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ABC's 2009 Fall Schedule

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 19, 2009 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 19, 2009 |

So we already knew about some good ABC shows that wouldn’t be coming back for more, including “Life on Mars,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Eli Stone,” “Pushing Daisies” and “Boston Legal.” Also dead are “Opportunity Knocks,” “In the Motherhood” (I don’t even know what the hell this show is) and, sadly, “The Unusuals” (good little show that manage to be a cop procedural worth watching — you can catch the final four episodes starting next Wednesday).

We also knew about some shows of the shows that would obviously be returning, including “Brothers and Sisters,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,”“Private Practice” and “Ugly Betty.”

And then there were a lot of shows on the bubble. Over the weekend, the bubble started to clear out a little bit, as “Scrubs,” “Castle” and “Better Off Ted” found themselves renewed. As far as “Scrubs” goes, Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke have each agreed to appear in six episodes, and Donald Faison, John C. McGinley and Neill Flynn all have almost-final deals to return as regulars. However, those deals fall behind their current pilots, so there’s no guarantee, just yet, that they’ll return (Flynn in ABC’s “The Middle” which has been picked up, and McGinley is in CBS’ “Back,” which we’ll know about tomorrow — Faison was in ABC’s pilot for “The Law,” but since that doesn’t appear to have been picked up, looks like Chocolate Bear will hopefully be back for a full run). No word about Judy Reyes returning as a regular, and the speculation is that she’d be a guest-star. Interesting, if Faison comes back full time and she doesn’t.

Meanwhile, when asked for comment about “Castle” getting a second season, Nathan Fillion said, “one of my shows had its whole first season air and it’s getting a second one? Get the fuck out!” I guess someone must be watching this “Murder She Wrote” show, though I don’t know who — despite my love for Fillion, I couldn’t make it through a full two episodes. And I haven’t seen “Better Off Ted,” but everything I hear is quite positive about this comedy, so I suppose its renewal is good news (with the spring season winding down, I plan to catch up with this show over the dull summer months).

As for the other bubble shows, unsurprisingly, “Surviving Suburbia” didn’t survive, nor did “Cupid” or “Samantha Who?” And in shocking news, ABC finally pulled the plug on “According to Jim,” about a gazillion years too late (and apparently there was laughter from the press when this was confirmed).

The upfronts didn’t hold much of a surprise as far as new shows go, because news about a ton of pick-ups came out over the weekend. Here’s what the Alphabet’s new fall schedule looks like, chock full to the brim with new shows mostly ready for failure. (And more than any schedule announced this week, this is the one most subject to change because, with so many new shows, when they start bombing, ABC will surely start juggling things around.)

Sunday. Didja know that “America’s Funniest Home Videos” is still on the air? For serious. It’ll be airing at 7 (which I think is where it airs now and has aired for eons). It’ll be followed by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers & Sisters.” So Sundays remain pretty straightforward.

Monday. Two hours of “Dancing with the Stars” followed by “Castle.” And when “Dancing” ends its run, we’ll get two hours of “The Bachelor” in its place. Two hours? Of fucking dancing and/or of fucking rose-gobbling whores? Oy vey, just kill me now.

Tuesday. Tuesday is mostly new shows with the “Dancing with the Stars” results show nestled between “Shark Tank,” at 8 p.m., and “The Forgotten,” at 10 p.m. And when “Dancing” is done, “Scrubs” and “Better Off Ted” will take over the 9 p.m. slot. This is an interesting lineup, because I’m not sure that “Shark Tank” is a great leadoff into either set of 9 p.m. shows (though it at least kinda fits with “Dancing,” since they’re both reality shows), nor do I think they’re great lead-ins for “The Forgotten.”

Although I’m not sure anything would be a great lead-in for “The Forgotten,” which is a Bruckheimer procedural (not sure why it landed here, rather than at CBS, with all his other stuff) about some amateur detectives who call themselves the Identity Network. Seriously. The Identity Network. And this Identity Network helps solve John/Jane Doe murders that the cops have given up on. The show, which used to be named “The Unknown,” will apparently be narrated by the victims, who are watching as the team helps figure out the what-what. It stars Reiko Aylesworth (“24”) and a lot of folks I haven’t heard of, and I couldn’t care less.

