ABC Red Carpet Screening Tour: A Review   

Thanks to Ducky and Seat42f, I knew about ABC’s “Red Carpet Screening Tour” a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I saw Orlando on the list, I began searching down info on it. I was positively DELIGHTED that I was going to get a sneak peek at Pushing Daisies. I’ve been looking forward to it since [info]bdbdb first started talking about it long ago.

Since he’s my local fellow TV addict, I “dragged” my friend Greg along with me. Overall it was a great night. We had fun, I won some swag (though I should have won more, after all I am the TV whore!) and we enjoyed both shows. I had a few complaints but they were mostly due to the humidity and long wait to see the actual shows. Well that and the part where an ABC owned affiliate apparently couldn’t afford a decent projector and we were forced to watch trapezoid shaped shows that barely filled up the screen space available, but I’m not bitter about it or anything.

Now, I will tell you that the attendance here in Orlando was rather sparse but I blame that on our local affiliate’s failure to promote it and, if this tour is coming to a town near you, it’s definitely worth attending.

ABC has actually done a good job in providing signage, etc. On the surface, they definitely seemed well organized. The DwTS keychains they handed out were cheap the Red Carpet t-shirts aren’t all that fancy or impressive but all of their other giveaways were great. They have things from most of their shows. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We got there to find a few different booths set up. There were two casting booths, one for WifeSwap and one for Supernanny. If you do plan to attend one of these screenings, expect to roll your eyes at the number of times your MC (Matt) will find a way to ask people in the crowd if they are married and want to swap their wives or if their children need the super nanny. They also had a prize booth, red carpet area with life-size cutouts of the desperate housewives, and a food booth. Hey, who doesn’t like free popcorn (made with Wesson oil! – there might’ve been a bet) and cotten candy… even if it takes a couple of decades for that popcorn to pop.

While we were waiting for it to get dark, we got to answer a lot of trivia questions about ABC shows. Hmmm, if I had known that the swag would get substantially better as the night progressed, I probably wouldn’t have answered so many questions at the beginning of the night. As it was, I missed out on the chance to snag bags full of DVD sets, t-shirts, and other goodies because the MC knew I had already won several times (what can I say, I really am a TV whore). The trivia was a little lame but it was fun testing my TV knowledge. (Greg would probably butt in at this time to tell you how I embarassingly forgot Betty’s last name.)

They handed out fans that used LED lights to spell out, “WATCH ABC, THIS FALL.” Handy since it was ridiculously muggy to be at an outdoor event in Florida. I checked out the prize booth and won an Ugly Betty notebook from the prize wheel and proceeded to suck miserably at the grab the money thing. If there had been real money in there, I would have walked away with $2. Sad, right?

At some point, I broke down and suggested to Greg that we walk down to Panera’s for dinner instead of continuing to wait for the shows to start. I’m still annoyed that I didn’t suggest it earlier so that we could have gone somewhere nicer to eat and relaxed for an hour or so in AC but, ah well, next time! (So, if you’re lucky enough to attend one of these, know that the actual shows won’t air until it’s dark out so you don’t necessarily have to be there at the very beginning of the event.) As it turned out, we had perfect timing. We finished our dinner and made it back just as they were wrapping up the trivia and getting ready for the shows.

And, finally, on to the shows! Back when I first commented on these shows, I was already convinced I was going to love Pushing Daisies but I was NOT impressed by the preview for Carpoolers. I’m happy to say I wasn’t wrong about Pushing Daisies but I way too hard on Carpoolers. Read more about each below to see my reactions to the pilots. No spoilers beyond the premise of the shows and basic summary information about the first episodes of each.

Wednesdays @ 8:00 PM This Fall

This quirky show that is a mix of fantasy, romance, and crime solving procedural comes from the mind of Bryan Fuller (Heroes, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me) and I can’t recommend it enough. There’s just something magical about the show from the story itself to the beautiful way it is shot.

The premise: When he was young, Ned (Lee Pace) discovered that he had an extraordinary gift: his touch can bring dead things back to life. But, as with any great gift, there are rules and consequences. The first touch? Brings life. The second? Eternal death.

Needless to say, grown up Ned is very careful about how he uses his gift even if it’s to help his private investigator friend, Emerson (Chi McBride), solve crimes and collect the rewards. Until the day Emerson asks Ned to bring his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel), back to life and Ned keeps her alive. Life has suddenly gotten a lot more complicated for Ned. Not only does Chuck want him to do more with his gift, he can’t touch her again or she’ll be dead for good.

