Upfronts 2011: ABC Unveils Fall Primetime Schedule
Opens up new night of comedy on Tuesdays; goes scripted-heavy on Sundays
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/17/2011 8:42:27 AM
ABC ordered 13 new series for the 2011-12 TV season as
part of its schedule announced May 17 that aims for stability for its
established hits while launching big shows throughout the year, including
opening up a new night of comedy on Tuesdays.
Two new comedies, the Tim Allen vehicle Last Man Standing and Man Up, about three men redefining what it means to me a "real man" in the modern age, will anchor Tuesday nights this fall, leading into the Dancing With the Stars results show. Besides hoping to extend the success ABC has seen in comedy on Wednesdays with Modern Family and The Middle, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee sees the two new comedies as appealing to a broader audience of men and families than the network's core female viewership.
In the months that DWTS is not on the air, Tuesdays will expand to two hours of comedy, with Cougar Town joining at 9 and new laffer Apartment 23 at 9:30. Apartment 23 stars Drema Walker as a Midwestern girl who's big city dreams are dashed her first week in New York when she finds herself living with a swindler roommate (Krysten Ritter).
Moving Cougar Town up a night gives this year's promising midseason entry Happy Endings the plum post-Modern Family time slot in Wednesdays this fall. "We think it has huge potential," Lee said of the relationship comedy during a press conference Tuesday morning. New half-hour Suburgatory, about a single dad who unwillingly moves his teenage daughter from New York City to the suburbs, will launch at 8:30 with drama Revenge, starring Emily Van Camp as a woman out for vengeance in her childhood Hamptons neighborhood, at the 10 p.m. hour.
ABC is sticking with reality on Fridays, shifting Sunday anchor Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to the night followed by Shark Tank at 9. The move of Makeover and the recent cancellation of Brothers & Sisters frees up the space to launch two new dramas on Sunday. "I have always felt that Sunday night is a real place for appointment television," Lee says, and he will put two of his most ambitious shows there -- modern dark fairy tale Once Upon a Time and the 1960s period piece Pan Am - sandwiching the successful but aging Desperate Housewives.
With so many new shows launching in the fall, Lee was looking for stability from the rest of ABC's schedule for its returning series. Monday nights will return intact with Dancing With the Stars leading into Castle, the latter of which Lee said has "really found its groove" and given ABC a solid procedural. Body of Proof will return for a second season in its same Tuesday at 10 p.m. time slot and the twin pairings of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice remain on Thursday.
Anchoring Thursday night is the rebooted Charlie's Angels, which Lee calls "pure candy." The series, which was part of an escapist genre of television alongside shows like Happy Days and The Love Boat when it first ran on ABC in the 1970s, is not the only on ABC's schedule that has a fairy tale or fantasy aspect to it, which was done so somewhat strategically.
"We thought at the beginning that these are times when fairy tales play strongly, but what really gets it onto the schedule is the pilot," Lee told reporters. "It's a time when I think people are looking for pure entertainment, and I think television can really provide that."
ABC will premiere seven of its 13 new series in the fall, saving plenty for midseason as part of Lee's strategy to have more originals on the network year-round. "I think you can see as much strength in midseason as there is in the fall," Lee said. He's eyeing a spring debut for Southern soap Good Christian Belles and the adventure drama The River, while thriller Missing, Shonda Rhime's Scandal and cross-dressing comedy Work It remain unscheduled.
But don't expect Lee to launch all of his fall shows in a single week come September. "I don't want to see seven new shows in one week where we can only put the network behind two or three of them," he said.
Asked at the press conference where ABC's singing competition show is (a reference to NBC's year-round scheduling of The Sing-Off and The Voice and Fox's The X Factor and American Idol), Lee said that ABC wouldn't rule out doing one but that they are happy with their reality tent pole of Dancing With the Stars, adding "we are trying to zig while others zag somewhat."
Reality series The Bachelor and Secret Millionaire are both renewed and will return in midseason.
ABC's fall primetime schedule is as follows (all times listed are Eastern; new shows are in bold):
8:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars
10:00 p.m. Castle
8:00 p.m. Last Man Standing
8:30 p.m. Man Up
9:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars the Results Show
10:00 p.m. Body of Proof
8:00 p.m. The Middle
8:30 p.m. Suburgatory
9:00 p.m. Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Happy Endings
10:00 p.m. Revenge
8:00 p.m. Charlie's Angels
9:00 p.m. Grey's Anatomy
10:00 p.m Private Practice
8:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00 p.m. Shark Tank
10:00 p.m. 20/20
8:00 p.m. Saturday Night College Football
7:00 p.m. America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00 p.m. Once Upon a Time
9:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00 p.m. Pan Am
What a bummer that ABC canceled Brothers & Sisters. It was such a great shoow & I loved Sally Field- she was a great matriarch. I will miss the show!!
tal2773 - 5/18/2011 2:21:53 PM EDT
Glad Castle and Dancing is back, Body of Proof is pretty good, but not much else I am interested in. I really loved "Off the Map", and think they made a BIG mistake cancelling this one. I will probably be watching the other networks more.
Sandra Dowell - 5/17/2011 4:28:03 PM EDT
I am so diappointed that ABC axed Brothers & Sisters, No Ordinary Family, Off the Map and Better with you. I hope someone else picks them up. I think moving EMOHE to Friday is a mistake. Sunday night is family night. It will lose viewers. They pretty much canceled the reasons I even watch ABC. Guess I will be watching more cable networks as the others offer nothing I'm interested in except CSI!
Cassie Bacon - 5/17/2011 4:13:11 PM EDT
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