ABC Can’t Win at 8 p.m. Thursdays

Zero hour, indeed.

ABC simply can’t make anything work Thursdays at 8 p.m. – nothing scripted, anyway.

Friday’s late-afternoon news that “Zero Hour” – starring former Thursday primetime mainstay Anthony Edwards of “ER” – had been canceled came as little surprise to those who have followed ABC’s ongoing struggles against the competition in that timeslot.

Zero Hour” succeeded fellow frosh “Last Resort,” a program that earned some of the best reviews of any new network 2012-13 program (admittedly, not a high bar). After getting notice in November that the Andre Braugher starrer would not be extended beyond its initial 13-episode order, “Resort” aired its last episode in January.

Last season, it was “Charlie’s Angels” and “Missing” that failed to catch on at 8 p.m. Thursdays, the former getting its cancelation notice after four episodes.

In 2010-11, fall freshman “My Generation” only made it through two airings before the plug was pulled. The year before, it was “FlashForward,” which ideally was going to inherit the fantasy/mystery throne from former ABC mainstay “Lost,” that fell by the wayside in its first season.

Not since the third season of “Ugly Betty” in 2008-09 has an ABC show made it past an entire season at 8 p.m. Thursday. “Ugly Betty” was then pushed to Fridays for 2009-10 on the theory that ABC could do better in that timeslot, but since then the network has been forced to keep applying such Band-Aids as “Wipeout” and encores of “Grey’s Anatomy” in a period that is considered vital because, among other things, weekend feature film ads often land there. (Coming up next for ABC at Thursdays at 8 will be “Shark Tank,” followed in two weeks by “Wife Swap” and then the return of “Wipeout” in the spring.)

Certainly, facing the juggernaut that is CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” hasn’t helped ABC – when Fox’s “American Idol” is only No. 2 on your list of worries, you know you have a challenge. But the Alphabet net hasn’t even been able to take advantage of NBC’s struggles in the time period to firmly grab third place.

One thing ABC hasn’t tried at 8 p.m. Thursdays in some time is a comedy, no doubt out of fear that CBS and NBC have the market cornered there. So that’s a longshot approach to turn things around, but it seems as good as throwing another drama up for slaughter. Perhaps the best strategy for ABC would be just to commit to unscripted programming at 8 p.m. Thursdays until “Big Bang” and “Idol” finally wear out – however many years that takes.

Or here’s another, completely off-the-cuff thought: Hand 8 p.m. Thursdays over to sister network ESPN and see what the Worldwide Leader can do with it.

More TV

  • Content-is-King

    Top TV Execs Tackle New Distribution Landscape in Rome

    ROME – In an increasingly complex TV market, with a host of new big-ticket streaming services preparing to enter an already crowded arena, both buyers and sellers are rethinking some of the fundamentals of the TV business as they grapple with the best way to reach global audiences. A host of top producers, network executives, [...]

  • MIA-MARKET-2019_Europe-Producers-Club_4

    European Producers and Broadcasters Debate How to Weather Streaming Storm

    ROME – The impending rollout of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other new streaming services promises a new era of uncertainty—and opportunity—for broadcasters and producers in an industry already disrupted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. At a panel hosted by the European Producers Club Friday afternoon during the MIA market in Rome, executives [...]

  • Kevin-Beggs

    Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

    ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content [...]

  • MAKING IT -- Season: 1 --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces 'Making It' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, NBC announced the “Making It” Season 2 premiere date and HBO Max greenlit a new docuseries from Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti. DATES Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman will return with the second season of “Making It” on NBC Dec. 2. After the show’s holiday season premiere, the show [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content