Reaction and Analysis: ABC Comedy Wednesday

I have previously suggested that the only place for ABCs 2 new comedies. MR SUNSHINE and HAPPY ENDINGS to have a shot at any success would be with their other comedies on Wednesday.  should-broadcast-networks-schedule-half-hour-comedies-at-10p. It appears that ABC felt that way and as of Feb 9th MR. SUNSHINE will take the place of COUGAR TOWN for 9 weeks.

                                                          Cul-de-sac crew of Cougar Town

Once OFF THE MAP ends its 13 ep uninterrupted run, ABC will also add HAPPY ENDINGS at 10p after the returning COUGAR TOWN followed by MODERN FAMILY reruns.

After digesting this information for a few minutes, It actually seems like a really smart strategy on ABCs part. COUGAR TOWN will still air all of its 22 episodes this season behind the best comedy lead in for it, MODERN FAMILY (though it will follow a few MF reruns, but still it’s good news for fans of COUGAR TOWN. Personally I would rather ABC rest BETTER WITH YOU for 9 weeks and move COUGAR TOWN to 8:30, but Ive come to understand it can’t play that early due to Broadcast Standard and Practices.)

  • COUGAR TOWN will only air opposite AMERICAN IDOL once (The AI premiere on Jan 19th ). THE MIDDLE, BETTER WITH YOU and MF will face AI every week from Jan 19th thru the end of May. HUMAN TARGET airs at 9p Wed thru February 9th and BREAKING IN debuts April 6th on FOX at 9:30 following a 90 minutes AI performance show. So by vacating February 2nd and returning April 13th, COUGAR TOWN avoids airing vs IDOL at all (and it got hurt a lot more last year than MF did, airing against it). They avoid even airing against the BREAKING IN premiere which fans are likely to check out. The more I think about it, this ABC scheduling is genius and all the fans that are griping about COUGAR TOWN being off for 2 months are missing the big picture. CT still keeps its slot (and truthfully ABC could have put HAPPY ENDINGS here April 13th and moved CT to 10p, using their biggest hit, MF to launch 2 new sitcoms – But they didn’t). The only thing fans of CT (and I am a big one) are missing are COUGAR TOWN reruns. Big Whoop. So COUGAR TOWN will have to follow MF reruns a few weeks, guess what, so will MR. SUNSHINE and CT has had a year and a half of the MF lead in already, so it should be able to handle it by now.
  • MR. SUNSHINE (cast pic below) gets the best shot at success by following ABCs biggest scripted hit. The pilot needed work (as many shows do that eventually take off creatively and commercially) but Allison Janney was a hoot and it was supposedly retooled (complete with a Jorge Garcia guest spot). Between the timeslot and Matthew Perry’s return to TV it should get sampled. The only question is, if people return. It has more in common with BETTER OFF TED than the ABC family comedies and that was a hard sell for the net. I assume ABC is happy with its progress if they are giving it this lead in. The show is almost finished shooting its 13 ep order, so I assume they have seen many completed eps. By premiering it Feb 9th ABC lets it avoid IDOL on premiere night (unless FOX plays hardball and makes IDOL 2 hours a week early).

  • ABC keeps the 10p slot rerun free the entire season starting Jan 12th with OFF THE MAP (actually they will be rerun free from 9:30-11p from Jan 12th-May, according to this schedule)
  • By airing the light, female skewing OTM and then the light-hearted comedies, ABC is doing a great job counter programming the other two networks more male, darker, crime procedruals. (Many of us assume the CRMINAL MINDS spinoff will air at 10p Wed sometime this season, so between SVU and CM (and even THE DEFENDERS), ABC is the lightest alternative and their 10p shows fit in tonally with their 8-10p Wed shows much better  than the THE WHOLE TRUTH or HAPPY TOWN did.
  • HAPPY ENDINGS is a perfect fit out of COUGAR TOWN – The show is about 6 friends who form their own surrogate family with some of the friends coupled off in romantic relationships, just like COUGAR TOWN. The major difference here is that the HE crew are somewhat younger.
  • Airing MODERN FAMILY reruns at 10:30 for 7 weeks, makes it less likely fans will flee in droves at 10p since ABC will be promoting during the 9p MF that a bonus ep of their favorite comedy airs at 10:30. It also solves the problem that people have suggested that by airing comedies at 10p that viewers can flee by 10:30 and there is no good lead in to the news.
  • ABC dips their toe in the water for 7 weeks to see if they can pull off a 3 hour comedy block. If something clicks here they can possibly add a new comedy next season at 10:30 (unless OTM works the best here)

                                                 Happy Endings Cast

I don’t mean to sound like an ABC PR person and I am certainly not above criticizing ABC, and have done so, in a few posts here, but after my snap judgement where I asked a few questions, once I digested it and examined the thought process, I think ABC is giving their new comedies the best shot at finding an audience, while not displacing COUGAR TOWN from its current slot for all 22 of their original episodes and keeping it away from AMERICAN IDOL. It’s actually quite smart. The only thing that can derail it is if FOX decides to start 2 hour IDOLS earlier and/or keep them later. But ABC can’t control that.  Between OFF THE MAP and their 2 new comedies they are giving 3 new shows a good shot at working. That’s really all they can do.

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