Always Watching

ABC’s 2009/10 Season Coming Into Focus

In 2009 Upfronts, ABC, Flash Forward, Programming on 05/17/2009 at 2:59 am


Seems as if ABC has decided to leave few surprises for their upfront this week. Word is out about much of their 2009/10 slate after a day long buying binge yesterday. In all, there’s five new dramas and three new comedies. With all the newspaper and blog articles about the rise of comedies next season I expected more than only three half hour comedy pickups, so maybe there are a few more surprises yet to come.

I briefly mentioned new drama pickup “Happy Town” yesterday but had no info on it at the time, so the official description is below. Glad to hear the producers of “October Road” are at it again. I thought “October Road” was funny and charming and I really enjoyed all the actors and characters, the writing and the visual aspects.

I am a bit disappointed they’ve left the New England locale for Minnesota, and sort of surprised that they’re looking towards the darker side of small town life. I’m a sucker for small towns, which is one of the reasons I so loved “October Road”. The show was full of beautiful fall foliage shots and small town quirk. The fact that the main storyline of “Happy Town” centers around kidnappings and murder leans toward the idea that small town Minnesota won’t be quite as charming as small town Massachusetts.

Other new dramas that were picked up late last night that I haven’t mentioned before are “V”, which will be a limited-run series and, I’m assuming, is based on the original sci-fi series of the same name, a legal ensemble called “The Deep End”, a Jerry Bruckheimer detective series called “The Forgotten” and “Eastwick” based on a movie of (apparently) the same name that I can’t quite recall.

On top of these new dramas they also officially picked up two more comedies. I’ve talked about all of these in various posts and announced “Cougar Town’s” official pickup last night but since then they also gave the go-ahead to Patricia Heaton’s new comedy about a midwest mother called “The Middle” and Kelsey Grammer’s new one about a business bigwig that loses his fortune and goes back to his family, which seems to be a popular topic these days (see “Eastbound and Down” on HBO or Fox’s upcoming “Brothers”). Depending on who you ask it’s either called “Awesome Hank” or just “Hank”.

So here it all is quick and easy for you:

New Dramas (including dramedies, cop shows, sci-fi, etc): Happy Town, V, Eastwick, The Forgotten, Flash Forward, The Deep End

New Comedies: Modern Family, The Middle, Hank & Cougar Town

Renewed Dramas (including dramedies, cop shows, sci-fi, etc): Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, Lost & The Unusuals

Renewed Comedies: Better Off Ted & Scrubs

Still Unknown: Samantha Who?

Descriptions:

The Deep End
The fact that the characters name is ‘Sterling Law’ is pretty lame…

Sterling Law is one of L.A.’s most prestigious law firms. Each year it recruits four new young lawyers from the finest law schools worldwide. It will nurture, guide and shape these recruits into the best damned lawyers they can possibly be or else. This year the lucky four are Dylan, a blue collar kid made-good; Addy, a sweet mid-Westerner with a lethal legal mind; Beth, a brilliant Brentwood babe; and Liam, an Australian with serious drive. Sterling Law is under the control of ruthless senior partner Cliff Huddle (Billy Zane), aka “The Prince of Darkness.” But when legendary partner Hart Sterling returns to the firm after a long hiatus caring for his dying wife, he’s ready to shake things up. The only way for these first years to survive being caught in the middle of this major power struggle is to support each other, even as they compete against one another in the cutthroat arena of corporate law. They discover unlikely allies in their mercurial recruiter Rowdy and litigating whirlwind Susan, who is Cliff’s icy, but talented wife. Dylan also manages to make a deeper connection with an ace paralegal named Addy, but every alliance at Sterling is complicated. Addy is drawn to Dylan, but it seems she hasn’t quite broken off her affair with Cliff. The complex personal and professional lives of Grey’s Anatomy’s interns combine with the high-stakes world of L.A. Law in this sharp dramedy from David Hemingson, co-executive producer of How I Met Your Mother. Greed, betrayal, illegal acts; it’s all a part of being a first year associate at Sterling Law. Law school definitely didn’t prepare them for this.

Eastwick
The Witches of Eastwick? Was that the movie? Let’s hear it for John Updike and X Files producers. (Update: I did mean that as a joke but I was actually right – show is based on The Witches of Eastwick. I was actually thinking of the wrong movie when I wrote that, though.)

