Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Upfront Watch: ABC

I'll get to last night's "HIMYM" and "Heroes" in a bit, but ABC just wrapped up their upfront press conference, so I'll do some quick analysis of that. If you have a PDF reader, you can read the whole press release here, but I'll put in the basic schedule after the jump...
MONDAY: 8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
9:30 p.m. “Sam I Am” (new comedy series)
10:00 p.m. “The Bachelor”

TUESDAY: 8:00 p.m. “Cavemen” (new comedy series)
8:30 p.m. “Carpoolers” (new comedy series)
9:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10:00 p.m. “Boston Legal”

WEDNESDAY: 8:00 p.m. “Pushing Daisies” (new drama series)
9:00 p.m. “Private Practice” (new drama series)
10:00 p.m. “Dirty Sexy Money” (new drama series)

THURSDAY: 8:00 p.m. “Ugly Betty”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “Big Shots” (new drama series)

FRIDAY: 8:00 p.m. “MEN IN TREES”
9:00 p.m. “Women’s Murder Club” (new drama series)
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”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Brothers & Sisters”

“Cashmere Mafia,” “Notes from the Underbelly” and “October Road” will premiere after “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Bachelor” conclude their fall seasons.
So, some initial thoughts:
  • Once again, ABC is throwing a ton of new product on in the fall, despite being one of the stronger networks. It shows how much of their strength is concentrated in a handful of shows, primarily on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. Programming three original dramas on the same night -- even if one of them is a "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off -- is a really risky move.
  • Of all ABC's pre-existing comedies, who woulda thunk that "Notes from the Underbelly" would be the only survivor? McPherson said "Knights of Prosperity" came close to renewal, but they couldn't find a place for it. On the plus side, "According to Jim" is now dead, dead, DEAD. With the much better "King of Queens" having gone off the air last night, is this the last we'll see of the "Fat oaf with hot wife" sitcom?
  • "Private Practice" is still a lousy title, but no worse, I suppose, than "Boston Legal."
  • I'm not as big a Bryan Fuller fan as some (I've liked his work on other people's shows, like the "Company Man" episode of "Heroes," but "Wonderfalls" and "Dead Like Me" both felt like they were trying too hard), but "Pushing Daisies" sounds cool. And I'll watch anything Chris Titus does at least once (except maybe "Killer Klowns from Outer Space"), which means "Big Shots" will be near the top of my pilot pile when it arrives.
  • Either the scathing Ain't It Cool? review of "Cavemen" was way off, or this is a situation where McPherson feels the name recognition is too great to not try. Of course, that way lies "Emeril."
  • I like Christina Applegate, but neither "Help Me Help You" nor "Big Day" did well airing after "Dancing" in the fall. I don't know that reality shows are good lead-ins to comedies -- but then, ABC has no returning comedies on the fall schedule to use as lead-ins.
Talk amongst yourselves. Gotta write up the two "H" shows.


Mac said...

When will "Lost" air?

Alan Sepinwall said...

McPherson said probably Wednesday, but he wouldn't know for sure until he saw how the schedule shook out. It's not due back until February, so they have lots of time.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Private Practice. Can't they come up with a better title? How about Flesh & Blood? Maybe you can suggest something to them.

Women's Murder Club is also a pretty weak name. But at least that one comes from the series of books.

I'm surprised they're holding Cashmere Mafia until midseason since NBC has announced they're doing the same with Lipstick Jungle. It's definitely gonna hurt both shows. Though I guess at least neither network will be accused of ripping off the other.

Matt said...

The least gutsy move here? ABC doesn't have the guts to play against CSI: Miami, and instead dumps reality cannon fodder there.

Also, looks like there will be 7-8 hours of new shows between the five networks on Wednesday nights. (Already have 5 hours, assume CBS is likely trying something new at 8, CW will want a new Top Model companion, and FOX is likely to run its new sitcoms there.) That might be a record.

Danny said...

Come on, Alan. Don't hate on "Killer Klowns from Outer Space."

