ABC: Reducing Repeats With Limited Series

Network using 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' to anchor new Tuesday, including another swing at a comedy block

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STRATEGY: Cut down on repeats for serialized
dramas by scheduling them in batches of 12 episodes in fall and spring, with
limited series filling the gaps; use new Avengers spinoff action drama
to relaunch Tuesdays.

Gone are the days when 22-episode seasons could last 52 weeks. So starting this
fall, ABC will begin running some of its serialized dramas in two batches of 12
original episodes, with fall and spring premieres, and using limited series to
fill the gap in midseason.

"The idea is to create quality launches throughout the season, away from the
clutter of fall," ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee said last week.
Though Lee noted that a limited eight-to-12-episode run is not right for every
show, where deployed it can "make for better storytelling" in a series' first year.

One such show is new drama Betrayal, about an unhappily married female
photographer who begins an affair with an attorney who is arguing a case
against her husband. The show is designed for a 13-episode run on Sundays at 10
p.m. On tap to replace it in midseason is new drama Resurrection, about
people coming back to life. ABC has also ordered the fantasy competition
reality series The Quest, which will air between runs of Once Upon a
Time
on Sundays.

While during his upfront presentation roast ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel
joked that limited series are something "we've been doing for years," citing
quickly axed ABC series such as 666 Park Avenue and Red Widow,
Lee said in seriousness it's "not impossible that limited series can run on" to
a second season of limited episodes.

To keep stability amid its ambitious new scheduling plan, ABC will leave key
series anchoring each night in place: Dancing With the Stars and Castle
on Monday; The Middle, Modern Family and Nashville on
Wednesday; Grey's Anatomy and Scandal on Thursday; Last Man
Standing
and Shark Tank on Friday; and Once and Revenge on
Sunday.

To jolt the fading Dancing With the Stars, ABC will fold its performance
and results into one show on Monday in an effort to "really build a sense of
occasion to that night," Lee said. That also frees up the network to
aggressively revamp Tuesday, starting with Joss Whedon's much-anticipated Avengers
spinoff, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big action drama will
lead into a new two-comedy block of the nostalgic family sitcom The
Goldbergs --
which ABC showed a lengthy five-minute clip of at its upfront
-- and Trophy Wife, starring Malin Ackerman. Lucky 7, which Lee
billed as a drama for the "99 percent," about seven gas station employees who
win the lottery, will end the night.

On Wednesday, ABC will launch two more comedies in fall -- Back in the Game,
about an estranged father-daughter relationship; and Super Fun Night starring
Rebel Wilson, which earned the prime slot after Modern Family. Despite
the cancellation of young adult ensemble comedy Happy Endings this
season, Lee said midseason comedy Mixology, which follows 10 singles at
a Manhattan bar over the course of one night, and the female friendship-themed Super
Fun Night
are "much broader shows that can bring in a wider audience."

Thursday at 8 p.m. has been a black hole for ABC's new series in recent seasons
(R.I.P. Zero Hour, Last Resort, Charlie's Angels), but the
network will again attempt to launch a freshman there in the fall, this time
the franchise spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Billing Thursday
as a night of "powerful women," Lee expressed confidence that Wonderland will
have a better flow with Grey's and Scandal than past pairings, and
the show offers the built-in audience of a franchise.

Friday continues to be a family destination with Last Man Standing and The
Neighbors
, the latter relocated to the night for its sophomore season. A
new season of comedy Suburgatory remains unscheduled for midseason, as
do new procedurals Mind Games, about two brothers solving clients'
problems with psychological manipulation, and Killer Women, about the
lone female ranger on a squad patrolling the Texas frontier.

E-mail comments to amorabito@nbmedia.com
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