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ABC, NBC Skeds: "Samantha" Gone but "L&O" Lives On

An earlier version of this posting said Gunsmoke was on the air during the 1970s, '80s and '90s. In fact, the show was on the air from 1955 to 1975.

"What recession?" says ABC as it orders six new dramas and four new sitcoms for next season.

ABC is set to unveil its primetime plans for the 2009-10 TV season this morning. And although it's buying more drama, the news will be its comedies. The network has not only ordered new ones, it's been in talks for weeks about maybe buying some used ones, like CBS's "New Adventures of Old Christine," should CBS take a pass. ABC's already got NBC's old "Scrubs" on its schedule, something of a surprise for those who didn't think the show would be coming back next season.

Home-grown "Samantha Who?" on the other hand, is toast, after ABC could not agree with ABC over a new price. No, that's not a typo. All the networks are haggling with producers over license fees this season as they look for ways to cut costs, but it's unusual when the haggling is internal and the result is a show's cancellation. That seems to have been the fate of Christina Applegate's comedy series, which had been a bright spot on ABC's otherwise so-so record with comedy over the past several years. That is, until ABC moved it to Thursday. Then it was pretty much roadkill.

To fill in the blank, ABC has ordered one comedy in which Courtney Cox plays a Cougar; another in which Kelsey Grammer plays a blowhard big-shot, a mom-com starring Patricia Heaton, and "Modern Family" from Steve Levitan, who just keeps on failin' on, and Chris Lloyd. This year it looks like ABC will make its comedy push on Wednesday.

Monday will not be messed with: "Dancing with the Stars" into "Castle."

Tuesday's "Dancing" results show will feed viewers into a new drama. Maybe even a new Jerry Bruckheimer procedural crime drama because we don't seem to have enough of those pasted across primetime yet, sigh.

On Thursdays, only the 8 p.m. hour is expected to get new content. "Grey's Anatomy" will stay put at 9 and ABC is not expected to mess with "Private Practice" at 10, having finally put that "Grey's" spinoff into the timeslot it should have held from the get-go.

Don't expect much tinkering with ABC's Sunday either - why would they?

On the drama front, we already know ABC's ordered "Flash Forward," in which everyone in the world blacks out and has a vision of the future, because it's already been promoted in an episode of "Lost." And no schedule would be complete without its Jerry Bruckheimer procedural crime drama -- this one "The Forgotten." Plus, you're in for a TV adaptation of the "Witches of Eastwick," called simply "Eastwick," and a lawyer drama titled "Deep End."

Meanwhile, NBC's also going to announce its primetime schedule this morning, though there is virtually no suspense there; that network already had its big reveal way back when it announced it was giving 10 p.m. Monday through Friday to Jay Leno.

Oh, and "Chuck" has been picked up after NBC squeezed as much suspense as possible out of it, in the process helping Subway sell a few more foot-long sandwiches. Fans of "Chuck" had been scarfing down foot-longs and humming the tune, by way of demonstrating their passion for the project -- "Chuck" broke new product-placement ground this spring when one of its characters bought another a Subway foot-long and then watched him eat it while humming the sandwich shop's commercial jingle. NBC and Subway are surely delighted with the results -- expect to see more ham-handed product placement on all NBC on-the-fence series every spring for the rest of your lives.

Anyway, NBC's primetime schedule has gotten down to details, like whether "Biggest Loser" will remain a two-hour show on Tuesdays, or be shrunk down to 90-minutes to carve out a 30-minute hole in which to launch a new show. Given the lengths NBC went with Jay to take timeslots needing expensive programming OFF its hands, it would seem unlikely, but it's NBC, so you never know.

Also we'll find out which lucky/unfortunate drama will be paired with "Law & Order: SVU" on Wednesdays. Lucky if Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni return; unlucky if those two "SVU" stars can't resolve their financial differences with NBC, which also produces the show.

And, the only other bit of "suspense" is whether NBC is returning "Law & Order: The Mothership" for a 20th season, technically tying "Gunsmoke's" record. Yes, is the answer, but the comparison is pure hooey. "L&O" is down to 16-episode-ish orders for a season that over its 19 seasons to date has amassed 433 episodes. That is about 200 episodes shy of the "Gunsmoke" tally over its 20 seasons on CBS, back in the 50's through '70s, when men were men and TV series writers and producers could crank out 36-ish episodes each season without batting an eye.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  May 19, 2009; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Broadcast TV Upfronts 2009  
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Next: ABC Starting From Scratch on Wednesdays


Lisa, what happened to the new Lauren Graham comedy that ABC announced a few months ago, "The Bridget Show"? She's my fave TV actress and I miss her! :( Any news on that?

Posted by: sigmagrrl | May 19, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

70's through '90s? Gunsmoke was 1955 - 1975.

Posted by: mavman99 | May 19, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse


Quite right, but give the Pookster a break. She was not around back then. The senimet expressed was spot on, however.

Posted by: adhardwick | May 19, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

um, Ugly Betty? Where is Ugly Betty? 8pm on Thursday is her time slot, not "new content". Grr.

Posted by: suzannepdc | May 19, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm so dissapointed that ABC didn't pick up The Unusuals. We've been loving it, especially the Murder Store episode and the whole "42" storyline. Such great characters.

Posted by: MPAmom | May 19, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

As a long-time Law and Order devotee, I was surprised to see it renewed, actually. Since Sam Waterson has become the D.A., and taken a much smaller role, the series has become much less interesting to me. The personality he portrays, now, is much like Adam Schiff's character was -- grumpy and not liking to take risks -- very much different than it was when he was the head A.D.A. To me, Waterson, when he was the A.D.A., really carried the show. Now, no one carries it, it's not carried collectively by the cast and I don't look forward to watching it, like I did before. I am glad to see it renewed, though; I hate these dopey "reality series" shows.

Posted by: mcjr | May 19, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

sigmagrrl, TVGuide and/or EW reported a few weeks ago that ABC passed on the Lauren Graham show. Apparently it bombed with test audiences.

Posted by: StuckatWork | May 19, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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