LOS ANGELES — The spin has been spun. The two-week Television Critics Association summer meetings — when the networks pitch their shows, including new ones for fall, to the media — ended Monday. A few memorable moments:
Crankiest man standing: Tim Allen's Last Man Standing, debuting this fall on ABC, picks up where Home Improvement left off, lamenting the role of the modern, emasculated husband and father. Twenty years later, Allen is reworking the material.
"Men need stuff to do," he said. "You should be able to fix stuff. I like women who know how to cook. It's either old-school or misogynistic. When men lose this capacity, we're left with nothing to do, like those big drone bees who get kicked out of the hive." Old school, old shtick.
Best power play: Some successful producers require extravagant budgets or bigger ownership rights. Others take their clout in cosmic directions. Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, has persuaded Fox to let him produce a 13-part science series, Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, that Fox will broadcast in 2013 (with repeats on National Geographic Channel). He's journeying from Baby Stewie to Carl Sagan territory, knowing it won't be a ratings hit but thinking it might introduce some kids to science.
Best compliment: The cast of Desperate Housewives, which ABC announced will end after the next season, are "smart enough to be grateful," creator Marc Cherry said. They had an amazing eight-year run on a show that became increasingly ridiculous. In Hollywood, his comment counts as high praise.
Most charming, male: Paul McCartney, even though he appeared via satellite from his concert tour. The former Beatle was disarming, talking about the "magical" healing power of music, how Yesterday came to him fully formed in a dream, and reflections on being in New York on 9/11. What does he recall from his 1965 appearance at New York's Shea Stadium? "Screaming. Like a thousand seagulls." His documentary, The Love We Make, airs on Showtime on Sept. 10.
Most charming, female: Zooey Deschanel, who had a roomful of critics debating whether she is "adorable" or "adorkable." Her Fox comedy, New Girl, will top many "best" lists this season. It lands on the schedule immediately after Glee and leading into Raising Hope, which makes for a sweet program block (for those who still watch TV that way).
Most welcome return: Sarah Michelle Gellar says she was "burned out after Buffy," which consumed her life from ages 18 to 24. She'll play twins on The CW's Ringer this fall, which looks slick, thanks partly to technological advances. Now that she has a daughter, Gellar, 34, wanted a job that required less travel. Since being back, she said, "I realized how much I missed it."
Best swag: To promote its jet-age drama Pan Am, ABC had a model/actress dressed as a white-gloved, uniformed Pan Am stewardess handing out Pan Am flight bags.
Most obvious tie-in: Pepsi will be to The X-Factor what Coke has been to American Idol, both of which are on Fox. Simon Cowell of X-Factor was at pains to explain how different that show is from Idol. In fact, they sound quite similar, except for X-Factor's lower age limit and the inclusion of group performances.
Wildest showdown: Two fairy-tale series are in competition this fall: Once Upon a Time, Sundays on ABC, versus Grimm, Fridays on NBC. To hear the producers talk about their series is to take a trip to Never Never Land.
The Once Upon a Time creators, who previously wrote for Lost, worked on their project for eight years. "We're interested in the characters," said Edward Kitsis, creator/executive producer. "Why is Grumpy grumpy?"
Grimm creator David Greenwalt, who previously worked for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, said, "Our notion is that the Grimm brothers are actually profilers of criminal events." He can see the big bad wolf and the child molester, for example.
Best pitch: Felicity Huffman guessed how Cherry might write the ending of Desperate Housewives. She told critics at the ABC party, "All bets are off — maybe one housewife kills another?"