“Shark Tank,” meanwhile, is a Mark Burnett reality show. As the press release explains, it’s “an exciting new reality show that gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to make their dreams come true and become successful and possibly wealthy business people.” But there’s a catch, of course! “[T]he entrepreneurs must first try to convince five tough, multi-millionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they need to jumpstart their ideas.” So it’s going to be folks trying to get money for their cooking venture, or to create some new gadget, etc. I could tell you more, as the press release has three more paragraphs explaining this, but you don’t care, right? Right. The show actually premieres sometime this summer along with a specialty run of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (because it’s the 10th anniversary and, likely, because the network want to try to capitalize on Slumdog Millionaire), before moving to Tuesdays. Which means, it may already be dead by the fall, and we could wind up seeing something else in this timeslot.

Wednesday. Wednesday is really interesting, as it’s all new shows (remember, “Lost” won’t be back until January). From 8 to 9, we’ve got “Hank” and “The Middle.” From 9 to 10, it’s “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town.” And then “Eastwick” brings things home at 10 p.m.

“Hank,” (which used to be called “Awesome Hank”) is Kelsey Grammer’s next sitcom attempt (after the failed “Back to You”), this time in the form of a former Wall Street CEO forced to move back to his family and former small-town home. An earlier press release description of the show asked: “A self-made man, Hank is used to running the show, but now that he’s lost almost everything, can he learn how to hang with his family?” Seth’s answer: I don’t care. And I don’t care about “The Middle,” either, which is ABC’s attempt to give the other “Back to You” lead a successful sitcom. It stars Patricia Heaton as a middle-class wife and mother. A press-release helped explain the title: “Frankie Heck … [is a] loving wife and mother of three, she’s middle class in the middle of the country and is rapidly approaching middle age.” See? Middle! The show also stars Neil Flynn as Heaton’s husband, meaning he won’t be a returning regular on “Scrubs” (though he’ll hopefully be back once this show tanks). Blah blah blah, it’s a basic family single-camera comedy. I haven’t heard anything about the show’s quality yet, but unless some good word comes out at some point, I think I’ll be passing.

“Modern Family,” however, I’ll give a shot. Not because it sounds all that interesting, because it’s an “Office”-style mockumentary about three families, one of which is a gay couple with an adopted Chinese baby. Hilarity, no doubt, ensues. But I’ll give it a try, albeit on a tight leash, because it stars Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen. And I’m also willing to try “Cougar Town,” Courteney Cox’s new comedy. Again, not because of the the show’s setup, which is about the small Florida town where Courteney’s character lives, a town where the Cougars are the local high school mascot, “which is wildly appropriate since this town is the natural habitat for over-tanned, under-dressed divorces prowling for younger men.” See, and Cox’s character is one such cougar! But I’m going to give it a chance because Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”) is a co-exec producer (along with Cox) and co-creator, which is a good thing, and other cast members include Dan Byrd, Busy Philipps, Christa Miller and Brian Van Holt. I don’t know who those two dudes are, but I like Philipps and Miller and because of them and Lawrence, I’ll try this show out (with tempered expectations, of course).

And then there’s “Eastwick,” based on John Updike’s book The Witches of Eastwick (which, of course, was the basis of the flick). It’s about three women who find themselves being seduced by a new bad-boy in town. And he ends up causing them to discover that they have some witchy powers. The three witches are played by Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price (show killer alert!) and Jaime Ray Newman. No idea what to expect with the show, which hopes to be a “Charmed” meets “Desperate Housewives” thing, but my expectations aren’t high.

