ABC is setting up an interesting 2017-18 season with programming ranging from pure soap to comic-book fantasy to science fiction. Here are my gut reactions (and rankings) of the trailers for ABC’s new fall and midseason shows.
Long perceived as ‘the women’s broadcast network,’ ABC’s strongest shows over the last decade have generally come from Shonda Rimes – but then they’ve snuck in Marvel’s Agent Carter (still mourning the cancelation of that one, BTW) and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which has been close to brilliant this season) and built up a cadre of diverse comedies (black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat) that are genuinely funny but also extremely topical.
For 2017-18, ABC has picked up a rather unusual combination of shows and their trailers are very interesting. Here are my thoughts on them.
- Deception – I loved this show back in 1973 when it was called The Magician and starred Bill Bixby. Even back then it was a one and done show and this glossy, similar series doesn’t seem like it’ll even last that long thanks to a cast that just doesn’t have the charisma to pull of the premise.
- Alex, Inc. – Zach Braff doing Zach Braff stuff. If the series isn’t as cute as the trailer, it might work. As it is, it feels like the worst bits of Braff’s movies.
- Ten Days in the Valley – Kyra Sedgwick earns this a look when it premieres, but the trailer feels more obvious than it should be. The irony of a woman who writes a highly rated cop show having to call the cops when her daughter disappears – undoubtedly leading to the revelation of secrets no one wants revealed – feels a bit on the nose. But never underestimate Sedgwick’s knack for finding quality.
- The Gospel of Kevin – Jason Ritter, Mr. Nice guy Everyman, plays a not good person who gets a mission God – complete with an angelic guide. There’s potential here, but the faith-based/supernatural genre also includes Joan of Arcadia, which lasted only two seasons despite being brilliant. This trailer doesn’t really suggest that Kevin is going to be brilliant. Worth a look for Ritter, though.
- Marvel’s Inhumans – they seem to have gotten this right. The first shot in the trailer is of Black Bolt and Lockjaw popped onto a busy street, apparently out of nowhere. There’s also a shot of Gorgon creating havoc with a stomp and a quick look at the rest of the cast under the conversation from the show’s first teaser. There’s potential here and, as a long-time comics fan I’m cautiously optimistic.
- The Good Doctor – Freddie Highmore stars as an autistic surgeon with Savant Syndrome. He’s a whiz in the OR, or dealing with medical emergencies, but has no concept of how to deal with people. The trailer suggests that there’s an adversarial relationship between board members at the hospital over granting Highmore’s doctor privileges. It seems a bit too on the nose, but between it being from David Shore (House M.D.) and Highmore’s work on Bates Motel, it’s worth a lot of leeway.
- Splitting Up Together – from Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory, Selfie), this series – about a couple whose divorce reignites their marriage – has that loose, grounded but weird-in-a-good-way feel that we’ve seen from her before. Coupled with a remarkably fresh concept and Jenna Fisher in top form and you’ve got a comedy that could be brilliantly off-kilter fun.
- For the People – a genuine Shondaland series that looks at rookie lawyers on both sides of the trail court. Even the trailer has that Shondaland vibe – we’ve just met these characters and they already feel like real people. For the People is the show for TGIT fans who were not placated by the ersatz Shondaland shows Conviction and Notorious last season. It’s the real deal.
- The Mayor – struggling rapper runs for mayor to promote his mixtape and wins. Another intriguing, fresh concept that has already settled into its own rhythms and established an identity in its three-minute trailer. Newcomer Brandon Michael Hall seems pretty able and has veteran support in Yvette Nicole Brown as his mother. Jeremy Bronson (Speechless) created the show so there’s even more reason for optimism.
1 – The Crossing – Refugees start appearing in a lake near a small town but the war they’re fleeing is in America – in the future. That’s a good hook, but the trailer gives us a look at the premise and, already, is tossing curves. It’s entirely possible that all the best bits from the pilot went into the trailer, but it just doesn’t feel like that’s the case. As a science fiction fan I am intrigued by The Crossing more than any other trailer I’ve seen so far (with the possible exception of The Gifted…).