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ABC orders five shows for midseason

Like generals stocking up their supply depots with body bags before a big battle, the networks are already buying shows to replace the inevitable casualties of a fall season that hasn't even begun yet. ABC has just ordered five new series for midseason, all with a heavy comic flavor.

FillionTwo of them are hour-long cop shows that nonetheless depend more on laughs than gunplay. Castle, a sort of Stephen-King-joins-CSI, stars Nathan Fillion (Firefly) as a horror novelist who helps out an NYPD homicide squad. The Unusuals is also set in New York, in an oddball police precinct that includes Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) and Adam Goldberg (Friends).

Two of the comedies are relatively straightforward sitcoms: Better Off Ted, with Desperate Housewives' Jay Harrington trying to climb the corporate ladder, and Single With Parents, with Alyssa Milano trying to cope with a dysfunctional family.

The third is a real oddity: Cupid, a remake of a brief and nearly unseen ABC romantic comedy from 1999 that starred Entourage's Jeremy Piven as an apparent nut case who thought he was Cupid. The creator of the original show, Rob Thomas, went on to do Veronica Mars, which everybody in Hollywood loved even though it had no actual viewers. His enhanced stature helped persuade ABC to give Cupid another shot, this time with Will & Grace's Bobby Cannavale in the title role. Who knows, if it works, maybe ABC will do a remake of Veronica Mars with Ellen Page.

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