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Seher Says ABC Upfronts

Television

ABC Upfront Roundup

ABC really wanted procedurals after their fall failed. After the success of a certain sitcom, their orders answer one question. How do they capitalize on the ratings from nostalgia fueled and controversial Roseanne without turning away from the network brand? By ordering four cop shows and a show set in the 1970s!

I can’t even blame the network either when every single fall show failed except for The Good Doctor, which received a full season after airing two episodes and got an early March renewal. Whether those characters are positive representations of specific communities is another article. Midseason fared better with For the People, Station 19 and Splitting Up Together receiving renewals.

2018-2019 Pickups

It was clear by November when ABC gave two straight to series orders with cops that ABC really wanted to recreate the magic from early seasons of Castle. So much so that president Channing Dungey gave an order to Nathan Fillion’s The Rookie without reading the script, and Take Two with Eddie Cibrian and Rachel Bilson. Dungey confirmed wanting more close-ended procedural stories and lighter, brighter, more emotional shows to match The Good Doctor at the January TCAs. (As she should considering it’s ratings success and now increased ad revenue.) ABC also ordered a straight to series The Goldbergs spin-off.

Dramas (5)

Of the two straight to series dramas, Take Two is airing in the summer so I don’t count it among the fall/spring shows for inclusively led shows (article forthcoming), but it definitely looks better than the other straight to series order.

I haven’t been into Fillion’s work since Castle tanked (one of my favorite procedurals before it all fell apart) and don’t particularly care for the tone in Rookie. Though it is definitely clear that his post-divorce character needs something to restart his life, I’m just not into the premise. In the Tuesday ten pm hour, it may tank, it may survive. I won’t be watching, but will be watching the ratings!

But two cop shows aren’t enough! ABC also green-lit Whiskey Cavalier about the CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agents set for mid season. It’s got Scott Foley, whom ABC loves, plus sexual tension and comedy, which ABC also loves. Is this something that deserves awards? Nah, but it’s funny and the cast works well together. It’s a good pick for mid season and fun, enjoyable TV.

On the flip side, the fourth cop show and also set for mid season is The Fix. It stars The Mentalist‘s Robin Tunney as a L.A. district attorney returning to the same office after eight years away following the loss of a high profile case where a celebrity killed his wife. Eight years later his girlfriend has been murdered so Maya is brought in to get him this time. It’s the most intense of the four, but is the third legal drama for the network. I love Robin but don’t really want to watch a white lady go after a Black man. Even if in this show he is the killer (or we assume). Even based on the OJ case, well they could have gone a million different routes so, pass.

For their non cop shows, A Million Little Things received the first order last week and will air in the fall. It follows a group of friends in Boston who start living their lives after losing a friend to suicide. Writer,s please don’t mess this up please. From the trailer, it looks exactly like ABC’s attempt to have their own This is Us. I’m definitely going to watch the pilot, and if its written well I’ll continue it.

Finally, Grand Hotel, based on the Spanish soap opera about a hotel and its dramatic owners meaning the family who owns it, is a mess. It just reminds me of all the hotel shenanigans in Jane the Virgin. I’m not watching it because it’s got all sorts of negative tropes. Like the main siblings being light skinned but their steps being darker skinned! Sigh.

Comedies (3)

Single Parents received the first pick of the season among ABC’s comedies and follows four parents who come together to parent their seven kids; The Kids are Alright follows an Irish-Catholic family in the 1970s with eight sons. The latter as expected is scheduled post Roseanne.

The former looks cute and, while I don’t care about the lead, every one else made me laugh. The latter does not speak to me. (The hollyweird comment did crack me up because my mom said the same thing!) I also think its pickup points to Pres. Dungey’s earlier assertions about needing Roseanne. I cannot blame her or ABC for wanting shows that will get good ratings…considering it gave ABC their first broadcast’s #1 rated show in 24 years. Still, I think it’s overestimation of how many shows the Roseanne viewers will also watch. (The same goes for FOX and Last Man Standing.)

Schooled is spun off from a show I have never seen, so there’s not much I can say about it and is in the mid season.

Verdict

I’m glad ABC picked up a majority of inclusively cast series, but I have a problem with ABC ‘s entertainment President Channing Dungey’s assertion from March that reviving Roseanne is focusing on the nation’s economic anxiety when they already air Fresh Off The Boat, Speechless, Goldbergs, and more. (Read: they were in fourth place and need more viewers because ad revenue.)

Especially when ~middle America~ isn’t all White and poor people did in fact vote for Hillary Clinton! ABC can put a woman who is well known for saying and peddling incredibly harmful stuff, but not a Muslim American comedy on air? Or how about claiming Greatest American Hero was “off-brand”? Please.

And cop shows regardless of how inclusive they are (even the ones I enjoy) are still cop shows, so let’s not pretend the networks pick them up for any reasons other than that they are generally stable performers and can get props from police departments and the DOD.

I wonder what makes it from this crop of new shows next year, especially from the procedurals. Of the ones they ordered to pilot, I think Get Christie Love and The Finest may have served the network better.

What are y’all looking forward to from trailers or show descriptions? Let me know in the comments!


Images courtesy of ABC

Seher
Written By

Seher obsesses over show ratings and usually writes about media representation issues. Otherwise, she's at work in the non-profit world using her anthropology and public health training.

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