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ABC’s new Fall 2014 Shows: First Clips, First Impressions
May 14, 2014  | By David Bianculli

For the fall 2014 TV season, ABC is presenting four new sitcoms and one new drama – with several other shows on tap for midseason

Several of the shows about which ABC seems to be the most enthused are being saved for midseason, including a Steven Spielberg sci-fi entry called The Whispers, another Marvel Comics spinoff called Marvel’s Agent Carter, and an 11-episode self-contained story titled American Crime, from 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley. ABC programming executive Paul Lee, describing the show to advertisers Tuesday, called it “one of the most blistering pieces of raw film ever shown on broadcast television.”

But for now, there’s fall, and ABC is front-loading the new development season with sitcoms.

Leading off Tuesdays at 8 ET this fall is Selfie, starring Karen Gillan (who played Amy Pond in Doctor Who) as a young woman who’s very popular on the Internet – number of “friends,” etc. – but makes less of an impact in her “real” life. So, in this social-media revamp of Pygmalion, she goes to a marketing guru, played by John Cho, to be her “life coach.” Though Gillan is likable, as always, the first impressions of Selfie are not very strong.

Here’s the first taste:

Following Selfie on Mondays, at 8:30 p.m. ET, is Manhattan Love Story, which spends a lot of time allowing us to hear the internal thoughts of young people in, and near, love. Think of the internal-monologue segments of Annie Hall, stretched out into a weekly series. Exactly: It sounds interminable to me, too. The leading players are “fresh young faces,” which means they’re largely unknown.

Decide for yourself whether you think Manhattan Love Story will change that:

Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET, after Modern Family, ABC presents Black-Ish, a new comedy that centers on an upscale African-American family – sort of like The Cosby Show, only bringing racial humor and differences front and center. Anthony Anderson plays the patriarch of a well-do-suburban family, and Laurence Fishburne plays his father. Among this series’ executive producers: Larry Wilmore.

Watching Fisburne do comedy is fun – he clearly has the timing down – but judging Black-Ish will take context.

Meanwhile, here’s a first impression:

The last new ABC comedy for fall, scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET Fridays, is Cristela, which stars Mexican-American comic Cristela Alonzo as a law-school student trying to make it in the real world. Jokes contrast Cristela’s conservative home life and relatives with the modern, fast-moving world of law.

First impressions? Cristela Alonzo may just be the female George Lopez. By which I mean, she’s not funny, either.

Here’s the preview:

On the drama side, the first one-hour new entry makes no sense at all from the brief cut-down, so opinions may best be withheld until the full pilots are delivered. The show, to run Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, is called Forever, and stars Ioan Gruffudd as a medical examiner who keeps dying, then inexplicably coming back to life. Sort of like, each season, high-concept TV ideas.

Note the presence of Judd Hirsch in a supporting role. Here’s a first glimpse:

Finally, Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET brings How to Get Away with Murder, the newest ABC drama from Grey’s Anatomy guru Shonda Rhimes. This one is set in a Criminal Law 100 class, and stars Viola Davis as a scary law-school professor – a kind of young, black, female Professor Kingsfield from The Paper Chase, except that she’s imbued with the sex-drive obsessions of most Shonda Rhimes alpha characters.

For me, a place where “Stop screwing the students” passes for helpful, otherwise unobvious advice is a show on which I may pass as well.  But here’s your first chance for a first impression:

Last season, ABC did well enough with fall entries Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Goldbergs, both of which will be back. But the others – Lucky 7, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Betrayal, Trophy Wife, Back in the Game and Super Fun Night are all gone, if not already forgotten. Also canceled: Mixology.

Midseason, though, will bring the shows mentioned at the top, and others, including a strange-looking Arthurian musical parody called Galavant, which Lee described thusly: “It’s literally Spamalot meets Princess Bride.” Literally, I don’t think it is… but we’ll have to wait until midseason to see the whole show for ourselves.

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