Upfront Analysis: ABC gets desperate, but stays on brand

ABC is in fourth place, but they’re not necessarily in dire straits. Modern FamilyDancing with the StarsGrey’s Anatomy, Once Upon a Time and Castle are all fading, but still viable. Scandal is still the most talked about show on television. They even developed a little comedy hit in The Goldbergs that they’ll try to increase the profile of next year.

Yes, ABC is in fourth, but they have building blocks and at least one hit show on every night of the week (except perhaps Tuesday, depending on how we’re thinking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). They need to find clever ways to sure up sore sports and build for the future.


7 p.m. ET – America’s Funniest Home Videos
8 p.m. ET – Once Upon a Time
9 p.m. ET – Resurrection
10 p.m. ET – Revenge

Who’d have thought ABC would bring four returning series to its Sunday night at the start of this season? Revenge continues to lose steam but manages in a dead time slot. Resurrection is somewhat a hit, at least more than Revenge was, and Once Upon a Time hopes to receive a bounce from hinting at using one of Disney’s new cash cows, Frozen, next season.

A minor thing to look out for is that Tom Bergeron will no longer be hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos. The show may be ABC’s antidote to 60 Minutes, but it is a long-running franchise. Finding a host who won’t turn off audiences but never make any waves will be tricky.



8 p.m. ET – Dancing with the Stars
10 p.m. ET – Castle

Not much to say here. DWTS stabilized after a dismal 2012-13, and Castle remains ABC’s version of a CBS show. The one no one you know watches, but your older relatives always have an opinion on.


8 p.m. ET – Selfie
8:30 p.m. ET – Manhattan Love Story
9 p.m. ET – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
10 p.m. ET – Forever

Oh gee, ABC trying two new comedies and a new drama on Tuesday? That sure is a move with a history of succeeding for all parties! Maybe, maybe, S.H.I.E.L.D. survives all of this, but I can’t see anything else.



8 p.m. ET – The Middle
8:30 p.m. ET – The Goldbergs
9 p.m. ET – Modern Family
9:30 p.m. ET – Blackish
10 p.m. ET – Nashville

ABC seems to finally understand how to program this night, even when it may be too late. The Goldbergs should flourish after the dependable The Middle, while Blackish appears to fit an unconventional family sitcom genre that Modern Family sort of invented.

The question of how long music sales and touring will keep Nashville viable. The series will get a full third season of 22 episodes, but I’m starting to wonder if the show is ABC’s version of how Community and Parks and Rec kept getting removed because A) there was nothing better in development, and B) the network has enough problems already.


8 p.m. ET – Grey’s Anatomy
9 p.m. ET – Scandal
10 p.m. ET – How to Get Away with Murder

Scandal vs. The Blacklist will be fun in February, though Scandal will get a head start. This should be a pretty decent block built around three Shonda Rhimes dramas. Thursdays at 10 ain’t what they used to be, so expect the beat to go on for ABC in that slot with the Viola Davis-starring Murder.



8 p.m. ET – Last Man Standing
8:30 p.m. ET – Cristela
9 p.m. ET – Shark Tank
10 p.m. ET – 20/20

Last Man Standing lives on, and it deserves to, for the audience it’s capable of drawing on Fridays. Ditto Shark Tank and 20/20. This night is strangely the most stable night ABC has, as they could’ve totally been justified in bringing The Neighbors back here.

Cristela will be an interesting test. It’s placed after Last Man Standing for the two shows’ multi-camera pedigrees and not necessarily for content. Will the people who watch Tim Allen’s dull All in the Family rip stick around for a show built around a progressive Latina character trying to struggle against the older members of her family? We’ll see.

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.