2014-15 Television Upfronts: ABC

Back for round three of my 2014-15 television network upfronts posts (for reasons passing understanding, I’m sure)? Okay, today, lets delve into the alphabet soup network with ABC.

In contrast to NBC, which wholly revamped its schedule, ABC is going for a bit more stability this year. ABC has done well being the network of Shonda Rhimes primetime soap operas, other primetime soaps and single camera family comedies. The coming season looks to be no exception.

The biggest changes came to Tuesday, a night where ABC has had very little stability in a long time. The only program returning to the night is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which, since Marvel and ABC are both owned by Disney, will be a cornerstone of the network for years to come. The show caught fire in the spring, bringing critics and viewers alike back after its lethargic start.

SHIELD will move to 9pm, a timeslot where it always should have been. ABC used it in the 8pm slot this past season, with two comedies following, followed by other dramas – kind of an awkward mix. This is good news for Forever – a new drama about a coroner who is trying to solve the mystery of his own immortality.

Forever will have the benefit of SHIELD’s lead-in, though I don’t see a lot of crossover between their audiences, however. The premise is sort of meh – it’s been tried before with New Amsterdam – so unless the characters are exceptionally compelling, we’ll probably see a new show off the bench by January.

The comedies running at 8pm have their work cut out for them; so much so, in fact, that a conspiracy theorist might think that the Mouse House had set them up to fail. Selfie and Manhattan Love Story are clearly aimed towards 20 somethings, but are in competition with CBS’ powerhouse NCIS (assuming The Eye doesn’t move it tomorrow) and NBC’s The Voice. Reality and Procedural Cop Show often > quirky comedies.

On Thursdays, everything has slid up a slot to make room for yet another Rhimes show in How to Get Away with Murder. The creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal now controls four of the net’s 19 prime-time hours. This time, it’s Oscar-nominated Viola Davis heading up the soapy hour, which revolves around a professor and a murder mystery.

Smelling blood in the water, ABC moved its hit Scandal to 9pm. Both Fox and NBC are running brand new scripted programming, so Scandal should be at the top of the heap. This pushes Grey’s Anatomy (is that still on??) into the formerly troubled 8pm slot for the net, where it’ll compete against mid-level fare such as The Biggest Loser and Bones on NBC and Fox respectively. The trouble for all of these comes from CBS which, for the fall at least, is running NFL Football on Thursday nights, so pretty much everyone else is playing for second place until Halloween. This is when broadcast TV’s highest-rated show in The Big Bang Theory reclaims its 8pm timeslot.

ABC continued its tradition of family comedies on Wednesdays, wisely slotting The Goldbergs between The Middle and Modern Family, while opting for Black-ish at 9:30pm. The Modern Family lead-in is considered one of the plumb launching pads for a comedy, though it has failed in each of its five seasons to create a hit. Mondays, Fridays and Sundays remain essentially static.

Overall, ABC opted for consistency and an expansion of its current brand. There are no clear hits on the schedule, however, and it’s 2014 rookie class will probably be largely forgotten down the line.

ABC 2014-15 Television Upfronts Roundup

The Assets
Back in the Game
Black Box
Killer Women
Lucky 7
Mind Games
The Neighbors
Super Fun Night
Trophy Wife

America’s Funniest Home Videos
The Bachelor
Dancing With the Stars
The Goldbergs
Grey’s Anatomy
Last Man Standing
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Middle
Modern Family
Once Upon a Time
Rookie Blue
Shark Tank

New This Fall/Winter
Manhattan Love Story
How to Get Away with Murder
Agent Carter (fills midseason gap for SHIELD in winter)
Galavant (fills midseason gap for Once Upon a Time in winter)
American Crime (replaces Resurrection in winter)