ABC 2010-11 Comedy/Reality Trailers: BETTER TOGETHER, HAPPY ENDINGS, MR. SUNSHINE, SECRET MILLIONAIRE

     May 18, 2010

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With the release of ABC’s 2010-11 schedule comes a whole bunch of preview clips to promote the network’s new shows. On the comedy/reality side, we have short trailers for new fall shows Better Together and Secret Millionaire as well as midseason offerings Happy Endings and Mr. Sunshine. (For clips from ABC’s new comedies, click here.) Targeting me specifically, ABC spread the lovely ladies JoAnna Garcia, Eliza Coupe and Andrea Anders throughout their three new comedies to make sure I’ll watch each one. Check out the clips for yourself, as well as full synopses for each show, after the jump.

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BETTER TOGETHER

Maddie and Ben have been dating for nine years. They know each other inside and out, a relationship marked by contentment and affection, seeing their commitment to one another as a “valid life choice,” something they proclaim often — and often loudly. Maddie’s younger sister, Mia, has been dating Casey for seven weeks. With a shared c’est la vie attitude, Mia and Casey are smitten with each other, and thrilled to explore the oh-so-many things they don’t know about each other yet. But when they announce they’re getting married and having a baby, it’s news that throws Maddie for a loop. Surprisingly, the girls’ parents, Vicky and Joel, couldn’t be more pleased. Married 35 years, they have recently adopted a carpe diem sort of philosophy, rather like Mia’s, maybe because they’re getting older and lost a good portion of their savings when the economy tanked. With three very different relationships tightly intertwined in one family, will it be free thinkers vs. over-thinkers, or will each couple begin to see things a little bit differently?

“Better Together” stars JoAnna Garcia as Mia, Jennifer Finnigan as Maddie, Josh Cooke as Ben, Jake Lacy as Casey, with Kurt Fuller as Joel and Debra Jo Rupp as Vicky.

The series is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Silver and Gold Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Shana Goldberg-Meehan is executive producer and writer. The pilot was directed by James Burrows.

JoAnna Garcia is adorable, but I’m not sure about the central characters in this one. Or the jokes. That could be a problem.

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HAPPY ENDINGS

Forget who gets to keep the ring – when a couple splits, the real question is, who gets to keep the friends? In this modern comedy, a couple’s break-up will complicate all of their friends’ lives and make everyone question their choices. When life throws you for a curve, hold on tight to the people you love. Every circle of friends has someone who’s the gravitational center. For years, perfect couple Dave and Alex drew their friends in and held them together. Now that they’ve split, does this group have the stuff to stay together? Or do Max, Brad, Jane and Penny have to choose sides? Suddenly every event is a negotiation… like, who gets to go on the annual ski trip? There are a lot of big questions to be answered, but this group has been together so long, somehow, little by little, they’ll figure out how to hold on, even though their center is split up. It helps that Dave and Alex have agreed to stay friends. But there will definitely be other complications down the road – like Penny’s long-suppressed feelings for Dave. What is the waiting period for dating a friend’s ex? This show isn’t afraid to ask the embarrassing personal questions that inevitably arise in every long-term, close-knit group of friends.

“Happy Endings” stars Elisha Cuthbert (“24”) as Alex, Eliza Coupe as Jane, Zachary Knighton as Dave, Adam Pally as Max, Damon Wayans, Jr. as Brad and Casey Wilson as Penny.

From executive producers Jamie Tarses, Jonathan Groff, Anthony & Joe Russo, and co-executive producer David Caspe, “Happy Endings” examines the complex network of long-term friendships. The pilot was written by David Caspe and directed by Anthony & Joe Russo. The series is from Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios.

The trailer provided some laughs, and even if I’m not sure I’ll relate to the material, the actors sell it well.

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MR. SUNSHINE

Matthew Perry stars as Ben Donovan, the self-involved manager of a second-rate San Diego sports arena who begins to re-evaluate his life on his 40th birthday. Working alongside him is his boss and arena owner, Crystal — attractive, powerful and highly erratic; Alice — the cute, tomboyish marketing director and Ben’s friend with benefits; Alonzo – a former basketball player, handsome and unbelievably happy; Ben’s assistant, Heather – pretty, sweet, but terrifying because she once lit a boyfriend on fire; Crystal’s son, Roman – sweet-faced, clueless and Ben’s newest employee; and a hapless operations crew whom Ben refers to collectively as the “Steves.”

“Mr. Sunshine” stars Matthew Perry (“Friends”) as Ben, Allison Janney (“The West Wing”) as Crystal, Andrea Anders as Alice, James Lesure as Alonzo, Nate Torrence as Roman and Portia Doubleday as Heather.

Matthew Perry, Alex Barnow, Marc Firek, Jamie Tarses and Thomas Schlamme are executive producers. The Pilot was written by Matthew Perry and Alex Barnow & Marc Firek and directed by Thomas Schlamme. “Mr. Sunshine” is a Matthew Perry Production, Shoe Money Production, Barnow and Firek Production and FanFare Production, in association with Sony Pictures Television.

This is my favorite of ABC’s comedy offerings. Matthew Perry gets a showcase for what he does best, and Allison Janney’s character should be the source of all sorts of great one-liners.

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SECRET MILLIONAIRE

“Secret Millionaire” is a one-hour alternative series that follows some of America’s wealthiest people for one week as they leave behind their lavish lifestyles, sprawling mansions and luxury jets, conceal their true identities, and go to live and volunteer in some of the most impoverished and dangerous communities in America. Surviving on welfare wages, their mission is to discover the unsung heroes of America — deserving individuals who continually sacrifice everything to help those in need. Throughout this incredible experience, the Secret Millionaires will attempt to remain undiscovered, coming face to face with extraordinary and amazing people battling the odds every day of their lives. On the final day, in an emotional and dramatic climax, they reveal their true identities. Ultimately, the millionaires will each give away at least $100,000 of their own money, changing lives forever.

Executive producers of “Secret Millionaire” include Grant Mansfield, Claire O’Donohoe and Leslie Garvin. Co-executive producer is Paul Osborne. It’s directed by Bruce Ready and is an RDF USA Production.

It’s hard to imagine that the success of Undercover Boss had nothing to do with the order of this series. Whatever the motivation, it’s always great when people in need benefit from reality television. I’ll always support a Secret Millionaire over, say, Big Brother.

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