Thursday. “Flash Forward,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice.” This is really odd. Makes sense to pair up “Grey’s” with “Private,” as I’m guessing they’ve got about the same demographic (people who like sappy, overrated mush). But are the same folks who care about McSteamy and McDreamy going to care about “Flash Forward” which, as we previously talked about, is a based on the Robert J. Sawyer book? Again, it’s about a world-wide event that knocks everyone out for two minutes, seventeen seconds During that time, everyone gets glimpses of their future and, when they awake, they have to deal with all the fallout. I still think it sounds like it could be good, particular with a relatively solid cast (including Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Wagner, John Cho and Jack Davenport), so I’ll be watching. I just wonder if anyone else will.

Friday. “Supernanny” starts things off at 8. …Huh. Didn’t know that was still on. People watch that? Actually, I bet that does better than “Ugly Betty,” which has been moved to the Friday at 9 p.m. slot (where it least it will have lower expectations than it had with the Thursday, 8 p.m. slot). And then it’s the usual “20/20” at 10.

Saturday. College football, all night. Goooooo Temple Owls! Hoot-hoot!

So that’s the fall schedule. But ABC has a bunch of other new shows which will be airing in the midseason (or earlier, if/when ABC starts yanking some of the first round of failures). First, there’s “The Deep End,” which used to be called “The Associates.” It’s about first-year associates at a law firm at LA. Lived it, done it. Not that interesting, folks. Although my first year didn’t involve a ton of “sex, greed, romance, [or] betrayal” (some of these, just not all of them), so I’m sure the show will be spicier than real life. And in interesting news, it marks the return of Billy Zane from the dead. Zombie Zane plays a “ruthless senior partner”).

“The Deep End” does sound better than “Happy Town,” which is about a Minnesota town where mysterious things are afoot. Here’s the short version: “Seven years ago, an unknown psycho, nick-named “The Magic Man” kidnapped seven children before Sheriff Griffin Conroy chased him away. But the discovery of a local’s gruesome murder and the disappearance of a new child have everyone whispering the Magic Man is back.” Blah blah blah, murder mystery, the neighbors are suspects and the quiet town isn’t so quiet anymore. I love Dean Winters, but no way in hell am I watching this junk.

I will, however, be watching “V.” As you probably know, this is based on the old lizards-come-to-Earth miniseries and show of the same name. I’m cautiously optimistic about this because I love the original two miniseries (not so much with the subsequent TV show) and, if done right, they are good source material for a re-imagined show. For those unfamiliar, the show is about aliens coming to Earth and promising to be our best pals when, of course, they ain’t. Morena Baccarin plays the head alien, and the human resistance will be led by Elizabeth Mitchell and Alan Tudyk. I was already keen on this show but, after watching Tudyk’s stellar performance on the recent “Dollhouse” season finale, I’m on-board with anything that gives us more of him. If the show does well enough to stick around, the plan is apparently to air the show in four season chunks of 13 or 22 episodes, and that’s it.

The network will also be bringing back “True Beauty” (some reality tripe produced by Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher) and “Wife Swap” at some point.

Last week, it was also announced that ABC had picked up “Copper.” A Canadian import, the show is shockingly a cop drama about rookie cops, blah blah whatever. However, there was no mention of the show in today’s press release or, apparently, during the following presentation, so who knows if this show will ever see the light of day.

We do know that ABC passed on the pilot for “No Heroics,” which was an Americanization of a British show about washed-up superheroes leading normal lives, getting drunk in the pub, etc. I haven’t seen the Brit version, but I’ve heard mildly OK things, and this doesn’t really sound like a show that would fly on American TV, so no shed tears from me. ABC also passed, apparently, on “Empire State” (about two families in New York, one rich and one not-rich, who battle each other or some such), “Inside the Box” (a show about network news), “Limelight” (which sounded like “Fame” for the modern age) and “See Cate Run” (which starred Amy Smart as a future presidential candidate). Sounds like the network made the right decision on all of these.

As for what did make the ABC schedule, well, there are at least a couple shows that sound like they have some potential, and ABC has a pretty good success rate, so we’ll just have to see. In a few hours, I’ll tell you about NBC new schedule. NBC does not have such a good track record. But it’s going to have a third season of “Chuck,” so whatever with everything else.

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Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.