May 17, 2011

THE SKED: Thoughts on ABC’s Schedule (and Our Predictions)

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Written by: Mitch Salem


WHAT WE LIKE:  Tuesday has been screaming for more comedy.  While Fox has had some success on the night with Raising Hope, both ABC and NBC have very strong histories on the night with comedy blocks.  With NBC deciding to leave Biggest Loser on Tuesday from 8-10 pm, the door is open for ABC to walk through and set up shop.  Last Man Standing‘s Tim Allen, no stranger to ABC Tuesday comedy, could very well jump start ABC’s attempt to do on Tuesday what it did on Wednesday.  The two new 8:30 comedies (Man Up on Tuesday and Suburgatory on Wednesday) fit their lead-ins like a glove demographically.  We will reserve judgment on the comedies until we see the full pilots, but from a scheduling perspective, they are very well matched with each other.  On Friday, while NBC and Fox (and probably CBS) try scripted series, ABC is going all reality, a wise financial course on a very tough night — and even more important, no Friday scripted show to take away from marketing efforts on a more important night.  Sunday has a much fresher look, with Once Upon a Time and Pan Am, two shows that seem anything but ordinary.  Of course, NBC also has scheduled a fairy-tales-in-the-modern-world drama (Grimm) and a sexy-stylish-early-1960s-period-piece (Playboy Club).  There is no doubt all of these four shows will get an inordinate amount of attention because of their similarities, and the big winners will probably be trade writers who love a battle of genres.  That said, ABC Sunday has a nice female. guilty pleasure feel to go up against Sunday Night Football…whenever the NFL season actually starts.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE:  The main note for ABC would be its heavy reliance on 8 pm to launch new shows.  Four of six new fall shows on ABC are in the 8-9 pm hour.  In ABC’s defense, they went with promotable elements — a big TV name (Tim Allen), a pre-sold title (Charlie’s Angels), and high concept (Once Upon a Time) — to get viewers to the set early, but they could have used Dancing or Dancing Results to launch one of these new shows.  Yes, Dancing skews very old, yet it has a healthy 18-49 audience because it does well across the board.  In particular, Tim Allen’s audience is very compatible with that of Dancing Results, which could easily have led in to his return to Home Improvement’s old home at 9 pm Tuesday with a healthy dose of household share points.  Although it’s increasingly a DVR world, lead-in still matters.   

WHERE WE WERE RIGHT AND WRONG:  We were very close in terms of which shows ABC would pick up, but missed where many would go.  Monday stayed the same as last year, as predicted.  Tuesday was roughly right, although we thought ABC would use Dancing Results to provide a lead-in to Last Man Standing in Home Improvement‘s old time period.  We predicted Suburgatory‘s addition to the Wednesday comedy block, but missed the return of Happy Endings and didn’t see Revenge coming.  On Thursday, we thought they would be completely stable, leaving Charlie’s Angels for another night where it could benefit from a lead-in.  And on Sunday, instead of Pan Am we went with Good Christian Belles, which could very well be Sunday at 10 by January.  




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."