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ABC 2010 Fall Dramas: Lacking Imagination?

ABC announced their new fall shows today, and unfortunately I was unable to screen pilots in full because ABC does not consider this little "dog and pony show" blog to be legit enough for access to their media site. I did, however, catch a few clips from (most of) the shows and have been able to formulate my five cents about them from those brief moments. Some of my judgments may seem unfair and taken out of context. But that's the risk the network runs not making materials available to all who plan to review. And also, clips are taken out of context all of the time and therefore need to be consistent with the show's overall tone, especially when it's a new show and people are deciding whether to give it a chance or not. Let's check out how the dramas fared...

No Ordinary Family is Heroes for the nuclear family crowd-- literally. Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz play husband-wife duo who, along with their two kids, took a family vacation that had them swimming in some questionable waters. When they return, they find they began to develop superpowers, like super-human speed (Benz) and have to figure out how to use their powers for good. This pilot script seemed a bit questionable-- both for its high budgetary factor and for the fact that it was so similar to a long-running program on a competing network sure to get the axe. Admittedly, I wanted this show, along with Dana Delany's new one (see below), to fail so that Benz could return to Desperate Housewives. However, surprisingly, the show won me over. It has real heart and charm and great support from co-star cast members Tate Donovan and Autumn Reeser, so it will undoubtedly be one drama to tune into!

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Detroit 187 is a new cop drama starring Michael Imperioli that follows a "top" homicide division in Detroit, documentary style. It's pretty much Law & Order meets NBC's newest pick-up, Ride-Along. No clips were available for screening at press time...but that, in itself, may speak volumes about the show, ABC's faith in it, and the quality we should expect.

The Whole Truth is a legal drama starring Rob Morrow and a soon to be named new co-star (Joely Richardson has dropped out of the full production, though she appears alongside him in the pilot). The show focuses on both sides to a case being prepared for court, proving that the truth isn't always what it seems when all you see is one-side. The cast shake-up isn't the only thing working against this newb, though: splitting the hour in half allows for a wide variety of characters but limits how much time can be devoted to details and specifics. Unlike many other legal dramas of recent years, this one appears to be a bit too broad. In order to compete with gems like The Good Wife, it will need to severely sharpen its tactics!

See a clip of The Whole Truth here.

My Generation takes a look at a group of friends back in 2000 who were part of a (faux) documentary to see where their lives would go. As Texas high school students, they couldn't wait to get out into the real world, but they learned the hard-- and quick!-- way that everything they imagined wasn't necessarily going to fall into their lap. The show stars Jaime King, Michael Stahl David, Keir O'Donnell, Kelli Garner, and Mehcad Brooks and is the kind of thing towards which any twenty-something who is watching childhood friends get married and have babies will gravitate. It begs the question of what is it that we want versus what we need when we're young and do those things really change as we grow older.

See a clip of My Generation here.

Body of Proof is a new medical drama starring Dana Delany as neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner who uses her expertise to solve murders. She has a tumultuous home life-- one that rivals her life on Wisteria Lane and proves to complicate her work further. Co-starring as her co-workers are Jeri Ryan, Wendell Middlebrooks, John Carroll Lynch, and Nicholas Bishop. It's a good group, but a lot of the early dialogue sounds like it was torn straight from the first year of CSI scripts. I'd say it's a shame that this deserves to fail, but I don't really mean it because I want to see her back on Wisteria Lane to take on Paul Young!

See a clip of Body of Proof here.

Off The Map is Shonda Rhimes' third show for the 2010 TV season and its lack of imagination proves the showrunner really can be stretched too thin. The mid-season drama centers on a group of "doctors without borders" types who work at a medical clinic in South America. These do-gooders, including Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer, will be saving lives in the most challenging environment they've ever seen. Expect more of the same soapy drama as Rhimes' previous shows, but with a more exotic location. Since the doctors are all new and young, there will be plenty of tension amongst them that doesn't just come from being in an operating room!

See a clip of Off The Map here.

Not a whole lot of surprises on this list, huh? ABC plays pretty safe when it comes to "new" spins on old ideas. Hopefully their comedies may make a different spark and be as fresh and exciting as last years'!

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