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ABC's new lineup doesn't earn many trophies

By Alan Pergament

The new ABC series getting the most attention is "Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," who investigate super-human people and extraordinary world events and "protect the ordinary from the extraordinary."

I've only seen brief clips of the pilot, which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Channel 7.

That’s because ABC only showed it at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles and hasn’t made it available to critics via streaming as it has done with every other new series.

This makes me a little suspicious.

 

Over the years, networks have shown a few shows – ABC's "FlashForward" comes to mind -- in large auditoriums to critics during press tours and they often have been among the most over-rated.

Additionally, the series comes from Joss Whedon, the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and critics have been known to love his shows (remember “Firefly?") more than the public.

However, "Marvels" was named the most promising new show of the season in a preseason poll of TCA members. A critic I respect said he liked the pilot, but added he wasn't overwhelmed by it. The clips also looked humorous.

But the series might not live up to expectations.

I have seen the rest of the ABC series and don't see anything that is extraordinary.  Here's a quick look at the network’s new shows.

“The Goldbergs,” 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24: I really wanted to like this biographical series, which stars Jeff Garlin of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as a difficult-to-please father, Murray, in the mid-1980s who leaves child-rearing details to his wife, Beverly (Wendy McLendon-Covey, a suffocating mother. "I agree with any nonsense your mother said,” he tells his older son. His youngest child, 11 year-old son Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone), records dad's commentary with a pre-iPhone video camera and narrates the series as an adult. His 16-year-old brother Barry (Troy Gentile. who steals the pilot) and 17-year-old sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia) aren't thrilled by his camerawork.

If you are hoping for "The Wonder Years" of the 1980s, you'll be as disappointed as I was initially. The tone couldn't be more different.  Dad’s expression of love is to tell a son "you're not a total moron all the time" and the Goldbergs' primary way of conversing and dispensing advice is to yell. George Segal also is on board as the grandfather who tries to compensate for his son-in-law's behavior by spoiling Adam and giving him questionable dating advice.

Still as much as I question some of the over-the-top material, only a total moron of a critic wouldn’t see "The Goldbergs" has its heart in the right place, some laughs and more potential once it lowers the volume. 3 stars

“Trophy Wife,”9:30 p.m. Tuesday: Bradley Whitford gets another series shot after appearing in two failed series show since the end of "The West Wing." In this comedy, he plays a a twice-divorced man with a hot young wife, Kate (Swedish-Canadian actress Malin Akerman), who is trying to be the best friend to his teen-age kids at the same time she gets along with his exes.

It isn’t easy for her, him or the kids.

His teenage daughter hates the third wife but they eventually bond.

His first ex, played by Marcia Gay Harden, is a tightly-wound doctor who doesn’t think he has any parenting skills. His second ex, played by Michaela Watkins, is a neurotic flower child who loves hamsters.

It is hard to see what the third wife sees in him, but hey this is a comedy. It has a few laughs but doesn't deserve any trophies. 2 and a half stars

“Back in the Game,” 8:30 Wednesday, Sept. 25: It is yet another comedy this season about an adult child, Terry (Maggie Lawson), who thinks her parents ruined her life. Terry is a pretty single mother and former college softball star who for economic reasons after a messy divorce is forced to live with her irascible, sexist, elderly father (James Caan). He is nicknamed The Cannon and shoots off his mouth a lot. She thinks he is much too demanding on her athletically-challenged son, who she wants to shield from the expectations that were on her. She discovers within 30 minutes that she has badly misjudged dad as a guy who only cared about his baseball career. Dad also isn't even in the ballpark of the worst sexist she has to deal with.

It sort of reminded me of the Clint Eastwood- Amy Adams baseball movie "Trouble with the Curve," with Caan being a bigger jerk than Eastwood's character. The Cannon apparently doesn't ’t even know his grandson’s name. It also has some similarities to the "Bad News Bears" since Terry ends up coaching a team of misfits.

A show that includes crude lines about dad passing gas and pulling out his junk -- and I’m not talking about a knuckleball -- and has 10-year-olds saying things adults hope is too advanced for their age ends up being sweet but still strikes out as a comedy.  2 stars

“Resurrection,” 10 p.m. Sunday March 9: Omar Epps ("House") stars as an immigration agent who is put on a case of an 8-year-old boy who comes back to his parents 32 years after he was presumed dead, and hasn’t aged a day. Needless to say, the boy's parents (Kurtwood Smith of "That ‘70s Show" and Frances Fisher) are stunned. So is his best friend, who is now a priest grappling with accepting a miracle. For a series developed around some big mysteries, it isn't that involving so viewers will have to develop faith that the pace quickly picks up. 2 stars   

“Betrayal,” 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29: A pretty photographer, Sara (Hannah Ware), married to an ambitious prosecutor gets involved with a handsome married man, Jack (Stuart Townsend), connected to a very rich really bad guy (James Cromwell) and things go very badly for her. ABC tried something
like this before with "Dirty, Sexy Money."  And that show was better written and much more compelling. I'm not going to betray you and give out too many details, but it is easy to see everything coming.  That includes what happens to South Buffalo's James Keane, who has a key role in a pilot based on a Dutch series. 2 stars

“Lucky 7,” 10 p.m. Tuesday: Speaking of shows that have been done to death, Western New York native Laurie McCarthy deserves some residuals because this series seems somewhat similar to her 2006 NBC summer flop "Windfall." It is actually based on a popular British series.

Seven people who work at the same Queens, N.Y. gas station-convenience store and badly need a windfall share a big lottery prize that would seemingly make their lives a lot easier. But a couple of them do something incredibly stupid the day they won and the nicest worker in the whole store doesn't share in the glory. The racially-diverse cast playing mostly sympathetic characters will be lucky if it lasts seven episodes. 1 and a half stars

“Super Fun Night,” 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2: ABC obviously has high hopes for this series starring Rebel Wilson since it airs after megahit "Modern Family." Rebel stars as Kimmie, a fun-loving,
socially-awkward, junior attorney who charitably would be called a big woman. How big? Let's just say she makes Melissa McCarthy look like Sandra Bullock. Kimmie has two socially-awkward friends who she spends every Friday night with…. Until she meets a potential suitor, a British lawyer (Kevin Bishop) who may or may not really like her. Some people might find it funny, other people might find it pathetic. I didn’t find it funny. 2 stars

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Drama | New Shows | Sitcoms | Television
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