Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ABC’s Fall 2008

Here's what ABC has done with its schedule.

Cancelled: October Road, Notes from the Underbelly, Men in Trees, Big Shots, Carpoolers, Cashmere Mafia, Cavemen, Miss/Guided, Women's Murder Club, Oprah's Big Give.

Retained: Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty, Samantha Who? America's Funniest Home Videos, Dancing With The Stars, Primetime: What Would You Do?, 20/20, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Moved: Boston Legal (moved to Monday), Eli Stone (moved to Tuesday), Wife Swap (moved to Friday), Supernanny (moved to Friday).

New: Life On Mars, Opportunity Knocks.

ABC also has two new series, The Goode Family and an untitled Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks project, plus one series that has been on NBC, Scrubs, for mid-season. Also coming back at the mid-season are Lost, The Bachelor, and According To Jim.

Complete Schedule: (New shows in Capitals)

8:00-9:30 p.m. Dancing With The Stars
9:30-10:00 p.m. Samantha Who?
10:00-11:00 p.m. Boston Legal (New day)

9:00-10:00 p.m. Dancing With The Stars Results Show
10:00-11:00 p.m. Eli Stone (New day)

8:00-9:00 p.m. Pushing Daisies
9:00-10:00 p.m. Private Practice
10:00-11:00 p.m. Dirty Sexy Money

8:00-9:00 p.m. Ugly Betty
9:00-10:00 p.m. Grey's Anatomy
10:00-11:00 p.m. LIFE ON MARS

8:00-9:00 p.m. Wife Swap (New day)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Supernanny (New day)
10:00-11:00 p.m. 20/20

8:00-11:00 p.m. College Football

7:00-8:00 p.m. America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00-9:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00-10:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00-11:00 p.m. Brothers & Sisters

Opportunity Knocks is a new reality show from Ashton Kutcher (who seems to have found his niche as a reality show producer – given the box office from What Happens In Vegas maybe he should stick to producing reality shows and give up on acting). Each week the show arrives in a suburban neighbourhood with a semi-trailer load of prizes and knocks on the door of one family. Show host J.D. Roth will ask them questions about themselves, the lives of other members of their families, and objects found around the home and if they're able to prove that they know their families "inside and out" they'll win the prizes of their dreams.

Life On Mars is the American adaptation of the hit BBC series. Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara) as a 21st century cop who is involved in a car crash and finds himself mysteriously transported to 1973, still working as a cop but with far fewer of the modern techniques – and the modern attitudes – that he's used to. Is it real, a hallucination, or is he just dying? Co-stars include Rachelle LeFevre (What About Brian?) as Annie Cartwright, Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Gene Hunt, Stephanie Jacobsen (Battlestar Galactica: Razor) as Maya, Lenny Clarke (Rescue Me) as George Randall, Patrick Wenk-Wolff as Colin Raimes and Richard Benjamin as Milton Kornboll.

The Goode Family is and animated comedy about a family that always tries to do the "right" thing, environmentally, socially or politically. Since this is a comedy this inevitably has unintended but funny consequences. Mike Judge (who is also one of the producers), Nancy Carell, Dave Herman, and Abby Elliot provide the voices. This series will replace the Dancing With The Stars Results Show, partnered with Scrubs which has migrated from ABC.

Untitled Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks project is described as "A beauty pageant unlike any you've ever seen." It replaces Dancing With The Stars at the end of that show's fall series.

There's surprisingly little change from ABC with this line-up. Quite frankly it's more like the stability that I'd expect to see from CBS. The Friday night use of reality shows is a bit of a disappointment to me. It seems as though the network is giving up on Friday night as a day for scripted series. Wife Swap and Supernanny have always been "cheap and cheerful" replacement series that could be put into production fairly quickly if a hole appeared in the line-up. Turning to the new series for a moment, I'm dubious about the two Ashton Kutcher projects, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt – at least on Opportunity Knocks – because for reasons that I don't particularly understand the guy seems to have his finger on the pulse of the American TV viewer. Still I think ABC might want to line up some stars for a second season of Dancing With The Stars, you know, just in case he picks this as the time to fall flat on his face. While Life On Mars worked for American viewers as a BBC show I'm not entirely convinced that this sort of quirky series will work with American viewers when it's produced by an American company. We only have to look at Viva Laughlin to be reminded of that. After all, the thing with BBC series is that a season frequently only lasts six or eight episodes and they tend to be deliberately finite in terms of numbers of episodes produced. Will the show work with a 20 episode arc and the possibility of renewal for a second season of the same length, or will people who aren't part of the British show's cult following tune out while those who are part of it decide that the American version is inferior. I like the decision to take Scrubs on when NBC dropped it. ABC is hoping to build up its comedy portfolio (Ben Silverman of NBC "pointedly noted the network's bleak success/failure ratio in comedy" during the NBC "Infronts"). ABC Entertainment head Steve McPherson, speaking about NBC's treatment of Scrubs said, "It's been in 17 time periods and they never promoted it. It's a great opportunity for us." What I'm less than pleased with is the decision to pair the show with The Goode Family; when was the last time that a network other than FOX done a prime time animated series that lasted more than a season? Of the cancelled shows, the two that I feel most sorry about are Men In Trees, which received worse treatment from ABC than Scrubs got from NBC if you can believe that, and Women's Murder Club, a series that was starting to grow on me. By the way, it was Oprah Winfrey rather than ABC which made the decision to take Oprah's Big Give out of the line-up. Finally there's the Energizer Bunny of ABC series, According To Jim – will no one rid us of this meddlesome Belushi?!

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