May 17, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look At ABC’s Midseason Dramas

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Written by: Mitch Salem


DISCLAIMER: These initial impressions are based on the clips (usually 3-5 minutes) released by the networks to use in their Upfront presentations and for promos.  They’re chosen to sell the show, not to accurately represent it.  So take the reactions below with a large satchel of salt–we may well feel differently about these shows once we see the full pilots.  That being said, it’s also true that these clips are carefully selected to give the best impression possible of a show–if it still doesn’t look great, that may not bode well.
Clips are available, among other places, at ABC has not yet scheduled its midseason shows.
GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES:  More ABC soap.  The trailer for this one is a bit unusual, as it’s basically just one extended scene:  Leslie Bibb, as our heroine, is back home in Dallas after 20 years away, and she remeets her high school friends, who are basically grown-up versions of the girls in Suburgatory.  The script is by Robert Harling, who wrote Steel Magnolias, and the producer is Darren Star, who knows something about female-skewing television, so we can expect zingers aplenty.  (The original title, before Standards made them change it, was “Good Christian Bitches.”)  The cast also includes Kristen Chenoweth and Annie Potts; it seems right down the ABC alley, but people said that about Dirty Sexy Money, too.

THE RIVER:  As every promo will tell you, this is from the director of Paranormal Activity (although Oren Peli didn’t direct the pilot, just contributed to the story–the script is by Michael R. Perry and Michael Green–and serves as a producer).  It is, as you’d expect, about things that go bump in the night and otherwise, in this case down the Amazon River, where scientist Bruce Greenwood has gone missing and his family and crew journeys to find him.  Along the way, they’ll presumably earn the wrath of all manner of supernatural beasties.  The trailer indicates that much of the scary stuff will be shot Paranormal style with hand-held cameras and “surveillance” footage, and it could all be nicely creepy, although an odd fit with the rest of the network’s schedule.  

SCANDAL: ABC goddess Shonda Rhimes’ new project is not about doctors.  This time she’s tackling the world of Washington DC crisis managers, a team headed by Kerry Washington.  The trailer showcases Washington as the tough-talking head of the firm–she’s not even intimidated by the (fictional) President–although in Rhimes’ style it’s to be expected that we’ll find out about the personal lives of absolutely everyone.  It looks glossy enough, and the millieu, which should provide no shortage of storylines, is at least a little different for network TV, making it worth a look.
MISSING:  The network didn’t release a real trailer for this one, just Ashley Judd talking about the show (seemingly a remake of Liam Neeson’s Taken, with Judd as the female version of his ex-CIA agent tracking down her kidnapped son) and some stock footage.  I’d feel better about it if the writer Gregory Poirier’s biggest credit weren’t National Treasure:  Book of Secrets.



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."