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2010 Television Upfront: ABC Unveils 2010-2011 Lineup

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In announcing their new lineup for the 2010-2011 season, ABC made it clear that they are happy with where they are. The network isn't introducing a ton of new series, is making no changes to Sunday or Monday, tweaking Wednesday and Thursday, and only making substantial alterations Tuesday and Friday. In fact, of all their returning series which appear on their fall lineup, only The Middle is getting a new time period. Assuredly ABC reasons this is possible due to the second season success of Castle as well as three of the four shows on ABC's Wednesday comedy block and the continued strong performance of Dancing with the Stars.

As previously reported, FlashForward, ABC's sci-fi show which viewers tuned out of months ago, won't be returning next year while V will (as a mid-season replacement). Happily, the network put Scrubs out of its misery, as the series – and Better off Ted – has been canceled. Perhaps the oddest change to ABC's lineup is the inclusion of Secret Millionaire, the reality show which features millionaires going undercover to give money to those in need. If the title and premise sound familiar that's because FOX briefly aired the show before banishing it from their schedule. It is appearing on low HUT (housing using televisions) level Friday night, but picking up the castoff series – even if it is relatively inexpensive – seems like an odd way to attract viewers.

ABC's 2010-2011 lineup will be as follows:


 

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
7:00 America's Funniest Home Videos            
7:30
8:00 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Dancing with the Stars No Ordinary
Family
The Middle My
Generation
Secret
Millionaire
NCAA
Football
8:30 Better Together
9:00 Desperate
Housewives
DWTS: Results Show Modern Family Grey's
Anatomy
Body of
Proof
9:30 Cougar Town  
10:00 Brothers & Sisters Castle Detroit
1-8-7
The Whole
Truth
Private Practice 20/20
10:30


The first new show of the week on ABC's lineup is No Ordinary Family which is about a completely ordinary, "totally relatable" according to the press release, family thrust into extraordinary circumstances when their plane crashes into the Amazon River. Not only do they live, they develop superpowers. The series stars one-time ABC star (before he became an FX star) Michael Chiklis as the father and Julie Benz (Dexter) as the mother.

Detroit 1-8-7 takes the all-too-often used pretend documentary concept and, rather than putting it onto a 30-minute comedy, will be doing it with an hour-long drama starring Michael Imperioli as a veteran homicide detective. Jon Michael Hill gets to play the new guy and partner to Imperioli's vet. The show with its gritty feel doesn't sound as though it's a natural to follow the light-hearted Dancing with the Stars, but stranger shows have been put back-to-back. ABC though does have the advantage on FOX, which is premiering their new gritty cop show, Ride-Along, midseason.

Last year out of their new comedy lineup, ABC positioned Eastwick, an updated take on Witches of Eastwick that proved to be a blink-and-you'll-miss-it series. This year, with the comedy lineup better established, ABC will be airing The Whole Truth, a legal drama. The concept behind the series is that audiences will get to see both the prosecution and the defense equally as their cases are built on a weekly basis. Rob Morrow stars as the defense attorney and Joely Richardson as the prosecutor. Their characters have been friends since law school (Yale, naturally), but we don't think for a minute that they won't get miffed at one another.

Opening Thursdays will be the new series My Generation which, shockingly, features a documentary crew following a bunch of high schoolers getting ready to graduate in the year 2000 and then revisits them 10 years later to find out whether they have fulfilled their dreams or found new ones. The series, which sounds to be relationship-based, may be a perfect fit with the rest of the night which still features Grey's and Private Practice.

Dana Delany stars in Friday night's Body of Proof. Once a great neurosurgeon, Dr. Megan Hunt (Delany) is forced to give up her job after a car accident. She opts to become a medical examiner and kind of goes outside her job description opting to do more than just the medical examining on some cases. CBS has done quite well airing women-centered shows on Friday evenings and as Delany is a proven star it will be interesting to see if ABC can make the concept work for them.

With The Middle getting the call to anchor the ABC Wednesday evening comedy block, 8:30 goes to ABC's one new comedy of the fall (although they do have a Matthew Perry one waiting in the wings for mid-season), Better Together. A relationship comedy, Better Together features one couple, Maddie and Ben, who have been dating for nine years; another couple, Mia (Maddie's younger sister) and Casey, who after seven weeks announce that they're pregnant and getting married; and Mia and Maddie's parents, Vicky and Joel, who have been married for 35 years. No, it doesn't sound hugely different, but again, without actually seeing it making any sort of rush to judgment would be foolish. ABC did quite well developing comedies last year and even though The Middle may have sounded boring on paper, it's both funny and successful.

ABC may not have the strongest ratings of all the networks, and they may have a bunch of aging shows in their lineup, but it is kind of nice in a day and age when series get canceled after two airings and are never allowed to build an audience for a network to tweak around the edges rather than change things wholesale. If the tactic works or not is something we'll just have to see down the line (and, of course, they do have replacement series sitting on the bench just itching to come in).

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.