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6 Questions About ABC’s New Season Schedule

From schizophrenic nightly lineups to the specter of Bible burnout, TheWrap digs into the Alphabet Network’s upcoming slate

ABC unveiled its schedule for the upcoming season on Tuesday, revealing how it will marry its new offerings with its returning series.

Naturally, TheWrap has questions. And not a couple of thoughts.

Read on for our queries and observations about the Alphabet Network’s upcoming slate.



Does the Tuesday night lineup make any kind of sense?
ABC’s Tuesday lineup is a mix of new and returning shows, and quite the mix it is. The night starts out with ABC’s revamp of “The Muppets,” followed by this season’s breakout comedy “Fresh Off the Boat.” So far, so good — at least both shows are intended to make audiences laugh. From there we move to the gritty superhero drama “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” followed by new offering “Quantico (pictured),” which is the heartwarming story of an FBI recruit who’s suspected of masterminding “the biggest attack on New York City since 9/11.” Will audiences be able to make the transition from Fozzie Bear’s “wocka wocka” to a horrified “What the focka?” over the course of an evening?

Is “Dr. Ken” getting short shrift?
Last year’s ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” proved that audiences will embrace a comedy with an Asian-led cast. This season the network has given the go-ahead to “Dr. Ken,” a semi-autobiographical sitcom starring Ken Jeong (“The Hangover,” “Community”). But will the show be dead on arrival? Right off the bat, the network has slotted the show in the Grim Reaper-tempting Friday lineup. It’s paired with the Tim Allen comedy “Last Man Standing,” which has managed to cling to life in the low-expectations Friday landscape, but generates almost zero buzz. “Last Man” was also one of the last existing shows to receive a renewal from ABC, which doesn’t exactly scream confidence.



Is ABC late to the Bible bandwagon with “Of Kings and Prophets”?
When “The Bible” premiered on History to massive ratings in 2013, drawing an eye-popping 13.1 million total viewers with its premiere, it was proof that there’s an audience for God on the small screen. But since then, the Biblical genre has suffered a couple of clunkers — CBS’s “The Dovekeepers” miniseries drew disappointing numbers, as has NBC’s “Bible” sequel, ‘A.D. The Bible Continues.” Will ABC need a miracle to avoid the same fate with “Of Kings and Prophets” (pictured), which is billed as “an epic Biblical saga of faith, ambition and betrayal?”

Is it time to give someone else the “Modern Family” bump, now that “Black-ish” is a proven commodity?
“Black-ish” became a legitimate hit sitcom over the course of its first season on ABC, though most weeks it enjoyed an original episode of “Modern Family” — TV’s second biggest comedy behind “The Big Bang Theory” — as its lead-in. Now that Anthony Anderson laugher “Black-ish” has its own built-in loyal audience, might it not have been a wise gamble of ABC to offer that built-in boost to another half-hour comedy? We’re sure fellow family funny-fest “Fresh Off the Boat” wouldn’t complain. (You know, except for Eddie Huang, on whose memoir the show is based and who seems to complain about everything.)

We understand the need for the new “Muppets” to air at 8 p.m., so what about trying out “Dr. Ken” or “Uncle Buck” behind “Modern Family?” After all, “Black-ish” was brand new when it scored the slot — why not keep passing the torch in an effort to catch up to the networks with coveted NFL programming? We’d roll the dice, but admittedly there’s nothing to lose from TheWrap offices.


Should Shonda Rhimes’ “The Catch” have caught the more desirable September start, instead of saving it for midseason?
This is another truly tough one to both ask and answer. Like “Modern Family”/”Black-ish,” Shondaland Thursdays are a proven winner. Playing it safe, ABC is going to keep the super-showrunner’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” together right up front to start the year. Rhimes, however, has another new drama, “The Catch,” coming to ABC midseason. Assuming production isn’t an issue, should it have to wait until then?

Again, specific timeslots are a bit tricky here. One wouldn’t want to make “The Catch” a self-starter at 8 p.m., if avoidable. Nor would you want it off Shondaland Thursdays. But “Scandal” and “Murder” pair so well together, and befit their specific evening hours as-is. With the death of Patrick Dempsey‘s Dr. McDreamy, “Grey’s” could use time to recuperate, but isn’t much of a time slot fit for “The Catch.” All that said, the burning question that remains for both us and readers is: What would you do in (ABC President) Paul Lee’s shoes?

How much confidence does ABC really have in “Uncle Buck,” since it was a late pickup and is slated for midseason?
“Uncle Buck” (pictured) was picked up by ABC a day after most other series were announced. Those 24 hours may seem trivial to some, but to others they could mean a huge difference during the crazy TV upfronts period. One person with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap before the series order that ABC liked the show a lot, and that the Walt Disney broadcast network was simply trying to negotiate more favorable terms. To others, that “late” order could hint at the exact opposite of internal affection.

Either way, the pickup is now slated for midseason, which is not typically where shows with the most network confidence start. (That doesn’t mean it can’t work — just ask Fox’s “Empire” — and, of course, there is always a myriad of reasons for launch dates.) And lest readers forget, a small-screen adaptation of the 1990 classic John Candy film has already been attempted, and that CBS offering sure didn’t work out. Clearly, new star Mike Epps is no Kevin Meaney. Perhaps promotion will reveal how in love with the new “Uncle Buck” ABC is.