Hey, ignore the fact that I don't have six Emmys or a zillion dollars, and pretend just for a second that I'm Rod Serling: You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land where a comedy can die on one network and come back as three separate shows on another. That's right: Welcome to the Back to You Zone.
If you don't remember Back to You, a 2007 sitcom about a down-at-the-heels TV news department, that's probably because you didn't watch it. Nobody did, even though it starred Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer, two of the funniest people on television; and was written by veteran producers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, who between them have worked on probably half the hit sitcoms of the past two decades (Frasier, Wings, The Golden Girls and Just Shoot Me, to name just a few); and was, by any measure, hilarious. Fox unceremoniously killed it after a single season.
But like the victim of a horror-movie slasher who sloppily stitches himself back together and returns seeking justice, Back to You has seized control of ABC's Wednesday-night lineup. Of the four shows in ABC's new bloc of sitcoms, three have major links to Back to You. Modern Family, which debuted last week to an enormous audience, is produced by Levitan and Lloyd. And now The Middle, starring Heaton as a beleaguered Midwestern wife and mom, and Hank, with Grammer as a newly impoverished zillionaire, are joining the lineup. Read my full reviews of Hank and The Middle in Wednesday's Miami Herald.