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TV Column
Posted at 01:20 PM ET, 05/17/2011

Upfronts Week 2011: ABC goes retro with ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ Tim Allen comedy


The new “Charlie’s Angels” reboot on ABC. (Nathan Bell - ABC)

Tim Allen sitcom, “Charlie’s Angels,” Pan Am airlines, Snow White – everything old is new again at ABC.

Allen’s ABC comedy career is being re-launched Tuesdays at 8, to jumpstart a brand new comedy block for the network. His sitcom “Home Improvement” was a major hit for ABC in the 90’s. This one, like the last, is all about how Tim is a guy’s guy who’s having trouble coping when his wife goes back to work.

“Charlie’s Angels,” the campy 70’s ABC action drama/ Farrah Fawcett launch-pad, and that turned into an action -flick franchise, is being re-launched as an ABC series on Thursdays at 8, where it looks to be the only scripted drama in the timeslot on a Big Four network.

Meanwhile, the careers of Disney fairy tale characters are being re-launched as stars of an ABC primetime live-action series, “Once Upon a Time.” ABC’s using it to open up the Sunday at 8 timeslot -- long the home of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” -- for scripted programming. “Once Upon a Time” is not to be confused with NBC’s new drama about brothers Grimm fairy tales, called “Grimm.”

(See clips of all of ABC’s new shows.)

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s” career, meanwhile, is being thrown for a loop with a move to Fridays at 8.

And Pan Am airline’s career will be re-launched as the star of a 60’s romp on the network, and is getting one of its cushiest timeslots -- Sundays at 10, following “Desperate Housewives.” This is not to be confused with NBC’s 60’s romp, “The Playboy Club” which is getting the difficult Mondays at 10 timeslot.


Christina Ricci and Margot Robbie in ABC’s new drama set in the 60s, ”Pan Am.” (Patrick Harbron - ABC)
ABC is saving some of its best new shows for midseason, says ABC programming chief Paul Lee, because he learned while heading ABC Family that TV is a year-round game.

So, the much ballyhooed “Good Christian Belles” – the broadcast-safe name for the new Darren Star soap based on Kim Gatlin’s hit book “Good Christian [Female Canine]” is being held to keep it out of the fall new-season launch madness. It’s a sort of “Real Housewives of Fill in the Blank” meets “Dallas” meets “Sex and the City” and Kristin Chenoweth steals every scene she’s in. ABC went with “Good Christian Belles” because the book name wasn’t broadcast-friendly, and some ABC female staffers took issue with “Good Christian Babes.” It’s a good story for about 48 hours, because that’s how long it will take ABC to start calling this show “G.C.B.”, to take advantage of the promotional value of all the G.C.B. merchandise that’s floating around as an off-shoot of the book’s success.


“Good Christian Belles” is based on a book with the same name — sort of. (Bill Matlock - ABC)
Also being held for midseason: ABC’s new Steven Spielberg drama “River” about a wildlife expert/TV personality who goes missing, and his family is off to the “magic deep in the uncharted Amazon” to find out the shocking truth about his disappearance.” More accurately, it’s being held to be unveiled at Comic-Con where, Lee says, they think it will really “resonate.” Because, when it comes to trying to launch a new TV series in the super-cluttered TV landscape, resonating at Comic-con is now nearly as good as launching right after the Academy Awards.

Speaking of Spielberg, all three networks that have unveiled their schedules so far this week have trotted out new Spielberg shows. On Fox it’s the much-delayed “Terra Nova”; on NBC, it’s the new let’s-put-on-a-Marilyn-Monroe-musical, “Smash.”

In scary times, people turn to superheroes, monsters, and yearning for the glory days, Lee explained to The Reporters Who Cover Television early Tuesday morning at ABC’s Upper West Side HQ, when they turned to him for an answer, in re “What’s up with all the fairytales and 60’s romps and musicals about Marilyn Monroe, and re-launches of silly old TV series.?”

You didn’t expect him to answer, “CBS’s ‘Hawaii: Five-O’ and AMC’s ‘Mad Men’, and Disney flick “Enchanted,” not to mention “Twilight,” did you?

Anyway, here’s ABC’s new lineup.

The network will not mess with the ratings success of its Monday lineup: “Dancing with the Stars” and ‘Castle.”


Tim Allen returns to ABC with “Last Man Standing.” (Randy Holmes - ABC)
Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing” and new comedy “Man Up” are part of a push to create a man-com block on Tuesdays. Sort of strange lead-in for “Dancing with the Stars,” but there you are. Once “Dancing” ends its fall season, “Cougar Town” – the comedy critics most love to nick -- is moving to that hour, followed by new “Apartment 23.”

“Apartment 23” – originally called “Don’t Trust the [Female Canine] in Apartment 23,” which is much more illustrative of the show – seemed to go over pretty well with the reporters during Lee’s clip show-and-tell.

It’s about a Midwestern girl who’s super naïve --- because she’s Midwestern, duh -- and moves to New York City and loses her job, and winds up working at a coffee shop, and moving in with a charming, vivacious roommate with the morals of a pirate, named Chloe. Chloe swindles June out of her savings, only June then pawns all Chloe’s furniture, which impresses Chloe, so she introduces June to her snarky friend James Van Der Beek, played by James Van Der Beek, and they all get along just fine. Lee on Tuesday morning fondly called “Apartment 23” “deeply inappropriate.” This is Lee’s first Upfront Week as head of ABC Entertainment, and he will probably learn soon enough the downside of being that candid and unguarded while heading programming at Disney’s broadcast network – like maybe by Tuesday afternoon.

