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ABC’s New Fall 2013 Shows: First Clips, First Impressions
May 14, 2013  | By David Bianculli  | 2 comments

If you count desperation by the number of new series a network introduces for fall, ABC is the winner this year in that particular category. It has eight new shows on tap…

Like Fox with American Idol, ABC has seen its once-powerful reality-show champ, Dancing with the Stars, erode a bit of late. But ABC is responding by cutting Stars from two nights to one, and making room for an all-new Tuesday lineup that includes a new show from genre darling Joss Whedon.

Whedon’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a TV spinoff of Whedon’s Avengers movie hit, is one of four new dramas to be launched during the 2013-14 ABC season. There also are four new sitcoms — a marked increase over last year’s five new fall shows.

Only Nashville and The Neighbors survive from that group (the first deservedly, the second less so). For fall, here’s how the new ABC series stack up, based on first impressions from the just-released network promos.

Let’s start with S.H.I.E.L.D., certainly the biggest new gun in ABC’s arsenal. It stars Clark Gregg as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson, who was such an enjoyable component of The Avengers movie until he died. Well, he’s back. And along for the ride are at least two familiar faces: Ming-Na Wen from Eureka and, before that, ER, and J. August Richards, who played Gunn on Whedon’s Angel series. It’s no surprise, really, but the teaser looks terrific:

The other dramas are less high-profile – and one of them, Lucky 7, comes from with almost no clout whatsoever. Its producers previously teamed for the short-lived Detroit 1-8-7, and the major star, in this show about a handful of people who win a lottery, is Private Practice player Matt Long. So Lucky 7 is, in more ways than one, a Long shot.

I’m not impressed by the preview. Maybe you’ll think differently – but I doubt it:

Another drama, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, is, like S.H.I.E.L.D., a spinoff – this time on offshoot of ABC’s own successful Once Upon a Time. It stars Sophie Lowe as Alice, and this is one series that should have you hooked after seeing the preview.

It looks, well, Wonder-ful…

The last new ABC drama of the bunch is called Betrayal. It’s paired with the returning Revenge, and clearly is designed to appeal to the same audience. These types of shows don’t necessarily come off well in short previews – and this one certainly doesn’t. It doesn’t look bad, or inept. Just uninteresting. But a full-length look might change that assessment.

Meanwhile, here’s the preview:

On the comedy side, two of the new sitcoms show up as part of ABC’s all-new Tuesday night. The first is The Goldbergs, which borrows the title from, but otherwise is unrelated to, one of the oldest sitcoms in TV history. This new Goldbergs has Adam F. Goldberg as one of its executive producers, and as inspiration. Its stars include Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm and George Segal, along with Wendi McLendon-Covey from Reno 911! And Bridesmaids.

Basically, The Goldbergs is to the 1980s what The Wonder Years was to the 1960s – a semi-nostalgic look back at a dysfunctional but ultimately loving family from a previous era, with a now-grown man looking back on his formative years. The twist here? In his formative years in 1985, young Goldberg had a bulky new camcorder.

First impression? A pretty good one – though this seems like a show ready-made to snuggle between The Middle and Modern Family on Wednesdays.

Here’s a preview:

Also on Tuesdays is Trophy Wife, starring Malin Ackerman as the new bride of thrice-married Bradley Whitford, and Marica Gay Harden as one of his ex-wives.

My enthusiasm for Whitford goes a long way, but the initial trailer gives most of its time to Ackerman – who seems to have a way with comedy that may work well here. The promo does everything asked of it, which means it makes you want to see more:

The new show that does get hammocked between The Middle and Modern Family this fall is Back in the Game, which stars Maggie Lawson from Psych as a divorced mom who stands up for her unathletic kid by starting a softball team of her own. James Caan plays her grumpy dad, and what sounds like a remake of Bad News Bears plays a little bit better than it sounds. Parts of the teaser clip are broad enough to require a warning, but others work fairly well. The teaser clip:

And finally, there’s Super Fun Night. It stars Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids scene-stealer Rebel Wilson, who also contributes as a writer here. She plays one of three nerdy girlfriends who grew up spending every Friday night together, and pledge to keep doing the same – even after reaching adulthood. The best sign for this promo comes near the end, when it’s revealed that its executive producers include Conan O’Brien.

Here’s a taste:

There are ABC’s eight new options for fall, and Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes has details on ABC's midseason offerings. Which ones, to you, seem most enticing?

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Ed Q
Maggie Lawson was in Lost? I was so Psych-ed to read that but I can't find the episode she was in.
May 16, 2013   |  Reply
David Bianculli
No, it is I who was Lost. I am also Psych-ed to have sharp, clever readers.
May 16, 2013
OK... after seeing the clip for "Trophy Wife," never mind!
May 14, 2013   |  Reply
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