'Bachelor,' 'American Idol' Set Early 2021 Debuts on ABC

Matt James 'The Bachelor' — Publicity — H 2020
Courtesy of ABC

With its (late) fall schedule largely in place, ABC is turning its attention to the first part of 2021.

The network has set premiere dates for several unscripted series, including stalwarts The Bachelor and American Idol. A half dozen series, including a trio of new game shows, will premiere in January and February.

The unscripted offerings will also spell scripted shows — including Thursday dramas Grey's Anatomy, Station 19 and A Million Little Things — for a time, giving them a chance to bank more episodes for a springtime run. Production under COVID-19 safety guidelines has been taking longer for many scripted shows than it did during pre-pandemic conditions.

The Bachelor will premiere in its familiar Monday night home on Jan. 4. Matt James will be the franchise's first Black Bachelor — and the first to come from outside the show's self-perpetuating ecosystem in some time. He had initially been set to be a contestant on the current season of The Bachelorette, but when filming was delayed due to the pandemic, the show's producers named him to lead The Bachelor.

The newly ordered Celebrity Wheel of Fortune will anchor a game show lineup starting Thursday, Jan. 7. Newcomers The Chase — featuring Jeopardy greats Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer — and The Hustler, hosted by Craig Ferguson, will round out the night.

The sixth season of To Tell the Truth is set to premiere Jan. 26, and ABC's fourth American Idol season follows on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. Host Ryan Seacrest told The Hollywood Reporter that the plan is for the show to "look a lot more normal" than the remotely shot back half of last season and for contestants to be in studio (and following safety guidelines) in later rounds.

ABC's winter unscripted dates are below. All times are ET/PT

Monday, Jan. 4
8 p.m.: The Bachelor

Thursday, Jan. 7
8 p.m.: Celebrity Wheel of Fortune
9 p.m.: The Chase
10 p.m.: The Hustler

Tuesday, Jan. 26
8 p.m.: To Tell the Truth

Sunday, Feb. 14
8 p.m.: American Idol