Like NBC, the other network that may end up in last place this season, ABC’s newly-unveiled schedule (being unveiled right now at its upfront presentation) is heavily invested in comedy, with a comedy block of returning shows (Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23) on Tuesday night following Dancing With the Stars and a new comedy, The Neighbors, to follow the network’s most robust hit, Modern Family. Indeed, when the network’s eroding hit Dancing With the Stars goes on hiatus in January, it is to be replaced by two new family comedies on Tuesday: How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) and The Family Tools.
The difference between NBC’s and ABC’s comedy-centric strategies seems to be that ABC’s series are all on-brand: titles using words like Parents, Family, and Neighbors. The network of Roseanne and the T.G.I.F. block got jolted back to its history after the success of Modern Family, and the Wednesday block of four family comedies (The Middle, Suburgatory, Modern Family, and The Neighbors)–to be preceded in January by a Tuesday night of similarly-oriented shows. Meanwhile, Thursday night’s two hours of soaps (Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) are to be preceded at 8 by Last Resort, a risky military drama unlike the scandalous-drama-and-family-comedy ABC recipe. ABC’s strategy might best be summed up on Sunday night, with two hours of broad family television–America’s Funniest Home Videos and Once Upon a Time–followed by the Hamptons luxury-soap Revenge (moving into Desperate Housewives‘s old slot) and the new drama 666 Park Avenue.