The 2010 ABC Prime Upfront Presentation: A Recap
For the most part, ABC throws a no-nonsense upfront, full of just-loud-enough ABC soundtrack-based music and clips that are edited and put together so well that they each seem more like a big-budget movie than mere prime-time content. It all seems like a big extravaganza -- until the end, when the headliner doesn't come out for an encore, meaning there's no after-party. Or, as I tweeted yesterday (at MPGattheUpfront): "they don't even burden us with food and/or drinks, bless their hearts."
Even NBC told us that they eventually decided against the cash bar, ABC. And that was lunchtime. Just saying, Alphabet Net -- we're no ordinary audience. We're starting to believe the hyperbole we've been fed to us by the other networks (media buyers not only walk on water, they purify it with their feet at the same time, so that it can be used to cure most nagging diseases); the least you could do is buy us a drink.
So Geri Wang rinses off the mud on her way over to tell us that ABC's top priority is to deliver advertising solutions (I suppose that's the real reason they're not delivering drinks). The "very best content" sets ABC apart, which is very different from the way NBC delivers "the best of the best."
Later, Stephen McPherson, President of the ABC Entertainment Group, will tell us that "Americans love television," which means that ABC has "an unparalleled opportunity to deliver audiences." Question: if Americans love television -- presumably that means ALL television -- doesn't that pretty much put everyone in parallel? Just thinking out loud here, Steve.
But they do have vision. They tell us that they have two strategies for this upfront: to attack 10 p.m. and to offer more comedy. And they also have two "event programs" that they're spotlighting, which follow neither of these initiatives. But that's something else that they do. They take chances. Passionate chances. So they're still on-message.
The two new "event" programs on tap this season are "No Ordinary Family," an 8 p.m. Tuesday drama about a family who all accidentally become superheroes; and "My Generation," Thursdays also at 8, a "coming of age" drama about a documentary-captured high school class of 2000 and where they are today. (This is a scripted, fictional drama. You didn't miss some real-life show back then.) McPherson called "My Generation" ABC's most ambitious series of the fall season.
Also new for the fall: gritty cop drama "187 Detroit (which, as this prognosticator predicted, will air in "NYPD Blue"'s old 10 p.m. Tuesday time slot); legal drama The "Whole Truth," starring Rob Morrow and Joely Richardson as opposing defense attorney and DA; and "Body of Proof," starring Dana Delany as a brilliant neurosurgeon who becomes a brilliant medical examiner when an accident ruins her surgical career.
Joining the Wednesday comedy block at 8:30 in the fall is "Better Together," a relationship sitcom carrying the entire strategic "more comedy" burden for the fall.
Midseason will bring the return of "The Bachelor and V" (or, as Jimmy Kimmel calls it, "Five"), along with new comedies "Happy Endings" (a relationship sitcom from Jamie Tarses) and "Mr. Sunshine" (workplace, starring Matthew Perry and Allison Janney) and a new Shonda Rhimes medical drama, "Off the Map" (think "Grey's Anatomy" goes to the South American jungle.)
Jimmy Kimmel does his annual five minutes of upfront humor. He takes some jabs at NBC and Fox (how uncalled for! He should leave that to us, no?), and much like Jimmy Fallon, shows how well his show can integrate products. He does it without singing, which gives him the win on points.
And with that, ABC neglects to publicly apologize for dragging Matthew Fox (for one last time, here to introduce the new dramas, and reminisce with his fellow cast members about "Lost" via videotape that you'll probably see on Sunday's finale) and most of the cast of "Modern Family" (to intro the new comedies) out in the NYC rain, without so much as a spritzer.
We would've been nice to Matthew, had he stuck around if there had been an after-party. I'd bet that nobody would have asked him about the finale, anyway (we'd be too worried that he'd actually tell and blow it for us). Maybe they're just more aware with the bottom line these days, especially with rival NBC's looming Comcast overlords. Somebody should probably tell ABC that there's nothing to worry about from cable here. Guys, there's no such thing as a dual refreshment stream. Not yet, anyway.