Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pilot Watch: ABC romantic comedies

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.

"Big Day"
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"?


dark tyler said...

I haven't seen "Brothers & Sisters" (for some reason, it was the only pilot ABC didn't send out)

I believe ABC is about to recast the role of Calista Flockhart's mother.

For some strange reason, I'm eagerly awaiting your opinion on Men in Trees. Is it actually as silly as it sounds?

Alan Sepinwall said...

And yet Fox sent out "The Wedding Album" even though they're recasting the lead.

Hope to finish the ABC pilots by the end of today.