Single-handedly, housewives accomplish astonishing things… and together, watch out. In the seaside village of Eastwick, this might just be evidence of their inner-witch rising to the surface. Until today, Roxanne, Kat and Joanna didn’t get along because of their preconceived notions of each other. Roxanne was the flaky artist, Kat was a doormat wife and mom, and Joanna the uptight local reporter. But after a weird encounter in the park coupled with a few margaritas, these three have suddenly become fast friends. Now, a mysterious stranger’s arrival in town will bring them even closer and test them in ways they’d never imagined. Daryl Van Horne is an irresistible package of wealth, charisma and bad boy sex appeal. If he’s not buying up a local business, he’s attempting to seduce one (or all) of these ladies, physically and professionally. What’s even more dangerous, he’s unleashing their supernatural powers. But by igniting their heart’s desires, he might just be opening Pandora’s box. This small New England town will be turned upside down by these witches coming into their own. Though bad for a few locals, it’s still the best thing to happen in Eastwick in centuries. The X-Files director/producer David Nutter and writer Maggie Friedman (Once and Again) conjure up a devilish blend of Desperate Housewives and Charmed that explores the hidden depths of women. Based on John Updike’s celebrated best-seller and the hit movie, Eastwick is brimming with romance, mystery and wicked charm, offering a tempting vision of the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy.

The Forgotten

Gone but not forgotten. That’s what they say. But what if a killer took your life and your name? Every city has its share of unidentified murder victims. When standard police procedure fails to give them a name, that’s when the Identity Network steps in. A group of dedicated, amateur detectives, the members of the Identity Network attempt to reconstruct the pieces of these John and Jane Doe’s lives from what little evidence is left behind. Each episode is narrated by a “body” who watches the team as they pursue the tantalizingly difficult challenge of figuring out who this victim once was. Why would anyone volunteer for such a grim task? As new recruit Tyler Davies quickly discovers, each of the members of the team has his or her own reasons for volunteering for the Network. Alex Donovan is a former cop, whose 11-year-old daughter was kidnapped and has never been found. Linda Manning, the woman who runs the network from her home, is a virtual recluse whose husband is a convicted murderer. Walter Bailey does stake outs when he’s not blowing his cover. Candace Butler hates her day job. She also happens to have a special gift for putting people at ease even the prickly Tyler, a talented sculptor with a background in forensics. Follow these committed amateur investigators as they race against time to piece together the stories of these dead people’s lives and ultimately, hopefully, their murders. The Forgotten is an evocative and powerful new procedural combining the victims’ flashbacks with the team’s emotional drive to bring them justice. Together with writer Mark Friedman, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Danny Cannon (CSI) deliver the most mesmerizing crime drama of the season.

(Awesome) Hank

Sometimes scaling back is the best way to get ahead. Wall Street legend Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammer) and his wife Tilly have been living the high life in New York City. That is until Hank is forced out of his CEO job and has to move his family back home to the small town of River Bend. A self-made man, Hank is used to running the show, but now that he’s lost almost everything, can he learn how to hang with his family? The Pryors have had to seriously downsize their lives even their king-sized bed won’t fit in their modest new home. Tilly’s not too pleased to be back in the same zip code as her family especially her badgering brother Grady. Hank’s offbeat son Henry worries about fitting in with a new crowd and his daughter Maddie would rather talk on her cell phone than be anywhere near her Dad. But every great businessman knows that the key to success is to turn setbacks into opportunities. Hank has big plans to get ahead in business… and to reconnect with his family. It may take a while for an industrial giant to figure out how to mingle with the little people like his family but Hank’s up for the challenge. Like that smaller bed… Turns out that wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Starring Kelsey Grammer (Frasier), this hilarious family comedy mixes genuine, heart-warming moments with Grammer’s trademark blustery humor. The series is written by Everybody Loves Raymond’s three-time Emmy Award-winner Tucker Cawley, and co-executive produced by Grammer along with The Life & Times of Tim’s Mike Clements and Tom Werner. After many years of living the so-called good life, the Pryor Family is about to discover that downsizing just might be the key to living it up!

Happy Town.

