On screen ABC lays the ground­work for ‘The Mid­dle’ spinoff

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - TU TV - By An­drew War­ren TV Me­dia

Spinoff spinoff in the city: The Hecks aren’t fin­ished with tele­vi­sion yet. “The Mid­dle,” the sit­com about a kooky, lower mid­dle-class fam­ily liv­ing in small­town In­di­ana, wrapped up last spring after nine hi­lar­i­ous sea­sons, but in the age of spinoffs and re­boots, a suc­cess­ful show is never re­ally dead.

It’s no sur­prise, then, that a spinoff is be­ing de­vel­oped. Early ground­work on a se­ries that’s ten­ta­tively ti­tled “Sue Sue in the City” (yes, you read that right) is un­der­way at ABC with an eye on a 2019 premiere date. Eden Sher (“Veronica Mars,” 2014) head­lines the cast in the tit­u­lar role as Sue Sue Heck — usu­ally short­ened to just Sue — a few years after the last sea­son of “The Mid­dle,” re­turn­ing to the role that she played for all nine sea­sons.

Sue was al­ways an op­ti­mist, and that won’t have changed now that she’s in her 20s. While “The Mid­dle” was about life in a small Mid­west­ern town, “Sue Sue in the City” will thrust the young woman into the bright lights and fast pace of life in Chicago, where she’ll nav­i­gate the twin tri­als of jug­gling both her ca­reer at a lux­ury ho­tel and her per­sonal life in the un­fa­mil­iar con­crete land­scape.

Luck­ily, she won’t be fac­ing it alone. Brock Ciar­lelli (“Valet”), who played Sue’s best friend, Brad, in “The Mid­dle,” is also headed to Chicago and will be a se­ries reg­u­lar. Chris Dia­man­topou­los (“Sil­i­con Val­ley”) has signed up to play the ho­tel’s owner and Sue’s boss, Fi­nesse Mitchell (“A.N.T. Farm”), as a bar­tender and one of Sue’s co­work­ers and Kim­ber­ley Cross­man (SMILF) as one of the ho­tel’s chefs who’s re­cov­er­ing from a bad breakup.

De­tails and cast­ing are still in the works at this stage — even the show’s ti­tle isn’t fi­nal­ized — but with the crit­i­cal and au­di­ence ac­claim that “The Mid­dle” raked in dur­ing its run, it’s no sur­prise that ABC is try­ing to re­cap­ture some of the magic that made that show click.

Happy birth­day, Mickey: Mickey Mouse sure does look great for his age. This year marks the 90th an­niver­sary of the iconic Dis­ney char­ac­ter’s de­but in “Steam­boat Willy” (1928), and the mouse doesn’t look like he’s aged a day since.

Dis­ney-owned ABC gives Mickey the birth­day party he de­serves in “Mickey’s 90th Spec­tac­u­lar,” a spe­cial two-hour tele­vi­sion event on Sun­day, Nov. 4. Com­ing from the Shrine Au­di­to­rium in Los An­ge­les, Mickey Mouse fans can ex­pect never-be­fore-seen short films and clips, touch­ing trib­utes from celebri­ties and mu­si­cal per­for­mances from some of the world’s big­gest record­ing artists.

That’s quite the ex­trav­a­ganza for a car­toon char­ac­ter, but Mickey is more than just an an­i­mated mouse — he’s an Amer­i­can cul­tural icon, and when some­one with his level of star power has a 90th birth­day, you can ex­pect things to get pretty spec­tac­u­lar. Among the stars com­ing out to pay trib­ute are Kris­ten Bell (“Frozen,” 2013), Tony Hale (“Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment”), Broad­way star Les­lie Odom Jr. (“Smash”), Josh Gad (“The Wed­ding Ringer,” 2015), Anna Camp (“Pitch Per­fect,” 2012) and Miles Brown (“Black-ish”).

Of course, there are mu­si­cal per­for­mances planned, too. Tune in to see Latin mu­sic su­per­star Luis Fonsi sing his new sin­gle, Tori Kelly per­form the Os­carnom­i­nated song “Col­ors of the Wind” from “Poc­a­hon­tas” (1995), and Meghan Trainor, Josh Groban and Zac Brown Band per­form, among oth­ers.

As a bonus treat, orig­i­nal Mouseke­teers Sharon Baird (“Land of the Lost”) and Bobby Burgess (“The Lawrence Welk Show”) will also make ap­pear­ances. There’s just so much that’s packed into the two-hour cel­e­bra­tion, and Mickey Mouse fans young and old won’t want to miss “Mickey’s 90th Spec­tac­u­lar,” air­ing Sun­day, Nov. 4, on ABC.

Back to the ‘Lodge’: No sur­prise here: AMC is stick­ing with its crit­i­cally ac­claimed fresh­man se­ries. “Lodge 49” re­cently wrapped up its first sea­son on the ca­ble net­work, but be­fore the fi­nale had even aired, the green light had been given to move ahead with a se­cond out­ing.

The com­edy-drama wasn’t a huge rat­ings suc­cess, but its first sea­son drew tons of love from the crit­ics and is gen­er­at­ing plenty of awards buzz. Wy­att Rus­sell (“Every­body Wants Some!!,” 2016) leads the cast as Sean “Dud” Dud­ley, a down-on­his-luck ex-surfer who ends up join­ing a se­cre­tive fra­ter­nal or­der after his fa­ther’s death, with Sonya Cas­sidy (“The Fifth Es­tate,” 2013) star­ring as his sis­ter Liz and Brent Jen­nings (“Money­ball,” 2011) as Ernie, a Lu­mi­nous Knight with the Or­der of the


The first sea­son’s 10 episodes were def­i­nitely a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence, deal­ing with death, loy­alty and the bonds that bind us all. “’Lodge 49’ tells a funny, wise and mean­ing­ful story that im­me­di­ately and deeply res­onated with crit­ics and view­ers alike,” AMC pres­i­dent of pro­gram­ming David Mad­den said when an­nounc­ing the sopho­more sea­son.

Watch for the quirky dram­edy “Lodge 49” to re­turn for a se­cond out­ing some­time next TV sea­son.

Eden Sher as seen in “The Mid­dle”

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