Say this for the Great Recession: it is prompting some creative new pitches at the upfronts. In a typical year, a network like ABC, which is not at the top of the ratings, would argue that it was still a good buy for advertisers because it had a god demographic. So ABC argued this year, but with a twist: buy ads on our network, they said, because our viewers are the only ones with enough money to buy anything.
I paraphrase, but only a little. “Who has the wherewithal to buy your brands?” asked president of sales and marketing Mike Shaw. “More and more, it’s upper-income households.” Which households, he claimed, are watching ABC shows, while other consumers have migrated to purchasing “private-label brands,” perhaps permanently.
That’s right, Coca-Cola! You may be placing your drinks on American Idol, but the Cletuses and Jolenes watching that show are sucking down store-brand cola by the crate from the Mega-Lo-Mart! Come to ABC, whose viewers savor the finest of prestige brands, like the plutocratic elite behind whitewashed walls in a banana republic! Or, as Jimmy Kimmel put it, in a scathing bit of standup, ABC is so upscale, “10% of our viewers watch ABC in a home they still own.”
The ABC showed clips. Lots and lots of clips. And an entire episode. And the entire first act of another show. Seriously, I’m not sure I need to watch anything on ABC next season because I believe I may well have seen it all. I think the Lost finale was in there somewhere. The titles and, to save my typing fingers, quick descriptions/impressions of the clip reels, after the jump:
FLASH FORWARD: ABC showed the whole first act, which mainly sets up the premise: everyone on Earth has a brief blackout (catastrophic, since many of them are driving, doing surgery, flying planes, etc. at the time) and a premonition of the future. Cool idea; execution so far reminds me a bit of those Sx Degrees / The Nine / everybody-is-all-connected shows ABC was doing a couple years ago.
THE FORGOTTEN: You thought Jerry Bruckheimer had run out of twists for crime procedurals? You’re wrong! Amateur sleuths identify the nameless victims of unsolved crimes, to bring closure to their families. Thus making them The Remembered.
EASTWICK: I cannot improve on the Twitter description of Televisionary, who called it “Lipstick Jungle with magic powers.”
HAPPYTOWN: Friendly town in Minnesota conceals a murderous secret. Potentially cool, if they don’t make the small-town characterizations too broad.
THE DEEP END: Smart, upscale, sexy lawyers! Has never been done on TV before.
V: Remake of the classic alien-invasion miniseries plays in the trailer, weirdly, like an allegory of the Obama election: aliens come to Earth, promise “hope” and “change” (words actually used), inspire cult-like devotion, but have creepy intent and are secretly lizards. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But it has potential to be Glenn Beck’s new favorite show.
HANK: Kelsey Grammer is an executive who goes bust and moves back to his hometown in what looks like a very broad sitcom that plays completely to his Frasier type.
THE MIDDLE: Patricia Heaton as a harried car saleswoman / mom of three in Indiana. Plays less like Roseanne than Malcolm in the Middle (appropriately); clips looked better than I expected.
COUGAR TOWN: Clips looked no better than I expected. Couretney Cox is forty-ish and trying to land a young, hot man, as ABC borrows ideas from TV Land.
MODERN FAMILY: ABC surprisingly showed the entire episode of this documentary-style sitcom about three very different family units. Yet because the pilot was constructed so that fully describing the premise would be a spoiler, I’m reluctant to say more right now. Except that it was very, very funny–but not, I think, especially commercial. (It reminded me of ABCs Sons & Daughters, which I loved, but which bombed.) Prove me wrong. America!