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August 28, 2014

ABC Pilots Snap Judgment: Our First Reactions to the New Shows

by Maggie Furlong, posted Jun 1st 2011 12:00PM
One lady has a great show ... the other isn't a ladyWe've seen the network's new fall pilots, and while they're not for review -- things often change drastically before the shows are set to premiere -- we do want to share our first reactions with you.

This is designed to get you excited for some new shows ... and to warn you to curb your enthusiasm for others. Just keep in mind that we'll have full reviews of the final pilots closer to airdate, in the fall or midseason. For now, here are our snap judgments of all of ABC's new shows for the 2011-2012 TV season.

There are 12 shows total -- the good ('Good Christian Belles'), the bad ('Charlie's Angels') and the ugly men dressed as women (cross-dressing comedy 'Work It') -- and plenty of varying opinions from Mo Ryan, Maggie Furlong, Jean Bentley, Chris Harnick, Kim Potts and Alexis Moore.

Here's how we're breaking these down:
Watch It - awesome show, can't wait for more
Skip It - it's either horrible or just totally not their thing
DVR It - there's potential, will give it a second chance

FALL 2011
'Charlie's Angels''Charlie's Angels'
Ryan: Skip It
Eh. It's not as brain-numbingly terrible as some other remakes in recent years, but it's not like the bar was set high.

Furlong: Skip It
So depressingly bad, and my expectations weren't even that high. As is, it's a predictable show that wastes talent and the opportunity to put a cool spin on the classic.

Bentley: Skip It
Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry, did you want something? Because I'm pretty sure I actually fell asleep. I didn't think it was humanly possible to make hot chicks kicking ass seem so uninteresting.

Harnick: DVR It
I love kick-butt women, but there was a certain spark missing from the pilot.

Potts: Skip It
I'm all for Minka Kelly and Robert Wagner being back in primetime, but they deserve so much better than this forgettable remake.

'Last Man Standing''Last Man Standing'
Ryan: Skip It
Tim Allen doing his Tim Allen schtick, in case you missed it, with extra helpings of "I'm just a he-man who doesn't understand the womenfolk" comedy, because that is just so funny. Every time.

Furlong: Skip It
I'll fully admit that "Tim Allen sitcom" hasn't sounded good since I was about 12, but really? This is the best they could do? Wilson won't even peek over the fence for this one.

Bentley: Skip It
It's not like I expected much, but OUCH. If, like me, you really loved 'Home Improvement' back in the day ... preserve your good feelings about Tim Allen and for the love of god do NOT watch this.

Harnick: Skip It
If you love Tim Allen, this is the show for you. If you love thinly veiled homophobic jokes, then this show is also for you.

Potts: Skip It
Tim Allen, still ranting and grunting about the stuff he used to rant and grunt about on 'Home Improvement' ... it's like watching Fox News: The Sitcom.

'Man Up''Man Up'
Ryan: Skip It
Something about how suburban guys have it really tough in the modern world because -- wait, why? Anyway, it didn't make me laugh.

Furlong: DVR It
Not great, by any means, but I might've giggled once. If they fine-tune a bit, I might even recommend it to some dudes. (Note: Entire seasons of shows like this often pile up then get deleted from my DVR.)

Bentley: Skip It
Not terribly groundbreaking, but not, like, offensively awful or anything. The lead is so suburban dad goofy you just know the casting call said "Ty Burrell type." I'm going to skip this one, but wouldn't make fun of you if you watched.

Harnick: Skip It.
Enough said.

Moore: Skip It
Terrible. The end. No wait, this is better: 'Man Up' made me want to Throw Up.

Potts: DVR It
Once they try to go past metrosexual stereotypes, there are some seedlings of humor in the show, and Henry Simmons and Dan Fogler are fun to watch. On the other hand, I suspect that a little Fogler is going to go a long way as the show rolls on ...

'Once Upon a Time'
Ryan: Watch It
I have no idea how this magic-infused show will work beyond its high-concept pilot and whether it'll be able to balance the tones of fantasy and character-driven drama, but I have to admit: I found this offering from 'Lost' writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz enchanting.

Furlong: DVR It
That hurts to type -- really it does -- because this show's pedigree and concept just scream "LOVE ME!" But I didn't. I dig escapism and sci-fi twists, but this one didn't grab me like I expected it to.

'Once Upon a Time'
Bentley: DVR It
Quite complicated at the get-go, but could turn into something interesting. I only fear that it will turn into a 'Wishbone' for grown-ups with all the fairytale flashbacks.

Harnick: DVR it.
Wasn't too exciting until the end.

