Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 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 | ABC | CBS | The CW | General

For further reference: ABC True Power Rankings | ABC Upfront Questions


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

My Question: Are we past the point where it's smart to move Castle?

Yes! I think that's probably pretty smart. It's not so much about Castle needing the lead-in as about DWTS not really being so big anymore that it's a big waste. So why not stick with a pairing that works pretty well? I know many disagree with me on that...


8:00 p.m. "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show"
9:00 p.m. "Happy Endings"
9:30 p.m. "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23"
10:00 p.m. "Private Practice"

My Question: What does the late-season collapse by Last Man Standing mean?

It means that LMS and inevitable companion Malibu Country are off of the evening entirely, shoved over to Friday to launch a TGIF block. Meanwhile, ABC will stick with comedy but go more the 18-34 route. When I saw that Happy Endings got a 22-episode renewal, I thought this kind of Tuesday arrangement was possible (with the other possibility being an Endings/Apartment 23 pairing in the 10:00 hour on Wednesday). This is probably better than Wednesday 10:00 comedies, but not by much. It's tough to feel a whole lot of confidence in these two pretty marginal returnees going up against one relatively established and very 18-34-friendly anchor (New Girl) and NBC's self-proclaimed two best comedy pilots with what should be a bigger Voice lead-in. I think it's gonna be tough sledding for these two either way, but I'd have preferred them at 8:00, where the only competing comedy is a fairly weak Raising Hope and an unknown. Is ancient-skewing DWTS really going to help these shows much?


8:00 p.m. "The Middle"
8:30 p.m. "Suburgatory"
9:00 p.m. "Modern Family"
9:30 p.m. "The Neighbors"
10:00 p.m. "Nashville"

My Question: Is there any good reason to change any timeslot except for maybe 9:30?

Apparently so, as Revenge to Sunday is ABC's "big move" of the upfront. I'm admittedly a little worried about them moving the first thing in many years that has done decently in the Wednesday timeslot, especially considering the lead-in for the new heir to that timeslot is itself an unknown. I would've left Revenge alone, with the only possible exception being for 10:00 comedies... and I don't really like that idea too much either, so I'd have left Revenge alone. We'll see how it goes. Nashville does at least seem like a good match with family comedy.


8:00 p.m. "Last Resort"
9:00 p.m. "Grey's Anatomy"
10:00 p.m. "Scandal"

My Question: What's ABC's choice to plug another trouble spot?

They go with another drama, and a new drama that has potential to deliver an "event" type of feel. That was, in my opinion, their best bet in an otherwise reality and comedy-driven hour. I might have gone with 666 Park Ave. instead simply because the sheer familiarity of the cast might have given it the best chance to self-start, but I say that without having seen either one.


8:00 p.m. "Last Man Standing"
8:30 p.m. "Malibu Country"
9:00 p.m. "Shark Tank"
10:00 p.m. "20/20"

My Question: TGIF: The Next Generation?

Yes! As recommended in the Upfront Questions, ABC will dip their toe in the Friday comedy water with a returnee that (despite its late-season struggles) at least had an older-leaning skew by comedy standards, and that seems relatively well suited to the evening. And I think Reba will be a draw. This has as good a chance as any comedy block of working on Friday. I at least like it to beat Whitney and Community.

(One important note: they're holding this lineup till November. That's probably to some extent about encoring new shows on Friday night, even though they say it'll be Shark Tank and Primetime early in the fall. But I could also envision a scenario where the Tuesday block bombs and this is needed over there before it even premieres.)


7:00 p.m. "America's Funniest Home Videos"
8:00 p.m. "Once Upon a Time"
9:00 p.m. "Revenge"
10:00 p.m. "666 Park Avenue"

My Question: Does Once Upon a Time's success shape the rest of the night?

I guess your take on this move pretty much depends on your take on Revenge over the long term. Personally, I don't even think it's a given that Revenge won't totally fall apart next season; it's hard to say how limiting the premise is. ABC is clearly much less interested in that downside and much more interested in the potential upside. You have to admit that this placement will give it a good lead-in, relatively little compatible competition and the highest possible viewing levels. If it's gonna break out in season two, this is where it's most likely to happen. And I don't even think it's that bad of a pairing with Once, though I might have preferred the new show there and the more established Revenge at 10/9c. It all adds up to a massive vote of confidence in Revenge. But it also adds up to a lot of pressure on a show that was never more than a solid player.


