Fall TV's Best New Bets | ABC | 'Blood & Oil', 'Quantico' & 'Wicked City'

It's that time of year again, new fall programming is getting ready to begin and Eclectic Pop has picked at least two of the most promising new series from each network. Find out which of the new shows from ABC made the cut...

Blood & Oil
ABC is filling the sudsy vacancy left by “Revenge” on the Sunday line-up with this new oily drama starring Don Johnson. Johnson makes his return to television as Hap Briggs, an oil tycoon with a new trophy wife (Amber Valetta), a duplicitous son (Scott Michael Foster of “Greek” fame) and an illegitimate daughter (Miranda Rae Mayo).

As if that’s not enough to keep him busy, a young couple (Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse) come to town amidst news of the biggest black gold rush in American history. Before long, Hap is taking the newlyweds under his wing and the battle lines of a fierce rivalry between Hap's son Wick (Foster) and Billy (Crawford) are drawn.

ABC is hoping to cash in on the void left by “Revenge” and there are quite a few striking parallels in the mix to draw fans from the late drama. Amber Valletta was an original cast member of the cancelled sudser, the plotline pits the young against the established and there is of course the age-old inclusion of the blue vs. white collar dynamic. Hopefully, “Blood & Oil” will share more in common with TNT’s cancelled-way-too-soon reboot of “Dallas”. When it comes to a series featuring a prominent family, oil, greed, love, lust and other dramatic variables, that’s the standard-bearer to be aiming for. Premiere Date: Sep 27, airs Sundays at 9 PM est
Quantico
Priyanka Chopra stars in this high concept dramatic thriller from Joshua Safran. The action centers on an ensemble of fresh FBI recruits as they undergo training at academy headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. Each of the recruit’s backstory is explored via flashback and through a flashforward it is revealed that one of them is suspected of architecting the largest terror attack on New York City, since 9/11. One of the big gambles with tuning into a show like this is that if it were to be cancelled, answers will be hard to come by, therefore rendering your time investment, null and void. 

The flashback narratives are another hindrance to the series’ allure. They have become an overused plot device that shows are relying way to heavily upon nowadays. They disjoint the flow of an episode and often keep overall plot progress at a standstill (i.e. “Lost”, “Arrow” etc). This series sounds a lot like the short-lived astronaut drama “Defying Gravity”, which similarly dealt with variant personalities coming together for a common cause as viewers learned their respective past through flashbacks each week. That series ended after 13 episodes. The good news for “Quantico” is its star Priyanka Chopra, who from the trailers appears to be a natural as a series lead. Premiere Date: Sep 27, airs on Sundays at 10 PM est


Wicked City
Chase Crawford isn’t the only “Gossip Girl” actor making a return to primetime in 2015. Ed Westwick, who memorably portrayed Chuck Bass on the CW’s trademark drama, has a starring role on ABC’s new crime drama “Wicked City”. No stranger to playing a dark character, Westwick will be plunging into far more villainous waters as Kent, the resident serial killer of the Sunset Strip for this 80s set thriller. Westwick has what it takes to lead his own show and he proved that as the oftentimes only redeemable quality (along with co-star Leighton Meester) of the teen sudser. He’s a very capable actor, which makes his casting as a killer all the more unfortunate. Were the series to last beyond its first season, his character’s long-term shelf life is exponentially decreased. 

Playing opposite Westwick as his equally conniving lover is Erika Christensen, who played a great teen crazy in “Swimfan”. Of course as a “Gossip Girl” viewer, I am a bit chagrined at the missed opportunity of seeing Meester and Westwick reteam for this project. It sounds like they could’ve added another killer coupling to their repertoire. They really showcased a chemistry that doesn’t come around often and it’s a tad surprising casting directors are letting it fall by the wayside, without even seeming to attempt a move to capitalize on it.

That said, it will be interesting to see how Westwick and Christensen play off each other. Other casting of note for the series includes Taissa Farmiga as a reporter searching for the story of a lifetime, which might just be under her nose and Jeremy Sisto, who stars as the cop hot on the case. 

This is an ambitious project from ABC; it’s set in the past and features an incredibly sinister plotline that gives a serial killer and the cops trying to take him down equal time. Finding an audience for something this envelope pushing on network television is going to be exceedingly tricky. Were it airing on Netflix it would probably be a surefire hit but given it is on a big 3 network, viewers who might gravitate towards it, might also find themselves turned off from watching, knowing it might not last long and if that’s the case there might not be any closure. 

Showtime found massive success with “Dexter” and Netflix itself has found a hit with the outstanding BBC import “The Fall” which is closer to “Wicked City” story wise than “Dexter”. How much stamina this series can actually have is the main question. Viewers were willing to be more lenient towards Dexter Morgan because he was a serial killer who killed serial killers.  The antagonists of “Wicked City” prey on the innocent, similar to Paul Spector from “The Fall”.

Obviously, the police will have to catch up to the killers of “Wicked City” eventually, unless the writers are planning to go for a Zodiac scenario. Keeping the fires of a show like this burning for multiple seasons will be next to impossible without dumming down the police or the perps. Were it billed as a mini-series it might have a better shot at drawing a bigger crowd. Nevertheless, it’s still worth a look and who knows, it could knock the ratings dead. Premiere Date: Oct 27, airs Tuesdays at 10 PM est [Note: As it turns out "Wicked City" was an anthology series, which was a little publicized fact ]

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