Alphabetically-speaking, the American Broadcasting Company always lands atop a list of the major television networks. ABC's executives, however, seem eager to prove that there's little in a name. Why else would they put so much effort into ensuring their shows score poorer with viewers than any other network?
In all honesty, when it comes to one of ABC's mainstays, I would rather watch old episodes of Inside Edition (hosted by Bill O'Reilly) than Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I get that EM:HE is a hit with do-gooders, but when I log hours in front of the tube, I want entertainment, not reminders of how uncharitable I am. At some point, they ought to use those vast resources to fix host Ty Pennington's lisp; I'd tune in for that.
I nearly enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, so when its small screen counterpart Ugly Betty cropped up, I felt obliged to take in an episode. But it stunk. Sadly but unsurprisingly, America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams are no Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. In fact, they're not even close.
I've seen every episode of Grey's Anatomy, so a spin-off ought to have thrilled me, but Private Practice is a waste of time. Grey's may have imparted one of its characters but certainly none of the magic.
In addition to remaining loyal to my favorite hospital drama, I've used the last year to get caught up on and completely addicted to Lost and to become a raging fan of three other ABC series. For a moment, I truly believed that ABC might come to mean America's Best Channel. But the moment was fleeting. Of my triumvirate of new favorites, none were picked up for the fall schedule. Not one.
Better Off Ted, ABC's response to the The Office, had funny dialogue and ridiculous-but-loveable characters. In fact, the show may have even been a hit if only its host network began with an "N" instead of an "A."
Eli Stone--a wonderfully original portrait of a now soft-hearted lawyer whose aneurism gives him prophetic visions--is also getting the axe. Despite a stellar ensemble cast (including Jonny Lee Miller, Victor Garber, Natasha Henstridge and Matt Letscher), a wacky Ally McBeal-ish undercurrent and irreverent appearances by George Michael in Stone's visions, it overshot the mainstream mark. But I dug it.
At least the producers of Life on Mars, a remake of a 2006 British show, had the good sense to film a series finale after being notified of cancellation. It was a pathetic conclusion, but at least I don't lie awake at night wondering how it would have ended. (I'll have the original series soon and intend to devote a week's worth of Vidiocy to comparing the two versions.)
Consider that Grey's--a show notorious for extracting its most interesting doctors--is foundering, and this network has tossed its final turd into my punch bowl. ABC is rapidly regressing into the American Broadcasters of Crap. Clearly, they're hell-bent on installing an entire lineup's worth.