ABC this fall: Fun, families but (for now) no fantasy


This is the big week, when networks announce their fall schedules. If you scroll down, you'll find a combined look at Fox and NBC. Here's the ABC story I sent to papers; CBS is next.

By Mike Hughes

The changing world
of ABC may have lots of laughs, plenty of non-fiction shows ... and a
sudden fantasy void.

Gone are “Once
Upon a Time,” “Inhumans” and “The Crossing.” Another
fantasy show, “Agents of SHIELD,” won't be back until the summer
of 2019.

The one-year
experiment with fantasy Fridays has ended. Instead, “Fresh Off the
Boat” and “Speechless” will move to that night. “We did
really well with comedies there for many years,” said Channing
Dungey, ABC's programming chief.

That ended last
year, with the cancellation of Tim Allen's “Last Man Standing.”
Now “Standing” will have the same slot (8 p.m. Fridays) on a
different network (Fox), colliding with the ABC transplants.

The move lets ABC
have more comedies (10) and gives strong spots to its two new ones.
One will follow “Roseanne,” a surprise ratings powerhouse in its
return; the other follows “Modern Family.”

After that first
Friday hour, however, the weekend will go to non-fiction – the
“Child Support” game show and “20/20” on Fridays, football on
Saturdays and a makeshift Sunday line-up (during pro-football season)
with a kids' version of “Dancing With the Stars” and an Alec
Baldwin talk show.

Details of the
Baldwin show are still in transition. Dungey said practice versions
have been done with and without a studio audience; first episodes
will be taped in June, she said, including one going through the life
and career of Robert De Niro.

And dramas?
“Designated Survivor” is gone -- “creatively, we had a lot of
churn” with several show-runners, Dungey said – as are “Quantico”
and others. Superproducer Shonda Rhimes is taking all her new shows
to Netflix, but ABC is clinging to the ones it still has. Thursdays
will be all-Shonda -- “Grey's Anatomy,” “Station 19,” “How
To Get Away With Murder” -- with the fourth Rhimes show, “For the
People,” taking over when “Murder” rests.

One drama, “A
Million Little Things,” may have the feeling of ABC's
“thirtysomething” or “Brothers & Sisters,” Dungey said.
And the other could end the network's 10 p.m. Tuesday troubles.

Dungey has said the
network erred by canceling a series that had stand-alone crime
stories (Dana Delany's “Body of Proof”) and replacing it with
five years of failed shows with serialized stories. Now the spot has
Nathan Fillion, 47, as a guy making a mid-life change and becoming a
Los Angeles cop, alongside people half his age. “The stories will
be self-contained and close-ended,” she said.

The fall line-up:

-- Mondays: “Dancing
With the Stars,” 8 p.m., “The Good Doctor,” 10.

-- Tuesdays:
Roseanne, 8; “The Kids Are Alright,” 8:30; “Black-ish,” 9;
“Splitting Up Together,” 9:30; “The Rookie,” 10.

-- Wednesdays: “The
Goldbergs,” 8 p.m.; “American Housewife,” 8:30; “Modern
Family,” 9; “Single Parents,” 9:30; “A Million Little
Things,” 10.

--Thursdays: “Grey's
Anatomy,” 8; “Station 19,” 9; “How to Get Away With Murder,”
10.

-- Fridays: “Fresh
Off the Boat,” 8; Speechless,” 8:30; “Child Support,” 9;
“20/20,” 10.

-- Saturdays:
College football.

-- Sundays:
“America's Funniest Home Videos,” 7 p.m.; “Dancing With the
Stars: Juniors,” 8; “Shark Tank,” 9; “The Alec Baldwin Show,”
10.