ABC stays the course

abc_banner_bgrndFor a network in fourth place, you’d think ABC would be making a boatload of changes.

Instead, ABC is making only needed changes on four nights – some of them our relatively minor.

And how about this: ABC is countering football on Thursdays with an all-drama lineup consisting of shows created and produced by University Park native Shonda Rhimes!

This is one of many announcements ABC made Tuesday at its upfront presentation – introducing twelve new series – half of them debuting this fall. Most of the other half are midseason entries, being used for “split seasons”.

With Saturday, Sunday, and Monday virtually unchanged, Tuesday has Marvel’s Agents Of Shield moving an hour later and becoming a tentpole, right smack in the middle of prime time, with new comedies Selfie and Manhattan Love Story as a lead-in. Another Marvel series (Agent Carter) will take SHIELD‘s place midseason as the Agents take a Winter break. After SHIELD is new drama Forever.

Wednesday has a relocated Goldbergs in between established hits Middle and Modern Family, and new sitcom Black-ish after MF. Thursday has veteran drama Grey’s Anatomy shifting an hour earlier, likely facing off against The Big Bang Theory beginning in late October. Next is Scandal, which also moves an hour earlier and is expected to face off against NBC’s The Blacklist when it relocates in February. Pushing Scandal out of its slot is How To Get Away With Murder, another new series from Shonda Rhimes.

Friday remains unchanged with the exception of canceled sitcom The Neighbors being swapped out with Cristela, a new sitcom starring Cristela Alonzo.

In addition to Agent Carter, five more midseason series were announced: dramas American Crime, Secrets And Lies, The Whispers, Galavant, and comedy Fresh Off The Boat. 

The Bachelor (winter replacement for Dancing With The Stars) and The Taste are also scheduled to return midseason.

To see a detailed rundown of ABC’s 2014-15 slate, and the fall schedule, click here.

Analysis: A year ago, yours truly wanted Paul Lee sent on a boat back to England; now he wants to throw him a parade? If anyone network chief should be praised for anything this upfront is Lee, who has decided to embrace diversity in the 2014-15 season – more so than anyone else. Many of the new series on this year’s schedule feature minority leads – reflecting the changing demographics in the U.S. and in a business lacking diversity in front of and behind the camera, Lee decided to embrace it.

ABC should also get credit for moving The Goldbergs – which has improved in quality over its freshman season (one promo had me laughing non stop for 15 seconds) in between The Middle and Modern Family. Ratings are sure to improve and has the vote of confidence with Lee.

ABC also should get props for creating an all-female skewing Thursday night with Shonda Rhimes.

Another good move was Agents of SHIELD getting the tentpole slot on Tuesday nights – again, look for ratings to improve. However, the shows replacing SHIELD (Selfie, Manhattan) don’t look promising.

Wednesday’s new sitcom Black-ish, with Anthony Anderson in the lead, is a nice throwback to The Bernie Mac Show. Whether if it is compatible with Modern Family remains to be seen.

ABC’s 2014-15 schedule is actually better than the 2013-14 sked and if there was a choice between underperforming networks ABC or Fox as my pick to click – I’d go with ABC.