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TV promos try to lure women to fall TV

August 11, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
It can't be a coincidence that most of the promos I've seen for the upcoming TV season are aimed squarely at women. The networks must really want a female audience.

But is anyone interested in watching a beautiful 20-something get revenge on the rich folk who did her daddy wrong? Or how about a reboot of "Charlie's Angels," starring three beautiful 20-somethings wearing devil costumes? They're"three little girls who aren't angels," as the latest incarnation of boss Charlie puts it in the voice over. The "not angels" even say "Hello, Charlie!" like Farrah Fawcett.

The first, a new ABC series called "Revenge," sounds like a classic soap. The protagonist (Emily Van Camp) promises earnestly that this is NOT a show about forgiveness. The problem is that a show like this needs the heroine to come across as either a naughty minx who will have fun giving high society its just desserts or a wounded little girl powered by a Biblical rage or, better yet, a combination of the two. Too bad that in the preview VanCamp sounds like she's mildly annoyed at the meanie who stole the last cookie. If there's anything the audience won't forgive, it's a lousy story and lousier acting. My first impression from the preview is that "Revenge" will feature both. "Revenge" will air at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC and is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 21.

The promo for ABC's "Charlie's Angels" makes it look like an updated version of the original 1970s program, which was basically just a chance for the male audience to watch Farrah Fawcett jiggle on the screen. They may be aiming for "female empowerment," a word I've never liked, with this series but I think they've missed the mark. It just comes across as mildly insulting. "Charlie's Angels" is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Thursdays on ABC and will debut on Sept. 22.

I'm a little more interested than I thought I would be in the upcoming ABC series "Once Upon a Time," an updated fairy tale. The premise seems to be that Snow White and Prince Charming and the other denizens of fairy tale land somehow got trapped in another dimension, this one, and have forgotten who they really are. The protagonist is their long-lost daughter Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a bail bondsman who begins to investigate her origins after she is tracked down by the 10-year-old son she gave up for adoption. The boy tells her something is strange about the people in Storybrook and it has something to do with her.

There will be scenes set in the alternate/fairy tale world and other scenes with the same characters in the "real" world of Storybrook. The costumes and cinematography in the preview looks gorgeous. I usually prefer science fiction to fantasy, but this show looks like it could be very good. Of course, it's such a risky premise that it could also turn out to be spectacularly bad. I liked Jennifer Morrison as Cameron on "House, M.D.," so I'm inclined to give it a shot. "Once Upon a Time" is scheduled to air on ABC at 7 p.m. Sundays and will premiere on Oct. 23.

CBS is billing its new fall show "A Gifted Man" as a show "in the tradition of "Ghost Whisperer" and "Medium." That's a hint they want women to watch it, since I'm guessing "Ghost Whisperer" and "Medium" were mainly watched by the ladies. After watching that promo, my first thought was "So why'd you get rid of "Medium" and "Ghost Whisperer" then?"

Judging by the promos for the new supernatural CBS flavor of the season, "A Gifted Man" seems to be a show about a jerky doctor who sees the ghost of his dead ex-wife, who wants to help him be a better man. Jennifer Ehle, about two decades older than when she played Elizabeth Bennet in the classic miniseries of "Pride and Prejudice," plays the ghost. Since only people (like me) with two X chromosomes sat through all six hours of "Pride and Prejudice", CBS probably figures Ehle will be another female draw. I hate to admit it, but they may have lured me into watching the first episode because of all those associations, because I liked "Ghost Whisperer" and "Medium" and "Pride and Prejudice" and shows about jerky doctors. But only good acting and a good, semi-original story will make me stick around past the first episode, so I hope "A Gifted Man" is bringing its A game. "A Gifted Man" will air at 7 p.m. Fridays on CBS and will premiere on Sept. 23.

Another of CBS's female skewing new TV dramas, "Unforgettable", is about a female police officer who is one of five people in the country with the "special ability" to remember every detail of every moment since the day she was born. It stars Poppy Montgomery, formerly of "Without a Trace." I like Montgomery and I liked "Without a Trace" and I even like cop shows with female leads, so I ought to love this. So far the promo is leaving me cold, though, and I keep thinking they should never have canceled "Without a Trace." Only time will tell how forgettable "Unforgettable" is. "Unforgettable will air at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on CBS. It's up against ABC's "Body of Proof," starring Dana Delany as an irascible medical examiner, so it's going against a show with a similar audience of 30- and 40-something women. I suspect I'll still like Delany's show better. "Unforgettable" debuts Sept. 20.

I've also seen promos for a couple of returning fall shows that skew towards women, including ABC's "Castle," which shows Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) on a gurney after being shot in the chest and her best friend Lanie frantically doing CPR on her and ordering her not to die. Flashbacks include a scene from last season's finale with Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) telling the injured Kate "I love you. Don't die." Then cue the sad music as Castle stands in the hospital hallway watching Beckett being wheeled away to surgery. Come on, guys. No one thinks Kate's going to die or that the producers are planning on putting Castle and Beckett together any time soon, but that promo is good enough to make me tune in anyway. "Castle" airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on ABC and will return on Sept. 19.

CBS's "The Good Wife" is a good one too."Why is it always the good girls who have the deep, dark secrets?" someone asks protagonist Alicia (Julianna Margulies), a defense attorney, who responds, in just the right tone, "Because we're catching up." Alicia has a lot to catch up on after last season, when she played the good political wife and took her cheating hubby back, only to discover that he'd slept with her best friend. The promo also shows Alicia's husband, the newly elected district attorney Peter (Chris Noth), smiling wryly and saying how it will be funny for them to be on opposite sides in court (but not funny in a laugh out loud kind of way.)

I can't be the only woman in the audience eager to see Alicia grind Peter into the dust this season and rub his nose in her new relationship with her boss Will. I have every confidence that the writers will give me what I want. THAT, "Revenge" producers, is how you do a soap and a promo for a soap. "The Good Wife" will air at 8 p.m. Sundays on CBS this season.


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