Even though the writers’ strike is over, ABC isn’t waiting for a crop of new pilots to plan its fall schedule. Today the alphabet network announced that nine of its current shows will have a spot on next year’s schedule. They represent a cross-section of familiar favorites and hot new shows.
Many of the decisions are no-brainers. Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are all coming back next year, as are Ugly Betty and Brothers and Sisters, neither of which suffered from a sophomore slump commonly seen on TV (for example: Heroes).
As for new shows, the powerhouse all-new Wednesday night line-up from the fall will be back, with Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money all picked up for second seasons. Comedy hit Samantha Who?, which benefited largely from airing after Dancing with the Stars, will also return for the 2008-2009 season.
This announcement certainly puts ABC in one of the best positions for next season. The prolonged writers’ strike will have a strong effect on pilot season, cutting the number of potential new shows for the fall. By renewing so many old and new shows, ABC has shored up a solid slate that won’t require the network to accept a bunch of sub-par new pilots.
For the new shows, ABC has an impressive track record with half its fall pilots picked up for a second season, with the other four still in waiting. Big Shots is gone, but the underperforming comedies Carpoolers and Cavemen are left in the dark, as is Women’s Murder Club. The latter drama did surprisingly well on Friday nights, and could easily come back as well. For the comedies, the best news for them is that ABC is the same network that left According to Jim on the air for seven seasons and canceled Sports Night after only two, so being a mediocre comedy is actually a very good thing.
Probably most shockingly absent from this list is Boston Legal. The drama (or comedy) does somewhat respectably in the ratings, and also is a huge commodity for the network in the awards arena, earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series last year and winning James Spader his second Emmy for Lead Actor (Spader also won a third award for the same role when he was on The Practice).
With ABC making the first move in planning for next year, other networks will likely follow suit. Now that studios and writers are talking again, plans can be made surrounding many of the biggest questions on TV. When will 24 come back? Will Scrubs get to finish out its “final” season? What will be the fate of CBS’ new shows like Cane and Moonlight? Only time will tell.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of ABC)