The Shows – ABC

There are two major trends of note as the fall TV season quickly approaches. First, the laws governing studio creation and broadcast ownership have been thrown out the window in the past couple of years. As a result the vast majority of new television is being produced by the studio that controls each network. Disney's Touchstone is producing for ABC, Warner Bros. for The WB and so forth.

There are two major trends of note as the fall TV season quickly approaches. First, the laws governing studio creation and broadcast ownership have been thrown out the window in the past couple of years. As a result the vast majority of new television is being produced by the studio that controls each network. Disney’s Touchstone is producing for ABC, Warner Bros. for The WB and so forth.


8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter


Tuesdays 8-8:30 pm

the story: Based on the best-selling book by Bruce Cameron, in this family sitcom a loving, rational dad copes with the growing pains of his two teenage daughters using the helpful advice of his 13-year-old, down-to-earth son.

the cast: John Ritter (Three’s Company, Sling Blade)

the verdict: John Ritter will always be Jack Tripper in my mind. It is hard to imagine him doing anything but falling off his bicycle in Santa Monica while stealing a sideways glance at a passing tush during the opening sequence to Three’s Company. However, he is steady stock and it is about time he returned to series television. Like a Hugh Grant movie, you’ve seen this show before countless times starring Alan Thicke, Tony Danza and Kate & Allie, but it always works.

the backing: ABC is in ratings hell and everyone knows it. This is the stuff that ratings stability is made of and the critics’ pick so far as the ABC show to succeed. They will stick with it.

Life With Bonnie


Tuesdays 9-9:30 pm

the story: ABC is describing this as ‘Bonnie Hunt borrows a page from her own life in this comedy about having it all and then some.’ How about: ‘Bonnie Hunt makes me feel sicker than a Phil Collins ballad.’ She plays a TV show host whose anecdotes are reflected in her family life.

the cast: Bonnie Hunt (Project Greenlight) as herself

the verdict: And you thought ABC was in trouble before now? There seems to be a serious lack of cohesion between Disney’s Touchstone division and the needs of a major network. Bambi and Cinderella were sweet, but this is so saccharine sad that it makes one ache in places unmentionable. Moreover, who at ABC decided that this duck should go head-to-head against ratings- and Emmy award-winning psycho-guru Frasier?

the backing: The thinking should be that we won’t have to live with Bonnie for too long – with any luck.

Less Than Perfect


Tuesdays 9:30-10 pm

the story: Sex and the City writer Terri Minski takes on the world of television news from the ego clashes to the screaming deadlines. A former mailroom floater has to cope with her meteoric rise to the anchor’s desk.

the cast: Sara Rue (Popular), Eric Roberts

the verdict: This is a sound notion, one that mimics what sometimes goes on in cutthroat Hollywood talent agencies like CAA where Ivy League grads sort the mail on their way to becoming the next super agent. Whether or not the same thing happens in TV news is beside the point. The big question remains: will this one be as well written and executed as its ABC predecessor Sports Night? Probably not, and one of the enduring mysteries of modern television is why that show couldn’t find a large audience. In that respect this one may live up to its name.

the backing: ABC will do what it can for this as it is trying to throw whatever weight it has left into Tuesday night programming. As a lead in to the re-trenched NYPD Blue, it’s not in a bad position.


ABC/The New VR/The New VI

Wednesdays 10-11:00 pm

the story: Set at Mission General Hospital, a San Francisco based HMO that watches the bucks more closely than its patients. The show centres on two doctors who bend the rules to help treat the sick folk.

the cast: William Fichter, John Hannah

the verdict: ABC is touting this as a modern-day M*A*S*H, thanks to both its sharp wit and real life-and-death drama content. While it is hard to imagine that it will live up to such a lofty goal, it is a welcome prescription to ER’s gravitas. Definitely topical subject matter in the U.S. Producer Marc Platt (Legally Blonde) has done well to tap into a contemporary take on medical practices south of the border (and in Alberta).

the backing: Meds is up against some very heavy competition in this time slot from perennial favorite Law & Order on NBC and CBS’s new medical drama Presidio Med. Again, with little to work with, ABC will pump it up – but look for it to move to a time slot with less traffic.



