama from Shonda Rhimes."
This time, Shonda's crew of doctors-who-sleep-together has relocated to South America. The less-than-ideal surgical conditions and unconventional patients have the potential to breathe new life into Shonda's usual formula, and we have faith that Mamie Gummer - Meryl Streep's daughter - will bring her genetic genius to the table in a big way. We'll definitely give it a chance... let's just hope Rimes can keep her cast together this time. We're tired of beloved characters disappearing or dying for no good reason except on-set politics.
Don't miss our first impressions of the ABC comedies!
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Photo Credit: ABC