The Telefile
ABC's 2011 Upfront Presentation: Quantity, Yes, But Quality? Not So Much

Instead of leading off with Jimmy Kimmel to get us warmed up and excited about these new shows, ABC's upfront presentation jumped right in, so Jimmy didn't come out to make the obligatory gay/British jokes about his new boss Paul Lee until halfway through the event. Actually, thirty minutes in was perfect timing for him because that was about when I become fairly horrified with the new crop of shows. But even Kimmel seemed off his game, making easy jokes about CBS ("More people die watching CBS than any other network") and NBC ("they'll be selling their ads on Groupon this year") and Fox's X-Factor ("It's like American Idol meets a mirror"). He did get in some decent cracks about the upfronts in general: "Remember those shows that we were so excited about last fall? We cancelled all of them... and yet here you are again. We think you might have a gambling problem." Not unfunny, but he was better in previous years. As for the network's gobs and gobs of new shows? They've been better in years past, too. There wasn't a single one that blew me away or cracked me up the way that Lost or Modern Family had done at first glance.

The Fall Shows

Charlie's Angels
I was secretly hoping that since Hawaii Five-0 turned out to be a fun new take on a classic, this one might fall in that same vein, but I was wrong. This remake looks dreadful and completely and utterly generic. Even the voice of Charlie is weak and forgettable. And if you can't get that right, you're in trouble. Mostly, it just looks like any other show about scantily clad attractive women who like to blow stuff up. There are already about a hundred USA shows that currently do that, so I'm good. Better luck next time, Minka Kelly.

Once Upon a Time
Yesterday, we saw a clip for the new NBC show Grimm and today we get more fairy tales, but here they have Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla and Ginnifer Goodwin. Why is this genre suddenly hot? Did someone watch Tangled a few too many times? This one isn't a cop show that has some supernatural elements, but rather a full-on fairy tale, with princesses and castles and a whole town that's filled with characters out of storybooks. It's like Into the Woods without the Sondheim score and crappier. It looks like something that would normally be a SyFy miniseries and I'm not even sure that my 5-year-old could sit through it.

Pan Am
Mad Men flies the friendly skies. Or at least what network television thinks Mad Men is, with the period garb and the sex, but without the actual quality scripts and the beautiful pacing and the talented actors and the sociological insights.

Last Man Standing
Tim Allen actually came out to promote his new show by doing some "jokes" about how he doesn't understand women. This did not endear him or the show to me. While I might have tolerated quite a bit of Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor back in the day before I learned about quality sitcoms, I certainly don't want to see a gender-reversed version in which Tim is a stay-at-home dad surrounded by a bunch of daughters. And putting in Buzz Lightyear jokes only looks desperate.

Man Up!
This show about three manchildren who do ridiculous things, are lazy and like to play video games most of the time gave me hives. I hate this sort of comedy unless it's done really well. Like, The Hangover, well. This is definitely more akin to Adam Sandler's movies.

Single-dad Jeremy Sisto freaks when he finds out his teenage daughter (Jane Levy) has condoms, so he makes the drastic decision to move them out of Manhattan and into the suburbs. Clearly, he has never seen Teen Mom. She's a new girl in a new school and is a fish out of water. It's got a bit of a Mean Girls vibe to it, and Cheryl Hines plays an appearance-obsessed woman trying to hook up with Sisto. The cast seems strong and this is definitely worth a look for at least a few episodes in the fall.

I'm not entirely convinced that Emily Van Camp can really act, or pull off devious, but she's sure as hell going to try. Mostly in the trailer she just stares a lot, so it is really hard to judge. She's a young woman set on bringing down the Hamptons socialite society that somehow destroyed her father. And an infinity symbol might be compelling her to kill people? Or maybe I'm just reading too much into the logo. But she's sure happy to poison people. What she needs is that guy from The Borgias to do it for her.

The Midseason Shows

Apartment 23
Obviously, this is my favorite new sitcom because it has James Van Der Beek playing himself. It's going to be paired with Cougar Town and they'll air between Dancing With the Stars seasons. I think they are actually a suitable pairing. The perky blonde Dreama Walker moves to an apartment with a roommate (played by Krysten Ritter) who tortures her and steals her money. The two basically destroy each other in various ways... but out of love. It seems inappropriate and potentially amusing, and did I mention it has Dawson?

Work It
The basic gist is that in this economy, men just can't find jobs. So two guys have to pose as women in order to gain employment. It's like Bosom Buddies, but about work instead of apartments. And it looks as awful as it sounds. Worse, even.

Good Christian Belles
If you don't have a strong tolerance for Kristen Chenoweth, you might want to just skip on ahead to the next show on this list. I personally adore her, but it is my understanding that there are legions of people out there who think her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, and considering that she's playing a bitchy Christian woman who likes to do Pilates and belittle people in public, if you don't like her, this isn't going to change your mind. This also stars Leslie Bibb as a former queen bee who has returned to her Dallas home twenty years after high school, due to a scandal in her marriage, while Annie Potts plays her mom. But there's a lot of Cheno. Fair warning.

Ashley Judd is a former government agent searching for her missing son in Europe, and while the show looks stylish and a bit like a Bourne movie, how could this possibly last? Will she still be looking for her son five seasons from now? And won't she seem a bit sad and desperate after a while? But, in the meantime there are explosions and car chases.

The River
Trying to capitalize on the success of Paranormal Activity, this focuses on a crocodile hunter type of guy who disappears in the middle of the jungle. His wife goes searching for him and finds some mysterious shit on his boat. Personally, I'm not a fan of this sort of thing, and I hate all that jumpy and scrambled footage, so I'll be skipping this one.

The lords of ABC taketh one Shonda Rhimes show (the guilty pleasure Off the Map) and giveth another. This one isn't even about medicine. I know, I couldn't believe it either. Here Shonda is writing about politics, specifically about a lawyer (Kerry Washington) who specializes in cleaning up scandals and managing crises for those in powerful positions... like the President. I like Shonda's soapy messes, so this looks like it will fit right in with her other shows. Plus, there's Desmond from Lost. I'm so happy that he and Hurley both have jobs this season.

Check out video previews and analysis of every upcoming new show from CBS, The CW, NBC, Fox, TBS and TNT. Plus: see which pilots deserved to be rejected and which cancellations made us happy.

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