Say goodbye to ABC's all-Shonda Thursday lineup – at least until midseason.
Kerry Washington's pregnancy has delayed (and shortened) the next season of Scandal, which means the schedule ABC announced today will be the first in a few years featuring a show not produced by Shonda Rhimes airing on that night in the fall. In this case, it's Notorious with Piper Perabo, one of two new ABC legal dramas whose descriptions in the press release includes the word “sexy,” just in case we weren't clear on the branding.
On the whole, ABC's schedule has many more changes, and more new shows, than either the NBC schedule or FOX schedule announced earlier in upfront week. Among the shifts: with Castle done for, ABC will have a new post-Dancing with the Stars drama – Conviction with Hayley Atwell (the other “sexy” legal show) – for the first time in years; Agents of SHIELD will move to Tuesdays at 10 in an attempt to stop a long ABC losing streak in that timeslot, and expanding the Tuesday comedy bloc (which now imports The Middle from Wednesdays); and a new Kiefer Sutherland drama, Designated Survivor, on Wednesdays in place of the canceled Nashville. And unlike her predecessor Paul Lee, new network entertainment boss Channing Dungey hasn't already plotted out most of the mid-season premieres, perhaps abandoning the “gap” strategy (giving fall shows long mid-season breaks and substituting short-order series) that made sense on paper but led to dire ratings for the likes of Galavant, Agent Carter, and American Crime (on the last of which is returning at some point).
The line-up, night-by-night:
MONDAY: Dancing leads into Conviction, where former Agent Carter star Atwell is a hard-partying former First Daughter who goes to work for a unit that investigates cases suspected of wrongful conviction.
TUESDAY: After years as an unheralded but rock-solid part of the network's Wednesday comedy bloc, The Middle moves here to help launch an expanded one. It's followed by American Housewife, starring Katy Mixon from Mike & Molly and Eastbound and Down, the 9 o'clock duo of Fresh Off the Boat and The Real O'Neals, and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, which only has to do better than Wicked City, Killer Women, Mind Games, Lucky 7, and the many other failures ABC has had in this timeslot in recent seasons.
WEDNESDAY: The Goldbergs slides up to the lead-off position, followed by Speechless, with Minnie Driver as the mother of a special needs kid, then Modern Family and black-ish, and finally Designated Survivor, where Sutherland gets to play the president – albeit one who was a low-level Cabinet member until a devastating attack on Washington moved him to the head of the line of succession – rather than the guy protecting him.
THURSDAY: With Scandal on the bench, Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder will bracket Notorious, “a provocative look at the unique, sexy and dangerous interplay of criminal law and the media.” (Sounds like Scandal minus the politics.)
FRIDAY: Status quo: Last Man Standing, Dr. Ken, Shark Tank, 20/20.
SATURDAY: College football in the fall.
SUNDAY: Also status quo: America's Funniest Home Videos, Once Upon a Time, Secrets and Lies, and Quantico.
New shows set for later in the season include the Rhimes-produced Still Star-Crossed, detailing what happened to the Montagues and Capulets after the events of Romeo and Juliet; Kevin Williamson's adaptation of the movie Time After Time, where H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper time travel to the present; the sitcom Downward Dog, with Fargo star Allison Tolman, told from the point of view of her dog; Jenna Elfman and the voice of Rachel Dratch in Imaginary Mary, a sitcom about a woman whose childhood imaginary friend returns at the worst possible time; and When We Rise, a miniseries about LGBT civil rights from Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
Returning mid-season series beyond Scandal and American Crime include The Catch.