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 remake of Total Recall never escapes the shadow of its Arnold Schwarzenegger-led predecessor — and strangely it feels like a choice. With a script that's nearly beat-for-beat the original film Total Recall plods along with enhanced special effects that bring to life an expansive sci-fi world and action scenes constructed to send eyes flipping backwards into skulls. Filling the cracks of the fractured film is a story that without knowledge of the Philip K. Dick adaptation's previous incarnation is barely decipherable. Those who haven't seen Paul Verhoeven's 1990 Total Recall? Time to get a few memory implants. 2012 Recall makes little sense with the cinematic foundation but it does zero favors to those out of the know.
Colin Farrell takes over duties from Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid a down-on-his-luck factory worker hoping to escape his stagnate existence with a boost from Rekall a company capable of engineering fake memories. Quaid calls the damp slums of "The Colony" home (one of two inhabitable parts of Earth) but he dreams of moving to the New Federation of Britain a pristine metropolis on the other side of the planet. When the futuristic treatment goes awry — caused by previously existing memories of our blue collar hero's supposed past life as a secret agent — Quaid emerges from Rekall with lethal power hidden under his mild-mannered persona. He quickly goes on the run escaping squads of soldiers robots and his assassin "wife " Lori (Kate Beckinsale) all hot on his tail. Total Recall turns into one long chase scene as Quaid unravels the mystery of his erased memories.
But when it comes to answers and heady sci-fi Total Recall falls short. Farrell isn't a hulking action star like Schwarzenegger but he's a performer that can sensitively explore any human crisis big or small. Director Len Wiseman (Underworld Live Free or Die Hard) never gives his leading man that opportunity. Farrell makes the best of the films occasional slow moment but the weight of Recall's mindf**k is suffocated in a series of fist fights hovercar pile-ups and foot chases pulled straight out of the latest platformer video game (a sequence that sends Quaid running across the geometric rooftop architecture of The Colony looks straight out of Super Mario Bros.). When Jessica Biel as Quaid's former romantic interest Melina and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston as the power-hungry politico Cohaagen are finally woven into Farrell's feature length 50 yard dash it's too late — the movie isn't making sense and it's not about to regardless of the charm on screen.
The action is slick and the futuristic design is impeccable but without any time devoted to building the stakes Total Recall feels more like a HDTV demo than a thrilling blockbuster. The movie's greatest innovation is the central set piece "The Fall " an elevator that travels between the two cities at rapid speed. The towering keystone of mankind is a marvel but we never get to see it explore it or feel its implications on the world around it. Instead it's cemented as a CG background behind the craze of Farrell shooting his way through hoards of bad guys.
Science fiction more than any other dramatic genre twist demands attention to the details. New worlds aren't built on broad strokes. But Total Recall tries to get away with it in hopes that audiences will recall their own movie knowledge to support its faulty logic. The movie repeatedly prompts viewers to think back to the 1990 version with blatant fan service that's absolutely nonsensical in this restructured version (no longer does Quaid go to Mars but there's still a three-breasted alien?). The callbacks may have given Total Recall a "been there done that" feel but rarely is it coherent enough to get that far. By the closing credits you'll be struggling to remember what you spent the last two hours watching.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.