For the past seven years Haplin, Minnesota’s lived up to its nickname, Happy Town. Even the air is sweet with the smell of bread from the industrial bakery. Unfortunately, everything is about to change. Seven years ago, an unknown psycho, nick-named “The Magic Man” kidnapped seven children before Sheriff Griffin Conroy chased him away. But the discovery of a local’s gruesome murder and the disappearance of a new child have everyone whispering the Magic Man is back. Now, Mayor Haplin has ordered Deputy Tommy Conroy to replace his father as Sheriff whether he wants the job, or not. Tommy knows better than to cross the town royalty, whose bakery employs half the town, including his wife. As Tommy begins investigating, his friends and neighbors become suspects and the quiet small town life he’s always cherished begins to sour. But Tommy’s not the only one investigating Haplin. A mysterious young woman has just arrived in town, and she’s quietly searching for answers about her family’s history with the residents of Happy Town. From the executive producers of October Road and Life on Mars,comes the enthralling new drama, Happy Town. In the sleepy little hamlet of Haplin, Minnesota, not all secrets have been put to rest.

The Middle

Forget about athletes, movie stars and politicians. Parents are the real heroes but Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton), well she’s some kind of superhero. A loving wife and mother of three, she’s middle class in the middle of the country and is rapidly approaching middle age. Frankie and her husband, Mike, have lived in Jasper, Indiana their whole lives. A man of few words (every one a zinger), Mike is a manager at the town quarry and Frankie is the third-best used car salesman (out of the three) at the local dealership. She may not be a high-powered career woman, but when it comes to her family, she’ll go to just about any length. And with kids like these, she had better. There’s Axel, her semi-nudist teenage son conceived with Guns N’ Roses playing a significant role; Sue, the awkward teenage daughter who fails at everything with great gusto; and their seven-year-old son Brick, whose best friend is his back-pack. From executive producers/writers Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline (How I Met Your Mother, Committed, Murphy Brown) comes a single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations.

Modern Family

When the Pritchett-Delgado-Dunphy family agrees to be interviewed by a documentary crew, they have no idea just how much they’re about to reveal about themselves. Family patriarch Jay Pritchett met the stunning Columbian Gloria Delgado when she bartended in a bikini at the pool party he threw for himself the day his wife left him. Now Jay and Gloria are married and Jay tries hard to keep up with his much younger and hotter wife and her passionate teenage son, Manny. Jay’s daughter, Claire, is having a hard time raising her own family. Her husband Phil is great, except for the fact that he thinks he’s “down” with their teenage kids, much to their embarrassment. Claire’s brother Mitchell and his enthusiastic partner Cameron have just adopted Lily, a precious little baby girl from Vietnam. But when everyone gets together, things are bound to get awkward. Especially after Claire and Mitchell hilariously bag on everyone else in the family while they change the baby’s diaper. Oops! Too bad they forgot about Lily’s baby monitor. But that’s the thing about family: no matter how badly you behave, hopefully they’ll forgive… or maybe even forget. In the tradition of The Office, this engaging new comedy offers a ‘mockumentary’ view into the complicated, messy, loving life of a modern day super-extended family. Steven Levitan (Just Shoot Me) and Christopher Lloyd (Frasier) invite you into the sometimes warm and sometimes twisted embrace of someone else’s family.

V

Today, the world woke up to find spaceships over every major city. The Visitors claim to have come in peace, bringing gifts of medical miracles and technological breakthroughs. They promise to do no harm. They’re lying. Most people believe the aliens have arrived just when we needed them most. We’re eager to embrace their generous offers of help, but while tracking a terrorist cell, Homeland Security agent Erica Evans stumbles upon something far more sinister. When her partner tries to kill her, Erica discovers that the aliens have plans to infiltrate our governments and businesses, planting seeds for their plot to control mankind. Convincing anyone of the truth will be impossible because the Visitors have two powerful weapons. First, they’ve given the people faith with their reassuring presence and gifts. Second, they’ve rallied our youth. Thousands of teens, including Erica’s son, have been recruited as ‘Peace Ambassadors’ but they’re actually serving as unwitting spies. Erica’s violent introduction to the truth thrusts her into the resistance movement, where she joins forces with Ryan, a rogue alien driven to save humanity. She’ll have to balance her covert activities with her job, and her role as a mother, fighting to protect her son Tyler even as he joins forces with the enemy. From executive producer Scott Peters, Emmy-nominated creator of The 4400, comes a bold re-imagining of the sci-fi classic. Let the invasion begin.

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