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Tom Gliatto and PEOPLE'S TV CRITIC
May 15, 2013 10:10 AM

ABC s upfront Tuesday afternoon was an upbeat affair – not all upfronts are – with shoutouts to breakout hit Scandal and its star, Kerry Washington; to late-night host Jimmy Kimmel; and to now destined-to-retire Barbara Walters.

Kimmel, as is traditional, did a few minutes’ worth of jokes at the expense of the other networks (he referred to CBS as “smug @#%&!!!!s”) and his own: He suggested that Splash, the diving-celeb reality show, should be replaced by one with an empty pool. To be called Splat.

The clips introducing new shows were, on balance, pretty promising. These are the ones that struck my television tuning fork and filled me with anticipatory vibrations:

Marvel s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. Producer-writer-director Joss Whedon s network spinoff of the ginormously popular Avengers. Clark Gregg, borrowed from Marvel s supehero movie franchise, heads an agency that keeps an eye out for dangerous forces, insidious monsters and so on. Lots of action, of course, and some welcome deadpan humor.

Super Fun Night. A sitcom starring the un-Lena Dunham, Rebel Wilson. Looks vulgar, dumb and altogether delightful.

The Goldbergs. The audience of advertisers at the upfront seemed most receptive to this family sitcom starring Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Wendi McClendon-Covey (Bridesmaids). The novelty factor is that it s set in the 80s and includes video footage shot by their 11-year-old son. At first glance, sort of Malcolm in the Middle-ish. But when do you get sitcom parents as good as those two?

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Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I ve never been crazy about Once Upon a Time, partly because of a visceral distaste for anything involving Rumpelstiltskin. But Alice in Wonderland, the jumping-off point for this spinoff fantasy, mines a psychologically and mythically richer source. This Alice (Sophie Lowe) is in love with a genie, presumably found in a bottle and not Lewis Carroll’s original. I couldn t figure out much else from the clip. Curioser and curioser, you know?

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