“Body of Proof” is sticking Tuesdays at 10, because it’s working.

Wednesdays, in between returning “The Middle” and “Modern Family”: new “Suburgatory,” about a single dad (Jeremy Sisto) who discovers condoms on his daughters’ nightstand one day and decides they have to move to from the city to the suburbs where, apparently, there is no teen sex?


Jeremy Sisto plays a single dad who panics and moves his teen daughter to the suburbs when he discovers condoms on her nightstand. (Karen Neal - ABC)
“Happy Endings” which Lee insisted was ABC’s new buzz show of this season – drawing stony silence from TV critics in the room -- is back at 9:30, leading into new drama “Revenge.” It’s about a chick named Emily Thorne whose family was driven out of the Hamptons in shame years ago, and now she’s back to exact revenge by destroying everyone in town. You go, Emily!

Thursdays’ only big news is the kickoff of “Charlie’s Angels.” Lee called it “pure candy” during his Tuesday morning news conference. He will learn soon enough what critics think about being told ABC is in the business of scheduling “pure candy.” Like, maybe by Tuesday afternoon – it’s going to be a big Tuesday afternoon for Paul Lee.

ABC’s going all un-scripted on Friday: “EM: HE” followed by “Shark Tank” and “20/20.”

Saturday: football.

And Sunday, ABC’s making that big move with two of its most talked about new dramas: “Once Upon a Time” and “Pan Am.”

“Once Upon a Time” -- a sort of “Lost” meets “Brigadoon” meets Disney animation licensing lawyers -- is from “Lost” exec producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis.

It’s about a 28-year-old bail bonds collector (Jennifer Morrison) who was abandoned as a baby and who also gave up her own son years ago. Her son is now 10 and thinks his birth mom is the missing daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming only they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen’s curse which trapped the fairytale world forever, frozen in time, and brought them into our modern world. Emma reconnects with her son and, naturally, takes him to this super-creepy New England town called Storybrooke, where fairytale characters are alive even though they don’t’ remember who they once were, and an epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning. Phew!
Ginnifer Goodwin in “Once Upon a Time.” (Jack Rowand - ABC)

“Pan Am” is like “Playboy Club,” only in the air. The pilots are rock stars; the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world. Enough said.

Lee, an amiable, unflappable guy, showed the critics and reporters just a couple of new series clips during the morning news conference, then asked them if they wanted to see more. They did, and he showed them a couple more. Then he asked them if they were interested in seeing a few more clips. We’re not sure if he was sensing a lack-of-love in the room for his new programs or whether he was just being polite. Anyway, we think when we tell you that one reporter finally shouted out, “Stop making us beg!” it says everything you need to know about how the news conference went.

Thank goodness Lee’s not programming for TV critics – he’s programming for the public. Also received with a distinct lack of enthusiasm was his non-apologetic answer to a question about all the new chick shows on the schedule:

“We are extremely proud to be the network that over-delivers affluent women and bring in men as well…. We love, and love to super-serve, our core” affluent female audience,” Lee told the critic and reporters in the room, who began to wonder why it was they hated former ABC programming chief Steve McPherson so much. Sure he foisted “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” on them, but at least he also gave them “Lost.” Lee gave them “Once Upon a Time” – a clip of which actually drew some snickers in the room.

Here's the primetime schedule:

MONDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”

10:00 p.m.“Castle”

TUESDAY:

8:00 p.m.“Last Man Standing”

8:30 p.m.“Man Up”

9:00 p.m.“Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”

10:00 p.m.“Body of Proof”

WEDNESDAY:

8:00 p.m.“The Middle”

8:30 p.m.“Suburgatory”

9:00 p.m.“Modern Family”

9:30 p.m. “Happy Endings”

10:00 p.m.“Revenge”

THURSDAY:

8:00 p.m.“Charlie’s Angels”

9:00 p.m.“Grey’s Anatomy”

10:00 p.m.“Private Practice”

FRIDAY:

8:00 p.m.“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”

9:00 p.m.“Shark Tank”

10:00 p.m.“20/20”

SATURDAY:

8:00 p.m.“Saturday Night College Football”

SUNDAY:

7:00 p.m.“America’s Funniest Home Videos”

8:00 p.m.“Once Upon a Time”

9:00 p.m.“Desperate Housewives”

10:00 p.m.“Pan Am”

More from upfront week:

Photos: Networks unveil new shows

CBS moves ‘CSI’ to Wednesday to make room for new J.J. Abrams series

A look at Fox’s new series

Fox cancels ‘America’s Most Wanted’ as a weekly series, schedules dino drama ‘Terra Nova’

A look at NBC’s new series

NBC re-discovers women in new primetime schedule

No presidential run for Trump, but an ‘Apprentice’ pitch

ABC goes retro with Tim Allen comedy, ‘Charlie’s Angels’

A look at ABC’s new series

By  |  01:20 PM ET, 05/17/2011

 
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