WHAT WORKED: New skeins have clicked, including “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” — the most impressive first-year nonfranchise dramas since “ER” bowed in 1994. “Desperate” has become the No. 2 series on television (behind only “CSI”). “Lost” is a top 10 regular despite airing in the early 8 o’clock hour.
The much-buzzed-about dramedy “Desperate Housewives” has teamed with hot unscripted hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at 8 and solid rookie drama “Boston Legal” at 10 to give ABC a lock on Sunday nights.
Survival skein “Lost,” the top-rated 8 o’clock drama on any net in key demos since “Melrose Place,” has teamed with successful new reality show “Wife Swap” to help the Alphabet web prevail on Wednesday, too.
These out-of-the-box smashes give the net more pieces to work with as it continues the rebuilding process.
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Among comedies, new blue-collar Tuesday entry “Rodney” has done a commendable job holding its “According to Jim” lead-in.
WHAT DIDN’T: The net’s attempt to go for laughs on Friday hit a speed bump as soph anchor “Hope & Faith” isn’t attracting as many eyeballs as last year. This had a domino effect on the other Friday comedies, including the transplanted “8 Simple Rules” and “Less Than Perfect.” Verdict’s still out on “Complete Savages,” which is doing OK at best but has been picked up for the season.
“The Benefactor,” a rip-off of NBC’s “The Apprentice” fronted by Mark Cuban, was a dud from the start as the net once again had a difficult time finding something to work alongside “Monday Night Football.” Teen-centered drama “Life as We Know It” has struggled in the middle hour of the net’s woeful Thursday, and is set to get a shot at an earlier 8 o’clock slot — although the net will need something stronger to compete there.
WHAT’S AHEAD: ABC still has plenty of product available for the second half of the season, including promising high-tech private eye skein “Eyes,” hospital drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and another police hour from Steven Bochco, “Blind Justice.” Also, a John Stamos-fronted romantic laffer will slide into the laffer lineup on either Tuesday or Friday.
Monday is undergoing a January makeover after “Monday Night Football,” with the net smartly opting for a promotable all-unscripted lineup. “The Bachelorette” shifts to the night from Wednesday, following the new “How’d They Do That,” an extension of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” that scored decent ratings with a few specials this fall.
Net could score some nifty Nielsens with event movies (“Muppets’ Wizard of Oz,” a six-hour “Little House on the Prairie” remake and Stephen King scarefest “Desperation”).
All of these, as well as an improved regular sked, give ABC a good shot at topping NBC this season in 18-49.