ABC just released their fall sked and I think it’s really smart. It’s stable where it needs to be and aggressive where it should be too. Last year my first thought upon seeing their fall schedule was “they’re leaving Sunday intact??!!”, when the night definitely could have used an infusion of something new. Well this year, Sunday has the biggest, most aggressive changes. There are smart changes and additions throughout the week.
EM:HE goes to Friday. Sunday opens with the ambitious Once Upon A Time into Desperate Housewives into Pan Am. There is no drama on at 8p: There’s reality on CBS, animated comedy on FOX, Football on NBC. Once Upon A Time sounds like the ambitious kind of show LOST was, but is family friendly too as it has fairy tales as a backdrop. It leads into Desperate Housewives which leads into new soap Pan Am. It seems like there’s very good flow to the night and there’s an opportunity for 2 new shows to breakout. Once Upon A Time has no drama competition. Pan Am has only CBS and that will be a procedural of some sort, not a 60s influenced soap. With Mad Men’s delay til March, Pan Am might satisfy viewers appetites for 60s fun. Who knows? Desperate Housewives might actually grow or stabilize with these compatible and interesting new neighbors. I really like the Sunday schedule. It’s ambitious, and it seems like they are setting up these new shows with the best shot at success.
DWTS and Castle remain the same. As I suggested yesterday, with Playboy here, it probably didn’t make sense to air another soap. Castle is the winner currently and after last night’s stellar ep and crazy cliffhanger, I expect viewers will all return in the fall. NBC is much more aggressive on Mondays this fall, and CBS will get extra sampling from viewers checking out Ashton Kutcher on 2.5 Men and it makes sense that ABC left their winning night absolutely intact.
As expected, ABC launches comedies at 8 into DWTS and Body of Proof. Great flow to the night and ABC is really countering well in the 8p hour where there are no comedies. Surprised Last Man Standing, which is multi cam, is paired with Man Up, which is single cam, but I guess the similar sounding concept is what made that happen. In between DWTS seasons, Cougar Town will be paired with Apartment 23. So if those 2 comedies work at 8, Last Man Standing will be the only multi cam out of the 4. Also, if those 2 comedies work at 8, the 4 comedy block should have a much better shot at success. If Apartment 23 is as good as has been said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it lead off the 9p hour and CT at 9:30. This schedule also returns ABC to their comedy Tuesdays they were known for many years dating back to the 70s through the 90s. Actually, Man Up, in addition to being single cam, is also a younger skewing show, which makes it a good bridge from Last Man Standing with the two more adult single cams at 9p. (UPDATE: After seeing the trailer I am somewhat surprised ABC didn’t pair Last Man Standing with Smothered which seems like would have fit better) . This actually seems like the smartest Tuesday schedule they have had in a long time. Also, unlike past years, when DWTS ends and the night suffers, they have at least a strong player in Body of Proof. They also have 4 eps left over from this season, so they should have at least 26 new episodes for next year.
As we expected, Suburgatory launches out of The Middle and sounds like a perfect fit. I am rather excited ABC is giving the post Modern Family lead in to Happy Endings. Many of us are buzzing about this one and it seems like ABC’s most talked about show overall this season. The cast feels like they jelled immediately, it’s funny and quote worthy. I think this is a great move and all the positive buzz coupled with the great lead in, will hopefully make this show a real hit. (I think ABC should air reruns of it after Modern family all this Summer. Hopefully they will.) Revenge at 10 sounds interesting. Mike Kelly is a great writer (Swingtown, which he created was quite ambitious) and I am a huge of Emily VanCamp fan from both of her Greg Berlanti shows. This soap opera (and modern take on The Count Of Monte Cristo) is a good counter to 2 procedurals on NBC and ABC.
(Update: After seeing the trailer I am somewhat surprised ABC didn’t put something lighter like G.C.B. here which would have fit better with the comedies. Revenge looks like a good summer soap. I just wonder if it can break out here, as ABC hasn’t had success with dark soaps in this slot (like Dirty Sexy Money). Paul Lee said it tested really well. My guess is it will skew younger so maybe the thinking was that Happy Endings is their youngest skewing comedy and maybe some of those 18-34’s will follow to this show).
Update 2: I watched the pilot for Revenge and it’s very well made and I liked it. It should skew younger than the other procedurals in the hour. After seeing it, I get why ABC really likes it and picked it up. While it might be darker than the comedies it’s not a bad fit after the younger skewing Happy Endings.
In January ABC will have 8 comedies over two nights – Tues and Wed. The last time they had a schedule like this was the 90s and it was very successful for them.
Grey’s and Private Practice now have a compatible, easy to promote, pre sold, lead in with Charlie’s Angels. There’s great flow to this night and this is probably the smartest move and best show for ABC to put up against X Factor. I think it’s smart that ABC held Scandal to midseason. Shonda already has 2 other shows to oversee and this way Scandal will only produce 13 eps at the max. I could see it filling in for Private Practice sometime midseason.
I didn’t think they would, but ABC moved EM:HE to Friday. Just yesterday, I suggested Shark Tank go to Friday at 9pm while 3 networks are fighting each other for sci-fi viewers. ABC should have no trouble being #1 in the hour. At lower HUT 8p now, vs. Hells Kitchen, they are a strong #2 in the 8p hour with Shark Tank. With EM:HE as a lead in and being the only unscripted in the hour, Shark Tank should win easily. This is a really smart (and much cheaper alternative) for Friday Night. I honestly think ABC could easily be #1 on Friday.
ABC has an ambitious bench for midseason including The River, Good Christian Belles, Missing, the comedy Work it, the aforementioned Scandal, plus Secret Millionaire on the unscripted end. ABC has proven themselves to be great marketers and I am sure they will use the Oscars to launch some of their more ambitious shows this year like they did with Secret Millionaire, and Body of Proof. It’s worth noting that ABCs successes this season (the latter 2 shows and Happy Endings), all launched during the last 3 months of this 10 month TV season. Midseason could be a good thing for some shows.
There’s much stability to this schedule too. Mondays are the same, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11 are the same. The Wednesday comedy tentpoles are the same. I honestly think this is a really smart, ambitious schedule that maximizes their strengths, gives new shows the best opportunity to breakout while remaining stable where they can. Contrary to last year’s ABC schedule, I am rather impressed. I think this is their smartest schedule in a few years.
UPDATE: ABC cut their trailers way too short, in my humble opinion. Most trailers for new shows are at least 3 minutes, generally closer to 4. ABCs always were as well. I don’t know if they were cut this short to keep their upfront as short as it was (60 minutes), but the comedies were all around a minute and change. The dramas were around 2 minutes, not much more than that. I honestly don’t understand this decision, especially since a lot of ABCs dramas are ambitious and intricate and it’s really hard to convey a dense :43 minute pilot in 2 minutes. People make first (and sometimes their only) impressions on these cutdowns. I honestly don’t understand why they are this short. ABC put their pilots up on their media site briefly last night and I watched “Apartment 23” which was funny and clever. The cutdown didn’t do it justice.