NEW YORK — ABC will try to climb its way out of the ratings basement with an aggressive fall lineup that balances the net’s need for massive changes while maintaining as much sked stability as possible.
Five of seven nights will feature at least one hour of new programming, with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday boasting at least 50% original fare. And, as expected, a slew of veteran ABC series — including “Spin City,” “Dharma & Greg” and “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” — will not be back.
Nonetheless, ABC will have returning shows as anchors on five nights of the week.
One new drama — a series spinoff of “Dinotopia” — is based on a miniseries that bowed Sunday to solid ratings, while surprise spring ratings success “The Bachelor” will be back. And two relatively young ABC shows exhibiting signs of life — “Alias” and “My Wife and Kids”– will remain right where they are.
Overall, Alphabet will add 5½ new hours of programming, split between four dramas and three comedies. Considering how much of ABC’s pilots were developed inhouse, it’s no shocker that Touchstone Television is producing every new ABC skein, with the exception of the “Dinotopia” spinoff.
The biggest shift of a returning series is the move of “The Drew Carey Show” to Mondays at 8 p.m., where it will be paired with the Carey-hosted “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” followed by “Monday Night Football.” Frosh hit laffer “According to Jim” jumps from Wednesday to Tuesday but stays put as an 8:30 p.m. show.
ABC is taking a chance leading off Tuesday with the new family comedy “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” but the slot is up for grabs, at least for youth-appeal laffers. Fox’s “That ’70s Show” is fading, while NBC will bow its own new family laffer with “In-Laws.”
Indeed, with the exception of “NYPD Blue” — which will once again return to 10 p.m. — Tuesday is completely new. Some had expected the net to keep “Blue” and “Philly” from 9-11 p.m., but ABC execs believed it critical to get back into the comedy game on Tuesday nights.
By contrast, ABC is scaling back laffers on Wednesdays to put “The Bachelor” on at 9 p.m. as the lead-in to new drama “Meds” (formerly “The Oath.”) And on Thursdays, ABC will try to skew young with “Dinotopia” — betting kids and teens will be tired of “Friends” and “Survivor.”
New dramas getting the go-ahead are:
- “Meds” (Touchstone): hospital-based hour from exec producers Marc Platt and Gary Tieche.
- “Push, Nevada” (Touchstone/Live Planet): an interactive mystery drama from exec producers Sean Bailey, Chris Moore, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
- “That Was Then” (Touchstone): A man gets the chance to relive a key day from his 1980s high school life. He hopes to correct mistakes that have haunted him ever since, but instead opens up several new cans of worms. Exec producers are Dan Cohn, Jeremy Miller and Jeff Kline.
- “Dinotopia” (Hallmark): The “mega” series becomes a weekly series.
On the comedy side, new half-hours include:
- “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” (Touchstone/Flody Co.): John Ritter as a man trying to cope with two teenage daughters who, until now, have been mainly the responsibility of his wife. At least the boy’s OK.
- “Life with Bonnie” (Touchstone): Bonnie Hunt tries to raise a family.
- “Less Than Perfect” (Touchstone): A rare nonfamily-themed laffer about life in an ultrapolitical office. Andy Dick and Lisa Ann Walter star.