ABC announces their 2013-2014 schedule in exactly one week, on May 14 in New York City. They are in a slightly different position from most networks in that they have not yet announced any pick-ups for the new year, including those for returning series, although it is pretty safe to assume certain shows will be back.
Yesterday, we shared our thoughts on what we think The CW would or should do with their Fall schedule; now, the spotlight goes to ABC. Chances are good that by the time you read this, some pick-ups may finally be announced, so remember that when you find this article months later.
"We" in this case, as they were with The CW, are KSiteTV's webmaster Craig Byrne, and Shilo Adams, a writer whose work you may have seen on such sites as TVOvermind and TVHackr, who uses the Twitter handle @mahogany_soul.
The actual ABC schedule will come out on May 14, but for now, here's what we'd like to see. We've made two versions of the early-week schedule as we don't know whether or not Dancing With The Stars will be a Fall show again, so be ready for that.
Got your Mickey Mouse ears on? Good. Let's go:
SHILO: ABC's Sunday night lineup has suffered in recent years due to inconsistent scheduling and placing new episodes against sporting events and awards shows. Combine that with Revenge having a down creative year and not being strong enough to anchor a night and two of the network's most valuable pieces (along with fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time) are sharply down in the ratings compared to last season. However, I feel like ABC should (and will) stay the course with the shows, which still manage to get healthy online coverage and attract fairly strong fanbases. Once has managed to survive the torrential downpour of Sunday television in a way that very few (if any other) dramas on ABC could, so there seems to be enough juice left in it for it to remain the night's lead-off.
Rather than keeping a floundering Revenge at 9:00, I think that ABC gives a new show a shot, namely Gothica, a splashy supernatural soap that would feature cameos from key figures in gothic literature. The show has the recognizability factor that's helped Once, its genre-bent allowing it to fit well with the 8:00 drama, while being adult enough to coexist with Revenge. ABC tried to do something similar last season, but it tacked 666 Park Avenue on at the end of the night rather than hammocking it between two hits, so sticking Gothica at 9 would give the night between flow and potentially launch another hit drama. There's a chance they could go with one of their soapier pilots in a bid to recapture the Desperate Housewives magic, but there's something to be said for a cohesive night of programming, which Gothica (and its cast of actors ready to break out) would help provide.
And then there's Revenge. Revenge is going into a third season in rebuilding mode, trying to catch the lightning in the bottle that made the first season such an unexpected delight while dealing with a showrunner change. With its buzz down considerably and cool factor even moreso, the show should be shifted back to 10:00, where it could transition from potential building block to utility player. The slot has given ABC fits over the past few seasons and Revenge has enough audience (and curiosity factor) to where it might serves as a strong leadout on the night.
CRAIG: I'd hate to say "me too" on this, as it looks very much like taking a lazy way out, but I am almost completely in agreement with you here. Once Upon A Time is perfect for 8, Gothica would definitely fit in well for 9, and Revenge would be great for 10, unless someone decided to flip it with Nashville or something.
I'm assuming America's Funniest Videos is still a lock for the 7PM hour, right?
SHILO: There's nothing to suggest that ABC would back away from or move the clip show to end all clip shows, so expect more funny babies, practical jokes, and other things viral videos are made from at 7:00 on Sundays this season. The only way this show, which doesn't do horribly, ever ends, I think, is if Tom Bergeron ever gets tired of pulling double duty on this and Dancing with the Stars or if ABC gives the hour over to affiliates.
CRAIG: There was one suggestion I read at Zap2It to put Big Thunder in the 7PM hour, which I could see working, but AFV is surely a lot cheaper to produce.
The only question I have with Sunday nights is the Once Upon A Time Wonderland spin-off. The original reports suggested it might replace Once at a time of repeats, though I've also heard that it's tonally a completely different show, so maybe that wouldn't work. There's also the concern that Once Upon A Time In Wonderland might be too similar to Gothica, so why pick up both, but I believe both deserve a chance. So, what to do?
I say to save it for midseason. I'm not saying where to put it, necessarily, but throw it somewhere where it's needed; if ABC has a significantly big flop. I also might recommend a significantly different title -- "Once Upon A Time In Wonderland" sounds like "Coke Zero Cherry Vanilla" to me -- but whatever happens, I think it's a safe bet ABC will rush their Wonderland to TV before NBC would ever get a chance to do theirs.
