The Good: Eschewing the less is more approach by throwing a whole whack of pilots up against the wall and seeing what stuck, ABC managed to score some of this past season’s biggest, if not buzziest, breakout hits. On the dramatic front was the surprising successes of ONCE UPON A TIME and REVENGE, with SUBURGATORY and DON’T TRUST THE B**** IN APARTMENT 23 scoring points on the comedic one. Other good news was the creative resurgence of GREY’S ANATOMY, the fact that patience paid off in terms of allowing HAPPY ENDINGS to become the meme machine that Tumblr sees today, while CASTLE and SCANDAL’s sizzling season finales still have fans all a twitter both literally and figuratively.
The Bad: Last season’s few successes at ABC seemed to have come at a very steep price in that for every bright spot involving a poisoned apple or a James Van Der Beek, was a string of high profile failures like PAN AM, MISSING, THE RIVER and GCB. The latter of which had the dubious distinction of not only being mischaracterized as a blatant Wisteria Lane wannabe, but suffered the sting that came with premiering after DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES low-rated critically derided final season. Equally upsetting was ABC President Paul Lee’s comedic sensibilities that inexplicably went from funny (See: The Network’s Wednesday night lineup) to no laughing matter (See: The Network’s Tuesday night lineup, with the notable exception of the massively mishandled third season of COUGAR TOWN). More troubling still was downward trend in viewership for reality mainstays such as DANCING WITH THE STARS and THE BACHELOR. Aging franchises that contributed to NBC (Yes, the perennial fourth place Peacock network) beating the alphabet network in the coveted 18-49 demo for the first time in years.
Prognosis for the Coming Season: While there is no doubt that ABC has two of this upcoming season’s most exciting new hour longs in Shawn Ryan’s LAST RESORT and the Connie Britton/Hayden Panettiere pairing that makes up NASHVILLE, the Network also has a handful of highly unfunny comedies that have quick cancellation written all over them. Add to that the uncertainty over PRIVATE PRACTICE’s health minus stars Tim Daly and the soon-to-be exiting Kate Walsh, not to mention whether or not the Network can lure viewers back to a family friday featuring LAST MAN STANDING and Reba’s return vehicle that is MALIBU COUNTRY, and what we’re left with is a flurry of question marks as to the status of what is no longer America’s most watched network. Stay tuned.