May 13, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: ABC’s “American Crime”


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AMERICAN CRIME:  Sunday 9PM Midseason on ABC

THE FACTS:  John Ridley, this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar winner for 12 Years A Slave, has written a serialized crime drama very specifically about race, in which a Latino teen is arrested for the murder of the son of Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman.

WHAT IT’S SAYING:  Like FOX’s Gracepoint, this is a Serious Crime Drama that’s going to do battle with cable.  Hutton and Huffman are de-glammed, and it’s apparent that all the characters will have secrets to be uncovered through the course of the trial.

WHAT IT’S REALLY SAYING:  Intense, weighty, dark.  Even the title itself isn’t lacking in pretension.  Although the trailer hits the race angle emphatically early on, the footage shown is more of a straightforward criminal investigation story, with soap overtones.

THE OUTLOOK:  The Sunday 9PM time period (once Resurrection is done for the season) feels odd, first because this doesn’t seem to fit at all with the fantasies of Once Upon A Time and Revenge that precede and follow it, and also because airing directly against what’s become cable’s showcase for drama will make a tough sell even tougher.  Critical acclaim will be essential if this is going to work, and since it’s heavily serialized, if it doesn’t start off big it’ll be done at once.  One of ABC’s bigger risks for next season.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."