Summer TV = Mix of reality crap, reality fun, and reality. Now, original scripted shows with promotion. Wow.
What ABC Says about “Scoundrels” and “The Gates”:
A family of small-town criminals is shaken when their father is sentenced to a surprisingly long prison term, leaving mom to take care of the criminally enterprising brood. In an effort to keep her kids out of trouble, she decides it’s time for the family to go straight, despite their best efforts to maintain the status quo, on the premiere of “Scoundrels,” SUNDAY, JUNE 20 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
Virginia Madsen, Independent Spirit Award winner as well as an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee (“Sideways,” “The Astronaut Farmer”) stars as Cheryl West, the mother who must take charge and try to keep her kids on the straight and narrow. “Scoundrels” also stars David James Elliott as Wolfgang “Wolf” West, Patrick Flueger as Logan West/Calvin “Cal” West, Leven Rambin as Heather West, Vanessa Marano as Hope West and Carlos Bernard as Sergeant Mack.
The Monohan family move into their new home in The Gates, an exclusive community of perfectly manicured lawns and friendly neighbors. But things grow complicated when Nick Monohan, the new Chief of Police, has to investigate those neighbors in a missing persons case during his first day on the job. Claire and Dylan Radcliff fight to hide not only their involvement in Nick’s case, but their rather unusual family secret. Meanwhile, Charlie Monohan tries to adjust to his new school, finding a friend in the beautiful but unavailable Andie Bates. Just when his family is finally settling in, Nick’s world is rocked by a late-night caller with some terrible news, on the premiere of “The Gates,” SUNDAY, JUNE 20 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“The Gates” stars Frank Grillo as Nick Monohan, Marisol Nichols as Sarah Monahan, Rhona Mitra as Claire Radcliff, Luke Mably as Dylan Radcliff, Travis Caldwell as Charlie Monohan, Skyler Samuels as Andie Bates, Colton Haynes as Brett Crezski, Chandra West as Devon, Victoria Platt as Peg Mueller, Justin Miles as Marcus Jordan and Janina Gavankar as Leigh Turner.
As I said in the top, this is not what networks especially broadcast do in the summer and I really am happy that ABC is giving it a shot and actually promoting them. I can not tell you how many commercials I have seen for the “New Summer Sunday” during the NBA finals and all across their finales last month, sadly I just wish the shows were better.
To start with the Scoundrels at 9/8c, it is not the first incarnation of this original series out of New Zealand. In 2008, Catherine O’hara led an ABC pilot that was thisclose to getting a pickup but the strike put a dent in their plans. I read the script and it was so, so much better than this version that is led by a Oscar-nominated Virginia Madsen. Scoundrels does not try to not be cheap. The look and the music of the series is so little put together and off-putting and really highlighted the shallow writing. The acting is not half bad and the girls Vanessa Marano and Leven Rambin are both funny and charming, while Patrick Flueger is horrendous in both characters he plays and it does not help that the wig he wears as the stealing son is so, again, cheap.
At 10/9c, another international co-production like ABC’s Gravity from last year is this time is The Gates. Again as, us Americans want, we get [spoiler alert] vampires and more supernatural goodness. As much as I wanted to go into this with a “Why!” attitude, I came out pleasantly but cautiously optimistic. I can tell you that you have seen The Gates before, many times, but I did not mind seeing this Desperate Housewives-esque drama again. Rhona Mitra plays the lead, a suburban addicted vampire and she is deliciously fun and the kids and secrets in the pilot keep me engaged. However, the entry-point of the show a new family moving into the gated community is dull, and the patriarch, the new police chief story is a procedural trapped in a show that does not need that aspect. Hopefully the producers will see this problem.
If you are watching True Blood on Sunday and want more dramas it is not a terrible idea to check into The Gates at 10/9c, even though it might not be totally worth it but just skip over its lead in and do yourself a favor.