The first episode: This episode is all about setting up the premise and figuring out who murdered Chuck. We get introduced to all of the major players in the story, including Ned’s diner The Pie Hole. This episode does a great job at both explaining the premise to us and also letting us know what to expect from the show since it includes both the background story and an ongoing investigation.

I can’t say enough about the cinematography. It’s just stunning. In a recent interview, Bryan Fuller said he’s more afraid of losing the look they’ve established than being able to maintain the uniqueness of the stories and now I know what he meant. The story this show is telling is as much about the actual story as the look of that story. I can’t wait to see what they come up with every week.

There’s also a… sweetness about the story. Which isn’t to say it’s sappy. It’s not. It’s not coyingly sweet either. There’s just something about it that tugs at your heart even though we’re dealing with the macabre. And it’s funny. Like really, really funny. I don’t know if it’s just the juxtaposition of the subject and the quirky or what but I laughed a lot more than I expected.

In conclusion: Watch it. Everyone should check out the first episode for sure. It may be a little too quirky for some but I think they’ve managed to balance the quirky with great characters and a sense of humor so it definitely has the potential to be a big hit. My biggest fear is that it’ll be too quirky for the mainstream and ABC won’t give it enough time to catch on. Then again, they’ve taken some risks in past years and given some of my favorite shows the benefit of the doubt. I just hope they do the same here because this one’s got the heart to capture people’s interest and I really hope that’s what happens because I need this show to last a full season if not many more.

Pushing Daisies is currently set to air Wednesday nights at 8PM on ABC this fall! If you want to keep up with the latest news about Pushing Daisies or are looking for a place to discuss it, check out , an LJ community dedicated to the show.

Tuesdays @ 8:30 PM This Fall

Like I said, I was wrong about my first impression of this show. The preview only highlighted an in-car scene and I was thrown off by the way it was shot. However, this is a geniunely funny show and I wasn’t the only person laughing at the jokes so I think it has a good chance of surviving the Fall.

The premise: Uh, well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Four guys from different backgrounds share the same commute and enjoy the chance to commiserate with each other about their lives, jobs, and families. You’ve got the new guy, Dougie (Tim Peper), who is a newlywed and not quite as cynical about life as, well, the other guys. There’s the guy who recruited him, timid homemaker and breadwinner Aubrey (Jerry Minor). Then you’ve got Laird (Jerry O’Connell) and Gracen (Fred Gross), best friends who couldn’t be more different. Laird is recently divorced and a bit of a playboy whereas Gracen is conservative and traditional with a loving wife and a son whose a little too old to still be living at home.

The first episode: It’s Dougie’s first week in the carpool and he’s got to find his place with the guys just as Gracen realizes that he’s not quite as needed by his family as he used to be. Laird, still struggling with his recent divorce, tries to be a good friend to Gracen and then worries that he ended up making things worse. So he gets the other guys together to try and take care of the thing they think started the issues in the first place.

Ok, yeah, I am being vague there because saying much more will be giving away too much. The good thing about the show is that the premise is pretty much covered by the title of the show so they don’t really have to spend too much time setting it up in the pilot. Having Dougie be a new addition to the carpool gives us a reason to get “introductions” to each of the guys but the real introductions are the interactions between the guys.

I was surprised by how really funny the show is. I laughing all the way through it and it was can’t help but laugh out loud belly laughing. I can’t even remember the jokes at this moment but thinking about the events of the episode has me smiling. It’s partly because there’s a good mix of characters. They are each so different and yet you buy that they have forged a friendship during their daily commute. And they’re talking about things that we can all relate to… their wives buying expensive houseware items, what it’s like to have a new wife and baby at home, dealing with the loss of a spouse, feeling overburdened by life, etc.

Of all the shows about friendships this season, I think this may be the most realistic out there. I may change my mind once I see the pilots for the others but, for now, I think these guys are the ones people will relate to the most. The humor in this show comes from things that we can all understand and I think that’ll be a huge selling point.

In conclusion: Give the pilot a chance to make you laugh. This won’t be a show you have to watch each week but it very well may be you want to watch each week. So, give it a chance to win you over.

Carpoolers is currently set to air Tuesdays at 8:30 PM on ABC this fall.

