Friday, April 24, 2009

ABC Family Pulls Sophie, Speeds Up Roommates; ABC Announces More Summer 2009 Series

After just five weeks on the air, ABC Family has pulled original single camera sitcom Sophie off the air completely. The show has failed to garner any ratings whatsoever on Mondays at 9:30pm. ABC Family still has 8 episodes left in the can, but no word yet if and when they will air at a later date. Sophie's lead-in is also an original sitcom. Roommates, a multi-camera sitcom, will still be on the air but it will be sped up. What do I mean? Well, now they will air four episodes a night so they can quickly finish the run. Roommates also hasn't gone well in the ratings, but is not worse than Sophie at least. This Monday (April 27) and the following Monday (May 4), Roommates will air from 9-11pm ET/PT, replacing a repeat of AFV in the 10pm hour for two weeks. 5 episodes have aired so far, and with this two four-episode block, all 13 will air. Then starting May 11, ABC Family will air movies in the Monday 9-11pm block through June 15 since June 22 ABC Family plans on launching new original drama Make It or Break It. Movies slated for May are Mean Girls, My Fake Fiance, and Legally Blonde.
We got the sense ABC Family was not happy with the performances publicly when they removed the Tuesday encores of both shows as we mentioned last week. These two were the first original sitcoms for ABC Family and they have two more coming this summer (10 Things I Hate About You on July 7 and Ruby & the Rockits on July 21). They are scheduled a bit better though. Those two will air in the 8pm hour on Tuesdays, which is better since they will have the sitcom block as its lead-in, such as My Wife & Kids (6-7pm) and That '70s Show (7-8pm) which both do very well. I think ABC Family should have had Roommates and Sophie in the 8pm hour and moved Greek to 9pm. That would have been better and made more sense. Sophie will for sure not be back for another season and Roommates is also likely not to return, unless it does a spike in the ratings in the next two weeks.
Roommates launched with 1.5 million viewers, but that was following the season finale of Secret Life of the American Teenager which did a strong 4.49 million. The premiere of Sophie only mustered 892,000 viewers. From there both shows saw even more declines. With Roommates dropping to 440,000 viewers by episode two and only 335,000 viewers for Sophie. They then hovered around those ratings for episodes 3-5, which is terrible numbers.

ABC has now announced more summer series news. Now we get more info on ABC News produced series for the summer along with some specials. We have completely new details on shows we haven't heard about yet. First, ABC will finally air the ABC News produced special Earth 2100 on Tuesday, June 2 from 9-11PM ET/PT. This special was previously set to air in early January. The special is hosted by Bob Woodruff, it takes viewers on a journey through what the next century could have in store and shows viewers what can be done to avoid disaster. Then on Sunday, June 21 and Sunday, June 28 from 9-11PM ET/PT on both nights we have the miniseries event Impact. We seem to have survived a catastrophic meteor storm...but something has changed and the moon is looming larger in the sky. What once was the most familiar object in the night now threatens to destroy all life on earth. A small band of international astronauts, scientists, and soldiers band together as our last best hope. David James Elliott, Natasha Henstridge, Steven Culp, and James Cromwell star in this highly anticipated miniseries.
Next up will be special Primetime series. Primetime: Family Secrets returns and will air Tuesdays at 10PM starting June 23 through and including July 21. Then starting July 28, Primetime: The Outsiders returns to air airing Tuesdays at 10PM through and including Sept. 8. Airing Wednesdays at 10PM starting June 24 will be Primetime: Crime and it will air through and including Sept. 9. ABC will also bring back the popular Primetime: What Would You Do? sometime in August, but no day and time has been set yet. Other ABC News specials are one-time specials on Wednesday, July 15 at 10PM for a special called Oil with Charles Gibson, preempting Primetime: Crime on this night. We also have an ABC News produced special called J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life airing the next night (Thursday, July 16) at 8PM.
So now we have most of the missing pieces for the ABC summer line-up. Still we need more schedules, but with the entertainment update we gave and now the ABC News update, we are almost set. ABC also announced it will air the CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock on Monday, August 30 from 8-11PM ET/PT. View more on all of this, including synopsis of all the Primetime series. And for a recap of all things ABC summer so far, please view that also.
CBS is just about the only network yet to announce any summer details, as ABC, NBC, Fox has already in different parts.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Fox Mid-Season Pilot Review: Sit Down, Shut Up - Premieres April 19; ABC Family Change; GSN Awards

