Fall TV Preview 2012: ABC
The Alphabet net still has some work to do before it can compete in primetime with CBS or Fox, but the net has started to put some of the puzzle pieces in motion.
ABC is looking for a few good men while also appealing to its core femme base with this adventure series starring Andre Braugher as the renegade captain of a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine.
Already the home to TV’s top-rated comedy (“Modern Family”) and drama (“Grey’s Anatomy”) among adults 18-49, ABC added two buzzed-about dramas last season in fairytale-inspired “Once Upon a Time” and Hamptons-set family soap “Revenge,” along with solid comedy newbie “Suburgatory.”
Now it will look to take the next step with a trio of uniquely ABC dramas: “Last Resort,” “Nashville” and “666 Park Avenue.”
“We take risks,” says ABC Entertainment topper Paul Lee. “We do provocative shows. We do shows that are really driven by character and emotion. … I love the idea that this is a network that can really take risks with the different genres.”
And he loves that this means his shows range can go “from fairytales to an intense story in a submarine.”
ABC, which remained third among the networks last season (tied with NBC in 18-49 and ahead of it in total viewers), saw “Dancing With the Stars” take a tumble, contributing to hefty ratings losses on Monday. But “Revenge” and “Once Upon a Time” produced nice gains on their respective nights of Wednesday and Sunday, and the net hopes to parlay their success by pairing them on Sunday, followed by new horror tale “666.”
After scoring with single-camera family comedies on Wednesday, the net is expanding to multicams on Friday with Reba McEntire’s new “Malibu Country,” which is being paired with Tim Allen’s soph sitcom “Last Man Standing.” Along with sleeper hit “Shark Tank,” ABC could make some noise on the night.
ABC’s young-adult comedies “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23” have been paired on Tuesdays, though they don’t figure to light up the ratings scoreboard on a night that will likely continue to be something of a challenge for the net.
Lee says the show packs “an emotional punch,” and he likened its potential appeal to the movie “Crimson Tide” in that it tested as well with women as with men.
ABC has chosen to schedule the ambitious drama, which some have likened in scope and feel to “Lost,” in the same way as that island adventure series: leading off a night at 8. It’s hoping the show’s auspices (Shawn Ryan is a creator and exec producer) and ensemble star power (including Scott Speedman and Robert Patrick) will be enough to get eyeballs to the set early.
Recent history would suggest it could be an uphill battle in the Thursday hour preceding “Grey’s Anatomy” that has been a real bugaboo for ABC with shows including “Flash Forward,” “My Generation” and “Charlie’s Angels.” But again, as the only drama in the hour — opposite big CBS comedies, small NBC comedies and Fox’s “The X Factor” — this one should launch pretty well.
One year after FX found some success with its “American Horror Story,” ABC looks to spook a broader aud with this slickly produced morality tale set at a posh Manhattan apartment building. It doesn’t hurt that the Sunday show features stars from several recent ABC hours, including Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”) and Vanessa Williams (“Desperate Housewives”).
Reba McEntire, whose “Reba” aired six seasons on the WB and CW, plays a woman who moves to California with her kids after learning of her husband’s cheating heart. This one’s a bit spicier, though, including Lily Tomlin’s role as a marijuana lollipop-licking grandma. “Malibu,” paired with Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing” on Fridays, also co-stars Sara Rue.
Now that “Revenge” has shifted to Sunday, ABC is hoping to retain much of that audience while gaining some new viewers with this Wednesday drama that appears to be in the more traditional soap vein of “Dallas.” Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere star as country singers from different generations forced to tour together. Eric Close and Powers Boothe co-star.
In something of a throwback, this “3rd Rock From the Sun”-like comedy stars Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito as a couple who moves their family into a gated community whose residents are a little … different. Lee is a big fan of this show — hence its primo timeslot between “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”