The L.A. streets will run red with the blood of failed freshmen shows tonight, as ABC has just committed the season’s biggest culling so far, cancelling six series in all. Among those that won’t live to see another fall: No Ordinary Family, Detroit 187, Off The Map, Mr. Sunshine, [UPDATE] and Better With You, as well as the staggering corpses of Brothers And Sisters and V, a show that concerned giant lizard people yet somehow even failed to be bad in an entertaining way. At least a couple of the younglings were spared—namely Dana Delany's sexy forensics thing Body Of Proof and the brand-new Happy Endings, which will get at least one more chance to become the modern-day Friends TV so desperately craves. Anyway, the deaths of V, No Ordinary Family, Off The Map, and Mr. Sunshine in particular will no doubt serve as a harsh lesson to the network about attempting to build their schedules around high concepts, Grey’s Anatomy clones from Shonda Rhimes, and the return of ’90s sitcom stars.
But clearing away the old serves to make room for the new, and in their place ABC has already picked up fresh replacements, many of which are based on… high concepts, Grey’s Anatomy clones from Shonda Rhimes, and the return of ’90s sitcom stars. We’ve been following most of these since their inception, such as Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli’s horror series The River, the Count Of Monte Cristo-in-the Hamptons soap Revenge, and of course, Once Upon A Time, which will compete with the just picked-up Grimm at NBC to see which “fairy tales are real” mystery series will survive.
In much the same way, ABC’s Pan Am—the show about swingin’ ’60s stewardesses on the iconic airline—will attempt to outdo NBC’s also-confirmed The Playboy Club in attempting to replicate Mad Men on network TV. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated showdown to see which reboot of a campy ’70s fighting female series will be the first to become the Bionic Woman of 2011 may have already been decided, as ABC has picked up the new Charlie’s Angels while Wonder Woman holds out for a mid-season save.
Of course, ABC also has a couple of internal battles raging, beginning with its two very similar-sounding series Last Man Standing and Man Up. How similar? The former—which marks Tim Allen’s return to series TV as yet another man sticking up for manliness—was originally titled Man Up, presumably until the network decided it wanted the latter sitcom too. And yes, that show also concerns men manly struggling with their manliness, with the difference being that there are three of them and none of them are Tim Allen. Also undergoing name changes, both predictably: The network's "bitch" pilots, Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apt. 23—now shortened to the far less descriptive Apt. 23—and the Desperate Housewives-in-Dallas drama Good Christian Bitches, which has been softened to Good Christian Belles so as not to offend Christian bitches.
Speaking of Desperate Housewives, creator Marc Cherry’s Hallelujah became one of the most buzzed-about pilots to not get an episode order, perhaps because most of that buzz had to do with how awful its “Greek chorus gospel choir” gimmick sounded. The news was a little more bittersweet for ABC’s other in-house success story Shonda Rhimes, who lost Off The Map—the show she repeatedly insisted was not “Grey’s Anatomy in the jungle”—but gained Scandal, a show she will soon be insisting is not “Grey’s Anatomy in the world of crisis management.”
Although, both Cherry and Rhumes may soon take a back seat to the network’s apparent new pets, former Friends producers Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen, whose previous ABC sitcom Romantically Challenged lasted only four weeks, but still the network has picked up their Bosom Buddies-copying cross-dressing comedy Work It, and is reportedly keeping their other show Smothered (about a young couple who butts heads with their two sets of comically overbearing parents) either in contention, according to Deadline, or has already given it a green light, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Also getting a second chance, albeit one that we can get behind: Better Off Ted producer-director Michael Fresco, whose Suburgatory pilot—about a New York girl who faces the heightened-reality horrors of the suburbs—was just picked up, although the news is probably also bittersweet, seeing as the show seems to have completely usurped the very similar-sounding Sunnyside from Fresco’s brother (and Ted creator) Victor Fresco. On the other hand, it provides more work for Alan Tudyk and Cheryl Hines, which we also support.
Deadline is calling Suburgatory the last of the pilots to be picked up today, although we suppose there’s always a chance ABC will throw one more in the mix. However, it most likely won’t be the historical mash-up Poe, about the famed author solving crimes in between writing short stories and blacking out—a premise that tested poorly, if you can believe that. Next up: CBS, which we’re expecting to be far less exciting, in keeping with its programming.