May 6, 2013

THE SKED’S Pre-Upfront Projected ABC Fall Schedule


See Also:  THE SKED’s Pre-Upfront Projected NBC Fall 2013 Schedule

                 THE SKED’s Pre-Upfront Projected FOX Fall 2013 Schedule

We’re continuing with SHOWBUZZDAILY‘s versions of the Fall 2013 network schedules, which may or may not reflect what the networks will actually announce at their Upfront presentations next week.  These schedules, as usual, were put together by Mitch Metcalf and myself, along with former NBC Head of Current Programming Ted Frank.  Note: our pilot choices are based on the show’s auspices (creator, producers, cast) and premise, and our sense of its potential match with the shows around it and its competition.  Some of these predictions will inevitably prove to be misguided.  (Although that won’t mean we were wrong.)  Also, many more pilots will be picked up than we have listed in these charts, with the remainder debuting throughout the course of next season.

Today’s test subject is ABC:

Upfront 2013 Predicted ABC Grid

How bad off is ABC?  The network may want to consider making Shonda Rhimes its Head of Programming, because right now, she’s the only one there who’s producing.  ABC’s ratings for the season have it looking up at NBC, and while that’s somewhat due to Sunday Night Football, ABC is nevertheless projected to end the season dead last, with a 1.8 average.  Worse yet, the majority of its successes are aging rapidly, which means its problems are likely to accentuate before they get better.  It’s going to be impossible to fix the network in one season, but here’s a start.

MONDAY:  DANCING WITH THE STARS has become so old-skewing that “Hobbling” may be the operative verb.  Last week’s episode had a 2.1 rating in 18-49s (down 25% from the same week in 2012), but in total viewers it was the highest-rated show of the night–even higher than The Voice–with 13.5M viewers.  That means more than 80% of its viewers are older than 50, compared to about 75% last year.  This trend is likely to go on, but the fact is that a 2.0 is still a decent number these days (it’s even with Bones) and older viewers, while less valuable to advertisers, certainly aren’t worthless.  For now, ABC will have to stick with it rather than trying to replace 3 hours of primetime programming.  CASTLE holds its own in its hour with a loyal core audience, and will return.

TUESDAY:  Another hour of Dancing With the Stars to kick things off, but then we’re advocating a big change.  SCANDAL has been ABC’s biggest–some might say only–success story of this past season, and it no longer needs a Grey’s Anatomy lead-in for support.  The network should use it to open up another night, and the obvious place to move is Tuesday, which has been a wreck.  The feverish fans of Scandal‘s madness (I count myself one of them) will follow it, and the show can serve as a lead-in to a strong, dark 10PM drama.  DOUBT, from House creator David Shore, and with a cast that includes Steve Coogan (as the lawyer protagonist) and Carla Gugino, seems to have the credentials.

WEDNESDAYS:  The 4-sitcom structure will remain, but we’d shake it up a bit.  Comic actress Rebel Wilson is red-hot right now coming off Pitch Perfect, and if her SUPER FUN NIGHT is any good, it could lead off the night.  (Note:  we’re not canceling THE MIDDLE, which has been a sturdy performer for the network–we’d give the show a full 22-episode order, but save it for use later in the season when needed.) SUBURGATORY, with another young female lead, returns to 8:30PM, and MODERN FAMILY, of course, remains at 9PM.  If ABC is particularly in love with one of its other new comedies, it could go into the 9;30 slot, but HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS (FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE) has shown some strength there, and whatever one may think of the show’s quality, nurturing it for a while could grow it into an asset.  NASHVILLE has been a disappointment at 10PM, but it has some ancillary value through music sales, and it hasn’t embarrassed itself against the NBC and CBS procedurals there.

THURSDAY:  8PM has been a wasteland for ABC, so much so that it would take veritable super-powers for there to be any chance of rescue.  Luckily, ABC has some super-powers on hand, as its AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D is a spin-off of the biggest movie franchise in the world (a fact underscored by this past weekend’s opening for Iron Man 3).  Series co-creator Joss Whedon also knows a bit about television, and the show could give Big Bang Theory something to think about.  Grey’s stays at 9PM, on the decline but still a strong performer, and is used to launch another 10PM soap.  Any number of ABC pilots could go here, but the buzzy title of the moment seems to be BETRAYAL, from former ER writer David Zabel.

FRIDAY:  LAST MAN STANDING remains at 8PM, where it’s been unexceptional but steady.  Rather than bring back Malibu Country, which has shown little upside, we’d slot BACK IN THE GAME as the companion show.  It’s a slightly unorthodox choice to put a single-camera comedy after a multi-camera, but a show with James Caan with a cranky old guy seems to fit well with Tim Allen as a cranky old guy.  SHARK TANK and 20/20 both do well at 9PM and 10PM.

SUNDAY:  Nothing seems to touch AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS, not even YouTube.  The big drop in ONCE UPON A TIME‘s ratings has to be a major disappointment for ABC–last night’s episode was down 25% from the parallel night last year–but it’s still doing well enough.  REVENGE was supposed to benefit from the move to Sunday and take the place of Desperate Housewives, but it’s collapsed both creatively and in the ratings, particularly this spring, where it hasn’t even seen a 2 rating.  We’d put a promising new pilot in the 9PM slot and shift Revenge to 10PM, where it should at least fare better than Pan Am, 666 Park Avenue and Red Widow.  The lottery winner drama LUCKY 7, which oddly enough also comes from David Zabel (although with co-writer Jason Richman), sounds like it could bridge the gap between the fantasy of Once and the monied conflicts of Revenge.

What do you think?  Let us know your comments and objections below!


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."