Armchair Scheduling: ABC Fall 2012
May 5, 2012 1 Comment
ABC rebounded this year under the stewardship of Paul Lee. In his first full year as Entertainment Chief, Lee successfully launched two new dramas (Once Upon a Time, Revenge) and two new comedies (Last Man Standing, Suburgatory). Sure there were bumps along the road (I’m looking at you Work It) but, for the most part, the 2011-2012 season was good to ABC. Moving forward, the network has a better sense of their core competency, soap operas. Down below, I take a look at how ABC’s fall schedule may look.
7pm: America’s Funniest Home Videos
8pm: Once Upon a Time
10pm: Private Practice
Launching news shows in the 8pm hour can be difficult. This is especially true of 1 hour dramas, because statistics show that the vast majority of viewers don’t turn their TVs on until 8:30pm. Despite that, Once Upon a Time debuted to huge numbers and maintained enough viewers to become the highest rated new show of the 2011-2012 season. With a solid self-starter to lead the night off, ABC now needs to find a suitable companion. They have 3 fantasy pilots in the mix this year, but I’d give the edge to Michael Green’s Gotham. Like Once, Gotham has a female protagonist and aspects of fairytale lore incorporated into its narrative. Moreover, ABC liked the work Green did on The River, even if audiences didn’t. After watching GCB struggle and Pan Am fail at 10pm, I can see ABC moving Private Practice there for its final string of episodes. Up until this year, the network has been hesitant to move PP away from Grey’s Anatomy, but the resilience it has showed on Tuesdays may convince them to do just that.
8pm: Dancing with the Stars: All Stars Edition
Mario Lopez let the beans spill last month that the fall edition of Dancing with the Stars will see some of the franchise’s biggest personalities return for a 2nd chance at the Mirror Ball Trophy. This should yield a nice bump for the aging franchise, which has seen its viewership erode opposite The Voice this spring. It is entirely possible that ABC will choose to keep Castle at 10pm, but I think it would be more valuable leading off their Thursday block. Nashville appears to be the network’s prized pilot, and slotting it after a reinvigorated DWTS would give it the best chance to succeed. Hawaii Five-0 is more male skewing than Nashville figures to be and Smash isn’t likely to return to the slot.
8pm: Last Man Standing
8:30pm: Malibu Country
9pm: Dancing with the Stars (Results)
10pm: Last Resort
A month ago, I thought ABC might try and open up a night of young skewing comedy on Tuesday with Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B, but neither has the numbers to self-start. With that in mind, ABC will likely leave Last Man Standing and pair it with their best multicam pilot, which appears to be Reba McEntire’s Malibu Country. 9pm is pretty set with the DWTS results show. At 10pm, I see ABC attempting to launch the male oriented Shawn Ryan/Kurt Gajdusek pilot Last Resort. Parenthood does decent numbers for NBC and Body of Proof kept ABC competitive, but it was actually CBS’ Unforgettable (which I noted yesterday isn’t likely to return) that typically won this timeslot. There is room for a breakout hit here and Last Resort seems like the ideal fit.
8pm: The Middle
9pm: Modern Family
9:30pm: The Family Trap
ABC has a good thing going on Wednesdays. Modern Family is a gigantic hit, The Middle is a sleeper hit, Suburgatory has proven to be a terrific bridge between the two and Revenge is water-cooler television. The only real weak spot have been 9:30pm where neither Happy Endings nor Don’t Trust the B have broken out. Enter The Family Trap, a dysfunction comedy starring Mandy Moore and directed by Shawn Levy (Date Night, Night at the Museum).
9pm: Grey’s Anatomy
If things shake out as predicted, CBS and NBC will both have comedies airing Thursdays at 8pm, FOX will counter with X-Factor. By moving Castle, ABC would become the only network with a drama (besides The CW) in the slot. At this point, Castle‘s audience is pretty devout so I doubt it would suffer too much. This option seems far more appealing than trying to launch another new show in the same slot where My Generation, Charlie’s Angels and Missing have all floundered. After a strong showing this spring, Scandal will likely return at 10pm behind stalwart Grey’s Anatomy.
8pm: Shark Tank
9pm: Body of Proof
Shark Tank has been a stable performer for the network this season, and it repeats well. There would be little reason for ABC to move it, unless they think it could sure up another night. Same goes for 20/20 at 10pm. At 9pm, it’s possible that ABC will choose to keep the cheap to produce Primetime, but I think Body of Proof would give them a better chance at winning the timeslot. Yes, Body of Proof lost a great deal of its audience between season 1 and season 2, but it still averaged a 2.0 in the demo this season. Additionally, the show is a big earner overseas. Why not order 13 to see if it works on Friday before canceling it outright? After all, former ABC chief Steve McPherson first slotted the show in on Fridays two years ago.
Don’t Trust the B
Over the last few years, ABC has shown that it’s willing to get creative with the number of episodes it orders for each of its midseason properties. This year, none of their midseason dramas received the typical 13 episode order. Scandal shot 7. The River filmed 8. And, GCB got 10. The 3 drama pilots I see earning midseason births this year are not dissimilar. Like The River, Dark Horse is a high concept action series that would likely benefit from a shortened first season, while Devious Maids looks to be this year’s attempt at finding the next Desperate Housewives. Americana doesn’t exactly lineup with Scandal but it does have a stellar cast and appears to have tested better than Shonda Rhimes’ Gilded Lilys. ABC will also have Mistresses, which was originally targeted for Summer 2013, at its disposal.
Comedy wise, ABC is likely to order at least one additional multicam comedy to series. Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, whose Primetime Pilot Panic posts must be taken with a grain of salt, seems to think that show will be Kari Lizer’s The Unprofessional. I would have guessed either The Manzinis or The Smart One, both of which have big sitcom stars as their leads, but its possible they didn’t turn out well. As far as single cams go, I expect ABC to renew Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B for 13 episodes a piece. That, paired with Bill Lawrence’s unrelenting faith that Cougar Town will be back, has me wondering if ABC will avoid running reruns of their Wednesday night block by swapping it out wholesale in January. That would theoretically require them to order one more single camera pilot, unless they choose to keep Modern Family reruns in the anchor spot, which is a distinct possibility.