Jane By Design: ABC Family Hearts the ’80s

by Rachel Stein January 4, 2012 6:00 am
<I>Jane By Design</i>: ABC Family Hearts the ’80s

From the fashion to the lingo to the logo (and, let's face it, the title itself), this show is so hilariously stuck in the '80s that I actually had to look it up to make sure that it wasn't meant to be set thirty years prior. I would have still questioned it, had it not been for the use of smartphones -- well played, Jane By Design. I guess this just leaves one question as far as this inevitably short-lived series goes: Do the writers know less about being a high school student or about working in the fashion industry?

<i>Super Fun Night</i>: Not So Much a Super Fun Night As a Potentially Fun One

There's something hiding underneath the surface of Super Fun Night, the new show from breakout star Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids). There's a good idea at its core, one that hits a lot of untapped nerves in the current television landscape, but too many factors are holding it back right now. Granted, the first episode of a series isn't always the best barometer for how a show will turn out, so I'm hoping Super Fun Night will begin to live up to its name soon.

Betrayal: Unfortunately Not Limited Enough

by Aly Semigran September 30, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Betrayal</i>: Unfortunately Not Limited Enough

Sex! Murder! Twists! The latest evening soap opera to join ABC's rotation of singularly-named sleek dramas (Revenge, Scandal, Nashville) hits all the same marks as those shows, just without all the campy fun.

The Goldbergs: The Wonder Years, ’80s Edition

by Ethan Alter September 25, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Goldbergs</i>: The Wonder Years, ’80s Edition

Twenty-five years ago, ABC premiered The Wonder Years, a lovingly nostalgic look back at a young boy's coming of age in the late '60s. To mark that award-winning, fondly-remembered show's anniversary, the network has decided to dress The Wonder Years up in '80s duds and re-brand it as, The Goldbergs, which aired its pilot episode last night.

<i>How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)</i>: Shut Up and Make Me Laugh

If you have trouble making it through an episode of the unrealistic (yet, in my opinion, charming) banter on Happy Endings, I'd be shocked if you were able to tolerate a few minutes of ABC's new How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life). Every character, joke and line of dialogue screams of trying too hard, and the interactive notes on-screen feel like a bad TV trend that we'll look back on in a few years and make fun of ourselves for. All of this is especially a shame, given that the show does have potential.

Red Widow: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

by Ethan Alter March 3, 2013 11:00 pm
<i>Red Widow</i>: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Last spring, ABC experimented with the short-run series model that's so popular abroad (think the Israeli show Prisoner of War, which beget Homeland here), ordering up a ten-episode, single-season run of the Taken knock-off Missing, starring Ashley Judd in the Liam Neeson role of a vengeful parent searching for a kidnapped kid. Although the series was constructed with a definite endpoint in mind, the finale carefully left room for another batch of episodes should the show prove to be a hit. It wasn't. But the network is giving the concept a second chance with Red Widow, another limited-run series that aired the first two of its eight hours tonight.

<I>Baby Daddy</I>: In Case You Ever Wanted a Weekly Version of <I>Three Men and a Baby</I>

To say the least, ABC Family's original programming is hit or miss. While I base my entire Tuesday night around the viewing of Pretty Little Liars, I cringe every time a promo for Secret Life of the American Teenager appears (seriously, Shailene Woodley, you're way more awesome than this mess of a show -- please go join the cast of Shameless). Yet perhaps the worst part of this otherwise mostly pleasant network is the multi-cam sitcom Melissa & Joey, a painfully unfunny show about a "manny" (that's a man-nanny for those of you who don't know) portrayed by Joey Lawrence who is hired by an overworked Melissa (everybody's favorite teen witch, Melissa Joan Hart) to help her raise her niece and nephew. While I've laughed more at the Advil commercials in between the show than at the antics of the clearly desperate '90s duo, ABC Family must have decided that they've found their own terrible "niche" when it comes to multi-cam sitcoms.

Missing: Lifetime Wants Their Show Back

by Rachel Stein March 16, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Missing</i>: Lifetime Wants Their Show Back

ABC's Ashley Judd-starring Missing is essentially a Lifetime show. It's got all of the elements right there in front of us: A widowed retired CIA agent-turned-devoted-mother-and-florist Becca Winstone (Judd) -- who we meet at the tail end of her patented Strong Woman Jog -- travels to Europe after her son (Nick Eversman) mysteriously disappears while on a summer internship in Italy, and she'll stop at nothing to get him back. Why this isn't currently airing alongside Project Runway or Dance Moms, I'll never know.

Teenage Dirtbags: The 8 Worst Things About Teen Spirit

by Sophia Wetlaufer August 8, 2011 9:43 am
Teenage Dirtbags: The 8 Worst Things About <I>Teen Spirit</i>

For every well-intentioned project ABC Family puts on air -- Switched at Birth, Cyberbully, even their recent "Delete Digital Drama" campaign -- there's about a billion stupid, trite and silly ones; take last night's original movie, Teen Spirit. Yes, at first glance it didn't sound like it was going to be too terrible: A popular girl dies and, to go to heaven instead of hell, she has to help the biggest nerd in the school win prom queen. But painful it was. It was every teen movie cliché stuck into one, and the fixation on death (and dirty jokes) certainly didn't help. I even started out trying to write just the five worst things about the movie, but I ended up with eight. Here goes:

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