ABC’s new comedies for the 2014-15 season fall into three distinct categories: family, romantic and what the?! The first includes “Black-ish,” “Cristela” and midseason’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” the second contains “Manhattan Love Story” and the third includes the medieval musical “Galavant” and the Valley Girl accent sported by “Doctor Who” star Karen Gillan in “Selfie.”
The network introduced the new series with trailers shown for advertisers at its Lincoln Center upfront presentation on Tuesday (May 13). Here are Zap2it‘s first reactions to the new comedies:
Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.
Stars Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne introduced their new series, with Anderson saying, “It’s about every man because it’s about family and identity.” After viewing the first footage of the show, about a wealthy black family whose children are more up to date on the culture of their white classmates, that point was driven home even further. The not-so-subtle subtext: just because their skin’s a different color doesn’t mean they don’t have the same problems as everyone else! It’ll be a perfect lead-out from “Modern Family,” and the cast is solid.
Fridays at 8:30 p.m.
Comedian Cristela Alonzo stars as a woman taking an especially long time to finish law school, much to the chagrin of her traditional Mexican-American family. It’s another culture-clash comedy, but broader, and, again, should play well with its lead-in, “Last Man Standing.” The comedy is both biting and sweet, pointing out cultural differences without being too obvious. Alonzo has great comedic timing.
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
The aforementioned Gillan stars as an internet-famous party girl named Eliza who’s knocked down a few pegs and needs John Cho’s marketing guru Henry to help her rehabilitate her reputation. It’s from “Suburgatory” creator Emily Kapnek, so it’s got that same sharp sense of humor, and obviously an excellent casting director for nabbing those two leads. Lee says “it’s charming and it’s smart and it’s so well-written.” The third claim is probably true, but we’ll have to wait for the full pilot to judge the first two (and get past the inevitable use of that awful song “Selfie” in every promo this summer).
“Manhattan Love Story”
Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
The crowd seemed indifferent to the trailer for this New York City-set rom-com, which Lee purports is a “classic romantic comedy that shows why men and women have such a hard time getting along.” The dueling voiceovers work fine in the trailer, but how will they play during a full episode? (Or a full season?!)
This is the network’s biggest comedy risk of the season — a half-hour medieval fairy tale musical comedy with original songs penned by Alan Menken. (Yep, those words are all strung together in that order, you’re not imagining things.) ABC entertainment president Paul Lee calls it a “demented twist on the fairy tale genre,” a mix of “Spamalot” and “The Princess Bride.” It’s either going to be incredibly awesome or an epic failure — or both. Either way it’ll be quite interesting to watch.
“Fresh Off the Boat”
This one is about “one family chasing the American Dream and trying to fit in,” i.e. an 11-year-old boy who moves to Orlando with his Taiwanese immigrant parents in the ’90s. Sure, the premise seems a little tired — surely hijinks will ensue — but the jokes were as witty as you’d expect from the creator of “Don’t Trust the B**** in Apt. 23,” and star Constance Wu was hilarious as the boy’s unapologetic mother. This one got the most laughs in the room.