Analysis: Strong new dramas should lift next in fall
Though the last two seasons have seen ABC lose signature hours “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives,” there’s every reason to believe the pipeline is still well stocked.This fall’s three most promising new dramas — “Nashville,” “666 Park Avenue” and “Last Resort” — hail from the Alphabet, which is counting on them to help boost what are already its top-rated nights. And these come on top of last season’s drama additions “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge,” which could be even more formidable as a back-to-back block on Sundays. ABC’s new comedies (two this fall and a couple of more in January) aren’t nearly as strong, but the net now has three distinct block brands; Wednesday’s single-camera, family-themed foursome remains the strongest thanks to powerhouse “Modern Family.” Overall, as the only major network without the increasingly valuable boost that NFL ratings can provide, ABC needs to work harder to keep up. And it’s on Sunday, opposite NBC’s monster “Sunday Night Football,” where the Alphabet hopes to make its biggest noise. The move of sudser “Revenge” to the old “Desperate Housewives” slot makes a lot of sense, and it fits well between two other dramas (“Once” and “666”) that revolve around the theme of good vs. evil. The horror show “666” makes for a nice nightcap and has the benefit of starring several thesp faves from recent ABC dramas hits. ABC should win the night among women and could be the overall Sunday leader post-football. “Nashville,” a soap set in the country music world, is smartly placed in the old “Revenge” slot of Wednesday at 10 and has all the elements that could produce ratings equally as solid as its predecessor in that slot. ABC’s biggest challenge will be getting auds to its promising new Thursday drama “Last Resort,” which will air in an 8 o’clock hour that has proved to be one of the net’s most vexing. “Grey’s Anatomy” remains potent at 9 despite its age, and the net will hope to see an improved perf by “Scandal,” which returns at 10 after a nothing-special rookie run last spring. Another key is Monday reality vet “Dancing With the Stars,” which faded last season and will have tougher competish from NBC’s “The Voice.” An all-star edition could help bring back some viewers to a night that slid 19% for ABC last season. The “Dancing” results show will lead into returning young-adult comedies “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23,” which did decently with a strong “Modern Family” lead-in on Wednesday, so it makes sense to try as a combo here; but, opposite Fox’s “New Girl” (and a new NBC comedy hour as well), don’t expect ratings fireworks. New Wednesday aliens family comedy “Neighbors” seems like a throwback (and a long shot to succeed), but will at least get a chance to be seen in the 8:30 p.m. sandwich slot. “Suburgatory,” which had aired at 8:30 in its rookie season, gets a promotion to the post-“Modern Family” 9:30 slot and is a better fit than other shows to air here. Friday multi-camera family comedies “Malibu Country” (Reba McEntire) and “Last Man Standing” (Tim Allen) make sense for the night, joining the rising reality show “Shark Tank” for a block that older kids could watch with their parents. ABC will again skew considerably more female than any of its Big Four rivals but shows like “Shark Tank” and “Last Resort,” starring Andre Braugher as the captain of a nuclear submarine, are at least baby steps in trying to restore some gender balance. Overall this season, ABC should be able to close the gap some with Fox, especially if one or more of the Alphabet’s new dramas breaks out. Still, after settling for a third-place tie with NBC in the 18-49 demo last season, a second-place finish would seem out of reach at this time.