Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SitcomsOnline.com 2009-10 Upfront Preview: ABC; Bio TV Premieres TV Reunions in June

Last fall ABC barely had any new series because of the writers' strike the previous season. That could change in a big way this coming season. I expect ABC to bring in many new shows, with lots of comedies for the first time in years. ABC should focus that 8pm hour to families. The past year ABC focused on launching 10pm series...it is time to redevelop that focus to 8pm.
Here is the SitcomsOnline.com ABC 2009-10 preview:

New Series Already Picked-Up: Modern Family (comedy), Flash Forward (drama), Copper (midseason drama)
New Series We Think That Are Almost Good To Go: Happy Town (drama), Inside the Box (drama), Romantically Challenged (sitcom), Awesome Hank (sitcom), The Cougar (sitcom), The Middle (sitcom).
New Series Perhaps Picked-Up for Mid-Season: Eastwick (drama), The Forgotten (drama), The Law (sitcom), V (event drama).


7:00PM America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00PM Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00PM Desperate Housewives
10:00PM Inside the Box (NEW!)

8:00PM Dancing with the Stars
10:00PM Brothers & Sisters

8:00PM Modern Family (NEW!)
8:30PM The Middle (NEW!)
9:00PM Dancing with the Stars: The Results
10:00PM Castle

8:00PM Awesome Hank (NEW!)
8:30PM Romantically Challenged (NEW!)
9:00PM The Cougar (NEW!)
9:30PM Samantha Who?
10:00PM Happy Town (NEW!)

8:00PM Flash Forward (NEW!)
9:00PM Grey's Anatomy
10:00PM Private Practice

8:00PM Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas (NEW!)
9:00PM Ugly Betty
10:00PM 20/20

8:00PM College Football

Comments: This was very hard. So far the hardest prediction I'm doing is ABC...remember this is what I think they could do, not necessarily what I would want them to do. They have many pilots and many of them are getting good testing. I am going with my gut that Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas makes it this year after being redeveloped. I want it picked-up, too. This is what exactly ABC needs on a Friday. I have many new comedies being picked-up, and it could be a stretch, but I think ABC could go out and bring us many comedies this fall. Most have tested so well and we could be in a surprise on how many comedies are airing. ABC could focus on a Wednesday two-hour comedy block and even have room for a comedy hour on Tuesdays.
So let's look at each night. I'll start with Mondays. Dancing with the Stars should be two-hours every week, enough said. The only time it should be 90-minutes is when they need to boost a comedy for a special airing during the week or two before the two dances per star starts. ABC will easily fill the two-hour hole from Jan-Mar with the resurgent The Bachelor and they should move Brothers & Sisters to Mondays all year-round, making ABC Monday strong all year.
On Tuesdays, Modern Family & The Middle are two of ABC's most praised family comedy pilots. They could work well with each other and could work well with family-themed Dancing with the Stars: The Results at 9pm (more so than Cavemen and Carpoolers a few years ago). Castle should move a night over to Tuesday at 10 since there will be no NBC crime show and perhaps CBS will not schedule a crime drama here anymore. ABC really needs to focus on JUST two post-Dancing shows at 10pm: Brothers & Sisters and Castle. That's it, with the exception of a week or two on Mondays with a special comedy airing at 9:30 (or even 8pm). This season it seemed so many shows aired out of it on both nights. So what happens to the 9pm hour from Jan-Mar? ABC could launch some comedies perhaps bringing back Scrubs/Better off Ted for 6-8 weeks or even new comedy The Law. Primetime: What Would You Do? is an option at an earlier time.
Wednesdays I think ABC is going to go all comedy. They could launch as many as 3 new sitcoms and bring back a returning comedy. I think they will start off with two new traditional comedies in Awesome Hank (starring Kelsey Grammar) and Romantically Challenged (starring Alyssa Milano). Perhaps the most buzzed comedy would be next at 9pm in The Cougar starring Courtney Cox and finally ABC needs to give Christina Applegate the comedy slot it deserves by airing Samantha Who? after Cox's show. Both are single camera and could fit with each other like a button. Closing the night I think they should try new drama Happy Town. I know it is very risky to do this, but Happy Town has a two-hour pilot and they could have the two-hour pilot on the first Wednesday of the year from 9-11pm, following a special Dancing Results, since they do a three-night premiere in the fall. So hopefully that would help the show build some type of an audience before all the comedies start the following Wednesday.
As for Thursdays, Betty is likely on the move, and ABC should try the most buzzed about series Flash Forward at 8pm giving ABC some life in this hour. Grey's and Private Practice will return in the 9 and 10pm hours for sure. Lost will return for its final season at the end of January for 16 or 17 weeks, possibly Thursdays at 8...but if Flash Forward does huge, Lost could go to Wednesdays.
I think ABC should go after Fridays with scripted series and I think they will, too. Comedy is an option, but I don't think ABC will try that. New family adventure drama Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas is exactly what they should air at 8pm. This could be a new type of TGIF for them using family dramas, and Ugly Betty would follow and that certainly has a family feel to it. Wife Swap and Supernanny were only on because nothing was ready last fall due to the strike. Both of those are too important and could fill key holes on other nights in midseason.
Saturdays will have College Football in the fall. Winter they could have movies or even go with cheap reality series, like Homeland Security USA.
Finally, on Sundays...I would leave 7-10pm alone even though right now the ratings are declining. Remember springtime is always like that and they perk up in the fall/winter. I think new drama Inside the Box would be a great fit out of Desperate Housewives and could reclaim that DH/Grey's early magic. Yes, I keep predicting ABC is going to move Brothers & Sisters, but they never do. Now it is time and with it airing the next night, lots of promos will air on Sundays so fans will for sure know.
Series that will be canceled or are ending include: According to Jim, Boston Legal, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, Opportunity Knocks, Life on Mars, Cupid, The Unusuals, In the Motherhood.
Lost, The Bachelor
, Wife Swap & Supernanny will all return for mid-season. Other series like Scrubs, Better Off Ted, True Beauty, Homeland Security USA, Primetime: What Would You Do could be ordered for limited episodes at some point. ABC also has picked-up two new reality series, likely for midseason: The Shark Tank from producer Mark Burnett and an untitled cooking series with celeb Jamie Oliver from producer Ryan Seacrest. Supernanny spinoff SuperManny could also be in the running. As far as new scripted series for midseason, they already ordered Canadian crime drama Copper for midseason. Look for Eastwick, The Law, The Forgotten and perhaps even V in the running for midseason. There is a legal drama from David Hemingson in the works again, perhaps they could pick that up...but they have had so many legal dramas lately it seems.
Looking at the fall line-up prediction, yes lots of new shows. But there is a lot of protection, minus Wednesdays. Wednesdays is the only risk, but risks need to be taken in the fall when there is no American Idol. And if it doesn't work out, ABC has lots of series on the bench for midseason including the final season of Lost. ABC's goal in the fall should be to have strong 9pm shows every night. That is a recipe for success. ABC will have a better fall next season than it did this season for sure.
Discuss your thoughts on our prediction and feel free to make suggestions of your own.