Sit Down Shut Up

Sit Down, Shut Up - Sundays 8:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 8:30PM ET/PT

There is a new kid on the block on Fox's Sunday night animation lineup, and this time it comes from Emmy Award-winning writer Michael Hurwitz of the series Arrest Development. Sit Down, Shut Up is an animated comedy about the staff of Knob Creek High School, a high school in a small Florida town, and much like in the drama series Boston Public, we find that the teachers can have as many (if not more) problems than their students. There is the acting principal Sue Sezno, and as the name suggests, she always says no. Of course, the upbeat vice principal Stuart Prozakian is always there to counter-balance her at all times. And there is an entire ensemble cast of teachers with their own respective problems.


Cast Details:

* Will Arnett as Ennis Hofftard
* Jason Bateman as Larry Littlejunk
* Kristen Chenoweth as Miracle Grohe
* Will Forte as Stuart Proszackian
* Tom Kenny as Happy
* Nick Kroll as Andrew LeGustambos
* Cheri Oteri as Helen Klench
* Kenan Thompson as Sue Sezno
* Henry Winkler as Willard Deutschebog


Will Arnett (Ennis) is best known to sitcom fans in his role as Gob Bluth on the series Arrested Development, but has also had many film roles including roles in Ice Age: The Meltdown, RV, and Monster-in-Law. He has also recently completed filming two upcoming films, G-Force and When in Rome.

Jason Bateman (Larry) is known to sitcom fans from the series Arrested Development and the 80s sitcoms Silver Spoons and The Hogan Family. He has also played roles in the films The Ex, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Starsky & Hutch. He has recently signed a deal to develop, direct, and write original content for 20th Century Fox Television.

Kristen Chenoweth (Miracle) was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the series Pushing Daises and also has credits from the series Ugly Betty and The West Wing. She will soon be in the upcoming David E. Kelly legal drama Legally Mad.

Will Forte (Stuart) has spent several years on the series Saturday Night Live, and is considered to be a rising comedy star by many critics. He has also been in the films Baby Mama and Beerfest.

Tom Kenny (Happy) is no stranger to fans of animated series, as he is the voice of the very popular character SpongeBob SquarePants. He has also played roles in the Nickelodeon series CatDog and Rocko's Modern Life, and countless other animated series. In addition, he has made appearances at comedy clubs across the country and on the late night talk shows.

Nick Kroll (Andrew) is an up-and-coming actor that has starred in Cavemen, Best Week Ever, Worst Week, The Life and Times of Tim, and Reno 911. He is also a writer that co-authored the book "Bar Mitzvah Disco" and was a contributing writer on Chappelle's Show. He has also done some standup comedy at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival as well as the Bonnaroo Festival.

Cheri Oteri (Helen) is known for her years on Saturday Night Live, and has also appeared in many films including Scary Movie, Inspector Gadget, Liar Liar, and Shrek the Third, among many others. She has had several guest appearances on series such as Just Shoot Me, Strangers with Candy, and Boston Legal.

Kenan Thompson (Sue) is another Saturday Night Live actor (currently in his fifth season) that is also known to a generation of youth that grew up on Nickelodeon in the 90s from the series Kenan and Kel as well as All That. He also starred with Kel Mitchell on the feature film Good Burger. Other major film credits for Thompson include Snakes on a Plane, Fat Albert, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Henry Winkler (Williard) is the true "veteran" of the cast, known to fans all around the world as "The Fonz" from the hit sitcom Happy Days. He has also served as a producer for series including MacGyver, Hollywood Squares, Sightings, So Weird, among others. In 2003, he began writing a series of children's novels entitled "Hank Zipzer: The World's Most Amazing Underachiever," which are inspired by his struggle with learning challenges. He has also appeared on Arrested Development.


Pilot Plot:

For the review, we had the first and second episode of the series. The series is scheduled to air 5 of its 13 produced episodes for now, all in five consecutive weeks.