David J. Loehr said...

The three dramas on one night sounds a little odd, especially since there doesn't seem to be a natural flow from a vaguely supernatural but interesting mystery show into the Grey's spinoff--which ought to be called "Montgomery's Ward," which at least pretends to be clever--and then into a presumably well-written but dark soap written by real live playwrights.

Though I'm glad to see Craig Wright get a paycheck, but nothing he's written for tv comes close to anything he's written for the stage. That's tv's loss.

Grimoald said...

A certain other TV journo who you had a public spat with last year says that Pushing Daisies is great.

I'm not sure about ABC, it does seem like they've just conceded Monday and Tuesday when they haven't got Dancing With The Stars airing. I can see the comedies failing badly despite the incessant media attention that will be laid on Cavemen, but then with America you never know, similarly, although Private Practice isn't going to be a Joey-level flop, I can easily see it faltering.

Big Shots seems like a bad choice after Grey's. A male-relationship focused dramedy seems like a weird choice.

I am just angry that there is no sign of The Thick of It, I bet it was really good, but unfortunately it didn't spin out of an insurance commercial.

Alan Sepinwall said...

A certain other TV journo who you had a public spat with last year says that Pushing Daisies is great.

But as I recall, Ausiello also really loved "Wonderfalls." Again, I'm more than prepared to have an open mind, but Fuller generally hasn't done it for me as much as he obviously does for others.

Big Shots seems like a bad choice after Grey's. A male-relationship focused dramedy seems like a weird choice.

And yet "October Road" did better in the timeslot than "Men in Trees."

Filipe said...

And yet "October Road" did better in the timeslot than "Men in Trees."

Also, they seem to have kept October Road out of September schedule as a fallback plan, if either Big Shots or Dirty Sexy Money flops, October road the one show that seem to have done well post Grey's is there.

Dirty Sexy Money looks as being potentially to dark for network, but it has the early fall benefit of going up a almost surefire loser procedural on NBC, so it's likely to stay confortable at #2 in the slot at least early. And Pushing Daisies has to do ok enough to be kept till Lost comes back in February.

And as usual is amazing the difference between the ABC new dramas (almost all of it looking like having an actual shot of being good) and their comedies (almost all of it sounding pretty lame).

erosia said...

My college roommate *loved* Killer Klowns from Outer Space. She rented it from some VHS rental service that was a precursor to Netflix just so she could watch it again. (She didn't own a copy)

Matt said...

Also, interesting the change from last year's strategy of "Suck up to J.J. Abrams" (pickup of Six Degrees, renewal of What About Brian) to this year's strategy of "Suck up to Berlanti!"

Anonymous said...

In Berlanti's defense, his shows sound a lot better.

dez said...

My favorite part of this has been George Lopez's explosion since his show was cancelled. For some reason, too, the L.A. Times said "Knights" was renewed. The huh?

BTW, what was that "Traveler" thing they "previewed" last week? Is that a mid-season replacement? Or a summer show?

Anonymous said...

I love how George Lopez thinks his crappy show, which inexplicably lasted for 5 seasons, should get a pass because he's a minority.

Meanwhile, ABC has latinos prominently featured on Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, and diverse casts on Lost, Grey's, and Private Practice. Maybe he should find another network to pick on. (I vote for CBS.)

Chico said...

"Women's Murder Club" is seriously the name of a show?

Any guesses as to how many episodes of "Cavemen" make it to air? I'm going with three.

Will "Private Practice" make it until the end of the year? I think not.

"The Bachelor" is still on? Maybe ABC should try "Happy Days" reruns on Monday at 10 instead.

I usually love crap like "October Road", but it's way too crappy for me.

Dan Coyle said...

I usually don't love crap like October Road, but the show exerts a strange pull on me. It's probably the pizza girl. Curse you, Lindy Booth, and your leg warmers and pigtails!

I'm kinda surprised it's coming back, since that finale felt like a finale finale rather than a season finale. But it did get the post-Grey's ratings.