Even though ABC is a third-place network in entertainment programming, I thought they had the least incentive to make any kind of big move. They're sort of in a position similar to CBS prior to this season (when all their comedies went through the roof); a lot of depth, but not a lot of huge standouts. I mostly mean that as a compliment, but the point is that you generally make big moves either when you have an embarrassment of riches (a Desperate Housewives/Grey's Anatomy block or an American Idol/House block or a Two and a Half Men/Big Bang Theory block) or when the cupboard is so bare that you have no choice (present-day NBC). Typically, when everything's doing just decently, there's an upside to stability.

The Revenge move to Sunday has all the feel of one of those splashy power-block breakups, except that the show getting moved is not really that powerful. They're sort of putting the cart before the horse; make the move, and then make it a legitimate hit. As I said, all the external circumstances line up very well for Revenge, so you can see why they did it. The question mark is whether the show itself can deliver the goods, and also whether Nashville has what it takes to make lightning strike twice in that once-troubled hour.

Other than that, they were pretty restrained. I really think they should flip the first two hours on Tuesday, but they wisely didn't get too cute in general. So the verdict on this schedule is entirely wrapped up in Revenge and Nashville. If both hit, it's potentially a really solid A. If both flounder, they could be in trouble on Sunday and create unnecessary problems on Wednesday. In that case, it's a D.


Spot said...

"Tuesday Leftovers" can be the marketing campaign.

Spot said...

I think I liked the idea of comedies Wednesday at 10:00 before this, but I can see what ABC (and NBC) were thinking. Tuesday's probably the weakest weekday, and both networks know that comedy is the immediate future. They knew FOX wouldn't budge, but I'm pretty sure that when they saw NBC's line-up, they were like "Craaaap." That's going to be an absolute dogfight with SIX single-cams duking it out. I doubt more than two will make it out of that mess alive. I'd go with New Girl and Apt. 23.

The bigger story to me is giving what's going to be the two most plum slots, post-Once and post-Grey's to sophomores. After looking at the previews, I might have gone with 666 Park at 9:00, which seems to fit a bit better, then Revenge at 10:00. Either way, it's more compatible than the "four comedies, then drama" block broadcasters seem to love. Scandal, on the other hand, was so solid during a spring when ratings seemed to take a dive for most that I'm not surprised that it was rewarded. But it's ceiling looks to be mid-to-high 2s, and I wonder if that's really acceptable to ABC now.

Spot said...

"666 Park Avenue" is kind of American Horror Story, but less bloody and more soapy. With horror elements, definitely not a 8PM show, and I suppose that's the reason ABC tried to find 10PM slot for it rather than 9PM.

Last Resort is Lost wannabe, and it seems it's planned to start serialized and action packed, much like 24, then to evolve into more procedural thing. Interesting enough, NBC's Hannibal is planned other way around. Bryan Fuller said in start it's gonna be procedural with Lecter and Graham working together on cases. After Hannibal's true nature is revealed, then to turn into serialized show with Will chasing him now. It looks like better formula for success, at least to me.

I don't like country music and I hate soaps ... but am very anxious to see Nashville, so good it looks to me. Judging by me, it should be huge hit, I think it is going to reach into much wider demo than obviously targeted one. Then again, Nashville strikes me as a show with well-written strong leading female characters ... and for some reason such shows trend not to have mass appeal, it seems general public like women in cliche roles more.

Overall, I'm disappointed with ABC decisions. Renewing Scandal over GCB is irrational Shonda-pleasing move (if anything, they should cancel both) and renewing Body of Proof is plain stupid. I think passing on Devious Maids and Prairie Dogs are huge mistakes, not picking Americana and The Smart One maybe too. To be fair, their slate of pilots looked by far best among 4 big networks, it was surely hard to pick. However, Red Widow and The Neighbors look like sure flops, while Zero Hour seems to be one of those shows collapsing after first few episodes (after so many shows being good in setting up mysteries, but authors not knowing how to resolve it and/or network canceling show before they even had shot at it, such show must be damn good to retain audience).

I think ABC would do better if they
- canceled more shows
- picked more soaps as Private Practice is ending and Grey's Anatomy won't last forever
- more new comedies would be fine
My opinion is based on me thinking their development cycle was great and next few hardly can be so good. I didn't see pilots, of course, so I might be wrong. Or completely wrong.

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