#1 "Pilot" (Airs April 19) - Knob Haven High School is facing some serious budget problems, and Sue Sezno knows the way to repair the budget problems: by soliciting donations from alumni. But the alumni will only be willing to do that if they can win the upcoming football game.

#2 "Miracle's Are Real" (Airs April 26) - Miracle Grohe decides to spread some spring cheer by giving her fellow colleagues some flowers (which actually turn out to be hemlock), placing the school into another financial crisis. The school carnival is the way to make this money, but this causes a bit of trouble between Sue Sezno and Helen Klench.


Analysis:

Catchphrases, stereotypes, and clichés. That is all that I saw in the two episodes that I received to review. The series lacks substance, and without that substance, it can't go very far. Over and over again, we are reminded in both of these episodes that Sue Sezno always says no, that Stuart Proszakian used to be a prison clown, that Ennis Hofftard is a womanizing jock, that Miracle Grohe has a baby that she carries with her at all times, that Willard Deutschbog is having a miserable life... I think that pretty much drives home my point. But where does the series go from that point? I can't see any real direction for the series in these two episodes.

It doesn't help either that the ensemble cast on the series is big--way too big in fact. There are basically nine different characters that make up the core cast of the series, and the writers have attempted to place every single one of these characters in a plotline in each episode. It would have been better to have had each episode focus on one major plot with just a few of the characters, but instead, with the series as it is, all we really have time for is several mini-plots that just reinforce the catchphrases, stereotypes, and clichés.

Both of the first two episodes basically focus on the same thing: budgetary problems at the school and how to fix those financial issues. One has to wonder if this is pretty much the direction that many or most episodes will go in. So far, it doesn't appear that there is much variety in the plots of the episodes, which doesn't matter anyway because the series doesn't have time to develop much of a plot with all of the characters and the catchphrases, stereotypes, and clichés. There were a few "chuckle" moments in the episodes, but there really wasn't anything that caused me to burst out into laughter. It is a shame, really, because I can see that with the characters and background of the series, that this could have the potential to be that kind of series.

However, one thing that I did think was a little nice and creative was the use of live action backgrounds for some of the scenes in the series. It reminded me a lot of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and it is surprising that this style hasn't been used that much in other animated sitcoms.


Conclusion:

I honestly believe that this will be another one of the many Fox series that doesn't make it, although I could be wrong about that. Unlike the other animated series on Fox, this series is just too full of catchphrases and stereotypes to a point where it becomes outright obnoxious. The series really sounded good when I read about it, but there is some disconnect between the concept and what we actually have here. Not only is the series inconsistent with the other animated series on the Fox Sunday night lineup, but matters are only made worse by the fact that the series isn't that funny.

Still, I feel like the series could have the potential to be a good series under the right circumstances, but there is no way this show could go on for years--or even more than a handful of episodes for that matter--by repeating catchphrases, clichés, and stereotypes all the time. The series could work well if it had well-written storylines that were funny or even outright absurd (such as the ones on Family Guy), but the series just isn't meant to make it in the form that it is seen on the premiere episodes. I've been wrong about these things before, but I have a feeling that the series will be off the air before many episodes are even aired.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/17/09

Discuss the show after you watch it on Sunday, April 19 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Sit Down, Shut Up Photo Gallery



  • Now back to the news. ABC Family's original sitcoms Roommates and Sophie are not doing that well in the ratings. They air Mondays back-to-back starting at 9:00PM ET/PT. Now ABC Family is removing the encore airings that air late Tuesday nights at 12:00am & 12:30am, and replacing them with Whose Line Is It Anyway? starting this Tuesday (April 21). So if you watch these shows and like them, watch them live on Monday nights because now there will be no encore airings.

    GSN announced that it will make television history with The Game Show Awards - the very first awards show exclusively aimed at celebrating excellence in the genre of games. The two and a half-hour, star-studded extravaganza will premiere on June 6, 2009 starting at 8PM ET/7PM CT only on GSN, and will honor classic and contemporary game shows, with special tributes to pioneers Bob Barker (The Price is Right), legendary game show producer Mark Goodson, and host Monty Hall (Let's Make a Deal). In keeping with the participatory nature of game shows and GSN's programming, fans will be able to vote for their favorite nominees online at GSN.com in several categories, including best/favorite host, model, announcer, contestant, catch phrase, sound effect and others.
    View the full details an categories for the first annual Game Show Awards.

