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UPFRONT DOWN AND DIRTY PT. 3: ABC launched its fall slate of new shows at the New York upfronts with a group of comedies, dramas, and comedic dramas that Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Doug Elfman said “looks like the cover of a Cosmo magazine.” The shows, most of which either feature female protagonists or hunky male eye candy, will make the network “the best place on TV for a Venus razor commercial,” according to Elfman.
The indispensable Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post confirmed Elfman’s diagnosis, remarking that ABC is “tapping into its inner chick next season,” based on shows like Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice, comedies Sam I Am and Pushing Daisies, and juicy dramas like Dirty Sexy Money, Cashmere Mafia and Women’s Murder Club, that last of which is about, yes, a group of women who investigate murders. So nobody drawing six-figure salaries in the whole Beverly Hills area code could improve on what sounds like a tossed-off working title?
We’ll see if the estrogen survives the summer and floods out of the set this fall, but right now ABC has 90-second teasers of the new shows up on its website. Based on these previews, if nothing else the network has an obsession with numbers this year: Big Shots, a drama featuring Dylan McDermott, is based around four big deal CEOs with lady trouble; Carpoolers, created by Kid In The Hall Bruce McCulloch, deals with four suburban hubbies who share a ride into the city every day. Cashmere Mafia – the latest from Sex & The City creator Darren Star – is about four working women trying to “have it all” and offering each other a shoulder to cry on. Sometime in the last year, it became gospel at pitch sessions is that quartets are the hot thing, obviously – never underestimate the power of viral thinking on the Hollywood hive mind.
Christina Applegate and Judy Greer, two undersung comic actresses, have been given chances to shine in Sam I Am and Miss-Guided, respectively. Based on the brief glimpse available on the ABC web site, McCulloch’s show could be good, but some perverse part of me is hoping that the four men never leave the sedan they’re sharing as it hurtles down an empty freeway car pool lane – it would be a Beckett-like touch that a few failed theatre grads like yours truly would enjoy, at the very least. (There’s a reason, of course, that I’m not in charge of a TV network – I have a million bad ideas like this.)
The brief glimpse of Cavemen – the Geico commercial-turned-sitcom that ejected George Lopez from prime time – on ABC’s site is actually hopeful, despite disastrous rumours that were circulating a few weeks ago. It could be a classic case of “trailer syndrome” – the best gag razored out of context and dangled like a candy apple on a string – but for now I’m willing to give the show a tentative thumbs up. Which would basically involve shrugging, raising my eyebrows and halfheartedly rotating my wrist with severely qualified hope that this fall won’t be a wall-to-wall suckfest.