ABC unveils first post-"Lost" primetime schedule
(Update: Check out clips of ABC's new fall shows.)
ABC's first post-"Lost" primetime lineup includes a new strange-things-happen-after-plane-crash drama the network hopes will be less cultlike and more, well, broadcast like than "Lost." It's one of seven new series joining ABC's primetime slate in the fall, also including not one but two new mockumentary series -- and a reality show that had been dumped by another network because it wasn't sufficiently gritty.
Gone are "FlashForward, "Scrubs," "Better Off Ted," "The Forgotten," "Eastwick," "Shark Tank"; the barely knew ye shows "Romantically Challenged" and "Happy Town," and the already said so-long series "Ugly Betty" and aforementioned "Lost."
Monday, one of ABC's bright spots, is returning untouched: "Dancing with the Stars" - which this season attracted more viewers some weeks than Fox's "American Idol." After "Dancing": rom-dram "Castle" which defied critics' -- and some industry executives' -- expectations this season, ratings-wise, in its second season.
On Tuesdays, new drama "No Ordinary Family" will have to self-start at 8 (ABC has scheduled two new series for fall in that first hour of primetime for the fall across its new lineup, bucking conventional wisdom about putting new series in protected timeslots following hits.)
Anyway, "No Ordinary Family" is basically a live-action version of "The Incredibles." It's about a family that goes on vacation, only their plane crashes into the Amazon River - nooooooo, not another plane crash! But, unlike "Lost," they all survive -- not just the hot young ones - only they discover each of them now possessed unique and distinct superpowers, that seem to have something to do with having crashed up the Amazon instead of, say, the Potomac.
When asked if "No Ordinary Family" was ABC's new "Lost," the network's scheduling chief Jeff Bader told the TV Column, " 'Lost' is in a class by itself - it is the most successful cult show ever. 'No Ordinary Family' hopefully will appeal to that audience, but be much more broadly accessible."
The family patriarch on "No Ordinary Family" is played by Michael Chiklis, our generation's greatest living scenery chewer. And the show is expected to be more of a guy magnet, which is good since it'll be on against two of TV's bigger chick magnets: NBC's "Biggest Loser" and Fox's "Glee."
After "No Ordinary Family," the "Dancing" results show is back at 9 - duh - followed at 10 by a new cop drama "Detroit 1-8-7." It stars Michael Imperoli, who you will remember from "the Sopranos"; he plays a wily detective who is part of a homicide unit being followed by a documentary crew.
Wednesdays, the Patricia Heaton comedy "The Middle" is being moved from 8:30 to 8 p.m. to try to launch the night, despite its less than brilliant numbers this season. On the other hand, the poor show never did have a leadin all season - ABC filled the timeslot with "whatever" after canceling Kelsey Grammer's debacle-com "Hank" early in the season. And at 8, ABC's scheduling chief Bader noted, it's easier to compete than at 8:30 when your broadcast competition are drama series. He's referring to NBC's "Mercy" and Fox's "Human Target" (and "Lie To Me" repeats).
A new comedy, "Better Together" will be sandwiched between "The Middle" and "Modern Family" which is staying put at 9, where it has garnered raves and ratings, even when it aired in the teeth of Fox's "American Idol." "Cougar Town" returns at 9:30.
"Better" is about a chick who's been in a committed relationship with this guy for nine years because, ABC explains, it's a "valid life choice" only, this being TV, she's thrown for "a loop" when her younger sister announces she's getting married to, and having a baby with, a guy she's been dating seven weeks. Even more annoying, the sisters' parents "couldn't be more pleased" about the quickie marriage, presumably because it will produce a grandchild. It sounds very Disney.
And you know how CBS has had such luck on Mondays for years with all those comedies followed by a Jerry Bruckheimer comedy masquerading as a drama - David Caruso's "CSI: Miami"? Well, guess what? ABC's going to follow its four-sitcom lineup on Wednesday with Bruckheimer's new "The Whole Truth." It stars Rob Morrow and Joely Richardson as two Yale Law School grads. He was born in New York's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood and is now one of New York's rising criminal attorney stars; she's "the product of a new England background" and now the Deputy Bureau chief in the New York State District Attorney's office. Each week they take opposite sides of the same criminal case and create two different stories form the same set of facts, which they will tell to jurors in court. At the end of each episode a jury will give a verdict and viewers will then be told whether the verdict is correct. Is Rob Morrow the next David Caruso? We'll see!
