Thursday, October 01, 2009

ABC Saves TV. Again.

Let's face it: Though I worked for NBC in the "Big '80s," and then wrote about it twenty years later in my newest book (NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book), ABC has always been one of my favorite networks. Most of my books have been about ABC shows ("Bewitched," "Kung Fu," "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" and "Life Goes On"); it was the new kid on the block when it debuted decades ago; it gave us all those wonderful "Tuesday" and "Wednesday" "Movies of the Week."

Of course, too, many of my other favorite weekly television programs have aired on ABC, everything from yesterday's "That Girl," "The Odd Couple," "The Brady Bunch," "The Partridge Family," and "Love, American Style," to today's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Lost."

That isn't to say that I have not enjoyed programming through the years from the other major two networks, because I have...including CBS's classic all-time favorite Saturday night delivery of "All in the Family," "M*A*S*H," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "The Carol Burnett Show." TV really doesn't get much better than that. Add to that list of classics iconic shows like NBC's "The Golden Girls" and the relatively new "30 Rock," and TV becomes the farthest thing from a vast wasteland.

That said, ABC still remains, well, special...especially when it keeps on presenting all-star, top-notch entertainment like it's new Wednesday night comedy block of "Hank," "The Middle," "Modern Family," and "Courgar Town."

It's TV nights like this on the "alphabet network" that allows me to forgive its way too-early cancellation of pristine programs like "Samantha Who?" and "Pushing Daisies" (not to mention "Open All Night" - from years ago - and the poor decision to let "Wonder Woman" transfer to CBS - and the contemporary format and leaving behind the brilliant "1940s" timeline. But that's a whole other post).

For now, I would simply like to applaud ABC's new med-week laugh fest:

* "Hank" brings Frasier's Kelsey Grammer back into the fold - and it's a nice surprise to see a good somewhat old-fashioned TV comedy (after his unsuccessfull, but valiant attempt back into TV with "Back to You" on Fox a few seasons ago). Some are calling this a modern take on "Green Acres," and that may be true to some extent. However, where it was Eddie Albert's ("Oliver") choice to leave the city life for simpler living on "Green," it's not so with Grammer's "Hank." He loses his massive corporate position - and is forced into a "regular" life. Either way, I like "Hank" and his show. Grammer's a pro - and he'll make this work.

* "The Middle" stars "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Patricia Keaton as kind of decade-later "Maclom in the Middle" mom. The show is witty, visual-pleasing, and funny. And the cast is extremely talented and likable. ABC should stay right with this sweet and smart show.

* "Modern Family" features another stellar cast, headed by "Married With Children's" ED O'Neill as the matriach of a large, blended family. If only they could cool it with the mid-break documentary-style storytelling, and just stick to the "scripted" aspect of the show. In any case, everybody loves and annoys each other in this show, just like in real life. So, I'll be there every week to watch.

* "Cougar Town" delivers the still-oh-so-hot Courtney "Friends" Cox back to the small screen - just in time to prove to the rest of us that turning fortysomething doesn't automatically lead to death.

Thank you, ABC - for all of this - and so much more.

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