Stay Tuned
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ABC: Taking high concept too far...

I think ABC might have taken this high concept thing too far. And I think they may have made a big scheduling mistake.

Here’s the breakdown…

8 PM—Wife Swap
9 PM—The Bachelor/Supernanny
10 PM—What About Brian
This season’s bachelor is Prince Lorenzo Borghese, a 33-year-old cosmetics entrepreneur. The show will be set in Rome.

8 PM—Dancing with the Stars/Set for the Rest of Your Life
9 PM—Let’s Rob…
9:30 PM—Help Me Help You
10 PM—Boston Legal
“Set” is a new “alternative program” as ABC calls it. We used to call them game shows. This one sounds a lot like “Deal or No Deal” but with teams of two. “Let’s Rob…” is a comedy starring Donal Logue (“Grounded for Life”) about a group of misfits and their preparations to rob Mick Jagger’s apartment. Jagger is an executive producer and will make appearances. “Help Me” marks the return of Ted Danson to TV as the leader of a therapy group. The show also features Jere Burns who first made his mark in a therapy group on “Dear John.”

8 PM—Dancing with the Stars (Results)/George Lopez/According to Jim
9 PM—Lost
10 PM—The Nine
“The Nine” tells the story of nine people caught in a bank hostage standoff and how their lives intertwine afterwards. Each episode begins with a flashback that reveals another 10 minutes of the standoff. The cast is pretty impressive with Tim Daly (“Wings”), Chi McBride (“Boston Public”), Scott Wolf (“Party of Five”) and Kim Raver (Audrey, “24”). And yes, I am hoping it is successful, if only to keep Audrey away from Jack (and I also like Kim Raver).

8 PM—Big Day
8:30 PM—Notes from the Underbelly
9 PM—Grey’s Anatomy
10 PM—Six Degrees
“Day” follows a couple’s wedding day for the entire season. Here’s the official description from the ABC press release: “If ‘24’ married ‘Father of the Bride,’ their child would be ‘Big Day.’” I believe the word you’re looking for is anyway…“Notes” follows a couple as they prepare to have a baby. “Six” is a drama about six people and their intertwining destinies. It’s executive produced by J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Mission Impossible III”).

8 PM—Betty the Ugly
9 PM—Men inTrees
10 PM—20/20
“Betty” is an hour-long comedy executive-produced by Salma Hayek and based on a Latino TV show. It stars America Ferrera (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) as a woman trying to make it in the fashion world where she doesn’t really fit in. “Trees” stars Anne Heche as a relationship coach who ends up stuck in an Alaskan small town filled with eligible men after her own relationship ends.

8 PM—ABC Saturday Night College Football
ABC will carry 12 games from September to December.

7 PM—America’s Funniest Home Videos
8 PM—Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9 PM—Desperate Housewives
10 PM—Brothers & Sisters
“Brothers” stars Calista Flockhart (“Ally McBeal”), Rachel Griffiths (“Six Feet Under”) and Ron Rifkin (“Alias”) in a drama about families and their secrets.

ABC has six shows on deck: “Day Break,” starring Taye Diggs (“Rent”) as a detective who keeps reliving the same bad day; “Traveler,” the story of two friends who are accused of being terrorists; “In Case of Emergency,” a comedy about a group of high school friends who reunite in the emergency room starring Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernies”) and David Arquette; “Greg Behrendt’s Wake-Up Call” featuring the author of “He’s Just Not That Into You” talking to couples about their issues; “Just for Laughs,” a hidden camera comedy; and “American Inventor.”

None of the shows ABC debuted last fall made this year’s schedule.

Here’s my take on things…

Best Shot at a Hit: Conventional wisdom would say “Brothers & Sisters,” simply because it follows “Desperate Housewives.” “Help Me Help You” may also see some success because of Ted Danson.

Best Shot at a Miss: Pretty much everything else, but I would especially point out “Bad Day.” Can you really set an entire season around a wedding? I warned you about “24” clones, I just didn’t expect a comedy to be one of them. This is what I mean about taking high concept too far. Interestingly, ABC rejected this same sort of concept for the now cancelled “Jake In Progress.”

Most Questionable Scheduling Move: As thrilled as I am that “24” will not have to take on “Grey’s Anatomy” (if “24” stays in place), from an objective point of view, ABC has made a HUGE mistake. I understand that Thursday is the biggest moneymaker of the week and I understand that ABC wants to take on “CSI” with its biggest gun. But if they had moved “Grey’s” to Mondays, it could’ve owned the night—especially with female viewers.

Best Scheduling Move: Saturday has become a TV wasteland of reruns. Bringing college football to primetime is a great move.

Strangest Cancellation/Strangest Renewal: If I had to choose between “Invasion” and “What About Brian,” I would’ve gone with “Invasion.” It has a much more fervent fan base that could grow over time. But “Invasion” is executive produced by Shaun Cassidy and “Brian” is helmed by J.J. Abrams, the hottest producer on TV today (not to mention one of the hottest film directors). Something tells me that’s what made the decision.

Biggest Disappointment: I think you already know what I’m going to say. They can give “Brian” another chance, but not “Commander In Chief”? Whatever.

Tomorrow, it’s CBS’s turn to remind everyone that they’re number one…