Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013
ABC: Reducing Repeats With Limited Series
CBS: Restocking the Comedy Coffers
Fox: '24' Ways to Retool With Comedy, Spectacle
NBC: Betting on Olympics, 'Voice' to Launch New Hits
The CW: Making Noise With Dramas
USA: Launching Original Half-Hour Comedies
Turner: Beefing Up Content Collection
ESPN: We Welcome the Competition
Univision: Expanding Its Hispanic Footprint
Telemundo: Batting 1,000 on Original Content
MundoFox: Bringing 'The X Factor,' 'Bridge' to Hispanic Viewers
Discovery en Espanol: Introducing a New Programming Genre, Vroom
Click here to view the fall primetime schedule grid.
Click here to view pilot clips and trailers from the networks' new shows.
STRATEGY: Cut down on repeats for serialized dramas by scheduling them in batches of 12 episodes in fall and spring, with limited series filling the gaps; use new Avengers spinoff action drama to relaunch Tuesdays.
Gone are the days when 22-episode seasons could last 52 weeks. So starting this fall, ABC will begin running some of its serialized dramas in two batches of 12 original episodes, with fall and spring premieres, and using limited series to fill the gap in midseason.
"The idea is to create quality launches throughout the season, away from the clutter of fall," ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee said last week. Though Lee noted that a limited eight-to-12-episode run is not right for every show, where deployed it can "make for better storytelling" in a series' first year.
One such show is new drama Betrayal, about an unhappily married female photographer who begins an affair with an attorney who is arguing a case against her husband. The show is designed for a 13-episode run on Sundays at 10 p.m. On tap to replace it in midseason is new drama Resurrection, about people coming back to life. ABC has also ordered the fantasy competition reality series The Quest, which will air between runs of Once Upon a Time on Sundays.
While during his upfront presentation roast ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel joked that limited series are something "we've been doing for years," citing quickly axed ABC series such as 666 Park Avenue and Red Widow, Lee said in seriousness it's "not impossible that limited series can run on" to a second season of limited episodes.
To keep stability amid its ambitious new scheduling plan, ABC will leave key series anchoring each night in place: Dancing With the Stars and Castle on Monday; The Middle, Modern Family and Nashville on Wednesday; Grey's Anatomy and Scandal on Thursday; Last Man Standing and Shark Tank on Friday; and Once and Revenge on Sunday.
To jolt the fading Dancing With the Stars, ABC will fold its performance and results into one show on Monday in an effort to "really build a sense of occasion to that night," Lee said. That also frees up the network to aggressively revamp Tuesday, starting with Joss Whedon's much-anticipated Avengers spinoff, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big action drama will lead into a new two-comedy block of the nostalgic family sitcom The Goldbergs -- which ABC showed a lengthy five-minute clip of at its upfront -- and Trophy Wife, starring Malin Ackerman. Lucky 7, which Lee billed as a drama for the "99 percent," about seven gas station employees who win the lottery, will end the night.
On Wednesday, ABC will launch two more comedies in fall -- Back in the Game, about an estranged father-daughter relationship; and Super Fun Night starring Rebel Wilson, which earned the prime slot after Modern Family. Despite the cancellation of young adult ensemble comedy Happy Endings this season, Lee said midseason comedy Mixology, which follows 10 singles at a Manhattan bar over the course of one night, and the female friendship-themed Super Fun Night are "much broader shows that can bring in a wider audience."
Thursday at 8 p.m. has been a black hole for ABC's new series in recent seasons (R.I.P. Zero Hour, Last Resort, Charlie's Angels), but the network will again attempt to launch a freshman there in the fall, this time the franchise spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Billing Thursday as a night of "powerful women," Lee expressed confidence that Wonderland will have a better flow with Grey's and Scandal than past pairings, and the show offers the built-in audience of a franchise.
Friday continues to be a family destination with Last Man Standing and The Neighbors, the latter relocated to the night for its sophomore season. A new season of comedy Suburgatory remains unscheduled for midseason, as do new procedurals Mind Games, about two brothers solving clients' problems with psychological manipulation, and Killer Women, about the lone female ranger on a squad patrolling the Texas frontier.
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