Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Upfront Questions, ABC

This week, I'm gonna add my voice to the slew of pre-upfront articles out there with "Upfront Questions," in which I break down each night of the current schedule. THIS IS NOT A PREDICTION. I'm just listing the potentially returning puzzle pieces each network's got on the nights they last aired, then laying out what I see as the issues the schedulers have to deal with on each night. Rather than commit to one possibility, I'll try to help with the range of possibilities and considerations. Since I'm not really that interested in development, I think that's about the best I can do. Next week I'll do "Upfront Answers" posts and take a look at how they addressed my questions.

Shows in green are already renewed for next season. The ones in BOLD are (in my opinion) very likely to return to their current timeslots. The ones with a question mark (?) have genuine doubt about their renewal.

Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox

8:00 - Dancing with the Stars
10:00 - Castle

Question: How would Castle do elsewhere?

This night is, in my view, about where ABC Sunday was two years ago: a whole night that's solid wire-to-wire, and the fundamental question is whether breaking it up will ruin the show being shipped elsewhere. People are calling a Castle move a no-brainer, but I think it's easy to take this kind of synergy for granted. Networks do not move shows to "test" them or to "make them prove they can stand on their own." That's hater-scheduling. A lot of it's development-dependent, but I think this night is more likely to stay intact than a lot of people might think. That said, among ABC's big-show lead-outs, I think Castle has the best chance of holding up elsewhere.

8:00 - ?
9:00 - Dancing with the Stars: The Results / V?
10:00 - Body of Proof

Question: How to solve the 8:00 problem?

ABC has had significant problems at both 8:00 and 10:00 basically since Dancing with the Stars became a big deal. 10:00 doesn't seem to be much of a problem for now with Body of Proof, which seems likely to return to the hour. 8:00 still is. They've tried almost everything since Dancing got moved here: comedy (Cavemen/Carpoolers), unscripted (Opportunity Knocks), drama (No Ordinary Family), but much of it has ended up getting replaced with Dancing recaps. I tend to think they should swing back to comedy. This looks like a good place to try a multicamera block led by Tim Allen's new show Last Man Standing. Perhaps a Cougar Town/Happy Endings block might end up on this night at some point?

8:00 - The Middle
8:30 - Better with You?
9:00 - Modern Family
9:30 - Cougar Town / Mr. Sunshine?
10:00 - Happy Endings?

Question: What of the four mediocre-rated comedies?

The only one of the four middling (at best) comedies to secure a renewal thus far is Cougar Town. Of the other three, it would seem Happy Endings has the best buzz, but there is no real ratings separation among them. If Happy Endings were capable of producing a 2.0 demo consistently, a Happy Endings/Cougar Town block in the 10:00 hour might even be a consideration, but it's hard to say week-to-week what Happy is really capable of. Again, it depends a lot on development, but I don't think any of the unrenewed three comedies have a particularly strong case right now, and certainly not a case to be on the fall schedule. I look for some new blood mixed in with Middle and Modern.

8:00 - ?
9:00 - Grey's Anatomy
10:00 - Private Practice

Question: Is it time for Private Practice to move?

As with Castle, the two issues are 1) Can Private Practice hold up elsewhere? Answer here is unclear. A couple years ago, the show would hold up quite well in its special 9:00 airings, but those have gotten weaker. And 2) Is there another show that can be made a hit here? Also unclear. I tend to think they're really gonna have to feel they have the show to make the move, and this pairing is in my view even more likely to stay together than Dancing/Castle (since Castle probably holds up better without the lead-in).

8:00 - Shark Tank?
9:00 - Primetime: What Would You Do?
10:00 - 20/20

Question: TGIF: The Next Generation?

There have been some reports that new ABC head Paul Lee is in favor of resurrecting the famous TGIF block of traditional comedies from the 1980s and 1990s, but a recent Vulture report said it'd be another year away. I'll believe it when I see it; it's not supposedly an overwhelmingly great year for ABC comedy development, and there's not really anything on the current roster that I like for that kind of a night. Maybe Better with You could be a part, but that's not gonna be an anchor show. So I think ABC will continue to go unscripted here. It could be time for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to make a move over to this night. Perhaps the fading What Would You Do? could share the 9:00 hour with Shark Tank.

7:00 - America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition / Secret Millionaire
9:00 - Desperate Housewives
10:00 - Brothers & Sisters? 

Question: Is Secret Millionaire a long term option?

The reality midseason replacement did some impressive business for ABC this spring, but is this a concept that's gonna be able to inherit this timeslot and squeak out 22 episodes a year for years on end? (Or even one more year?) Undercover Boss held up pretty solidly for almost all of this season (before mysteriously tanking in its last two weeks), so maybe. Or maybe it can once again do an admirable job spelling something at midseason.

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

It's quite rare for one high-profile evening to remain completely intact for five years, but ABC Sunday has pulled that off. At the beginning of these five years, Desperate Housewives and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition were big hits and Brothers & Sisters was a promising new show. Now, the night is basically a mess. Desperate Housewives is still kind of a hit, but Home Edition isn't and Brothers & Sisters certainly isn't. From my anecdotal online observation, people have been calling for a Sunday shakeup since the 2008 upfront. I personally was a holdout until the 2010 upfront, but it remained intact even then. I think it's coming this time, but you just never know. I actually like the oft-buzzed about idea of moving Housewives to 10 and putting a big-name new drama at 9:00 (or maybe even two big new dramas starting at 8:00 depending on what the verdict is on Secret Millionaire). But I think the smart money is still on Housewives at 9:00.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Mr. Lee wants to set the groundwork for TGIF, he could move Wipeout there.

Post a Comment

© SpottedRatings.com 2009-2022. All Rights Reserved.