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ABC Fall Preview

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The number four network is banking on a flurry of new shows to save its sinking ratings in the Fall season. Today, ABC revealed its preliminary fall line-up.

Following HBO’s lead, the network is shortening the seasons of its two remaining hit dramas, NYPD Blue and Alias, pledging to run the episodes week-to-week re-run free. The long-running cop drama Blue will start in the Fall, but it’s season will end early to make way for Steven Bochco’s new cop show, Blind Justice. Alias fans will have to wait until January to pick up the continuing adventures of Sydney and Vaughn; its time slot will be occupied by the domestic drama, Desperate Housewives.

The rest of the schedule stacks up as follows.

Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban is taking a cue from Donald Trump with The Benefactor on Monday nights, in which he’ll give away $1MM to the worthiest competitor. Monday Night Football, a perennial favorite, follows.

Tuesday night is comedy heavy with the return of My Wife and Kids, George Lopez, and According to Jim. New sitcom Rodney rounds out the block. NYPD Blue caps the night.

J.J. Abrams’ new drama Lost leads off Wednesday. Two hours of reality television come next, with the return of The Bachelor and the premiere of U.K. hit Wife Swap. And, no, it’s not what you think: two mothers switch households for 10 days and high drama, we assume, ensues.

Thursday sees the return of Extreme Makeover and the premiere of Life As We Know It, which has been described as My So-Called Life with boys. Newsmagazine Primetime Thursday ends the night.

The network tries again to resurrect its TGIF heyday with four sitcoms on Friday night: 8 Simple Rules, Savages, Hope & Faith, and Less Than Perfect, followed by long-running pseudo-news program 20/20.

The Wonderful World of Disney retains its Saturday night spot.

Sunday starts with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and then the premiere of Desperate Housewives. The Practice: Fleet Street takes over its namesake’s old spot.

ABC is relying heavily on comedy to drive its line-up. If audiences don’t laugh, the network’s troubles could continue.

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