George Lopez is angry about his show being canceled? It had a good run, for something so remarkably unpleasant.

Don't you be dissing the Killer Klowns, Alan!

BF said...

Actually, I think the first 5 minutes of "Cavemen" will be one of the highest rated segments of the year as people tune in just for the car-crash factor. After that first ad break though, all bets are off.

dez said...

George Lopez is angry about his show being canceled? It had a good run, for something so remarkably unpleasant.

It had its funny moments, but toward the end, it was getting too reliant on George's insertion of random "Watchas!" and such. I wish "Greetings from Tuscon" had lasted half as long, as it was the superior show, but alas! it was stuck on the WB and never had a chance. At least Lopez's show lasted through several timeslot changes. Why you cryin', George? HAHAHHAHAA!

Dark Tyler said...

So, no "Football Wives"?

Boo. Instead of a really fun and trashy show, we get a really pretentious and equally trashy show, "Private Practice."


Alan Sepinwall said...

And I'm bummed about "Football Wives" because I was really looking forward to hanging with honorary TV critic Lucy Lawless at ABC's press tour party. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Honorary TV Critic?

How does one acquire such a distinguished title?

Donlee said...

Is there anywhere we can see the "Football Wives" pilot? I'm a big fan of the BBC series and considering Bryan Singer directed the pilot, Lucy Lawless is one of the wives, and James van der Beek is one of the players, count me interested.

Alan Sepinwall said...

How does one acquire such a distinguished title?

Long story short: a few years ago, Lucy came to the TCA Awards as the "date" of a male critic she was friendly with (technically, she just wanted an excuse to get dressed up and go out on a Saturday night while Rob Tapert stayed home with the kids), and not only did she stick around for the Awards, and the after-party, but she proved an all-around good sport by participating in TCA Transcript Theatre, in which we stage re-enactments of sessions from earlier in the tour. I believe she reading Peter Tolan's part (or maybe Denis Leary's) from a "Rescue Me" transcript. A truly awesome display of being a good sport.

Last year, I tried to convince a "Grey's Anatomy" actress (who shall remain nameless in the event she changes her mind) to fill the Lawless role in Transcript Theatre, and she said she needed to check with her manager first. Or maybe her agent. Either way, it was very disappointing, and proved once again that while there are many pretty, talented actresses in Hollywood, there's only one Lucy Lawless.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Donlee, I imagine it'll pop up on BitTorrent before long. If I hear tell of it, I'll try to mention it here.

dez said...

Alan, is "Kyle XY" coming back to ABC Family?

Kristen said...

So how is "Cashmere Mafia" different than NBC's "Lipstick Jungle"?

dez said...

^ 1) They have different names.
2) They're on different networks.

Eh, I got nuthin'.

Anonymous said...

I have hopes that the Private Practice title will change. Don't forget that a few years ago when ABC announced its fall schedule, the show that eventually aired that fall as Boston Legal was known as The Practice: Fleet Street.

ooda said...

Dez, it was announced a few days ago that Kyle XY was not only coming back (as had already been announced), but that it is having an extra long season (this I can't remember where I read, but having not watched the show, it's not something I'd make up).


ooda said...

Anonymous: Private Practice is probably the most generic name they could have come up with, and I really do hope they come up with something a bit more inventive. Unfortunately, "Grey's Anatomy" is a wonderful title, due to its multifaceted nature (her name/the book). The only thing I could think up of, while in bad taste, is to call the new show "Addison's Disease".

dez said...

Thanks, ooda! June 11 is the premiere, yay!

I read elsewhere that zap2it was reporting that Veronica Mars was cancelled, but I couldn't find the article. I'm sure Alan will know the score.

ooda said...

The closest I could find...


BF said...


One has Candace Bushnell. The other has Darren Starr.

Yeah, they're the same show.

Anonymous said...

Cashmere Mafia to air after Dancing with the Stars is over - when will that be?