Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012 Upfront Questions, ABC

Last year, I did a series of "Upfront Questions" posts during the pre-upfront week, and I used those questions plus the revealed schedules for "Upfront Answers" during upfront week. I liked that format, so I'm gonna try generally the same thing this year.

This network's upfront happens just one week from today!

Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | The CW | General

For another reference, see the April ABC True Power Rankings.


2011-12 Schedule
8:00 - Dancing with the Stars / The Bachelor
9:00 - Dancing with the Stars / You Deserve It / The Bachelor
10:00 - Castle

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

A year ago, the Monday edition of Dancing with the Stars was one of the very biggest shows on TV, a borderline megahit. If they didn't move Castle then, when the potential lead-in for a new show was at its max, I don't see much of a case to move it now when DWTS is seriously diminished. At this point, it's just a good pairing and ABC may as well roll with it till one of the shows is ready to die. There are a couple other spots to which ABC could conceivably move Castle (Thursday 8/7c or onto the Sunday schedule), but I just don't think the upside is worth breaking this pair up.

Then again, ABC waited until after Desperate Housewives had become too weak to serve as a huge launching pad and then broke up the Desperate Housewives/Brothers & Sisters pairing, so I wouldn't put it past 'em. Especially since what seems like their best drama pilot (Connie Britton's Nashville) would be a good fit.


2011-12 Schedule 
8:00 - Last Man Standing
8:30 - Man Up! / Work It / Cougar Town
9:00 - Dancing with the Stars / Celebrity Wife Swap / The River
10:00 - Body of Proof / Private Practice

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

I'm pretty sure it does not mean that Last Man itself is getting cancelled outright, although I don't have quite the conviction I had a month ago. I think the smart money is on ABC staying the course with family comedy on Tuesday, as it seems like a nice pairing with the Dancing results. Maybe Last Man stays at 8/7c, or maybe they try to boost it by putting Reba McEntire's show before it. There's also the possibility these results are discouraging enough that ABC ships the whole effort off to Friday.


2011-12 Schedule
8:00 - The Middle
8:30 - Suburgatory
9:00 - Modern Family
9:30 - Happy Endings / Apartment 23
10:00 - Revenge

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

I would consider it fairly surprising if ABC makes a change in any timeslot other than 9:30. I've seen some people suggest Suburgatory could go help resuscitate a block elsewhere or Revenge could become a player in that big hole on Sunday, but I don't think either of those are strong enough shows right now to risk a big move. Does ABC really want to go back into another depression in the 10:00 hour?


2011-12 Schedule
8:00 - Charlie's Angels / Winter Wipeout / Missing
9:00 - Grey's Anatomy
10:00 - Private Practice / Scandal

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

Last season, Revenge stepped in and made ABC respectable in what had been one of its biggest schedule holes across the last few years. Now, they can shift their focus to Thursday 8/7c, which in recent years has housed all kinds of different shows. It seems pretty likely there will be no competing dramas in the hour, so ABC should in theory be able to succeed with a drama. They just need to try a little harder than Charlie's Angels and Missing.


2011-12 Schedule 
8:00 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition / Shark Tank
9:00 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition / Primetime: What Would You Do?
10:00 - 20/20

Question: TGIF: The Next Generation?

This was also my question for Friday a year ago, but everyone (including ABC brass) pretty much agreed that a resurrection of the iconic Friday night family comedy block was a year away. Since then, the comedy resurgence has picked up steam. Also, this is really the only big four network where you can't point to an inevitable chunk of space for more comedies. So if they thought it was a year away before, why would they back off now? Well, there are a couple reasons: the ABC new comedy slate has been described as "disappointing" in a recent update, and they already have a pretty successful Friday airing right now. It would be rather ridiculous to hold Shark Tank to midseason now that it's winning the night. Nice problem to have.

Paul Lee has seemed so gung-ho about this idea that I could see them going all out and running two hours (perhaps swapping Shark Tank over to Tuesday where it was skedded in season one). I could also see them not doing it at all; you could still place a new sitcom in the Tuesday 8:00 hour, one on Wednesday at 9:30 and maybe even a third using the ol' Monday 9:30 post-DWTS strategy. My vote: a one-hour block would be a nice way to dip their toes in the Friday comedy pool. They almost certainly need something to share the slot with Primetime: What Would You Do? anyway, and I think it's reasonable to try something scripted since they have that WWYD safety net.


2011-12 Schedule
7:00 - America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition / Once Upon a Time
9:00 - Desperate Housewives
10:00 - Pan Am / GCB

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

ABC Sunday from 9:00-11:00 is one of the few spots on all the networks where there's an obvious multiple-hour chunk of available real estate. What we know for sure is that they will have a pretty successful fantasy drama leading into this space. From what I've read in the pilot updates, it appears ABC is searching for another genre drama to go with Once. Will they go with back to back newbies on the evening? It's still possible they could throw GCB back at 10:00, or maybe something like Castle or Revenge comes over just to minimize the chances that the block totally melts down. Given those options, though, I say two newbies!

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