In the age of DVRs, On Demand, Hulu and other options for DIY TV scheduling, timeslots matter less than they used to, but they still matter. Enough people still watch TV passively, leaving the same channel on after their favorite, that a show no one cares about like “The Millers” can be renewed entirely because it's paired with a monster like “The Big Bang Theory,” while it's miraculous to see a new show succeed (or even survive) without a good lead-in.
That's why it was so maddening to watch ABC's scheduling decisions this season, and the way they have apparently led to the cancellations of both the very good “Trophy Wife” and the awful “Mixology.” (ABC isn't confirming anything yet, but actors from both shows tweeted about the cancellations last night.)
In the five seasons ABC has been lucky enough to have “Modern Family” as one of its hits, the network has struggled to find a compatible show to pair it with. “Happy Endings” and “Don't Trust the (Buffalo) in Apt. 23” had little in common with the adventures of Jay, Gloria and friends, “Cougar Town” and “Suburgatory” were both probably too weird despite their suburban family elements, and “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)” just wasn't very good.
Last spring, ABC ordered a pair of new family comedies in “The Goldbergs” and “Trophy Wife” that seemed like more suitable “MF” companions. Instead, both were assigned to Tuesdays, as part of a foolhardy attempt to build a night of entirely new programming on the assumption that “Marvel's Agents of SHIELD” would provide enormous coattails for the other rookies to ride, and the Wednesday 9:30 timeslot went to “Super Fun Night,” a lousy comedy with nothing in common with “Modern Family,” but which got the best position because Rebel Wilson is allegedly a star.
And after that show inevitably failed, while both “Goldbergs” and (especially) “Trophy Wife” were struggling after the underwhelming “SHIELD,” did ABC's Paul Lee think to try one or the other of them on Wednesdays? Or put both there, one after “The Middle” and one after “Modern Family”? Nope. Instead, Lee scheduled the hideous “Mixology,” whose only elements in common with “Modern Family” were that both are half-hour programs featuring carbon-based life forms. (This would again be a good time to revisit the Angry Dan review of “Mixology,” or to watch Dan's rant on this week's Firewall & Iceberg Show about the possibility of ABC renewing it.) “Mixology” was produced by Ryan Seacrest, and its creators helped write “The Hangover,” so it got the benefit of the doubt, and proceeded to squander as much of the “Modern Family” lead-in as all the other shows before it had.
Meanwhile, you had “Trophy Wife,” a show that was both very funny at times (particularly whenever the action involved either Albert Tsai as the relentlessly cheerful Bert or Ryan Lee as goofy Warren) and seemed to have been created in a lab as an experiment to make the most compatible show possible with “Modern Family,” and it was just dying on Tuesdays. There's no guarantee it would have done any better on Wednesdays than “Mixology” or the rest – the title was a big turn-off (the American TV-watching public isn't so wild about ironic titles), and at this point “Modern Family” may be one of those shows like “Lost” or “Breaking Bad” where the core audience only wants to watch it and has no interest in what comes after – but “Mixology” clearly wasn't working, and any reasonable thinker would have to take a shot on either that or “Goldbergs,” right?
Instead, both “Mixology” and “Trophy Wife” are allegedly dead, with more casualties to come later today. Most new TV shows fail. It's just the nature of the business. But this was a case (like “Enlisted” on FOX) of a show that was given absolutely no chance to succeed.
Check the bar below for all of Dan's stories about ABC's other renewal and pick-up decisions last night, and buckle up for a lot more news of this nature today. (“Community” fans might want to brace themselves, just in case NBC decides it's not interested in fulfilling the #SixSeasonsAndAMovie hashtag.)
UPDATE: ABC has also apparently canceled “The Neighbors.”