Wednesdays 8-9 pm

the story: Jurassic Park take-off. This is the story (based on the best-selling books by James Gurney) of a lost continent where dinosaurs and humans live together in something of a utopia. A plane crashes, two young turks are left to their own devices along with a healthy cast of fantasy characters in locales such as the World Beneath, a dangerous territory. The point is clear: they must save the world and maintain cordial relations with prehistoric beasts. Why the hell not?

the cast: Katie Carr (The Odyssey ), Tyron Leitso (Take Me Home: The John Denver Story)

the verdict: Smartly placed in a time slot that favours younger viewers. Hallmark Entertainment and, of course, Disney, do a good job producing this stuff. Households where parents are tired of having their adolescents listen to Jennifer Aniston make birthing jokes will tune in for this wholesome fare. Anyone over the age of 12 will not.

the backing: Anything with dinosaurs seems to make people a lot of money regardless of whether they are Barney purple or their bones are being dust-busted in the Smithsonian. ABC knows this, and needs – stress needs – to score some points in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? void. And plus, CGI talks, bullshit walks.

Push, Nevada


Thursdays 9-10 pm

the story: An IRS agent, young, good-looking and mild-mannered, stumbles into a strange small town while looking for missing money (when I look for my missing money all I have to do is check the latest service charges at the CIBC, but I digress). Push, Nevada is a town with secrets, peculiar characters and…wait for it…danger. The object is to find the money.

the cast: Derek Cecil, Armand Assante

the verdict: Ben Affleck and Sean Bailey (Project Greenlight) have added an interesting twist. There is an interactive component to the series. If a viewer can put evidence and clues together throughout the multi-episode arc, the person wins the jackpot. Sort of cool, but nobody seems to be able to explain how it will actually work as details are still being ironed out. Nevada is a really scary place. That makes it the perfect setting for this show. Some people like to watch television set in such freaky places. I prefer shows in which beautiful women stroll the Italian Riviera or even Miami Beach (see CSI: Miami below).

the backing: This could score reasonably well, given the distinct lack of competition at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Affleck and Matt Damon (who is also involved) both carry a lot of sway in Hollywood, thanks to their star power. Executives at the net want this to work. Look for success along the lines of FOX’s 24.

That Was Then

ABC/The New VR/The New VI

Fridays 9-10 pm

the story: Travis Green is a 30-year-old loser. He lives with his parents, works as a door-to-door salesman and just to add insult to injury, his brother is married to the woman he loves. But Travis will get another kick at the can when he wakes up as a 16-year-old, with a chance to do it all over again. You can bet he’ll tinker with a little more than his acne cream as Travis re-invents history.

the cast: James Bulliard, Tyler Labine

the verdict: A clever play on the fact that most of us have regrets in one form or another. Travis needs therapy or at least Oprah; he doesn’t need to be 16 again. That’s just plain horrible.

the backing: Notice how this one is placed smack dab in the middle of Friday night? No kidding. I wonder what they’re thinking? Let’s make the kids who didn’t get invited to the high school dance feel better about themselves. Misguided charity; it will only make them feel worse. This is the sort of stuff that set Jeffrey Dahmer off.



Monday 9-10 pm (after Monday Night Football in January)

the story: Thirteen episodes ordered for this remake of the successful series. Law & Order honcho Dick Wolf is writing the pilot episode.

the cast: TBA

the verdict: With Wolf in control this should do well.

the backing: It is a little strange for Wolf to be pairing with ABC, as NBC is a happy home for his franchise, but I suppose it really doesn’t matter.



Monday 10-11 pm (after Monday Night Football in January)

the story: Drama where a man investigates modern-day miracles.

the cast: Skeet Ulrich (Scream, As Good As It Gets)

the verdict: Ulrich seems to make hearts throb much the same way David Duchovny once did. This could be a hit for ABC, as people in general seem really attached to exploring the paranormal.

the backing: Lots of time to hype it up before January when it will appear.