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An Early Look at the ABC Fall Schedule

From TV News Correspondent Jimmie Manning


An Early Look at the ABC Fall Schedule
Last year television fans were buzzing with talk about Commander in Chief and Invasion as the potential new hits on ABC while denouncing the sad state of ABC’s comedy slate. Unfortunately for ABC, Commander in Chief and Invasion quickly faded and ABC’s comedy roster has continued to deteriorate.

According to insiders, this year ABC is employing a new strategy in constructing its fall schedule: take its six biggest hits, stretch them across the network’s programmed nights, and surround them with compatible programs. What does this mean for fans of the ABC network? A look night by night:


ABC is committed to moving the white hot Grey's Anatomy to the night, and the network plans on pairing it with Six Degrees , an ensemble show about six young New Yorkers from executive producer JJ Abrams. The show tested well and should hold on to a considerable chunk of the Grey's Anatomy audience. Currently the network is looking at opening the night with new Alicia Silverstone comedy Pink Collar, although Wifeswap or Supernanny may take its place if the show does not test well.


Boston Legal will most likely air an hour earlier to make room for compatible new drama Brothers & Sisters , another program performing well with test audiences. The network is currently sifting through sophisticated comedies to open the night, although Wifeswap may make a move to Tuesdays. An According to Jim renewal is highly unlikely.


The network is high on David Arquette comedy In Case of Emergency and believes the buzz it will generate may provide for a wider audience for the low-rated but still likely to be renewed Sons & Daughters. That comedy duo may instead open Tuesday. Of course, Lost will remain in the anchor spot for the network with the action-packed Traveler a virtual lock to air in the coveted post-Lost time period. Invasion and Freddie are not expected to return, although George Lopez may get an additional season.


Dancing with the Stars will return in the fall with an all new edition, most likely leading in to the new Heather Locklear and Patricia Heaton sitcoms Women of a Certain Age and The Patricia Heaton Show, respectively. Though Commander in Chief was being considered to close the night for the fall, that is now highly unlikely and Primetime Live will almost certainly be back.


ABC is hopeful about the buzz executive producer Elton John and star Kim Cattrall will generate for Him & Us, making it a compatible pairing with the Dancing with the Stars results show. Dancing with the Stars will then lead in to Men in Trees, a promising new drama starting Anne Heche that tested well with audiences and is a favorite of the ABC executives. News perennial 20/20 will close the night.


Movies and Disney specials will likely continue to run on the night, although the network was reportedly considering moving many of its aging comedy series (Hope & Faith, George Lopez, According to Jim) to the night. While this is highly unlikely, it is about the only hope these series have of being renewed.


ABC had considered moving Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to an earlier time period, but has instead decided to keep the entire night in tact with the exception of Grey's Anatomy. Most likely to take the post-Desperate Housewives slot is Secrets of a Small Town, a pilot that has been well received by test audiences and features the star power of Denise Richards and Angie Harmon.
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