8 Responses to “ABC Red Carpet Screening Tour: A Review”

  1. 1
    harper47 says:

    Glad you had a good time and the weather cooperated by not raining on you. No need to pimp Pushing Daisies for me since I’m fully on board. I will give Carpoolers a try (depending on how many other shows I’m watching in it’s time slot)but the concept still isn’t high on my must see list.

    Glad you left full of swag!

  2. 2
    eolivet says:

    What an unbelievably fun-sounding event!! Dude, you got better swag than the Upfront (we got keychains with lights ;) It’s like a mini-Upfront touring across the country…what a good idea for promoting a new fall season. :)

    Do they show different Pilots in different cities or was everyone PD and Carpoolers? Or did they air multiple shows at once? :) Inquiring minds want to know. :D

    I was surprised by how really funny the show is. I laughing all the way through it and it was can’t help but laugh out loud belly laughing.

    I’m so glad you liked it — and I love your word choice, too — it provides belly laughs. It’s not humor out of cleverness or snarkiness or even cruelty/discomfort, like the majority of comedies today. It’s just genuinely funny. :) And it hurts my heart that it’s airing out of the horrific “Cavemen.” :/

    Eeeeee, I’m so glad you liked PD, too — though I knew (well, hoped! :) you would!!! I can’t wait until you get to see “Bionic Woman” — would be very curious for your reaction to that, too. :)

  3. 3
    raelee says:

    Haha, well it wasn’t THAT fun. They really did have some good swag, though!

    They are doing the same two pilots in a bunch of different cities… I shouldn’t say a bunch because it’s actually a small number of cities given the size of the country. Less than 15. They were supposed to show Sam I Am or Samantha B Good or… Samantha Who. Whatever they’re calling it these days. I dunno if they pulled it because of issues relating to the title change or what but I don’t think it was shown in any of the cities.

    They showed PD followed by Carpoolers but they led in with a bunch of promos for the new fall shows. Probably some abbreviated version of the previews you might have seen at upfronts? They’ve pretty much been doing one city a weekend. In fact, I’m pretty sure ABC has them ship the signs and other promo things to each new city each week.

    Well, I’ve decided to go to the Bionic Woman screening at Comic Con so you should have my reaction to that soon! :)

  4. 4
    eolivet says:

    They were supposed to show Sam I Am or Samantha B Good or… Samantha Who

    Ugh, don’t get me started on that horrific re-titling! The only possible objection I can think of to “Sam I Am” (a very catchy title) was it was unclear Sam was a girl. “Samantha Who” is marginally better than “Samantha B Good” (whoever came up with that should be fired yesterday), but it makes me think she’s a time-traveling alien — and independent of that, it’s too self-consciously cutesy. Sigh…

    Probably some abbreviated version of the previews you might have seen at upfronts?

    Depends…were they 3-5 minutes long? If so, they were the exact promos we saw at Upfronts. :D

    “Bionic Woman” was one of my favorite Pilots, and my favorite NBC one, so…yay!!! :D

  5. 5
    raelee says:

    Well, they only changed the original title because the Dr. Suess estate was threatening to sue them over it. Which, now that I think about it, is probably exactly why they didn’t show it.

    The whole of the previews were 3-5 minutes long? Or each? Because the whole preview thing was probably a few minutes long. The one that stands out to me is that the Private Practice preview was very much focused on Addison and did a whole thing on her GA connection before even showing brief glimpses of PP.

  6. 6
    eolivet says:

    Well, they only changed the original title because the Dr. Suess estate was threatening to sue them over it.

    Oh, wow…seriously? I hadn’t heard that…oops. :x Interesting… ABC isn’t the best at naming shows, I don’t think. If so, we’d have “Betty the Ugly” and “The Practice: Fleet Street.”

    Because the whole preview thing was probably a few minutes long.

    Ah, OK — no, each preview at the Upfront was 3-5 minutes long. But they did focus on Addison and her GA connection for PP — I think they actually wanted to remind people about PP’s connection to GA — given how badly the spinoff was received when it first aired. :/

  7. 7
    frankdbunny says:

    Definitely looking forward to Pushing Daisies. Hard to go wrong when you put Bryan Fuller and Lee Pace together.

  8. 8
    catatonia00 says:

    I’m so completely sold on Pushing Daisies. Can’t wait to see it.