While the other networks are splashing around in the kiddie pool, ABC jumped into the shark tank at its Upfront Presentation on Tuesday afternoon at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall.
The network will launch eight primetime series, an even split of dramas and sitcoms, in the fall. It also made some major programming moves, including an all-new Tuesday night lineup, and a significant revision of Dancing with the Stars.
As ABC president Paul Lee said, “We are taking some big swings…this season.”
Here are descriptions of the new shows:
* Betrayal, a Sunday companion piece to Revenge, stars Hannah Ware (Boss) and Irish actor Stuart Townsend as two people, married to others, who begin a torrid affair. But a high-profile murder case becomes a big impediment. With Henry Thomas (E.T.) and James Cromwell (24)
* An ensemble cast (you can probably guess how many) plays the employees at a gas station in the drama Lucky 7. Then a shared lottery ticket changes all their lives. With Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (Rubicon) and Matt Long (Mad Men).
* The action series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. carries high expectations because of its comic book origins and its executive producer, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Still having trouble accepting Clark Gregg (Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s ex on The New Adventures of the Old Christine) as the tough leader of an elite assault group. Nick Fury, he ain’t.
* Once Upon a Time In Wonderland is an Alice-centric spinoff of ABC’s fractured fairytale series Once Upon a Time. English-born, Aussie-raised Sophie Lowe plays the girl who goes underground. John Lithgow provides the voice for the White Rabbit who has no time to say ‘hello’.
* In The Goldbergs, a vigilant 11-year-old boy with a video camera captures all his family’s mishigas. Jeff Garlin, George Segal and Wendi McLendon-Covey co-star.
* Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) stars in Trophy Wife as a man whose third marriage (to Malin Akerman of Couples Retreat) is comically complicated by his exes, who still play active roles in his life.
* Aussie sensation Rebel Wilson (Pain & Gain) finds her longtime weekly recreational ritual with her besties imperiled by circumstance in Super Fun Life. Kellen Coleman (The Newsroom) and Brit Kevin Bishop co-star in the series which scored the coveted post-Modern Family slot.
* Maggie Lawson (Psych) and James Caan play battling daughter and father in the sitcom Back in the Game. To encourage her ungainly son, Lawson, a single mom and former athlete, coaches a team of bad news cubs.
The network’s biannual ballroom bonanza, Dancing with the Stars is being compressed to a single two-hour installment on Mondays. So put the show’s voting lines on your speed-dial or else Len wins.
ABC granted reprieves to a few shows that were on the bubble, notably Nashville, Suburgatory and Neighbors. But sadly for lovers of laughter, it cancelled Happy Endings.
No Yenta-love from Barbara Walters next year either. But America’s Funniest Home Videos will be back so all’s right with the world.
Next it’s CBS’s turn to flip the cards.
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