ABC's 2014-2015 Schedule: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Tim Surette

May 14, 2014

The deluge of television news that's currently suffocating you isn't coincidental. That's because we're in the middle of the Upfronts, which is when the broadcast networks finalize their fall schedules by getting rid of the old and ushering in the new with several renewals and cancellations. It's also when the nets reveal the new shows we'll be treated to in the upcoming season, filling us with joy when we get to see the pilots we thought looked good, and anguish when they order the pilots we thought sounded terrible. NBC and Fox have already taken their turns at the podium, and today was ABC's chance to woo us with shiny new shows. So let's see what the old Alphabet has in store for the upcoming season and break down the good, bad, and ugly from its 2014-2015 lineup.

First thing first: Here's ABC's full 2014-2015 schedule.

And here are the first trailers for ABC's new fall shows.

Now let's get to the good stuff... as well as the bad stuff and the ugly stuff, 'cause that's the whole point of this story!


THE GOOD

ABC did a lot of minor tinkering with its schedule, and it's almost all for the better. Sliding Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back to 9pm on Tuesdays was a smart move to break smooth out the drama-comedy-drama layout it used on Tuesdays in 2013-2014. Besides, lots of people are still stuffing their faces with dinner during the 8pm hour, and chewing on meatloaf and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mythology simultaneously is a difficult task. With S.H.I.E.L.D. taking over 9pm, Forever has a much better chance of survival at 10pm, as the drama vibe will carry over without interruption from an hour-long comedy block.

The decision to shift the great family comedy The Goldbergs to Wednesday's comedy block is already a season overdue, but now that it's lodged between The Middle and Modern Family, it should live a long, healthy life. Better late than never! And I really respect the decision to give Black-ish the post-Modern Family slot, because it tells that me ABC thinks of Anthony Anderson's comedy as more than just a token African-American sitcom. The network must truly believe it can be a cross-cultural hit, and that's always great to see. Whether audiences will agree is up for debate, but Black-ish is actually a much better fit for Wednesdays than Mixology or Super Fun Night ever were. That's 120 minutes of family-friendly comedy, with 90 of 'em really incorporating a three-generation structure; all told, it's the most cohesive two-hour comedy block on television. 


THE BAD


Even though it's not sandwiched between two dramas anymore, ABC still has One-Hour Comedy Island floating by itself on Tuesdays nights, this time with Selfie and Manhattan Love Story at 8pm and 8:30pm, respectively. The network seems content to sacrifice an hour of its schedule just to test out new shows, which is like throwing your kids into a pool to teach them how to swim. However, I don't know if there's a way to fix this without expanding another comedy block, though. Good luck, you two! 

Also: If I'm How to Get Away With Murder, I'd wish I was the meat in the Shonda sandwich, sitting between Grey's Anatomy and Scandal for an extra boost. As the dessert of Shonda Thursdays, there's a greater potential for the audience to decline. There's also the question of whether or not that many soaps in a row is too much of a similar thing. Three hours of Rhimes Time? The core audience will eat it up, but it might be exhausting for everyone else.

Finally, I'm convinced that Sunday's sequence of Once Upon a Time into Resurrection into Revenge will be tonal whiplash, but that lineup held up fairly well in 2013-2014 season thanks to the midseason entry Resurrection only airing for eight episodes. 


THE UGLY


Where's the big, exciting new series to launch the fall with? ABC doesn't have a tentpole blockbuster to put its marketing muscle behind—unless you're really excited for Selfie, I guess. It appears the network wants to cram How to Get Away With Murder into that category, but doing so will only strengthen a preexisting fanbase (Grey's faithful; Gladiators). I was hoping to see The Whispers sooner rather than later because ALIENS, but ABC is holding it back until the midseason. And American Crime has the potential to be the network's most critically buzzed-about series, but it's benched until (probably) 2015, too. Heck, I'd even get excited about the fairy-tale musical Galavant, just to see what it's all about. Elsewhere, NBC has comic-adaptation Constantine and the Happy Endings-ish Marry Me, and Fox has the pre-Batman Gotham. ABC has Viola Davis teaching law school. (It also has new Marvel series Agent Carter, but that won't debut until S.H.I.E.L.D. goes into hibernation for the winter break.)  Gaining traction in the fall is one of the keys to a good winter, and I don't know where how ABC is going to accomplish that with this schedule.


THE PROMISING TREND

ABC seems committed to colorblindness this year, with three new comedies featuring minority families at the center, a new soap with a minority lead, and a sizzling new drama about race relations (and with a cast that's half Hispanic). It's a refreshing change for a television landscape that's been criticized for being lily-white. 

On the comedy front, Fresh Off the Boat follows a Vietnamese-American family that moves to suburban Orlando, Black-ish centers on an affluent African-American family whose patriarch feels like his kids are losing their sense of cultural identity, and Cristela revolves around a Latina who's moving up in the white-collar world while her blue-collar family looks on. And the interesting thing is that two of the three (Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish) are single-camera comedies that don't look half-bad. 

Viola Davis leads the Shonda Rhimes-produced How to Get Away With Murder, which will follow the Kerry Washington-starring Scandal on Thursday nights. That means a single evening of television will feature two black female leads, which is something that's happened on television I would guess never. 

