The Mouse was in the house this afternoon as ABC executives announced the network’s primetime schedule for next season. Acknowledging that the old way of measuring audiences is no longer really valid, Anne Sweeney noted that the new model for ABC programming will take advantage of the multiple platforms available for watching and the vast (and growing) social media universe. She called ABC the “social network,” explaining that new apps will allow viewers to immediately share moments of programming with their social media networks and offer new ways of viewing television series.
The network’s plans for the new season will be to spread out programming, separating some series into halves (like Once Upon a Time did successfully this season), and introducing a new limited series anthology series that has a beginning, middle, and end within the course of 10 episodes.
Promising series include the comedy Black-ish, starring Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal), which will air Tuesday nights. The series explores whether this affluent, comfortable African-American family has assimilated a bit too far into suburban life. Almost anything with Fishburne deserves a try, and issue of assimilation crosses cultural and racial lines and could make for an enjoyable comic half hour.
On Thursdays, ABC will add a third Shonda Rhymes drama, this one called How to Get Away with Murder. The series stars Viola Davis as a brilliant law professor who gets four of her students involved in real criminal defense cases. The legal thriller is called by ABC: sexy and suspense-driven. The series will air September to March.
When How to Get Away with Murder goes on Hiatus in March, it will be replaced by a new anthology series called Secrets and Lies. In its inaugural season, the series stars Ryan Phillipe and Juliette Lewis. Phillipe plays a man accused of a crime, and we will be drawn into the story through his eyes, with the ultimate question: is he guilty? The series will run 10 weeks, and a second season would use different actors and a new story with the same premise. ABC believes that the slot, following the legal series on hiatus will fit perfectly for the new series. ABC’s hope is that a limited series like this will attract great actors for such a limited run. It has been successfully done a few times over the past couple of years, including FX’s Fargo and American Horror Story, and HBO’s True Detective.
After splitting its season in two, and taking a lengthy hiatus between halves, ABC will again present Once Upon a Time in two half seasons: from September to December, and March through May. During the hiatus, ABC will air Galavant, a new musical comedy series set in medieval times–a sort of Camelot meets Princess Bride, according to the network. I would, on first glance, better describe it as a live-action Disney animated feature, complete with Alan Menken score.
Other series include a modern, comic take on My Fair Lady called Selfie, starring John Cho. The premise is that Cho’s Henry Higgins (yes, that is the character’s name) will transform Eliza from a narcissistic social media addict with few people skills into a real person.