Potts: Skip It
The cast is not charming enough, nor the action compelling enough, to pull off such a high-concept idea, which is especially disappointing since it comes from a pair of 'Lost' producers (who clearly skipped the day J.J. Abrams taught "How to Make a Kick-Ass TV Pilot 101").

'Pan Am'
Ryan: Skip It
It's all right, I guess, but once you've seen 'Mad Men' do the mid-'60s thing, this rather bland, well-intentioned show seems even more tame by comparison.

Furlong: Watch It
This is the best in-flight entertainment I've seen in a while. I love a good throwback, and the 'Pan Am' crew's sex appeal and secrets didn't leave me reaching for the pillow, blanket or barf bag. Fasten your seatbelts!

'Pan Am'Bentley: Watch It
Yes please. Those uniforms are awesome. Plus, espionage!

Harnick: Watch it.
The pilot built an intriguing story filled with likable and interesting characters.

Potts: DVR It
The drama is drawing inevitable comparisons to 'Mad Men,' and the pilot does have a certain amount of retro coolness, but it's important to remember that a) at best, this will be the network version of 'Mad Men,' and b) there's nary a Don Draper or Joan Holloway type in sight.

'Revenge''Revenge'
Ryan: DVR It
Is it me, or is this soap 'Harper's Island' but with decent production values, a Hamptons setting and a better cast, led by the dependably good Emily VanCamp? (OK, so maybe it's just me, because I'm betting nobody else remembers 'Harper's Island.')

Furlong: DVR It
Or better yet: DVR It and Save It for Next Summer, because that's when this soapy story should be airing. In the fall, I'm afraid it doesn't stand a chance.

Bentley: DVR It
I watched this twice and I still don't know exactly why Emily Van Camp wants revenge on these mean rich people. How can this storyline play out over the long term? That said, I'll give it another shot before I give up altogether.

Harnick: DVR It
The pilot was pretty soapy, but intriguing enough to give it another try.

'Suburgatory'
Ryan: Skip It
Yet another ABC pilot that features shrieky, stereotyped women and put-upon men, but when the put-upon man is Jeremy Sisto (?!) doing single-camera, single-dad comedy, my interest wanes.

Furlong: Watch It
I like the cast and the premise -- this pilot was a pleasant surprise, managing to introduce us to the suburban show's key players in a way that left me wanting more.

Bentley: Watch It
I was super skeptical of this one, but every lead is extremely likable and the writing is sharp. Way less obvious than I expected. Jeremy Sisto and the awesome girl playing his teenage daughter have amazing chemistry. Almost a little too amazing, if you get my drift.
'Suburgatory'
Harnick: DVR It
Cheryl Hines is the standout player in this pilot.

Moore: DVR It
Jeremy Sisto as a dad made me feel old ('Clueless,' anyone?), but he and his TV daughter Jane Levy are both enjoyable in their roles and the show as a whole is very sweet.

Potts: Watch It
In fact, watch it, DVR it and watch it again; it's as if Daria came to life and was being raised by her hottie single dad in New Jersey, and how can that not be great?

__________________________

MIDSEASON 2012
'Apartment 23''Apartment 23'
Ryan: Watch It
The bad-girl premise has potential, and seeing the Beek make fun of himself was pretty amusing.

Furlong: Watch It
The first sitcom in a while where almost every main character feels real -- including the real James Van Der Beek playing himself. I'm in.

Bentley: Watch It
As a die-hard 'Dawson's Creek' fan, I can't really be counted on for an unbiased opinion. But just know that I think this show would be hilarious even without "the Beek from the Creek."

Harnick: Watch it.
Fun characters and an appealing setting make this comedy one to watch.

Moore: DVR It
I never thought I'd utter the words "James Van Der Beek was the best part of the show," but there you have it. James Van Der Beek as James Van Der Beek is sort of a genius concept, even if I'm not sure how long they can milk that for laughs.

Potts: Watch It
Krysten Ritter is fantastic, but I really love the James Van Der Beek-as-James Van Der Beek aspect. Here's hoping episode two features a guest spot by Ke$ha and a plot about The Beek's role in her 'Blow' video.

'Good Christian Belles'
Ryan: DVR It
Not bad, but I can see this soap's arch, brittle tone growing tiresome quickly.

Furlong: Watch It
I'm from Dallas, people -- it'd be sacrilegious to say otherwise! -- but I went in expecting way over the top, and instead got perfectly over the top. Big difference.

Bentley: Watch It
I want more. Immediately.
'Good Christian Belles'
Harnick: Watch It
With delicious performances from supporting players including Annie Potts and Kristin Chenoweth, this is the show you must check out.

