Fall TV Preview: ABC Loads Up on Laughs and… Christian Slater?

If there is a silver lining to be found in the end of the summertime—besides the fact that we’ll never have to hear Drake’s ubiquitous “Best I Ever Had” ever again—it’s that we are on the precipice of the fall television season. Thank goodness. In an effort to get you and your DVR prepared, here’s the Observer’s fall TV preview. We’ve already covered CBS, NBC and Fox. Now it’s time for ABC!

The Forgotten (Tuesdays at 10 p.m., premieres September 22)

What ABC says: “From executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes a crime show in which a team of dedicated amateurs work on cases involving unidentified victims. After the police have given up, this group must first solve the puzzle of the victim’s identity in order to then help catch the killer. They work to give the deceased back their names, lest they become—The Forgotten.”

What we say: Read that synopsis again and now imagine this series stars Christian Slater. Yup, this show won’t make it to November.

What we’ll say six months from now: The Forgotten? Already did. Ding!”

Hank (Wednesdays at 8 p.m., premieres September 30)

What ABC says: “Kelsey Grammer stars in this timely comedy as Hank Pryor, a titan of industry who suddenly finds himself out of work, almost out of money and around a wife and kids for whom he’s never made much time.”

What we say: ABC is premiering four comedies this fall—all on Wednesday; we’ll get to the other three shortly—but we think this has a chance to be the biggest success. In an era of high concept ideas, Hank is a throwback: comfort food comedy starring a big and familiar star. It’s just what mainstream American is looking for!

What we’ll say six months from now: “We can’t say we’re surprised that Hank is the only ABC comedy to not get canceled.”

The Middle (Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., premieres September 30)

What ABC says: “The Hecks are a middle class family living in the middle of Indiana, just trying to keep their heads above water. Emmy-winner Patricia Heaton stars as a wife and mother of three in a comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations.”

What we say: In an era of high concept ideas, The Middle is a throwback: comfort food comedy starring… Err. While we’re sold on Hank, consider us less excited for the prospects of The Middle, which appears to be a rehash of Malcolm in the Middle, right down to the title. No thanks. We didn’t watch that show the first time.

What we’ll say six months from now: “Patricia Heaton does make a good Fox News pundit!”

Modern Family (Wednesdays at 9 p.m., premieres September 23)

What ABC says: “Today’s American families come in all shapes and sizes. Shot from the perspective of an unseen documentary filmmaker, this comedy takes a modern look at the complications that come with being a family in 2009.”

What we say: If we’re to believe television critics, Modern Family could be the funniest new show of the fall. Yet based on the handful of clips we’ve seen, Modern Family feels like just another sitcom that strains too hard to be hip and edgy. The t problems lie in the casting: Can you imagine sitting down to watch a series starring Ed O’Neill that isn’t named Married… With Children?

What we’ll say six months from now: “For a show that was canceled after twelve episodes, Modern Family sure made a lot of year-end critic lists.”

Cougar Town (Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m., premieres September 23)

What ABC says: “Courteney Cox stars as a recently divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in our beauty and youth obsessed culture.”

What we say: Nope, it’s not a cheesy reality show. The most unfortunately-titled new show of the fall comes from Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and marks Courteney Cox’s return to network television. This should be a cause for celebration, but Cougar Town looks exhausted before it even premieres. In the race to cancelation, expect it to finish a close second to Accidentally On Purpose in the over-40 division.

What we’ll say six months from now: “Courteney Cox was bad on Cougar Town, but I’m loving her on MILF Island!”

Eastwick (Wednesdays at 10 p.m., premieres September 23)

What ABC says: “Three very different women (Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jamie Ray Newman) find themselves drawn together by a mysterious man who unleashes unique powers in each of them, and this small New England town will never be the same. The series is based on the popular movie The Witches of Eastwick and on the novel of the same title by John Updike.”

What we say: When it comes to campy primetime soaps, sometimes ABC hits (Desperate Housewives) and sometimes they don’t (Dirty Sexy Money). Eastwick looks like a blend of the two, but we’re not exactly sure where the audience for this series will come from. Don’t get too attached.

What we’ll say six months from now: “It’s nice to see Lindsay Price getting an arc on Desperate Housewives.”

Flash Forward (Thursdays at 8 p.m., premieres September 24)

What ABC says: “When a mysterious event causes the entire world to black out, humanity is given a glimpse into its near future, and every man, woman and child is forced to come to grips with whether their destinies can be avoided or fulfilled.”

What we say: The terrible timeslot aside—what better lead-in for Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice than a sci-fi show!—Flash Forward is among the more anticipated entries of the fall. Whether or not it can live up to all the hype is almost irrelevant; with a sprawling cast that includes former Lost stars Dominic Monaghan (Charlie!) and Sonya Walger (Penny!)—not to mention the trippy/cool premise—we already know we’ll be giving it a shot.

What we’ll say six months from now: “We have to say: Flash Forward? Not bad.”

Fall TV Preview: ABC Loads Up on Laughs and… Christian Slater?