American HousewifeDesignated SurvivorDr. KenFresh Off The BoatGrey's AnatomyHow To Get Away With MurderLast Man StandingModern FamilyOnce Upon A TimeOpinionQuanticoScandalSHIELDSpeechlessThe GoldbergsThe Middle May 8, 2017 KSiteTV Staff
ABC’s 2016-17 season was all one step forward, two steps back. The network was able to find a solid new drama in Designated Survivor and the move to two four-comedy nights was mostly a success, but the rest of its new dramas were non-starters, scheduling by the end of the season got pretty messy (see: Time After Time and Match Game into American Crime), and their top-heaviness didn’t really lessen. ABC’s problem is that their hits are all very old in TV terms and they’ve not been able to replenish the ranks for a while; this is more true on the drama side, where they’re swimming in softly rated bubble shows outside of a TGIT brand whose anchors have almost 20 seasons between them, but with Modern Family and The Middle inching toward 10 seasons, the comedy side will be undergoing turnover sooner than later. Will ABC be able to take the next steps toward finding its next generation of hits next season?
That’s what KSiteTV’s Editor-in-Chief Craig Byrne and Contributing Editor Shilo Adams are trying to figure out, as they’ve spent the past five seasons attempting to do the impossible – figure out what each broadcast network will be doing the following season. Though neither claims to be an expert, nor does either have access to insider information, they’ve watched enough TV, read enough of the trades, and paid enough attention to schedules to be able to provide an informed fantasy schedule meant to be an amalgamation of what we think could, should, and will happen. If you don’t see a show you like mentioned, or a show you like gets mentioned disparagingly, take note that we don’t mean anything by it. We’re just trying to figure these schedules out. As always, since ABC hasn’t announced any pick-ups at the time of this writing, and no renewals outside of TGIT/Shonda shows, there may be some shows listed that aren’t even on the actual schedule.
SHILO: 7:00 America’s Funniest Home Videos; 8:00 Once Upon a Time; 9:00 Untitled Marc Cherry; 10:00 Ten Days in the Valley
CRAIG: 7:00 America’s Funniest Home Videos; 8:00 Once Upon a Time; 9:00 Untitled Marc Cherry; 10:00 Quantico
SHILO: ABC’s recent acquisition of American Idol has made the most unpredictable night on any schedule this upfront season all the more curious. Prior to the show moving from FOX to ABC, the main question mark about the night was how ABC was going to begin rebuilding what was once a very sturdy night for them. Would they start slowly and focus on the 8:00 hour, perhaps with some comedy? Would they be willing to move Once Upon a Time to 9:00? Would they be willing to tear down the entire night and just start over? With American Idol set to return in March 2018, though, ABC Sundays this fall will be less about long-term rebuilding and more about building a bridge to filler event season programming, which will then warm the Sunday seat until Idol’s premiere.
Though ABC could throw some unscripted here if they want to use as few scripted assets as possible, I don’t know which of their unscripted properties would be ready for a Sunday run, so since Sunday has been drama heavy for them recently, I went with three short-term hour-longs. Once Upon a Time seems to be in the best position of the ABC bubble dramas, so unless the network decides it still wants 22-episode seasons and pushes the show to Fridays, I think it’ll get a 10-13 episode run on Sundays with its rebooted cast/premise. It probably shouldn’t be at 8:00, given that it’s not much of a lead-in anymore, but I can’t see ABC pushing it to 9:00 unless the 8:00 hour has some type of family friendly programming. Therefore, at 9:00 I went with the latest Marc Cherry drama; this allows ABC to still be active on Sundays and not have to hold on to as many bubble/low-priority dramas. It’s very different from the male-heavy competition on cable, it goes along with ABC’s pledge to program more toward rural America (given that it’s set in Kentucky), and it likely wouldn’t have been 22 episodes due to Reba McEntire’s involvement, so this is a way to get it on the air and use it with something that seems decently compatible in fellow new drama Ten Days in the Valley.
CRAIG: Exactly as you said – American Idol makes this weird. What I do know, though, is Once Upon a Time has been ABC’s only solid show launched on Sundays in quite a while, so it might be worth keeping around to see how a new version of the show takes. If Idol comes in at ABC, maybe it’ll be a shorter season. Who knows. I have Marc Cherry’s Reba McEntire drama at 9, and then at 10, though I know Ten Days in the Valley will have to end up somewhere, I’ve got another season of Quantico. If ABC had a stronger development class, or didn’t do so well internationally with Priyanka Chopra, I’d advise against it, but… meh. Might as well try, though Priyanka leading a more marketable/popular show might be a better choice.
(I should add that after this article was drafted, Jennifer Morrison announced she will not be returning for Once Upon a Time Season 7. With that said, though, I still think more Once is the option for ABC to take, as long as Lana Parrilla is willing to return, of course.)