For the first time in quite some time, ABC had a really strong year with its freshman series. Many shows had decent enough ratings to warrant renewals, which puts ABC in the position of making some difficult decisions. Do you go with the steady-but-not-stellar performers? Or take a gamble on a new series? This is especially true of midseason entries GCB and Scandal, which are bringing in nearly the same numbers.
8:00 - Dancing with the Stars
10:00 - Americana (NEW)
Despite it being nowhere near the dominating force it once was, Dancing with the Stars is still one of the biggest shows on TV. Castle has survived on its lead-in for four seasons now; it's time to try something else. Americana has some relatively popular actors on board and will likely be female-skewing (it's about a famous fashion designer and his family), just like Dancing.
8:00 - Last Man Standing
8:30 - Malibu Country (NEW)
9:00 - Dancing with the Stars - Results
10:00 - Castle
With moving Castle to Tuesdays at 10:00, ABC kills two birds with one stone: they likely improve a consistently low-rated hour, and Castle gets to keep its Dancing with the Stars lead-in. Last Man Standing started very strong in the fall but has faded in recent months; however, Tim Allen is still a draw (and has a great working relationship with the network's owner, Disney) and it's the lone multi-camera comedy ABC has on the air. I don't see them starting over from scratch in that respect, so I think it will be back with the new Reba McEntire vehicle Malibu Country, which seems similar in tone to Last Man Standing.
8:00 - The Middle
8:30 - Suburgatory
9:00 - Modern Family
9:30 - The Family Trap (NEW)
10:00 - Revenge
Now that ABC has finally found a suitable drama for the 10:00 slot on Wednesdays with Revenge, they can work on finally finding a suitable lead-out for Modern Family. Nothing has really hit a homerun in the 9:30 slot yet, but the Mandy Moore vehicle The Family Trap could work. It fits thematically with the family single-camera sitcoms of the night and has a few familiar faces to help draw in viewers as well (Stockard Channing, Kurt Fuller and Majandra Delfino also star).
8:00 - Nashville (NEW)
9:00 - Grey's Anatomy
10:00 - Private Practice
Despite it having been moved to Tuesdays at 10:00 for a few episodes this spring, I think Private Practice will return to its regular timeslot to finish out a final, shortened season. Scandal has done decently in the same slot, so I can see it returning at midseason. Nashville is one of ABC's stronger pilot offerings, and it has the characteristics of a family-friendly 8:00 show. The 8:00 period has been difficult for ABC, so really anything could be thrown there.
8:00 - Reality (Shark Tank/What Would You Do?/etc.)
9:00 - Happy Endings
9:30 - Don't Trust the B in Apt 23
10:00 - 20/20
There have been rumbling for years about ABC returning to the TGIF sitcom lineup. They've shied away from original scripted programming on Fridays, but with so many strong comedies, now would be a good time to try it out. Happy Endings and Apt 23 both performed well enough to warrant renewals, but not necessarily well enough to warrant the post-Modern Family slot. With this, they both remain on the schedule in a low-pressure (relatively speaking) time period. It's also possible that Last Man Standing and a new comedy get put here, though I think ABC would rather not try brand new shows here.
8:00 - Once Upon a Time
9:00 - 666 Park Avenue (NEW)
10:00 - Mistresses (NEW)
Once Upon a Time was a breakout hit for ABC this season, so now they need to work on finding something to pair with it since Desperate Housewives is exiting. There are three pilot possibilities (Gotham, 666 Park Avenue, Beauty and the Beast), but 666 makes the most sense to me. It features two popular ABC stars (Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams) and blends both family-friendly and adult material. Beauty and the Beast is a strong contender because of its Disney ties and fairy tale origin, but early word on the script was not good and the final pilot is not yet even finished. Mistresses was originally a summer order, but it could easily fill in for Housewives and could potentially do better than or as well as GCB, so I think it will make the fall schedule.
As I said earlier, I think Scandal will return when Private Practice goes. I think they will order two other midseason dramas. My guesses are Devious Maids, from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, to fill in for Mistresses; and possibly a male-skewing drama as well, either Last Resort or the Roland Emmerich pilot Dark Horse, but I'm leaning toward the latter since it is an ABC Studios production. On the comedy front, I think they will try two more, one single camera and one multi-camera. I'm guessing How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life as the former and Only Fools and Horses, featuring John Leguizamo and Christopher Lloyd, as the latter.
Should Scandal not return, I'd expect the new Shonda Rhimes-produced pilot The Gilded Lilys to take its place. But for now, I'm betting on Scandal getting another season.
Bottom Line Predictions
New Series - Americana, Nashville, 666 Park Avenue, Mistresses, Devious Maids, Dark Horse, Malibu Country, The Family Trap, How to Live with Your Parents..., Only Fools and Horses
Canceled Series - Desperate Housewives, Charlie's Angels, Missing, The River, Body of Proof, Pan Am, GCB, Man Up!, Work It, Cougar Town