May 16, 2017



Check out our looks at the NBC and FOX fall line-ups.

ABC’s 2016-17 season was a tale of two genres.  On the comedy side, things were relatively smooth, with American Housewife and Speechless painlessly integrated into the Tuesday and Wednesday line-ups, and The Goldbergs functioning well as the Wednesday night opener.  Dramas, though, were a disaster. All the new 1-hours flopped except Designated Survivor (and even that didn’t live up to expectations), and there were steep drops for veterans like Once Upon A Time and Scandal, with the 13-year old Grey’s Anatomy the only real bright spot.  It makes sense, then, that the new fall schedule is relatively stable on the comedy side, and crammed with changes in drama, although none of the newcomers sound like The Next Big Thing in waiting.  ABC is holding its trailers until its official presentation is over, but let’s take a preliminary look day-by-day.

The Fall 2017 broadcast program grid has been updated below with ABC’s announced prime time schedule.

Network Schedule Fall 2017 NBC FOX ABC



MONDAY:  DANCING WITH THE STARS holds down the fort at 8PM (speculation is that it will be reduced to a single cycle next season, with the rebooted AMERICAN IDOL airing in the spring).  At 10PM, the network launches THE GOOD DOCTOR, about a physician (Freddie Highmore) on the autism scale.  It doesn’t sound wildly promising, but will likely air against action-adventures on NBC and CBS, so there may be some chance of modest counterprogramming.

TUESDAY:  Although the Tuesday sitcoms have been relatively stable, 9:30PM has been a problem, with both THE REAL O’NEALS and IMAGINARY MARY failing in the slot.  The network is moving BLACK-ISH over from Wednesdays to bolster the 9PM lead-in (and shifting FRESH OFF THE BOAT to a better-supported 8:30PM slot), and launching THE MAYOR as the line-up’s only new fall comedy.  It’s an outlier among the ABC sitcoms in that it’s not about a family, but instead tells the story of a young rapper who becomes mayor of his small town.  It’s not a sure thing, and neither is the new 10PM drama THE GOSPEL OF KEVIN, a spiritual-tinged procedural-ish story in which Jason Ritter plays a guy tasked by heaven with performing good deeds. Sight unseen, it seems like a very odd choice for a 10PM slot, and will face heavy competition from Chicago Fire and potentially NCIS: New Orleans.

WEDNESDAY:  The only change is the move of AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE into the BLACK-ISH slot, which should be an easy transition.  ABC will hope DESIGNATED SURVIVOR can remain at its current level of modest success.

THURSDAY:  The fall line-up wasn’t broken, and the network didn’t fix it:  GREY’S ANATOMY, SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER return, although the final season of SCANDAL will face massive competition from NBC’s move of This Is Us to its slot.

FRIDAY:  The weirdest trend of the Upfronts is the amount of scripted originals that will now be airing on Fridays, which had previously been left for old-skewing procedurals and some genre fare.  If CBS and CW keep their fall 2016 forms in place, all 5 networks will be airing dramas against each other from 8-10PM. ABC is putting two of its signature brands on the night, with the declining and rebooted ONCE UPON A TIME as lead-in to Marvel’s new INHUMANS.  The latter is one of the network’s most-hyped new series, so putting it on Friday night is a particular surprise.

SUNDAY:  The closest things to successes for ABC on Sundays this past season have been game shows, so the network is airing 3 consecutive unscripted hours, with the returning AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS followed by TO TELL THE TRUTH and the moving SHARK TANK.  The shows are cheap, if nothing else.  They’ll be followed by TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY, which features Kyra Sedgwick as a mother whose daughter goes missing, and it sounds very ABC, although in a way that hasn’t worked for the network recently.  If CBS keeps the low-rated Elementary in this slot, there’s a possibility of some mild counterprogramming numbers against Sunday Night Football.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."