Remember, next Tuesday (May 19) is the actual date when we will find out ABC's plans for the 2009-10 season. So, come on back next Tuesday and we will let you know the details and you can see how much we were right (or wrong!). Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview on CBS's upfront.

Bio TV in June will broadcast special reunions of classic TV series from the past for the first time on Bio TV. We get both the 20th anniversary Happy Days reunion from 1992 and the 30th anniversary Happy Days reunion from 2005. The 20th anniversary premieres Tuesday, June 9 at 9pm following a day long theme of classic TV with Biography episodes of The Love Boat, M*A*S*H, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, Henry Winkler, Ron Howard and episodes of Shatner's Raw Nerve with guests Scott Baio, Tim Allen and Drew Carey.
On Tuesday, June 16, Bio TV will air the Laverne & Shirley Reunion from 1995 at 10pm. Just like the previous week, episodes of Biography and more will lead into it, such as Ozzie & Harriet, Barbara Eden, Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Cheers, Truth Behind the Sitcom Scandals: Cheers/Laverne & Shirley, and the Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion premieres at 12pm and 6pm. We also get Shatner's Raw Nerve episodes featuring Valerie Bertinelli and Kelsey Grammar.
Thursday, June 18 at 10pm will see the premiere of Biography: Billy Crystal. On Tuesday, June 23, it's 90210's turn for a reunion. Beverly Hills 90210: The Final Goodbye from 2000 will first air at 10pm, followed by Beverly Hills 90210: The Reunion Show from 2003 at 11pm. Again before that, we get Biography episodes of Home Improvement, Tony Danza, Jason Priestley, Alyssa Milano, and Teen Heartthrobs.
View more on Bio TV's June 2009 highlights of TV/sitcom related specials, including encores of Biography episodes such as Gary Coleman, Charlie's Angels, and Child Stars: Their Story

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, October 28

Bunk'd - "Treehouse of Terror" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Zuri, Jorge and Tiffany enlist the support of an unexpected camper to help restore an abandoned treehouse, so they can use it as a new hangout; Emma and Lou and Ravi and Xander get competitive during a friendly game of billiards.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Do What You Gotta Do" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph experiences an episode of sexual frustration due to Leslie's vow of chastity.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Friday, October 28

  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - Watch John on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew visits on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about The Price is Right on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine?/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Ricky stops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces) - Colin joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains It All) - Melissa looks back at her earliest memories on Clarissa Explains It All – and says she was really bossy on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids) - Damon is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.