ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson maintained Tuesday that the lack of new traditional sitcoms and the boom in serialized dramas was not by design, but simply a result of his picking the best shows the network had in development.
"We went with the best shows we had," he told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour.
On the comedy side, none of the new shows are the traditional form, with a couch in the middle of the set and a laugh track after every joke.
"We didn’t make a decision based on style," he says. "We certainly went out and wanted to break the mold, because the same old same old isn’t working. The multi-camera shows we had in development just didn’t turn out."
On the drama side, McPherson says the network tried to develop some procedural, close-ended shows, but had little success.
"That is a tough assignment right now," he says. "They have been kind of played out with franchises like CSI and Law & Order. We did have some in development and the pilots just weren’t as good as the other choices we had."
McPherson acknowledged having too many serialized dramas on the air is a risk, given the amount of commitment they demand from an audience and the hesitation of viewers to join after a few weeks if they have missed the early installments.
"It certainly presents some challenges," McPherson admits.
Other notes and quotes from McPherson’s presentation to reporters Tuesday:
· He says he is considering trying to re-develop a comedy starring Patricia Heaton that did not make the fall schedule. "She can make the phone book funny, but we couldn’t get the show to the level of where we wanted it," he says.
· He claims the budget cuts taking place at Disney will have no effect on his division.
· He says that while J.J. Abrams (who is behind ABC shows including Lost and Six Degrees) is leaving corporate cousin Touchstone Television, he hopes to continue the relationship, including having him full-time on the shows this year. "It’s a shame to lose him from the studio because we have a special connection in-house, but [Warner Bros. chief] Peter [Roth] and I have already talked and we intend to keep in business with him."
· The network will dub Grey’s, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Dancing with the Stars, George Lopez and Ugly Betty into Spanish this season, with the remainder of its regular, prime-time shows available with Spanish subtitles.
· He actually ended up on a bike ride with his Fox counterpart, Peter Liguori, over the weekend. "We spend too much time in the broadcast business beating up on the other broadcast businesses," he says. "We have a lot of other competition right now. Its not about beating CBS or Fox, it’s more about does our business work?"