ABC Television Network
Every network has a tent pole series, but ABC has a tent pole show runner: Shonda Rhimes. So when the network unveiled their fall 2014-2015 schedule on Tuesday, nobody was surprised to see that Thursday nights are now all Rhimes, all the time. But one person can only develop so many shows, and luckily ABC has several other series lined up to fill in the hours that aren't produced by the woman behind Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, series that include a superhero spinoff, an immortal medical examiner who solves crime, and a sitcom about how kids these days are too obsessed with technology.
With so many new shows arriving this fall, it can be hard to figure out which ones are going to be worth your time, so we've rounded up all of ABC's upcoming shows and some clips from their first episodes to save you the hassle. Although, this batch features a next seasons' Trophy Wife and a replacement for Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, so fans of those shows might want to tread carefully to avoid further heartbreak.
Selfie What It Is: Sitcom What It's About: After a 20-something woman finds herself the subject of an embarrassing viral video, she hires an image consultant to help her rebrand herself in the real world. Who's In It: Karen Gillan and John Cho What It Sounds Like: Pygmalion for the Internet age. How Good Will It Be: The premise (and title) are pretty ridiculous, but both Gillan and Cho are charming and talented, so they might just be enough to keep the show afloat. How Long It Will Last: Like Cougar Town and Trophy Wife before it, the terrible title will be its downfall. We’ll be surprised if it gets two seasons.Airs: Mondays at 8 pm
Manhattan Love Story What It Is: Sitcom What It's About: A romantic comedy about a couple in the beginning stages of their relationship that reveals their inner thoughts as well as their actions. Who's In It: Analeigh Tipton, Jake McDorman, Jade Catta-Preta and Nicholas Wright What It Sounds Like: Peep Show meets How I Met Your Mother How Good Will It Be: McDormand has been playing the loveable jerk for years now, and Tipton is charmingly awkward, but the inner monologue shtick seems like it will get annoying very quickly. How Long It Will Last: One and done.Airs: Mondays at 8:30 pm
Forever What It Is: Drama What It's About: A medical examiner who just happens to be immortal. Who's In It: Ioan Gruffudd, Alana De La Garza and Judd Hirsch What It Sounds Like: Remember New Amsterdam? No? Well, it’s basically the same thing. How Good Will It Be: It depends on how well the show is able to integrate the issue of him immortality, but there are so many “cop with a mysterious secret” procedurals on the air right now that this one does How Long It Will Last: Unlike New Amsterdam, it will probably get a full season. Airs: Mondays at 10 pm
Black-ish What It Is: Sitcom What It's About: An upper-middle class black man struggles to raise his assimilated, color-blind kids with a sense of cultural identity. Who's In It: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis-Ross and Laurence Fishburne What It Sounds Like: The early episodes of The Fresh Prince that were actually about something How Good Will It Be: It’s got a cast full of TV vets and Larry Wilmore behind it, but it looks a little too generic to really stand out. How Long It Will Last: Even with Wilmore leaving for the Minority Report in October, the cast should be enough to earn it a second season. Airs: Wednesdays at 9:30 pm
Christela What It Is: Sitcom What It's About: An ambitious law student is torn between her dream job and her traditional Mexican-American family. Who's In It: Christela Alonzo, Carlos Ponce, Terri Hoyos, Andrew Leeds and Sam McMurray What It Sounds Like: If Leslie Knope were a character on George Lopez How Good Will It Be: Alonzo is an accomplished comedian, which will help the show in the long run, but thus far we haven’t seen anything that’s worth getting excited over. How Long It Will Last: Probably a yearAirs: Fridays at 8:30 pm
How to Get Away With Murder What It Is: Drama What It's About: A group of law school students find themselves entangled in a real-life murder mystery. Who's In It: Viola Davis, Alfie Enoch, Liza Weil, Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King and Michael Gaston What It Sounds Like: Legally Blonde, minus the light-hearted goofiness, plus Scandal How Good Will It Be: Like Shonda Rhimes’ other shows, it will probably be campy and over-the-top, but completely addicting nonetheless. How Long It Will Last: Again, it’s Shonda Rhimes, so at least 7 seasons.Airs: Thursdays at 10 pm, after Grey's Anatomy and Scandal
Agent Carter What It Is: Drama What It's About: A female secret agent helps to establish S.H.I.E.L.D. in the days following World War II Who's In It: Hayley Atwell What It Sounds Like: It’s an extended version of the Agent Carter short film. How Good Will It Be: Marvel’s last TV show floundered, but Peggy Carter is an established character, a fan-favorite and is played by the very talented Atwell, so things should go a lot more smoothly this time around. How Long It Will Last: Thanks to the Marvel brand, it’s guaranteed at least two seasons.Airs: Between the winter finale and spring premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
ABC Television Network
Galavant What It Is: Comedy What It's About: A musical fairy tale that follow a prince’s quest for revenge on the king who stole his true love. Who's In It: Vinnie Jones, Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Mallory Jansen, Karen David and Luke Youngblood What It Sounds Like: Once Upon a Time: The Musical! How Good Will It Be: If it doesn’t get bogged down in mythology and plot complications like Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, it could be entertaining in its ridiculousness. How Long It Will Last: Well, Once Upon a Time has been on for three years and Glee has been on for five, so four seasons sounds about right. Airs: Between the winter finale and spring premiere of Once Upon a Time