Potts: Watch It
The campy fun of the early seasons of 'Desperate Housewives' + the old school soapiness of 'Dallas' = delicious viewing.


'The River''The River'
Furlong: Skip It
The cast is pretty great, and I must say I jumped in my seat a few times watching this, but I'm sorry -- a missing ship and crew, a journey around the Amazon and evil spirits chasing you the whole time and killing people to protect the river's magical powers? It's too much for one show to handle.

Bentley: DVR It
Creepy, kind of terrifying and one hundred percent intriguing. That said, I'm worried the shaky-cam horror movie style won't be sustainable. It's off to a promising start ... but we'll see how long it holds up.

Harnick: Skip It
I do enjoy mystery/supernatural stuff, but this pilot wasn't for me.



'Scandal''Scandal'
Furlong: Skipped It
Alphabetizing screwed 'Scandal' out of what might've been its only positive reaction here. I tend to love Shonda Rhimes' shows, but ABC chose to remove their pilots before I got to this one.

Bentley: Skip It
Kerry Washington is really pretty. That's all.

Harnick: Skip It
Cliché and predictable.

Potts: Skip It
More preachy, unrealistic and just plain annoying characters from Shonda Rhimes, revolving around a firm that helps rich and powerful people who are in trouble ... does ABC think the temperature of the country is such that viewers will care about troubled fat cats and the people (some with icky secrets of their own) paid to help them?

'Work It''Work It'
Ryan: Skip It (actually a new category: Kill It With Something Jagged and Pointy, Now)
A crime against television, a crime against comedy and, perhaps most seriously, a crime against 'Bosom Buddies,' which was about 200 times better than this jaw-droppingly unfunny show. A thousand times NO.

Furlong: Skipped It
On the other hand, I was not so upset at missing 'Work It.' Bad reactions all around didn't help, but I'm a 'Bosom Buddies' purist, plain and simple.

Bentley: Skip It
No. Just ... no. Humanity thanks you in advance.

Harnick: Skip It
Skip it. Please, just skip it.

Potts: Skip It
Because you can still watch 'Bosom Buddies' on DVD.



Read our Fox pilot snap judgments here, and keep up with all things Fall TV at aoltv.com

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11 Comments

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Audra Elizabeth

I'm shocked to see such good reviews for crap like Pan Am, but medicore for a juicy soap like Revenge or a sweet & wonderful fairytale like Once Upon A Time! I just wish ABC could get a real show, like PUSHING DAISIES, back on the air.

January 17 2012 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bailey14

This guy is smoking crack ... I will give'em all a first look-see and not let someone else tell me what's good and what's not .....can't wait to see Man Up and a few others - so there !

October 12 2011 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toni

I am in total agreement about the similarities between Harper's Island and Revenge. I even looked up the creators to check this out but no luck. It will unfortunately probably end up with the same fate,though. I mean, how many people can be killed over one man's framing?

September 29 2011 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
whmayberryoffice

i WANT BE WATCHING ANYTHING ON ABC THIS FALL.....AND I HOPE THERE WILL BE A LOT OF OTHER VIEWERS WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY. ABC CAN GO OFF THE NETWORK

June 27 2011 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BigT

I agree with Aggie. Boycotting ABC due to soaps cancellations. ABC became a network contender and number one in primetime in th late 1960s because of a soap - Peyton Place. A few years later Dark Shadows did the same. To think that they would cancel the genre that helped them get out of last place and kept them going is shocking. ABC - your days are numbered with the crap you are cramming down our thoats.

June 01 2011 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
calvinbeyers

deeg. you dumbass.wait til the next toronado knocks on your door bozo!!!!

June 01 2011 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aggie

I'm sorry ABC, I really don't care how good the show is...I will not watch ABC unless it's my soaps.

June 01 2011 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Aggie's comment
HAHAHAHA

of course you don't care how good a show is....you watch soaps.

June 01 2011 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elle mckey

i loved harper's island!!!

June 01 2011 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Deej Barens

"actually a new category: Kill It With Something Jagged and Pointy, Now)
A crime against television, a crime against comedy and, perhaps most seriously, a crime against 'Bosom Buddies,' which was about 200 times better than this jaw-droppingly unfunny show. A thousand times NO."

Mo, this comment is honey bunches of awesome. How this ever got to air is a mystery to me. I've only seen a clip myself but it's enough to know it will suck and suck hard.

June 01 2011 at 12:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
katie71483

I'll be giving Suburgatory a try just because it's got Isabelle from Weeds. Love her!

June 01 2011 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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