ABC goes for more laughs, with new shows starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton.
ABC announced its fall schedule Tuesday, highlighting it with an ambitious two-hour comedy block on Wednesday nights featuring all-new shows.
The Disney-owned network only launched one comedy last year and will enter next season with veteran sitcoms “According to Jim” and “Samantha Who” off the schedule.
“Hank,” starring Kelsey Grammer as a down-on-his-luck Wall Street exec reconnecting with family and home town, will kick off ABC’s Wednesday-night schedule at 8 p.m., followed by “The Middle,” a family comedy featuring Patricia Heaton as a matriarch in midlife.
Ensemble comedy “Modern Family,” featuring Ed O’Neill, is slated for 9 p.m., with new Courteney Cox vehicle “Cougar Town” slated for 9:30. The evening will close out with "Eastwick," a new hour-long adaptation of "The Witches of Eastwick," starring Rebecca Romjin.
Also on the comedy front, ABC will bring back a re-constituted “Scrubs,” scheduling it alongside “Better Off Ted” on Tuesdays after reality hit “So You Think You Can Dance” completes its next cycle.
Delivering the network’s upfront presentation Tuesday from the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York, ABC Entertainment Group president Stephen McPherson went into overtime presenting the two new shows the network is most high on, letting advertisers view the entire first act of the paranormal-themed “Flash Forward” and showcasing the entire pilot episode of “Modern Family.”
Scheduled on Thursdays at 8 p.m. leading into “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Flash Forward” stars Joseph Fiennes as a G-man investigating a terrifyingly destructive global phenomenon in which the entire world’s population blacked out for two and a half minutes while having visions six months into the future.
According to McPherson, the pitch for the show put forth by executive producers David Goyer and Brandon Braga — which included a “bible” outlining the entire series — reminded him of the original meetings for the similarly toned and ambitious “Lost,” which will sign off after next season and need replacing.
“In times like these, it’s easy to run and hide and to manage for margins, to limit your programming and to cut costs indiscriminately,” McPherson said. “But it’s exactly times like these that people crave more entertainment. They’re looking for ways to engage and escape on a different level.”
Other new dramas introduced by the network Tuesday included “V,” a remake of the 1980s alien-invasion-themed mini-series, “Happy Town,” a mystery-themed hourlong in the tradition of “Twin Peaks,” and “Deep End,” which revolves around a bunch of young lawyers.
While McPherson’s reference in regards to managing for margins seemed like a vague shot at rival NBC, which has openly expressed a fondness to such strategy in the past, ABC late-night talent Jimmy Kimmel was a bit more direct when given five biting minutes of stage time Tuesday.
“ABC didn’t want me to be here this year,” he noted. “They wanted Jay Leno, and I know that. They wanted to put Leno at 11:30 and move me to 12:30, and it looked like it was going to happen until at the last minute, when NBC said, ‘No, we will not allow Jay Leno to go to ABC, even if we have to destroy our own network if we have to keep him.’ Of course, it did lead NBC to develop their new show, ‘I’m a Boston Affiliate, Get Me Out of Here.’ ”
Following is ABC’s fall prime-time schedule, with new shows in upper-case:
8-10 p.m.: “Dancing with the Stars” (performance show)
10 p.m.: “Castle”
8 p.m.: “SHARK TANK”
9 p.m.: “Dancing with the Stars" (results show)
10 p.m.: “THE FORGOTTEN”
8 p.m.: “HANK”
8:30 p.m.: “THE MIDDLE”
9:00 p.m.: “MODERN FAMILY”
9:30 p.m.: “COUGAR TOWN”
10 p.m.: “EASTWICK”
8 p.m.: “FLASH FORWARD”
9 p.m.: “Grey’s Anatomy”
10 p.m.: “Private Practice”
8 p.m.: “Supernanny”
9 p.m.: “Ugly Betty”
10 p.m.: “20/20”
8 p.m.: “Saturday Night College Football”
7 p.m.: “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8 p.m.: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9 p.m.: “Desperate Housewives”
10 p.m.: “Brothers & Sisters”