Currently mired in fourth place in the ratings, ABC will attempt to dig itself out next fall with the help of six new series — five comedies and one drama.
The bulk of the heavy lifting will once again occur on Tuesday night, where returning freshman drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will move to 9 p.m. and be joined by three new series. The night will kick off with new comedies Selfie and Manhattan Love Story. S.H.I.E.L.D. will then be followed by new drama Forever.
Speaking to reporters via conference call Tuesday, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee said, “It always has been, traditionally, very hard,” to lead into comedies with dramas, referencing last fall, when drama S.H.I.E.L.D. aired at 8 p.m., ahead of freshman comedy The Goldbergs. He added, “S.H.I.E.L.D. leading into Forever is a much more natural lead in.”
The Goldbergs will move to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, where it will air between mainstays The Middle and Modern Family. New comedy Black-ish will follow Modern Family at 9:30 p.m., the time period from which ABC attempted to launch comedies Super Fun Night and Mixology this season. Both shows were canceled.
New series How to Get Away with Murder will premiere at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, joining the drama block there, where it will follow Grey’s Anatomy, which moves up one hour to 8 p.m., and Scandal, which moves up to 9 p.m. All three shows are executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, who, ABC confirmed Tuesday, has extended her overall deal with ABC Studios through 2018.
“She’s one of the greatest voices on television,” Lee said of Rhimes. “And you’ve seen us stumble at that eight-o-clock hour, so it made all the sense in the world,” to move Grey’s and Scandal up. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have that clean flow to go through the night, three really, really powerful dramas.”
The Thursday shift also sets the table for a head-to-head matchup between Scandal and The Blacklist, which NBC announced Sunday will move to 9 p.m. Thursdays at mid-season.
“The truth is that you really can have hits on different networks on the same time period,” Lee said, pointing to the success of Modern Family and CBS’ Criminal Minds.
Cristela, another new comedy, will follow Last Man Standing at 8:30 p.m. on Fridays. The show features a Latina lead in star and creator Cristela Alonzo. Addressing what he called “the changed face of America,” Lee touted the diversity represented in Cristela and several other new series: African-American family comedy Black-ish; still unscheduled Asian-American family comedy Fresh Off the Boat; drama American Crime, which will take over the 9 p.m. Sunday time period after Resurrection’s season ends; and How to Get Away With Murder. “I think it is perfectly appropriate for networks like this” to have greater diversity in programming, Lee said. “I think it’s the right thing to do now.”
ABC will air series Marvel’s Agent Carter during the hiatus period between the fall finale of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its mid-season return. New musical fairytale Galavant will air back-to-back half-hour episodes during the same gap period for the returning Once Upon a Time on Sundays at 8 p.m.
New dramas Secrets and Lies and The Whispers have not yet been scheduled.
ABC will hold its upfront presentation Tuesday.
ABC FALL 2014 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPERCASE. All Times ET)
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
8:30 p.m.“MANHATTAN LOVE STORY”
9:00 p.m.“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
8:00 p.m. “The Middle”
8:30 p.m. “The Goldbergs”
9:00 p.m. “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m. “BLACK-ISH”
10:00 p.m. “Nashville”
8:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
9:00 p.m. “Scandal”
10:00 p.m. “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER”
8:00 p.m. “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m. “CRISTELA”
9:00 p.m. “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m. “20/20”
8:00 p.m. “Saturday Night Football”
7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m. “Resurrection”
10:00 p.m. “Revenge”