Oh, and yes, ABC just announced, in effect, that CBS's "Numb3rs" is cancelled.
Thursdays, "My Generation" is ABC's biggest swing for the fence - a sort of drama series take on "Real World." Here's the premise: In 2000 a documentary crew followed a group of high schoolers in Austin, Texas; 10 years later they're revisiting these former classmates as they return home. Normally, we'd hide under the bed when this one came on, but among its executive producers is Warren Littlefield, who was the last best development exec NBC ever had. He's also the guy who brought us "Keen Eddie" so give "My Gen" a shot.
"My Gen" will be followed by an Izzie-free "Grey's Anatomy," and returning "Private Practice."
Fridays will start at 8 on ABC with "Secret Millionaire" which you may remember from its short run on Fox. That network passed on ordering more episodes, despite okay ratings, because, we hear, it wasn't edgy enough - the secret millionaires never lit anyone on fire or anything. But for ABC, which aspires to air aspirational reality shows, this one's a bulls-eye. It follows some of the country's wealthiest people as they go live, incognito, in some of the country's most impoverished neighborhoods and survive on welfare wages. After each millionaire goes slumming, he or she has this big reveal at which he/she gives away at least $100,000 of their own money and everyone lives happily ever after. We'd hoped ABC would up the price of admission it charged the millionaires for access to its primetime schedule.
It'll be followed by "Body of Proof" at 9 - starring Dana Delany as a brilliant neurosurgeon - and yet, it's not a comedy! Delany's Dr. Megan Hunt has to give up being a brilliant neurosurgeon after a car accident and becomes a medical examiner.
ABC isn't the only network getting back into the original scripted programming business on Fridays - NBC has already announced a new 10 o'clock drama starring Jimmy Smits as a Supreme Court justice gone rogue, and Fox announced "Human Target" is moving to the night along with the about-to-debut buddy-cop dramedy "The Good Guys." CBS had been the last holdout on the night with scripted shows - "Ghost Whisperer" and "Medium" this season. But those dramas showed their age this season, and the other networks all decided to pounce on the opportunity this season.
"There's an audience Friday night.. You've just got to find the right programming and scripted programming is everybody's objective - it gets a premium from advertisers," ABC's Bader explained to The TV Column Tuesday morning.
The core audience on Friday nights, he said: women aged 35+. "Younger adults are home on Friday, but not regularly, as opposed to older adults who tend to be home regularly. A Friday drama should probably be a procedural, he said - one that someone can join after not seeing it for a week or two.
Saturday ABC will continue to air football, and Sunday's ABC lineup is also returning intact: "America's Funniest Home Videos," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters." There had been speculation "B & S" would be moved out of the night.
"We did talk about that, but decided that since we're launching a lot of shows, stability on the night in the fall would be smart - there's only so much we can do in the fall." Which, interestingly, is pretty much what NBC's programming chief Angela Bromstad said earlier this week when asked how the heck "Chuck" had survived.
Shonda Rhimes's new doctors-in-bikinis drama "Off the Map" did not make the fall schedule, but has been ordered for midseason. Likewise Matthew Perry's new comedy "Mr. Sunshine," and a comedy called "Happy Endings" starring "24's" Elisha Cuthbert as half of a broken-up couple who are divvying up their assets - including their friends. Oh, and "V" is not gone -- it's just being held for later in the season.
New shows are in bold
8 p.m. Dancing With the Stars performance show (two hours)
10 p.m. Castle
8 p.m. No Ordinary Family
9 p.m. Dancing With the Stars results show
10 p.m. Detroit 1-8-7
8 p.m. The Middle*
8:3o p.m. Better Together
9 p.m. Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Cougar Town
10 p.m. The Whole Truth
8 p.m. My Generation
9 p.m. Grey's Anatomy
10 p.m. Private Practice
8 p.m. Secret Millionaire
9 p.m. Body of Proof
10 p.m. 20/20
8 p.m. Saturday Night College Football
7 p.m. America's Funniest Home Videos
8 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10 p.m. Brothers & Sisters
*moved to a new time slot
Lisa de Moraes
May 18, 2010; 10:44 AM ET
Categories: TV News
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