ABC: Midseason Reviews

By: Tim Holland

Paranormal thriller The River follows a documentary crew’s efforts to find a missing wildlife expert (Bruce Greenwood) who suddenly vanishes in the Amazon. Oren Peli, who wrote and directed Paranormal Activity, created the series and serves as an executive producer along with Steven Spielberg. The River borrows heavily from Peli’s film and gets lots of jolts from its documentary and found-footage formats. As the crew members, along with the missing man’s wife (Leslie Hope) and family, delve deeper into the mysterious Amazon, they encounter unexplained forces that threaten not only their journey but their lives.The River feels like a scaled-down Lost with a nod to The X-Files. The pilot is riveting and involving, and takes viewers into heretofore uncharted territory. My advice: Immerse yourself in The River. Premieres February 7.

Missing is an action-packed thriller starring Ashley Judd as Becca Winstone, a former CIA agent searching for her missing son who vanishes while attending school in Italy. Complicating things for Becca is that while she is chasing leads about her son, thugs involved in her son’s disappearance are trying to kill her and the CIA is trying to catch her and ship her back to the U.S. Missing’s breakneck pace and continual twists are at times Bourne-like and that’s a good thing. Judd is great as the frantic mom, no surprise there, but she also delivers the goods as a fearless CIA operative who will stop at nothing to rescue her son. Missing’s 10 episodes were shot in 10 different European cities which gives the series an authentic  and cinematic feel that is sadly missing from most network TV endeavors. Premieres March 15.

Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 is a slightly edgier version of 2 Broke Girls starring Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker as odd-couple roommates in the Big Apple. Sadly, edgier doesn’t mean funnier or better. Ritter plays Chloe, a young woman with "the morals of a pirate" who lies, cheats and steals to get by. Her "gay BFF who is straight" is James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek. Van Der Beek plays a somewhat clueless version of himself and the biggest laughs are Dawson inspired. Dreama Walker plays Chloe’s earnest roommate, June, who quickly learns how much of a B Chloe is when she catches Chloe having sex with her fiancé. Of course, Chloe just did it to protect June from wasting her life with the skirt-chasing cad. How sweet. The show, while crude and rude, does, admittedly, have a big heart at its core. If only it were funny. Premieres April 11.

ABC doesn’t have to worry about what will replace Desperate Housewives when it concludes its 8th and final season this spring now that it has the fantastic GCB in its stable. GCB, based on the novel Good Christian Bitches, is a hoot and is a perfect companion piece to Desperate. It centers on Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb), a suddenly broke widow, who is forced to move back in with her fabulously wealthy mom (a delightful Annie Potts) in Dallas. Amanda wasn’t such a nice girl in high school so she’s not exactly welcomed back by some of her former female classmates who were once Amanda’s targets. Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Aspen, Miriam Shor and Marisol Nichols are the B’s of the title and they are a sensational comic force. GCB’s outrageously over-the-top characters could easily be cartoonish but thanks to a first-rate script and inspired performances they never are. GCB may be light entertainment but it’s seriously funny. Don’t miss it. Premieres March 4.

Scandal stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a top crisis manager in Washington, D.C. who is an expert in fixing other people’s problems but hasn’t a clue how to solve her own. The biggest of which is an affair with the U.S. President. Washington makes a strong impression as the determined Pope and she’s surrounded by an equally adept ensemble. The series, created by Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes, is a fast-talking, quick-paced hour that incorporates elements of legal thrillers and procedural dramas to deliver a unique look into the underbelly of the nation’s capitol. It’s a brave departure for the queen of relationship drama. It would be scandalous if her new show doesn’t succeed. Premieres April 5.


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