Fresh Off the Boat What It Is: Sitcom What It's About: Based on the memoir by chef Eddie Huang, it follows as 12-year-old boy as he and his immigrant family adjust to life in suburban Florida. Who's In It: Randall Park, Paul Sheer, Constance Wu, and Aubrey K. Miller What It Sounds Like: Aliens in America meets The Goldbergs, but set in the 1990s How Good Will It Be: It’s written by Nahnatchka Khan, who ran Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23, so it will probably be quirkily funny. How Long It Will Last: Like Don’t Trust the B, it will squeak its way to a second season.Airs: Midseason
Secrets and Lies What It Is: Drama What It's About: A man discovers the body of his neighbor’s son in the woods, sending the town into a tailspin that will reveal everyone’s hidden secrets. Who's In It: Ryan Phillipe, KaDee Strickland, Natalie Martinez, Clifton Collins Jr. and Juliette Lewis What It Sounds Like: Broadchurch, minus David Tennant, with a touch of Revenge. How Good Will It Be: It’s a pretty generic premise, but the cast is good, so like most of ABC’s dramas, you will become addicted to it but you won’t tell anybody about it. How Long It Will Last: It will either be cancelled in the middle of the first season, like Hostages, or it will run for at least four seasons. Airs: Midseason
American Crime What It Is: Drama What It's About: After a couple are attacked in their home, racial tensions are stirred up in a small California community. Who's In It: Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, W. Earl Brown, Richard Cabral, Benito Martinez and Penelope Anne Miller What It Sounds Like: Crash: The TV Series How Good Will It Be: It’s a bit of a complicated topic for ABC's brand of soap-y drama, so we don't see things working out. How Long It Will Last: Cancelled after one season.Airs: Midseason
The Whispers What It Is: Drama What It's About: Aliens have invaded the earth by inhabiting the bodies of children. Who's In It: Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane and Milo Ventimiglia What It Sounds Like: The exact plot of Torchwood: Children of Earth, minus both Peter Capaldi and John Barrowman How Good Will It Be: It’s got a solid cast behind it, but the premise has been done before – and done really well – so we don’t have high hopes. How Long It Will Last: Well, Resurection got a second season, so this probably will too.Airs: Midseason
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
By both critical and commercial measures live-action anime adaptations boast a record of futility second perhaps only to videogame adaptations. Some essential aspect of the source material is irretrievably lost during the process of translating Japanese cartoon to Hollywood tentpole something that even the most bloated visual effects budget can’t conceal. Think Dragonball Evolution and Speed Racer.
And yet Hollywood keeps trying lured by tantalizing visions of cash-cow franchises fed by loyal built-in — and most importantly international — audiences. The latest casualty of this misguided ambition is The Last Airbender based on the hit Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. To be fair Avatar isn’t anime in the orthodox sense in that it was conceived and produced in the States but its style and soul are almost exclusively anime-inspired. As such its big-screen fate is similarly sealed.
Who could possibly break such a rueful trend? For some reason the minds at Paramount thought M. Night Shyamalan that notorious purveyor of ponderous and increasingly shlocky supernatural thrillers might succeed where so many other directors had failed. Even worse they saw fit to hire him to pen the screenplay as well ensuring that every vital aspect of the film would feel the crushing weight of his heavy hand. With such a hacky burden to bear it comes as no surprise that The Last Airbender never really takes flight.
The film's story is set in a world divided into four tribes each aligned to an element: Air Earth Water and Fire. Certain gifted tribe members known as a “benders ” can manipulate the properties of their assigned element to suit their ends. In order to do so they must first perform an elaborate and utterly ridiculous kung fu dance after which a torrent of fire water or whatever arises to obey their command.
For the better part of a century the oppressive and warlike Firebenders have besieged the other nations gradually thinning their respective ranks. The Air Nomads have faired the worst of the lot and are presumed to be extinct until Water peeps Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) discover a boy named Aang (Noah Ringer) trapped in a giant ball of ice. Not only is Unfrozen Kung Fu Warrior the last remaining Airbender (thus the title) he is also an Avatar the only being on the planet capable of wielding all four elements. And only he can bring an end to the Firebenders’ evil reign.
Blessed with an opportunity to reinvent himself in a new genre and with a new demographic Shyamalan can’t avoid falling back on old habits most notably his penchant for awkward and cumbersome dialogue. It’s difficult enough for adults to deliver his lines but it’s absolute hell for The Last Airbender’s youthful protagonists whose not yet fully-developed temporal lobes can’t hope to adequately process the inanities of Shyamalan-speak. One can almost see the smoke coming from little Noah’s ears as he labors to complete each portentous sentence. Poor kid. Where are the Child Labor people when you need them?
But bad dialogue is only one of a litany of problems that plagues The Last Airbender which suffers from mediocre CGI inexplicable casting decisions (caucasians actors none of whom are especially talented are tabbed for asian roles when sufficiently mediocre race-appropriate actors were surely available) and a plot comprehensible only to the most ardent fans of the Nickelodeon series. Much as Aang bends the air Shyamalan tries to bend the laws of quality cinema to his will but they refuse to yield to the force of his ego. I only wish the execs at Paramount had been as stalwart.