ABC is tweaking its efforts to climb out of fourth place, and Shonda Rhimes is a big part of it. The showrunner, who just inked a new overall deal, is getting a three-drama block on Thursday nights in the network’s most ambitious move of the fall 2014-15 season.
After three stellar seasons at 10 p.m., Scandal is moving to an hour earlier in an effort to launch the new Rhimes drama How to Get Away With Murder. That means that veteran Grey’s Anatomy, still one of ABC’s most dependable series after 10 seasons, is moving to the troubled 8 p.m. slot. ABC has not been able to launch a show there since the heyday of Ugly Betty.
Though ABC does have its share of problems, it’s mostly staying the course with this schedule. New series are filling vacant slots, with few shifts, though Tuesday is getting a significant tweak in comedy’s move to 8 p.m. It’s a big gamble having half-hours open the night — newcomers Selfie and Manhattan Love Story get that exceptional challenge — but it makes sense for the sophomore run of Agents of SHIELD. ABC recently experimented with airing the solid-ish Marvel drama at 9 p.m. to good results.
That should give a big assist to Forever. Aside from the previously mentioned Thursday hour, 10 p.m. on Tuesday has been ABC’s most difficult. And a drama lead-in makes much more sense then the last three years of comedies.
“Our schedule reflects a judicious mix of boldness and stability,” said ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, who just reupped with Disney. “ABC is finishing the season with momentum — we now have building blocks on every night of the week, and we’re using them to launch our new series. This season we set out to develop passion projects from world-class storytellers and showcase the faces and voices of America. Both plans unleashed a wave of creativity and we’re extremely excited about the new slate.”
Single-camera comedy Black-ish is the latest half-hour to get the Modern Family vote of confidence. Though ABC’s ratings champ and Emmy darling has yet to produce another hit in its growing number of lead-outs, the 9:30 p.m. Wednesday slot remains the network’s most enviable launch pad for a comedy. The vacancy left by Suburgatory is good news for The Goldbergs. The comedy gets an appropriate post-Middle run this fall after a season airing on Tuesdays.
Aside from that, it’s business as usual — which may or may not be a good thing. Sunday (America’s Funniest Home Videos, Once Upon a Time, Resurrection and Revenge) and Monday (Dancing With the Stars and Castle) remain intact, and Friday sees only a slight adjustment: the addition of comedy Cristela at 8:30 p.m. (For those of you wondering if ABC would pull the trigger on shifting little-engine-that-could Shark Tank to another night, you have your answer.)
Newcomers Marvel’s Agent Carter and Galavant, as expected, will serve as bridge programming between the fall and spring runs of SHIELD and Once Upon a Time, respectively. The Marvel properties are a natural fit, and Galavant has Once‘s Disney-friendly fairy-tale themes.
The midseason bench isn’t too crowded, especially not compared to this past year. It includes Fresh off the Boat, The Whispers and internal favorite American Crime.
ABC’s Complete Fall 2014-15 Schedule
8-10 p.m. — Dancing With the Stars
10-11 p.m. — Castle
8-8:30 p.m. — Selfie
8:30-9 p.m. — Manhattan Love Story
9-10 p.m. — Agents of SHIELD
10-11 p.m. — Forever
8-8:30 p.m. — The Middle
8:30-9 p.m. — The Goldbergs
9-9:30 p.m. — Modern Family
9:30-10 p.m. — Black-ish
10-11 p.m. — Nashville
8-9 p.m. — Grey’s Anatomy
9-10 p.m. — Scandal
10-11 p.m. — How to Get Away With Murder
8-8:30 p.m. — Last Man Standing
8:30-9 p.m. — Cristela
9-10 p.m. — Shark Tank
10-11 p.m. — 20/20
8-11 p.m. — Saturday Night Football
7-8 p.m. — America’s Funniest Home Videos
8-9 p.m. — Once Upon a Time
9-9:30 p.m. — Resurrection
10-11 p.m. — Revenge