SHILO: If Once Upon a Time in Wonderland proves to be too different from the original (or the idea of scheduling something new on every Sunday this season proves to be too much), I believe they should hold it for midseason. Once may be down this season, but it's still a fairly solid property for ABC, with its spin-off having a built-in audience and the potential to plug one of the early holes that springs come fall. If Gothica is a non-starter, Wonderland could easily slide into the Sundays at 9:00 slot, run concurrently with its mothership, and potentially expand its episode order to around 15-17, depending on scheduling. Other places I could see it include Tuesdays at 8:00 leading into Agents of SHIELD after Dancing goes off the air or Thursdays at 8:00, if ABC becomes confident with a weakened X Factor, NBC in rebuilding mode, and a (possibly) Big Bang Theory-less CBS if they decided to move it.
SHILO: The biggest question going into ABC upfronts is the role that Dancing with the Stars will play from here on out. Ever since The Voice became the premiere reality-competition series on television, Dancing has taken some nasty spills in the ratings and isn't nearly the power player it used to be. As a result, there have been questions about how it will be aired next season - as a fall only show, as a winter only show, as a spring only show, or as a fall/spring show. The latter just isn't feasible anymore due to viewer exhaustion, but I still think that Dancing would do alright in its usual fall slot(s), if only because it's three hours that ABC doesn't/won't have the programming to cover the loss of. Revamping the show (and not just the musical chairs that other reality-competitions have had over the past few seasons) could bring some excitement and airing it only in the fall would allow viewers to miss it.
And then to follow Dancing: This time last season, I was all for moving Castle to one of the network's trouble spots. The show is rather consistent and has a strong fanbase that would follow it anywhere, especially since syndication would become a factor and could buoy any losses the show would suffer from moving to a more troubled time period. However, Castle has shown to be resilient, now winning the 10:00 slot with a lead-in that ranks fourth among the five major networks. That's the type of success that you don't give up, since NBC has a wounded Revolution and CBS will be launching a new show in the fall that could very easily fail to take off. With Dancing down, the network needs the type of stability that Castle provides it on the night, its not especially crowded time slot particularly friendly to those hopping on board via TNT reruns.
CRAIG: If Dancing With The Stars is back for a Fall cycle, I'd be all for keeping what works: Kind of like how The Voice goes with Revolution, the ABC viewer has gotten used to having their Castle after two hours of Dancing. No need to change it.
SHILO: ABC deciding not to air Dancing in the fall wouldn't be a surprise, but that'd mean that their Mondays and Tuesdays would look a little different. I would move Castle down to 9:00, putting it as the only procedural on at the time, and put two female-skewing comedies (Mixology and Super Fun Night) at 8:00, with legal drama Doubt filling in at 10:00.
CRAIG: If ABC doesn't do a Dancing With The Stars cycle in the Fall, I'd probably do completely different Mondays than what we're usually used to.
Kind of like how Sundays lead with a family show, I'd do the same for Monday nights, leading off at least in the Fall with Big Thunder. It sounded like an absurd idea, but the buzz seems good, and it might be the kind of thing the whole family could enjoy, much like something like Young Riders or Young Indiana Jones would have back in the day.
From 9-10 in my no-Dancing schedule, I'd go with comedies. I know running something male might be insane considering that football is still on in some places, but at 9 I'd go with The Goldbergs, which sounds almost like an 80-style Wonder Years. I do hope, though, that they'd change the name: The Goldbergs was the name of one of TV's first major series, and I think something not related to it probably shouldn't keep a similar title, even if it is a family name.
9:30, I'd go with Back In The Game (formerly Untitled Cullen Bros.). Again, male-centered, sports which is different for ABC, but also... these two comedies might build on their family lead in.
10PM in my DWTS-less schedule would go to another new show: and I'm with you, putting Doubt in at Mondays at 10. I don't know if it would fit with my other choices, but I have other plans for Castle on a DWTS-free schedule. I also know it's very likely ABC would never go with an entire night of new stuff, but sometimes bold moves pay off.