Comedy Tonight: ABC Adds 5 Sitcoms To Fall Lineup
"Hank" will star Kelsey Grammer, a big-time businessman who finds himself out of work. It starts the night at 8 p.m. Then at 8:30 p.m., "The Middle" features a middle-class family living in the middle of Indiana with Patricia Heaton. At 9 p.m. is "Modern Family," starring Ed O'Neil, who heads up a modern family; the show is shot in documentary style.
At 9:30 p.m., there's "Cougar Town," about an older, recently divorced woman, with Courteney Cox. At 10 p.m., ABC goes with a drama/comedy, "Eastwick," based on the film "Witches of Eastwick." "Wednesday night was a challenge for us -- and comedy was a big goal," says Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment Group.
McPherson realizes the difficulties of launching five new shows at the same time: "Even launching two shows [on the same night] is daunting." Previously, Wednesday had been a big night of drama, most recently with "Private Practice," "Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money."
Two returning comedies -- "Scrubs" and "Better Off Ted" -- will air on Tuesday at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively, once "Dancing with the Stars" ends its fall run.
Concerning the return of "Ted," which had some poor ratings, McPherson says: "Patience is really hard to come by [in launching new shows]."
ABC is adding a new reality effort at 8 p.m. on Tuesday -- one from Mark Burnett, where new prospective business entrepreneurs pitch for funds from a bunch of multimillionaires. At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, ABC will go with a Jerry Bruckheimer show, "The Forgotten," about a bunch of dedicated amateur crime sleuths.
Another big push for ABC is the already highly touted "Flash Forward", where a mysterious event causes the entire world to black out. It gets a valuable Thursday night time slot at 8 p.m. before "Grey's Anatomy."
Mid-season efforts include "The Deep End," kind of a "Grey's Anatomy" for the lawyer-set, examining the first years of young attorneys. ABC will also start up the miniseries "V," from the 1980s miniseries about the world's first encounter with aliens.
In regard to the entire TV season -- with drastically low ratings in many cases -- McPherson notes that "everyone has taken their lumps. It has been almost two years since we had a normal development season."
Overall, McPherson says ABC remains a "character network, not a concept network" when it comes to its TV development.