Add ABC to the list of broadcast networks loading up on comedy next season, including not only the return of its successful comedy slate on Wednesdays but also a new block on Tuesdays — and the return of “family” comedies on Fridays, which was once the home of ABC’s ultra-popular TGIF comedy lineup.
A new comedy about aliens who’ve snapped up all the real estate in a gated New Jersey community won the lottery for the coveted post-“Modern Family” time period Wednesday. And Tim Allen’s returning “Last Man Standing” will be paired with new Reba McEntire sitcom “Malibu Country” to jumpstart the Friday comedy push.
Meanwhile, sophomore soap “Revenge” is the heir to defunct “Desperate Housewives’” 9 p.m. timeslot on Sunday — the most watched night of the week — sandwiched in between returning fairytale horror drama “Once Upon a Time” and a new Faustian soap about an evil Upper East Side residential building, to get a whole Good vs Evil thing going on the night.
And on Mondays in the fall, against NBC’s returning singing competition “The Voice” ABC’s going to take it up a notch with an all-star edition of “Dancing with the Stars.” ABC programming chief Paul Leedid not name names, saying they’re still casting.
On Tuesday, ABC will move the “Dancing” results show to 8 p.m. to make room for “an Incredibly Inappropriate Comedy block at 9,” Lee told reporters on a phone conference call Tuesday, a few hours before he was scheduled to unveil his new schedule to advertisers at Lincoln Center.
And by “incredibly inappropriate comedy” he means “two of my favorite shows,” Lee explained: “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.”
If you think this move sounds suspiciously like NBC’s Monday announcement that it will move its Tuesday “The Voice” results show to 8 next season to make room at 9 for a new two-comedy block — Matthew Perry’s “Go On” and Ryan Murphy’s “The New Normal” — you go to the head of the class.
Anyway, both Incredibly Inappropriate Comedies previously had enjoyed the cushy post-“Modern Family” timeslot, but Lee thinks they’ll survive the move because both have “passionate rabid fan bases” and both “light up Twitter and Facebook every time they go on.”
And, in January, when “Dancing” is resting — and “The Voice” is not — ABC, unlike NBC will be able to grow its two-comedy Tuesday block into a four-comedy Tuesday block from 8-10 p.m., adding the much ballyhooed Sarah Chalke/Brad Garrett/Elizabeth Perkins vehicle, “How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)” — the highest testing show title of the year, says Lee — and “The Family Tools,” about a guy who’s failed at every career move and now takes over dad’s handyman business. That arrangement presumably continues until “Dancing” picks up again in March.
New Wednesday our-neighbors-are-aliens comedy, “The Neighbors” is the creation of Dan Fogelman, of “Crazy Stupid Love” fame Lee pointed out, by way of noting how many film creative types he’d snagged for ABC’s lineup next season.
The show that follows “The Neighbors” at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, for instance, Lee noted hails from Callie Khouri, who wrote “Thelma and Louise,” and directed by “documentarian RJ Cutler.” It’s called “Nashville” and yet it does not also star Reba McEntire. Instead, it stars Connie Britton as a country-singing legend whose popularity is waning, and whose record label wants to send her on tour with a disrespectful, untalented little vixen who is considered the future of country music and who is played by Hayden Panettiere.
“Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” are returning Thursdays, but the night will begin with a new drama called “Last Resort” from Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”).
“Last Resort” is about a U.S. ballistic missile submarine that receives orders, over a radio channel intended to be used only if the country has been wiped out, to fire nuclear weapons at Pakistan. When the captain demands confirmation, he’s sacked; when his replacement demands confirmation the sub is fired upon and winds up crippled on the ocean floor. Naturally, the two sacked sub leaders decide their best bet is to take the sub and its crew to an exotic island where they will find refuge, romance, and a chance at a new life.
When one TV critic on the conference call wondered if this was an 8 o’clock show, Lee reminded her “Lost” had started as an 8 p.m. drama, and noted this one “tested extremely well with women – as well, if not better than with men.”
This reminded us of a funny story, about the time Ryan was running Fox’s drama series “Lie to Me,” which bore eerie resemblance to CBS’s “The Mentalist” though it was not doing nearly so well in the ratings. When we tried to discuss that with Ryan, at a press tour gathering, his upper lip curled ever so slightly, and he said he guessed because we are a chick we couldn’t resist “The Mentalist” star Simon Baker’s smile and wouldn’t understand or appreciate what he was doing with “Lie to Me.” Glad he’s now in a position to appreciate what a large female audience can do for a show.
On Fridays, after the crush of fall launches, ABC in November will move “Last Man Standing” to 8 p.m. that night, followed by new “Malibu Country” at 8:30, and reality series “Shark Tank” at 9, and “Primetime: What Would You Do?” at 10.
Lee said he’s wanted to put family comedy back on ABC on Friday nights since he was named head of programming back in 2010. “I think it’s time for Friday night to be a destination again for broad family entertainment,” Lee said, adding that Tim Allen and Reba McEntire are the stars who can do it. “Shark Tank,” in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to millionaires (think Mark Cuban) in hopes they will bankroll the scheme, is the perfect fit for a night of broad family entertainment, Less insisted, because because families watch it together.
Sunday’s new player, 10 p.m.’s “666 Park Avenue,” is based on the book series by Gabriella Pierce. It’s about an idealistic young couple (that’s Hollywood code for “from the Midwest”) who do not realize they are making a Faustian contract when they get hired to become the managers of a Park Avenue residential building with a “mysterious owner” (that’s code for “from the cast of ‘Lost,” like, say, Terry O’Quinn) who is married to a woman prone to “machinations” (that’s code for “vixen from some previous ABC soap, like ‘Ugly Betty’ or ‘Desperate Housewives’ like, say, Vanessa Williams) – and nasty mysterious things start to happen.
Waiting on the bench, ABC has ordered the following dramas:
- “Mistresses,” starring Alyssa Milano, is about “the scandalous lives of a sexy and sassy group of four girlfriends, each on her own path to self-discovery.”
-“Red Window” is about a woman whose husband is brutally murdered and she tangles with the mob and the FBI to find out what happened; it’s based on a Dutch series and the screenplay was written by Melissa Rosenberg, screenwriter of the “Twilight” franchise.
-“Zero Hour” is about a geek who’s the publisher of a paranormal enthusiast magazine. As ABC describes it, his beautiful wife gets abducted from her antique clock shop and, ABC says, he gets pulled into “one of the most compelling mysteries in human history, stretching around the world and back centuries” — Why do beautiful women fall for paranormal geeks? Okay, we made that last part up.
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
8:00 p.m.“The Bachelor”
10:00 p.m. “Castle”
8:00 p.m.“Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
9:00 p.m.“Happy Endings”
9:30 p.m.“Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23”
10:00 p.m.“Private Practice”
8:00 p.m.“How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)”
8:30 p.m.“The Family Tools”
8:00 p.m.“The Middle”
9:00 p.m.“Modern Family”
9:30 p.m.“The Neighbors”
8:00 p.m.“Last Resort”
9:00 p.m.“Grey’s Anatomy”
8:00 p.m.“Shark Tank”
9:00 p.m.“Primetime: What Would You Do?”
8:00 p.m.“Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m.“Malibu Country”
9:00 p.m.“Shark Tank”
8:00 p.m.“Saturday Night College Football”
7:00 p.m.“America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m.“Once Upon a Time”
10:00 p.m.“666 Park Avenue”
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