ABC unveiled its new fall shows yesterday as part of the ongoing circus/party/ad campaign that is the 2012 network upfronts.
It's rolling out three new dramas with completely different tones. Nashville, starring the enchanting Connie Britton as country singer Rayna James, whose long career is a little tricky in the age of crossover superstars like bitchy young thing Juliette Barnes (Hayden Pannettiere).
I already like the music in this show better than the music in Smash, and frankly, if I get to see Connie Britton smack people around every week, that's TV wish fulfillment as far as I'm concerned.
The goofy-looking 666 Park Avenue is kind of expanding on the modest success of Once Upon A Time. In it, a young couple manages Satan's apartment building. Okay, that's not exactly true, but it's mostly true, and Vanessa Williams kind of plays Mrs. Satan, and TERRY O'QUINN IS SATAN, and honestly, it's a pretty good idea for a probably terrible show. It's the second fall in a row for a new ABC show starring Rachael Taylor, who was in Charlie's Angels last year, so maybe they're just going to keep trying.
The third drama is Last Resort, from Shawn Ryan, who created or co-created The Shield, The Unit, Terriers, The Chicago Code, and lots of other stuff. It involves the rogue crew of a nuclear submarine, and frankly, you're better off just watching the trailer.
There's a lot to like in this cast — Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Robert Patrick, Max Adler — and Ryan is always an interesting, challenging writer. But this is a really odd fit on ABC Thursdays, leading off an evening it will share with Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. It's opposite the NBC comedy block, but it's also now opposite both The Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men on CBS's newly rejiggered schedule. That's uphill, but quite honestly, ABC doesn't really have anything better to match it with. The time slot is a concern, but I'll be watching for the pilot.
On the comedy side for the fall, ABC is moving Tim Allen's Last Man Standing to Fridays and pairing it with the new Reba McEntire comedy Malibu Country, about a woman who leaves her bum husband in Tennessee and moves to California with her keeee-razy mother, played by Lily Tomlin (!). This is a nice, mushy Friday night, quite reminiscent, as many immediately noted, of ABC's old TGIF comedy block that featured shows like Full House and Family Matters.
The network also picked up The Neighbors, a broad comedy (or so it appears, and ... really must be) about people living in a community of aliens. This looks very, very, very silly, but ABC exec Paul Lee has been straightforward at times about the fact that sometimes, he just puts on stuff that makes him laugh. That's basically what he said about the awful and mercifully short-lived cross-dressing comedy Work It last year, and I'm willing to bet that's what happened here.
There will be more to come at midseason, as with the other networks. There will be Mistresses, a drama ABC proudly calls "salacious" (seriously), Zero Hour, a mythology-driven mystery series about old clocks (seriously), a comedy about a family hardware business called The Family Tools (SERIOUSLY), and more. We'll talk more. Seriously.