Thursday, June 17, 2010

ABC's Summer Season Gets Out of the "Gates"

It’s hard to tell if there have been more promos for ABC’s “Summer Season” recently than there have been ads for Cellino & Barnes and Billy Fuccillo.

But the promo-ad contest is closer than the NBA finals series between Boston and Los Angeles that ends tonight with Game 7.

In the word of Fuccillo, ABC’s promo campaign has been “huge.”

It has caught the attention of my best friend, who asked me “if any of those summer shows are any good.”

The short answer: They’re certainly a slight improvement over watching Sunday reruns of prime time soap operas like “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers & Sisters.”

“Scoundrels” and “The Gates,” which premiere at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday, respectively on Channel 7, clearly are designed to counter the summer run of network viewers to cable series.

It’s a noble effort by ABC, but both series cry out for more cable-like treatment.

Based on a New Zealand series, “Scoundrels” features Virginia Madsen and David James Elliott (“JAG”) as the attractive, happily-married, husband-wife team of criminals. They have four children -- a blonde bimbo, her smart sister and a lawyer son who has an evil criminal twin. Carlos Bernard (“24”) also is aboard as a cop following the criminal adventures of the family in Palm Springs, Calif. The family has two rules -- its members don't invade people's homes and they don't use violence. But we all know rules are made to be broken.

The premise pilot – by now you know that means it establishes the premise – brings to mind some similarities to the failed FX series of a few seasons ago, “The Riches.” However, the pace is very slow – maybe that’s more acceptable in New Zealand -- and there’s a scandalously low level of humor.

Now on to “The Gates,” which is about a husband-and-wife team of vampires living in a low-crime, gated suburban community. I know what many readers might be thinking. Oh, no, not another vampire series. Already there are HBO’s “True Blood” (which also plays on Sunday) and the CW’s “Vampire Diaries” and reruns of “Moonlight.” And I'm sure I'm forgetting something else.

But at least “The Gates” has British actress Rhona Mitra (see below), the former “Boston Legal” and “Nip/Tuck” star, as the vampire who can’t control herself even though her husband runs a bio-tech company that supplies enough blood to feed all the vampires on TV.

Everything is fine inside “The Gates,” until a former Chicago cop arrives with his family to start a new life. He actually thinks it is his job to investigate suspicious behavior.

It all plays like “True Blood”-light, without an ounce of the HBO series’ bizarrely entertaining features. That said, there are worse things than spending a Sunday night with Mitra.

Ratings, based on a summer curve: “Scoundrels”: 2 stars out of 4; “The Gates”: 2 and a half stars

* Channel 4 News has been running promos congratulating itself for winning the May sweeps. Now it has more reasons to celebrate.

According to the station’s research department, News 4 was No. 1 in all newscasts in the key demographics of adults age 18-49, 25-54 and women 25-54. The station also noted that rival Channel 2 had big demographic declines from February in four time slots.

Of course, that was predictable since Channel 2’s February numbers were inflated by NBC’s coverage of the Vancouver Olympics.

On the award front, Channel 4 won two prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in electronic journalism for its coverage of Flight 3407. Channel 2 also won a Murrow Award for a moving sports feature by reporter Aaron Saykin about the bond between a Cheektowaga man and his son and St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols.

1 comment:

  1. I love good old PBS Doc Martin, which I've been watching in it's late stages, therefore catching up via the web. The new stuff on TV stinks. PBS is my Fave.