Finally, American Crime looks race right in the face with a plot about a racially charged crime and its effects on the community. 

Is this the beginning of a new era of multi-cultural television? Let's hope so.


Best-looking New ABC Series: American Crime


Look out, another cable-quality drama on network TV! It may not get the ratings it deserves, but this trailer looks seriously good. And the emphasis is on both the "serious" and the "good," even if it's just Timothy Hutton crying in a bathroom for an hour.


Worst-looking New ABC Series: Selfie


This Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory) comedy is about a social-media-obsessed woman who's trying to repair her image after becoming the subject of an embarrassing viral video (BARF), but it's too late. I hate her already and I don't want to spend any time with her at all. And that icky American accent dribbling from the mouth of Doctor Who's Karen Gillam is sacrilege. Didn't ABC learn anything from Rebel Wilson in Super Fun Night? Obviously not. 


The Show That's Just Going for It and Doesn't Care What Anyone Else Thinks: Galavant


What if Glee and Once Upon a Time got drunk at Medieval Times and hooked up in the bathroom and a baby just shot right out of GleeGalavant, that's what! This could be a lot of fun, or it could be 1,000-percent terrible. I'm leaning toward the latter. But I'm excited about it.


The Show That Could Be the Biggest Surprise Even Though You're Probably Like "Ehhh" From the Title (a.k.a. the Trophy Wife Award): Fresh Off the Boat


It's like if The Goldbergs and Suburgatory took on a foreign exchange student from Taiwan and all three of them went into one of those teleporters from The Fly and melded together into one thing. And since it's helmed by Nahnatchka Khan, who's last show was the sharp Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, it's got a solid voice. 


How do your first impressions of ABC's new schedule and shows match up to mine? 


  • Comments (39)
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  • wudntulik2know Jun 27, 2014

    So y'all still watch The Middle, where Brick isn't cute anymore, Frankie is still shrill, and Sue is still a dirty used dishrag, and Modern Family, which just plain sucks? They could stuff Breaking News! God is finally coming at 8:30pm on Wednesday, this is it folks! and I still wouldn't watch.

    Oh, and for that matter, y'all still watch network television?

    M'kay.

  • GASEPOL May 17, 2014

    As for Sunday, where is Marc Cherry when you need him? Can you imagine what numbers Devious Maids would have put up in that 9 PM time slot if they hadn't passed on it?

  • GASEPOL May 17, 2014

    I liked what I saw of Selfie and it certainly is a fresh and novel idea. However Manhattan Love Story needs to rid itself of the voice overs. That was the most annoying clip albeit the cast is attractive. Overall, I think the schedule looks good.

  • BereniceAndrea May 15, 2014

    I'll watch Selfie because Karen Gillian &3.
    So it actually doesn't look that bad, made me laugh. We'll see...

  • ben45tpy May 15, 2014

    So ABC rates Black-ish so much that it's giving it the same treatment as Super Fun Night and Mixology? Hmm.

  • americanwoman May 14, 2014

    Why all the hate for Selfie? I know that it does bear some superficial similarities to Super Fun Night, but the difference is that it doesn't seem like it's trying so hard. Sure, it looks trashy but at least it looks FUNNY, which is more than I can say for the majority of the comedies that debuted last season. Besides, from what I've seen on Oculus, Karen Gillan's American accent is actually pretty decent.

  • wudntulik2know Jun 27, 2014

    Because people who take selfies are morons and idiots.

    That was simple.

  • rye06p May 14, 2014

    Fresh off the Boat looks great!

  • DrSpongejr May 14, 2014

    Sometimes I think ABC purposely picks up bad series for shits and giggles.

  • JT_Kirk May 14, 2014

    Tim, it's "Karen Gillan", not "Gillam".

  • JT_Kirk May 14, 2014

    The thing about Tuesdays is that it is soft for comedy, people looking for a break from drama and reality may find it, but NOT THOSE 2 SHOWS! Holy shit, what audience are they expecting with those, women who hate themselves and also like shrill tv?

    ABC definitely doesn't have a tentpole new series for the season, you called that.

    I bet you that "Fresh Off the Boat" will turn viewers off with that divisive title and lackluster focus, while "Cristela" will just disappear quickly a la "Made in Jersey".

    Ethnic people are part of our culture, it's not "multi-cutural television" when they're all Americans*.

    Selfie looked really bad, but Gillan's accent was so mangled I wasn't entirely sure she wasn't just doing her Scottish accent.

    I haven't liked Trophy Wife at all, I keep getting roped into watching it with family and it keeps being bad, so if Fresh Off the Boat is winning its award then I'll avoid it too.

    * - I realize "Fresh Off the Boat" does count as a different culture but it's still wrong-headed to treat multi-ethnic as multi-cultural, you could use that argument to say a show set in Wisconsin is a different culture than one set in New York even if the cast were all white people... oh, sorry Happy Days and Friends.

  • JT_Kirk May 14, 2014

    Ok, Fresh Off the Boat does look funny, but the title and the fact that I've seen 2 articles on this site saying it's a Taiwanese family and then it's a Vietnamese family, and then the suggestion is that they're "fresh off the boat" from Asia only they're not, they're from DC most recently, suggest it's going to get lost due to a muddled message and divisive title.

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