ABC's 1-2 punch: 'Grey's,' 'Lost'

Net sets spring sked with dramas anchoring Thurs.

ABC's top-rated "Grey's Anatomy" will return to its usual Thursday night time period in April, with "Lost" moving to 10 p.m.

Having resumed production after the writers strike, "Grey's" will come back to the network's tentpole 9 p.m. Thursday period for five original episodes beginning April 24, with "Lost" shifting to 10 p.m. to air five originals of its own.

ABC announced the change Wednesday as part of its spring schedule, which also includes premiere dates for "Desperate Housewives," "Boston Legal," "Ugly Betty," "Samantha Who?" and "Brothers & Sisters." The other major broadcast networks already have announced their spring schedules.

A key question is whether "Lost" (which has averaged a 6.4 rating among adults 18-49 so far this season) will benefit from the new time period. The shift puts "Lost" into an hour with lower viewing levels, and the show notably declined after shifting from 9 p.m. Wednesdays to 10 p.m. last season. But "Lost" might gain significantly from a large "Grey's" lead-in, even if their respective audiences are not perfectly compatible.

ABC has tried several new shows in the 10 p.m. Thursday period that have been unable to capitalize on "Grey's" success. Case in point: Current occupant "Eli Stone" is notably absent from the newly announced spring lineup. Since "Stone" debuted this year, it has averaged a 3.3 rating in the time period. An ABC spokesman said the network hasn't decided when the remaining "Stone" episodes will air.

Also, there still is no word on bubble shows "Men in Trees" or "Women's Murder Club" (the latter might return if ABC and 20th Century Fox Television can quickly find a new showrunner to take over the production).

Returning to their usual ABC time periods: "Samantha Who?" on April 7 (six originals); "Boston Legal," April 8 (six originals); "Desperate Housewives," April 13 (five originals and a two-hour finale); "Brothers & Sisters," April 20 (four originals); and "Ugly Betty," April 24 (five originals). ABC's renewed freshmen dramas "Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money" will return next season.

Also on Wednesday, CBS said it is shuffling its Monday night comedy lineup when it returns March 17. Instead of leading off with "How I Met Your Mother," the freshman hit "Big Bang Theory" will open the night at 8 p.m. "Mother" shifts to 8:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., "Two and a Half Men" will continue to anchor the lineup, followed by "The New Adventures of Old Christine" at 9:30 p.m.
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