ABC always starts out with a disadvantage. They are the only network not to have the benefit of major sports ratings factored into their season-to-date averages. They don’t have the primetime football numbers that benefit NBC and CBS, and they don’t get the Sunday afternoon overruns that boost CBS and FOX.
No postseason NFL. No World Series. No NCAA Tournament. The irony of course is that their sibling is ESPN.
So ABC has to do it on their own. Trust me, as a scheduler, rooting for those long Sunday afternoon overruns was a big part of looking good at the job.
I am always surprised ABC doesn’t do better. They have a lot going for them.
Most important are their Tuesday/Wednesday comedy blocks and their focus on family comedies. They had some success this season with “American Housewife” and “Speechless” but also shot a couple of blanks. What’s fun about their comedy blocks is that there are interchangeable parts, and ABC appears to have lined up the comedies to maximum benefit. My one concern is that “The Mayor” feels like an outlier, but with the success of “Black-ish,” which no longer needs to rely on “Modern Family,” it will have an African-American comedy lead-in.
“Dancing With the Stars” is narrowing the 18-49 gap with “The Voice,” so they’re fine there. A medical drama (“The Good Doctor”), especially if it returns to the episodic roots of “Castle,” makes sense, although it also points out the biggest issue for me, which is their dramas. They rarely make sense. I had to read some of the descriptions twice to understand what the show is about. They do a lot of things on a thing. My boss at NBC, Don Ohlmeyer, would always talk about adding degrees of difficulty to a show, and ABC seems to me to be the best at it.
“The Gospel of Kevin” is just weird, and “Ten Days in the Valley” feels like something ABC has done a lot recently. It’s interesting that “Inhumans” winds up on Friday night and that “Agents of SHIELD” is not on the Fall sked. This season they managed to make “Designated Survivor” into a serviceable show, but they had Kiefer Sutherland, which goes a long way.
I have to look at the pilots, but I’m skeptical as to whether ABC has solved its 10 p.m. issues.
There are 4 1/2 new hours on the schedule, which feels like a lot, and three of the four dramas are going to need a lot of marketing. Between that and switching the nights of two veteran shows (“OUAT” and “Shark Tank”), ABC has given itself a pretty daunting task in the fall — and they have even more high-concept dramas coming in midseason.
I root for ABC because they are the keeper of the family comedy flame. “DWTS” keeps on trucking, and they better freshen up TGIT this year. Big issue for me is their non-Shonda dramas, and even the great one whiffs once in a while.
Oh, and “American Idol” is returning, which will either be a brilliant move or a disaster. I’m rooting for them to get it right.