Trying to zip through the ABC pilots so I can get back to the rest of whatever it is I do. Some first impressions -- as always, these aren't reviews, as too many things can and will change between now and September -- of "Betty the Ugly" and "Big Day" after the jump...
"Betty the Ugly"
Who's In It: America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Vanessa "Miss America, not the other one" Williams, Ashley Jensen, Alan Dale, Tony Plana, etc.
What It's About: An adaptation of the popular telenovela about a plain-looking woman swimming with the skinny, Botox'ed sharks at a high-end fashion magazine.
Pluses: Continuing to show she's one of the bravest, least vain actresses in Hollywood, Ferrera is a lot of fun as the braces-wearing, fashion senseless Betty, who makes up in brains and moxie what she lacks in style. While the tone isn't quite as campy as your average telenovela (as a contrast, producer Salma Hayek pops up from time to time as an actress on a telenovela-within-the-telenovela that's much more over the top), it still has a fizzy tone that works with the material, and Vanessa Williams does a great Joan Collins/Heather Locklear diva turn. Overall, one of the more entertaining pilots I've seen this season.
Minuses: Really, just the timeslot. I haven't seen "Brothers & Sisters" (for some reason, it was the only pilot ABC didn't send out), but I can't imagine it being a better pairing with "Desperate Housewives" than this. Putting this show Fridays at 8 seems like a waste of a perfectly good comic soap opera.
Who's In It: Marla Sokoloff, Josh Cooke, Wendie Malick, Kurt Fuller, Miriam Shor, Stephen Rannazzisi
What It's About: Real-time comedy spanning 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of a young couple's wedding.
Pluses: Very simply, it's funny. A lot of ridiculous stuff goes down on anyone's wedding day, and they've found enough of it -- my favorite is the groom wanting to walk down the aisle to the "What's Happening!!" theme song -- to fill out a pilot. Wendie Malick is never not good, and Stephnie Weir from "Mad TV" is great as the pathologically cowed wedding planner.
Minuses: There's definitely enough for a pilot, but an entire season? The last time Wendie Malick starred in a real-time romantic comedy pilot for ABC, it was "Jake in Progress" -- and shortly after the pilot was shot, everyone realized the degree of difficulty was way too high, and that they'd be better off doing self-contained episodes. And we all know how well that turned out for everyone. Will ABC and the producers change their minds a few episodes into the season, marry the couple off and turn it into "Mad About You: The Next Generation"?