Alphabet faces the tough task of opening seven frosh series
The net has blown up Tuesday after a punchless perf in the 2012-13 season, opting to start from scratch with a pair of dramas bookending a pair of comedies. It’s also launching two laffers on Wednesday in a bid to give “Modern Family” some much-needed support.
“Modern” and other vets like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Castle” anchor an ABC schedule that could use some new hits. “Scandal” broke through in its sophomore season, but two other second-year shows — “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” — lost some of their mojo, and none of the net’s new shows caught fire.
ABC declined on most nights — dragged down by “Dancing With the Stars” — but rose 13% on Friday, where a “Shark Tank”-led lineup ranked fi rst among young adults.
This fall, ABC’s main goals are to establish “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” on Tuesday, to revitalize “Dancing With the Stars” in its new format and to find another comedy hit.
“SHIELD,” the first series from Marvel since the company was acquired by Disney, should open well — even opposite “NCIS.” And if “SHIELD” can settle in at a good number, ABC has a chance to significantly improve one of its soft hours.
Any heat supplied by “SHIELD” will help 9 p.m. comedy “The Goldbergs,” even if the shows aren’t that compatible. The loud and likable “Goldbergs” should draw more men than the typical ABC comedy and provide a clear alternative to Fox’s “New Girl.”
“Trophy Wife” at 9:30 is one of fall’s funniest new comedies and would make for a good fit with “Modern Family” at some point. And at 10, lottery tale “Lucky 7” has its charm but faces tough competish.
ABC has no Tuesday returnees because it smartly dropped the “Dancing” results show. By streamlining “Dancing” into a celeb-friendly, once-a-week format on Mondays, the Alphabet was able to get a better cast than in recent years, and it could see some ratings improvement.
Elsewhere, ABC really needs to fill the slots behind Wednesday comedy anchors “The Middle” and “Modern Family,” which are entering their fifth seasons. (Fall cable runs of the shows could bring new viewers to the ABC episodes.)
“Back in the Game” is a good fit with “The Middle,” while “Super Fun Night” has a promising premise that isn’t fully realized in the pilot. “Super Fun” is also an odd fit on the net’s night of family comedies, but ABC wanted to give the Rebel Wilson-fronted show the network’s best lead-in.
“Nashville,” last season’s top new ABC series, again closes Wednesday, and is one of six serialized dramas that could benefit from a scheduling experiment that limits the number of interruptions between original episodes. The Alphabet will mostly air shows in two big clumps — in fall and then starting up again in late winter, with limited-run series filling the gaps.
Split seasons makes sense, and an Olympics year makes it a natural time to try the strategy, since ABC would give shows two weeks off in February anyway while NBC airs the Games.
It would be nice to see the Alphabet try a traditional miniseries in January to provide a spark in the weeks when its rivals enjoy huge male-skewed boosts from postseason NFL action.
ABC is asking shorter-run series to kick off the season in two troubled timeslots: “Once Upon a Time” spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” will air Thursdays at 8, and “Betrayal” is set for Sunday at 10.
The femme-friendly “Wonderland” has a better shot at success than last year’s “Last Resort” and “Zero Hour,” which in turn would help the potent 9-11 p.m. combo of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”
As for “Betrayal,” it’s a natural fit with “Revenge,” but can anything new work Sunday at 10, when most people are either watching football or calling it a night before the start of the work week?
Overall, ABC has a good shot at improving its Tuesday fortunes thanks to “SHIELD,” but its season likely will hinge on whether it can make any noise with its four new comedies.