Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Upfront Answers, ABC

Last week, I did a series of pre-upfront posts called "Upfront Questions" in which I posed one question for each night of the schedule. My post-upfront coverage is called "Upfront Answers," in which I take a look at how they addressed my questions.

Other Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox

My ABC Upfront Questions

8:00 p.m.                    “Dancing with the Stars”
10:00 p.m.                  “Castle”

My Question: How would Castle do elsewhere?

The answer is at least "not well enough to take on a problem timeslot." Hate to make this whole post a big "TOLDJA!" but this seemed like the sort of pairing that would stay together. I still feel that among the big show lead-outs (along with Brothers & Sisters, Private Practice and Cougar Town) this was the one most likely to hold up well elsewhere. So there may be a missed opportunity here, but the night will no doubt be a strong one.

8:00 p.m.                    “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m.                   “Man Up”
9:00 p.m.                    “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10:00 p.m.                  “Body of Proof”

My Question: How to solve the 8:00 problem?

It's back to comedy for the first time in the fall since ABC's ill-fated Cavemen/Carpoolers block. This pair is led by Tim Allen's multicam Last Man Standing and will lead into singlecam Man Up! in what would certainly seem to look like a "manly men" kind of block. This was how they advertised Cavemen/Carpoolers too, if memory serves, so let's hope this one fares better. I'm always a bit gunshy about a multicam/singlecam pairing, but these two seem fairly similar. At midseason, ABC will (like Fox) briefly turn this into a four-comedy night by adding in Cougar Town and Apartment 23 in place of the Dancing results.

8:00 p.m.                    “The Middle”
8:30 p.m.                    “Suburgatory”
9:00 p.m.                    “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m.                    “Happy Endings”
10:00 p.m.                  “Revenge”

My Question: What of the four mediocre-rated comedies?

Two (Better with You and Mr. Sunshine) got the axe. Cougar Town leaves its longtime post-Modern Family slot (at least for now) in favor of a midseason debut on Tuesday. That leaves Happy Endings, which gets the post-Modern position in what is a pretty ginormous vote of confidence considering its fairly mediocre ratings to date. I more expected two newbies mixed in with Middle and Modern, but we only get one: the Jeremy Sisto-led single-camera family comedy Suburgatory. Seems like a better fit with the Wednesday anchors than most of the other stuff that's been tried there. Meanwhile, Revenge, an Emily Vancamp-led drama, is the latest heir to the 10:00 trouble spot. I need to see more, but I'm not sold that's gonna reverse their fate in that hour.

8:00 p.m.                    “Charlie’s Angels”
9:00 p.m.                    “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m.                  “Private Practice”

My Question: Is it time for Private Practice to move?

No! This is another of those pairings (like Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters before it) that I felt pretty confident ABC would just drive right into the ground. So PP gets yet another season of the Grey's lead-in, while ABC will throw a lot of its dollars toward making Charlie's Angels the show that shores up the troublesome Thursday hour.

8:00 p.m.                    “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m.                    “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m.                  “20/20”

My Question: TGIF: The Next Generation? 

As predicted, not yet. But Paul Lee definitely stressed "family viewing" when mentioning the move of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to the night, and so you get the sense that (as was suggested in the comment to my ABC questions post) Lee might be using unscripted shows to make the transition toward a "family destination" night. Perhaps other family unscripted TV (Wipeout? Secret Millionaire?) will show up here too, though both of those still might have enough juice to air elsewhere. Then maybe next fall (or some other time down the line) will see "phase two" of the plan with actual family comedies. Or maybe not.

7:00 p.m.                    “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m.                    “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m.                    “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m.                  “Pan Am”

My Question: Is Secret Millionaire a long term option?

Perhaps not. Though many had just plugged the show right into the Sunday 8/7c slot for the fall, I thought it was a question very much worth asking, and apparently I was right to ask it. We don't know as of my writing this how big the order is, but I'm gonna assume it is less than a full season. There's still a chance Secret Millionaire could air in this spot, either to eliminate repeats or to replace a Once Upon a Time failure, but I don't get the sense that it's a show that can just be plugged into the 8/7c timeslot and left there for years on end.

My Question: Will ABC finally pull the trigger on a Sunday overhaul?

Yes! For the first time since 2005, ABC will open the fall with something other than America's Funniest Home Videos/Extreme Makeover: Home Edition/Desperate Housewives/Brothers & Sisters. (Which is nice because that lineup is a beast to write out.) And they have two big time dramas. I had kinda fallen in love with the idea of pairing those dramas together from 8:00 to 10:00, but when you see what the two choices are, it certainly makes sense to have Desperate in the middle, because Once Upon a Time and Pan Am aren't necessarily a natural pairing.


Well, it's tough for me to complain too much when I feel like I pegged this schedule pretty well. I don't think it's a bad thing to leave Castle and Private Practice where they are, but I have a feeling some will disagree on those. The only real surprise for me was Happy Endings movin' on up to the 9:30 slot, and obviously people who dig the show are gonna feel a lot better about that than I am, so there's not much else to say there. The places I'd be worried are Sunday (lots of new blood and a fast-declining returnee mean there are a lot of question marks), the second half of Wednesday and perhaps the midseason Tuesday comedy night, but other than that I think they'll do pretty solid business.

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