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Faith, Media & Culture

ABC has announced it’s fall schedule.  The new shows (details here) seem to offer some glimmer of hope that the era of TV’s forced edginess is beginning to give way to lighter-hearted, less-nasty fare.  I hope so.

Here’s the night-by-night rundown (new shows in CAPS), followed by my comments and suggestions regarding other scheduling choices the network could have made. Again, positive values shaped by my Christian faith would, hopefully, shape my choices — but I don’t think that puts them out of step with mainstream America. I actually think the reverse is true.

MONDAY
8:00 – Dancing with the Stars
10:00 –  Castle

Comments: Solid.

JFK Alternative: 8:00 – Dancing with the Stars Results Show/Extreme Makeover: Fitness Edition (Mid-season), 9:00 – GRACE, 10:00 – DAMAGE CONTROL
I’d have moved the competition part of Dancing to Sunday at 7:00 PM where I think it could give NBC’s football and CBS’ football-delayed 60 Minutes some serious competition. Between Dancing cycles, I’d bring in a modified version of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (which would become a healthy lifestyle show focusing on people of various shapes and sizes and not just the morbidly obese).  Grace is a dance-themed family drama that didn’t make the cut. Of course quality counts. But, assuming its good, the concept seems a perfect lead-out for Dancing’s results show. Damage Control (aka Scandal) is on ABC’s backup list and concerns a PR spin doctor dealing with clients’ public relations emergencies.  It sounds potentially good. I’d have probably included it in the fall lineup.

TUESDAY
8:00 – LAST MAN STANDING
8:30 –  MAN UP
9:00 – Dancing with the Stars Results Show/Cougar Town (Mid-season)
9:00 – Dancing with the Stars Results Show/APARTMENT 23 (Mid-season)
10:00 – Body of Proof

Comments: The night begins with a multi-cam Tim Allen that strives to capture the vibe of Home Improvement. If it works, ABC could have a strong night on its hands.

JFK Alternative: 8:00 – CHARLIE’S ANGELS, 9:00 – Castle, 10:00 – Body of Proof
A night of ’70s/’80s-style escapist crime shows. The country is ready.

WEDNESDAY
8:00 – The Middle
8:30 – SUBURGATORY
9:00 – Modern Family
9:30 – Happy Endings
10:00 – REVENGE

Comments: A two-hour comedy block the includes the single-cam sitcom Suburgatory starring Jeremy Sisto (who once played Jesus in a 1999 TV movie) as a single dad who, with his teen daughter, moves to the suburbs, Revenge is a soap set in the Hamptons (actually, The Hamptons would have made a better title).  

JFK Alternative: 8:00 – The Middle, 8:30 – LOST AND FOUND, 9:00 – Modern Family, 9:30 – MANLINESS, 10:00 – PAN AM
I’d go with the same basic structure for the night, but inserting the mult-cam Lost and Found (about a bartender suddenly reunited with the son, now a conservative 18-year-old, she gave up for adoption), Manliness (aka Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing) and Pan Am (a 60’s-set soap involving intrigue at the iconic airline).

THURSDAY
8:00 – CHARLIE’S ANGELS
9:00 – Grey’s Anatomy
10:00 – Private Practice

JFK Alternative: 8:00 – The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 9:00 – Grey’s Anatomy, 10:00 – Private Practice
As I would do with NBC and Fox, I would meld operations between ABC and its cable siblings, in this case primarily ABC Family. I’d import Secret Life, dropping it into this female-skewing lineup, while using the cable channel as an outlet for frequently rerunning ABC shows (thereby by raising their cumulative audiences).

FRIDAY
8:00 – Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00 – Shark Tank
10:00 – 20/20

Comments: I’d use Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as one of the shows filling the gap between cycles of Dancing with the Stars. Shark Tank is a pretty good show but I think I’d reserve it for summer. As for 20/20, I actually think its time to pull the plug on the aging news magazine.  Instead, I’d move Nightline into prime time as a floater that would air in place of repeat programming. In Late Night, I’d move Jimmy Kimmel Live up an hour and fill his later slot with a PM co-ed version of The View (call it The View @ Night). But I digress. Back to prime time…

JFK Alternative: 8:00 – No Ordinary Family, 9:00 – POE, 10:00 – Detroit 187
Instead of going the cheap reality route, I’d use the night to give a couple of struggling dramas  second chances and to introduce an intriguing sounding new one. No Ordinary Family may have been one of those shows that had the misfortune of airing its worst episodes when people were looking and its better episodes after people had stopped. I’d give it another half season on  a less-competitive night to find itself. Detroit 187 is a traditional gritty cop drama (filmed in Detroit where they could use the jobs) that struggled following somewhat incompatible programming on Tuesday nights. It too deserves another shot. Hammocked between those two shows, I’d put Poe, chronicling the fictional exploits of mystery writer Edgar Allen Poe as he solves eerie crimes in  1840’s Boston. The show didn’t make ABC’s schedule but I suspect it should have. Taking chances on unusual properties like this is what the networks should be using Friday and Saturday nights for.

SATURDAY
8:00 – Saturday Night College Football

Comments: At least it’s not “encore” programming.

JFK Alternative: 8:00- ESPN Presents: ABC’s Wide World of Sports, 10:00 – Nightline (Mid-season)
The football could be rolled into a revival of the old Wide World of Sports franchise featuring an assortment of various sporting events from around the world. The revival could also cross-promote with sister network ESPN. Nightline could join the schedule when football ends.

SUNDAY
7:00 –  America’s Funniest Home Videos
8:00 – ONCE UPON A TIME
9:00 – Desperate Housewives
10:00 – PAN AM

Comments: A solid schedule.

JWK Alternative: 8:00 – Dancing with the Stars/Secret Millionaire (7:00 and 8:00, both Mid-season), 9:00 – Desperate Housewives/HALLELUJAH (Mid-season), 10:00 – V/THE RIVER (Mid-season)
As states earlier, DWTS could seriously compete with football and 60 Minutes in the time slot. Between cycles, ABC could run two of its positive and popular reality shows (i.e. Secret Millionaire and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). America’s Funniest Home Videos is best served up as summer fare.  This is likely to be the last season of Desperate Housewives, so I’d prep Hallelujah (a potentially-positive faith-themed soap) to replace it. Of course, that plan would depend on the actual tone of the show. From what I’ve seen, I like the tone of V (including its portrayal of a good guy priest). I’d give the struggling sci-fi show another chance following Desperate Housewives. To avoid intra-season repeats, I’d also have the sci-fi thriller The River ready to go as a backup.  

Tomorrow: CBS.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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