    Stay tuned next week as we give you some classic TV sitcom appearances on game shows on GSN, in case you never saw them...and a sitcom is coming to CMT for a special weekend.

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    Friday, January 23, 2009

    ABC Family March 2009 Highlights; CBS and CW Schedule Changes

    This March on ABC Family, there will be no schedule changes to the weekday line-up, but primetime will be changing. First on Monday, March 16, Kyle XY will have its third season finale at 9pm. A marathon of the previous nine episodes will air from 11am-8pm, with the 10th and final third season episode airing at 9pm. On Sunday, March 22, ABC Family presents a marathon of The Secret Life of the American Teenager from 2pm-11pm, because the next day, (Monday, March 23) the series will have its first season finale at 8pm. ABC Family will encore the previous two episodes that night as well from 6-8pm, leading into the finale. Leading out of the finale will be the ABC Family premiere of two original sitcoms at 9pm and 9:30pm! As we previously mentioned, ABC Family had two original sitcoms in the works: Roommates and Sophie. Roommates is a multi-camera sitcom about a group of friends trying to figure out love and life in their post-collegiate years. The ensemble cast includes, Tyler Francavilla, Dorian Brown, Tommy Dewey, David Weidoff and Tamera Mowry. 13 episodes will air.
    Sophie is a single-camera sitcom and is a heartwarming and comedic tale of a lovely young woman having the worst year of her life. The cast includes Natalie Brown, Sebastian Spence, Jeff Geddis, Amy Lalonde, Mimi Kuzyk, Sara Botsford, Chantelle Chung and Catherine Brub. 13 episodes also will air. We willhave much more on these two sitcoms shortly, with hopefully pilot reviews as well.
    ABC Family has two other sitcoms in development, but have not been ordered to series yet.
    Replacing The Secret Life on Mondays starting March 30 at 8pm will be the second half of the second season of GREEK! 10 more episodes will air leading into the two original sitcoms. GREEK will also have a marathon of the first ten episodes of the season leading into the second half premiere, from 11am-8pm.
    In other ABC Family March 2009 news, new original movie Au Pair 3 Adventure in Paradise will premiere on Sunday, March 15, 2009 from 8pm-10pm following the first two movies from 4-8pm. Among the acquired movies, they will have premieres of Notting Hill and Eight Below while replaying movies such as Dr. Dolittle, Home Alone 2, Jumanji, and Grease.

    CBS will air a one-time special edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in primetime on Wednesday, January 28 at 8:00pm ET/PT instead of a repeat of Old Christine. The repeat of Old Christine will slide down to 8:30pm instead, preempting a repeat of Gary Unmarried.
    Meanwhile, The CW has moved 13: Fear is Real to Fridays at 9pm effective tonight! 13 was previously airing encores on Fridays, now they will be all-new. I wonder if it lasts, if it will make it to Friday the 13th on Feb. 13? The season finale is scheduled for Feb. 20. Replacing 13 in its original Wednesdays at 8pm slot will be encores of Privileged. I don't see how that will do any better?

    Finally, we leave you today with some sad news. Veatrice Rice, the quiet but foul-mouthed on-air security guard on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, has died. Though she is not a sitcom star, she was great in comedy. I was heavily shocked last night when I saw the tribute they aired. I had no idea she was sick, but found out today she was battling cancer. I did notice she started wearing a wig this past fall, but didn't think much of it. Veatrice will be heavily missed. She was part of a trio of on-air security personalities (herself, Guillermo and Uncle Frank). She was great with Guillermo and Uncle Frank and her bits with them, especially the SNN: The Worst "___" Team on Television will be heavily missed. She also had great solo bits on the show such as her "make your own" instructions, her bits with the Land o Lakes Butter lady, her interview with John McCain, and her impression as Sarah Palin. And who can forget her "sex tape" with Ryan Phillipe? She will be deeply missed every night. Try to give someone a blank stare-down look today in honor of her. We leave you today with the on-air tribute they did last night. As Veatrice would say, shut up you a**hole! Dumba**! Miss V was 59 and leaves behind her husband John.

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