ABC unveiled a new fall slate heavy on drama in an effort to
build new franchises in the wake of the departing Lost, which ends its run this month, and aging hits Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives.
The network will launch five new dramas, one comedy and one
unscripted series in the fall. But it will sprinkle new comedy throughout the
fall when Dancing with the Stars goes
to 90 minutes. Grey's Anatomy creator
Shonda Rhimes' new medical drama, Off the
Map, is targeted for a midseason.
ABC actually ended up with a pretty good keep-cancel average
this season, renewing three of its four Wednesday-night rookie comedies and its
remake of 80s-era alien invasion thriller V.
But with the exception of Modern Family,
none of its freshman shows are bona-fide hits. FlashForward, intended as an heir apparent to Lost, ultimately could not build a following. And Cougar Town needs to work to earn a
The network's priorities for the 2010-11 season, said
Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment Group, are threefold: "event
television," "attack ten o'clock" and stock the comedy coffers.
No Ordinary Family,
starring Michael Chiklis as the patriarch of a family whose members find they
have super-human powers after surviving a plane crash in the Amazon, fills the
"event" quota. It will air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. leading into Dancing with the Stars, which has experienced a resurgence this
season (see related article, "Quietly Dancing To the Top"). On the 10 p.m. drama front, there is Detroit 1-8-7, a gritty crime procedural
that will get the Tuesday slot after Dancing
with the Stars, and The Whole Truth,
a Jerry Bruckheimer legal thriller that will air Wednesday nights after ABC's
Better Together, a
family comedy about sisters in different stages of their relationships, will
fill out the Wednesday comedy block at 8:30 p.m. after The Middle. ABC also has two comedies on the shelf: the Matthew
Perry laugher Mr. Sunshine and Happy Endings, about the impact of a
couple's break-up on their friends. Happy
Endings is likely to bow later in the fall when Dancing goes to 90 minutes,
McPherson said. And Mr. Sunshine will
get a run in a 9:30 p.m. Wednesday launch pad behind Modern Family.
McPherson admitted that Flash
Forward was "disappointing," but he said he had to make a choice between V and Flash Forward and ultimately felt that V was the stronger contender.
"V and Flash Forward were big ideas for us, big
swings at the plate," he said. "Event television has been a huge part of our
rebuilding. To have V work and Flash Forward not, it's difficult, but
we'll take that success rate for sure."
On Thursdays, the documentary style My Generation, which catches up with an Austin, Tex., high-school
class ten years after graduation, will anchor at 8 p.m. with Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice staying put at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.
Friday will include two new programs: the unscripted Secret Millionaire at 8 p.m. followed by the Dana Delany medical
drama Body of Proof.
Although the pick-up tally is slighter than in years past,
ABC spent about the same on development this year as it has in years past, said
McPherson. But the network has always poured a lot into
"We're always some of the most aggressive out there,"
he said. "And we really believe in R&D. In all the [hard] economic times
and cuts, we've never backed away from that. I'm a huge believer in
development, in the process.
"Shonda Rhimes would not be doing Grey's Anatomy," he added. "She wouldn't even be in development at
ABC if we didn't have an aggressive pilot season."
primetime schedule is as follows (all times listed are Eastern); new shows in
MONDAY: 8:00 p.m. "Dancing
with the Stars"
TUESDAY: 8:00 p.m. "No Ordinary Family"
p.m. "Dancing with the
Stars the Results Show"
p.m. "Detroit 1-8-7"
WEDNESDAY: 8:00 p.m. "The
8:30 p.m. "Better Together"
p.m. "Modern Family"
p.m. "Cougar Town"
p.m. "The Whole Truth"
THURSDAY: 8:00 p.m. "My Generation"
p.m. "Grey's Anatomy"
p.m. "Private Practice"
FRIDAY: 8:00 p.m. "Secret Millionaire"
9:00 p.m. "Body
10:00 p.m. "20/20"
SATURDAY: 8:00 p.m. "Saturday
Night College Football"
SUNDAY: 7:00 p.m. "America's
Funniest Home Videos"
Makeover: Home Edition"
p.m. "Brothers &