Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 Upfront Answers: ABC

The schedule is coming, and with it the Upfront Answers!

ABC's upfront previews: Renewology | Upfront Questions

More Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


Dancing with the StarsDancing with the StarsDancing with the StarsDancing with the StarsTHE GOOD DOCTORTHE GOOD DOCTOR

Spot's Question: What gets the best lead-ins on the network?

Freddie Highmore's The Good Doctor beat out the illusionist procedural Deception for this berth. Seems reasonable enough, since Good Doctor seems to have some early social buzz. Highmore gets to stay on the night where his series Bates Motel has aired for five seasons.



Spot's Question: What will the 9/8c hour look like?

It stays comedy all the way, as Black-ish makes the move to the night and will pair with the seemingly compatible The Mayor. Meanwhile, ABC is back into the game of trying to put new shows on Tuesday at 10/9c, a game that they have lost over and over and over again. Good luck, The Gospel of Kevin.


The GoldbergsSpeechlessModern FamilyAmerican HousewifeDesignated SurvivorDesignated Survivor

Spot's Question: Which shows will leave Wednesday?

Black-ish indeed leaves, but it's not in favor of a newbie (as only one comedy newbie makes the entire fall schedule). Instead, ABC will once again try to uplift a sophomore comedy that had done really well after The Middle in season one. The move really blew up in ABC's face with season two of Suburgatory, so let's hope this one goes better.


Grey's AnatomyGrey's AnatomyScandalScandalHow to Get Away with MurderHow to Get Away with Murder

Spot's Question: How will the TGIT juggling act work?

The veteran staples all stay in place, and Black's Law is not on the initial schedule. After NBC's This Is Us move, this is a good choice.


Once Upon a TimeOnce Upon a TimeINHUMANSINHUMANS20/2020/20

Spot's Question: Will multi-camera comedy at 8/7c survive?

No way. Instead, ABC carves out one of the only reasonable places where they could've fit 22 episodes of the Once Upon a Time reboot, and then throws a major shocker by banishing its high-profile Inhumans to Friday (with the preliminary plan being for Agents of SHIELD to replace it). It's not like Sunday or Tuesday 10/9c would've been that much better, but it's still hard to read this one as a vote of confidence. I still think that if they really liked it, they'd have held Black-ish/Mayor for two months and put it on Tuesday at 9/8c.

The Friday and Sunday lineups are kinda interchangeable, and they may actually be onto something by having these dramas avoid the cable onslaught on Sunday. But what may tip it to a loss is that I don't see this setup doing any favors for 20/20, a show that has had a real Plus resurgence in the Shark Tank years.


To Tell the TruthTo Tell the TruthShark TankShark TankTEN DAYS IN THE VALLEYTEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY

Spot's Question: Will ABC sit Idol-ly by in the fall?

Sort of. This is a lineup that can clear out for American Idol pretty easily at midseason, though Shark Tank is a relatively big gun. Limited series Ten Days in the Valley is the network's fourth new drama of the fall, and the third one in a pretty unfavorable situation. Overall, it looks like the hopes for the new class are really gonna hinge on The Good Doctor.


Most of my beef with ABC came during renew/cancel/pickup season; I'm not much a fan of leaning so heavily on the corpses of American Idol and Once Upon a Time. Those decisions have led to a lot less flexibility with Sunday and a scaling back on the family comedies that have become the network's bread and butter. It's possible that, much like when CBS failed to expand at the height of its comedy inventory, this has simply lined up with a terrible year for ABC comedy development. But it's still a bummer.

All that being said, if you accept that American Idol and 22 episodes of Once Upon a Time have to be there, this is a reasonable enough effort. There's clearly some deep thinking going on about the nature of programming on Friday and Sunday, and an attempt to counter-program the cable world with unscripted on Sunday night. It could blow up in their face, but given these pieces it is probably a fairly low-stakes gamble anyway.

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