ABC does Tuesday morning quarterbacking

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LOS ANGELES--As Ricky Ricardo might say, "ABC, you got some 'splaining to do!"

After a resurgent 2004 season, in which the network launched Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and Lost, ABC took a chance in 2005 with two expensive dramas that didn't pan out: Commander in Chief, the big-budget series about Geena Davis as the first female US president, and Invasion, the sci-fi serial about aliens coming to take over the earth via Florida.

Network president Stephen McPherson answered questions Tuesday at the TV Critic's Association summer press tour, being held in Pasadena. When asked what he thought went wrong with Chief, McPherson said if he did it again, he would do it all differently.

"We would definitely do it over," he said. "What we would do is bring it on later in the season and let [show creator] Rod [Lurie] prep for it longer than he had a chance to...He was the voice of that show. I think the week-to-week production of a series was a real education to him...if we had gotten out ahead of it, we would have been able to deliver a show week to week."

McPherson defended Desperate Housewives, which received a flogging this past season from fans and TV critics alike. He bristled at the notion that Housewives had suffered a "creative collapse."

"I completely disagree about a creative collapse. I think that's really overstating it," he said. "What has changed this year is that Tom Spezialy has left...and [show creator] Marc Cherry has taken over 100 percent. The early scripts and the arcs and the mystery are...a lot stronger from the get-go. I think everyone admitted that last year [the show] stumbled a little bit, but now [all stories] will be going through Marc's typewriter. It's going to get back tonally to more of a wicked comedy."

This season, Daybreak features a story that builds upon itself, wherein a man (Taye Diggs) must relive the same day over and over, one day per episode for 13 episodes. The Nine, starring Kim Raver from 24, and Six Degrees, from Lost creator JJ Abrams, both follow groups of people whose stories unfold throughout the season.

The network head explained ABC's thinking behind airing so many serialized shows, which typically have a hard time drawing in new viewers, who feel they have missed too much if they don't watch early on.

"We went with the best shows we had. Serialized dramas certainly present some challenges," he admitted. “You've got to explain that people can join along the way. I think you saw that in the second season of Lost--there were a number of people who thought the train had left the station."

He went on to discuss the failure of one high-profile serialized drama, Invasion. The alien series was put into the time slot behind Lost last fall and never produced the numbers the network wanted.

"We really liked the show. Shaun [Cassidy, creator] continued to improve that show. There were some brilliant performances in it. But we could just not get a large audience off it," McPherson said. "We really believed in it. It came down to the wire."

None of ABC's new comedies, such as the Salma Hayek-produced telenovella remake Ugly Betty and the Ted Danson semiscripted Help Me Help You, feature laugh tracks. Additionally, all of them are single camera, as opposed to the traditional sitcom style of multiple cameras on a studio set.

McPherson said that the genre is so tapped-out, it's time to try anything new.

"We feel like the same old same old is not working, so the traditional three-camera, couch-in-the-middle sitcom just didn't seem to be breaking out...there weren't great voices [like] Tim Allen or Roseanne Barr," he said. "I think comedy is risky right now because it's kind of broken, and I think that's a great thing [because] people are taking chances."

ABC hopes to reap risk-taking rewards beginning September 8.

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At the moment Hillary deceided to run for presidency, the pass-away of that serie was imminent. It would be very cheap TV-time for Hillary.
Very unfortunate for us. We have to suffer now.

I MISS MY MADAM PRESIDENT!!! Please bring it back...
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It really sucks that Chief was canceled. I loved it. Truthfully, I think it was canceled because a woman is running for president and the powers that be didn't want to give people any ideas. Personally, I don't know if I will vote for Clinton or not...but I hate that my show got taken off the air.
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Invasion was a great show, I had to stay up late to watch it. Please bring it back. Maybe an earlier time slot.
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You would think with espn taking Monday night football, Nbc having nascar and your best talk shows being on both of those networks, abc would want something in primetime to boost ratings? Why then would they cancel a show that they say was a great show? I believe in giving it a fair chance. One season is not enough to determine that invasion was not going to be a hit. You left us hanging! What if Dallas would have left you hanging on who shot J.R. umm
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So does this mean that invasion got canned? It had such nice ratings. Wasn't it in the top 10?
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I was hoping invasion would stay
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Invasion didn't work because it became horribley cliched and familiar in the latter half. I turned off pretty much guessing how it would turn out. Networks really need to cut their shows' runs down by several episodes. It's the only way they can go now.
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Invasion was the best new show in a loooooooong time, next to Prison Break. Yet they rip it off the air for What About Brian. Looking at the ratings for last year, Invasion was the 60th show, brian was somewhere around 150. I just do not get that reasoning, especially when you are going to replace it with a shows that will certainly fail (I'm looking at you Six Degrees, rip-off). ABC was so great last year, this year belongs to NBC with all of their very innventive new shows.
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creative nosedive is more like it for desperate housewives. i'm never watching that show again.
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