On Day 8 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour, ABC and ABC Family introduced their new programming, and the following is a snapshot-look at a few of their new series.
“Chasing Life” is a remarkable new TV series that debuted in June on ABC Family Channel about a young woman who finds out she has cancer. What should be a tough subject to bring levity to, “Chasing Life” found a unique and charming way to introduce us to the life of April Carver, fantastically portrayed by Italia Ricci. The show starts out with the very day April’s life starts to take off with a cool job opportunity and meeting a dashing young man, she finds out she has leukemia. The show has embraced April’s struggle to keep everything she has worked so hard to attain and to still pursue her dreams, while depicting the trials of dealing with cancer too. The show features a strong heart-warming family at the center and April’s family has their own hilarious and heart-tugging storylines as well. They emphasize that, just because someone has cancer, it does not mean that life stops for everyone. So “Chasing Life” reveals how this amazing family comes together and still tackles their own daily challenges. Confession: From the first episode this show captured my heart. I fell head over heels for it and am so grateful that this show was given a chance to bring its wonderful story and incredible characters to my television screen. Point of interest: Italia Ricci co-starred with Jordan Gavaris (“Orphan Black”) in the Cartoon Network series “Unnatural History.” It was another family-friendly show that I loved whole-heartedly and miss to this day. (“Chasing Life” premiered in June and continues to air new episodes on Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m. on ABC Family Channel.)
“How To Get Away With Murder” comes from Shonda Rhimes and will air Thursday nights after “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” The premise is a group of students in law school are taking a class about criminal defense and how they become embroiled in an actual murder case — but on the wrong side. It is one thing when a case is about other people and working hard to prepare their defense or to prosecute the guilty; it is entirely different when you may be on the receiving end of the ruthless U.S. justice system. Suddenly the importance of getting away with murder becomes a higher priority. Starring Viola Davis (“The Help”) as their hard-as-nails professor, who also is a top-notch defense attorney, the show is a no-holds-barred examination of what people will do when the stakes are raised and their own lives are on the line. The tricky part of this new series is this group of students are a bit arrogant, cut-throat and completely unaware of how unprepared they are for real life and real stakes. Their unlikeability will be a hurdle that audiences will have to overcome in order to want to stick with the show; and, until a true hero is identified, audiences might just be rooting that these students are caught. Show’s tagline: “No one is who they seem to be.” Point of interest: There is quite a bit of overt sexual situations and any ambiguity as to the characters and their relationships is intentional by the writers. Confession: I was not impressed with the pilot episode or the characters. I am hopeful the show finds its footing and can establish itself as a more appealing show. (Premieres September 25, 2014.)
“Selfie” is a modern, comedic take on the classic film “My Fair Lady,” about a young professional who wants to be made-over so that she can rise up in the world and be perceived as someone more sophisticated and successful. Starring John Cho (“Sleepy Hollow,” “Go On”) and Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who”), their characters have a great comedic relationship of mentor-mentee that really invites viewers to cheer for them as they try to work together and accomplish a nearly miraculous transformation. Their on-screen chemistry really pops and it will draw viewers back for more episodes. Confession: This show is on my “must watch” list this Fall. I absolutely loved the pilot episode and highly recommend checking it out. (Premieres September 30, 2014.)
“Forever” is a fun drama/comedy series, offering a police procedural with an unexpected supernatural twist. The show centers on a medical examiner who literally cannot die — or more accurately, each time he dies, he comes right back — surfacing in the nearest large body of water. He simply returns each and every time. So his medical experience comes largely from his own attempts at trying every single way he can think of to kill himself. After hundreds of attempts, one day he finally resigned himself that he had better use his uniquely acquired knowledge of death and dying in a productive way and now uses it to determine how other people have died, working for the New York medical examiner’s office. Starring Ioan Gruffudd, as Dr. Henry Morgan, the show actually is quite fascinating to watch with such an appealing actor as a cool, mysterious character who helps solve crimes. Co-star Judd Hirsh, who co-stars, summed up who the character of Henry is by sharing a beautiful poem by Hilary Stanton Zunin: “The risk of love is loss; the the price of loss is grief; but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.” In the pilot episode, Henry’s path crosses with Detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza) who senses there is something very different about him, and the on-screen chemistry of Ioan and Alana contributes to the sizzle-factor for the show. Confession: I loved the pilot episode and rewatched it several times, and am hopeful viewers fall under its spell as much as I did. Point of interest: For each “resurrection,” Ioan Gruffudd is featured in the buff and there are four deaths/resurrections in the pilot episode. Very eye-catching and hilarious. (Premieres September 23, 2014.)
That is a wrap on Day 8 at TCA. Look for more upcoming snapshots from TCA Summer 2014 on the new shows and TV specials coming up for Fall 2014.