One of the more confounding scheduling decisions any network made during upfront season was ABC’s scheduling of the new comedy “The Neighbors” on Wednesdays at 9:30. The timeslot after “Modern Family” is the best launching pad ABC can give a new sitcom -though the results have been mixed at best in the past for “Cougar Town,” “Mr. Sunshine,” “Happy Endings” and more – and it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t work at ABC with many kind things to say about the pilot for “The Neighbors.” Clips of the show – starring Lenny Venito and Jamie Gertz as parents who move their family into a gated community where all the neighbors are secretly aliens – bombed in front of advertisers at the network’s fall schedule announcement, and early critical buzz has been rough, with many in the industry speculating on how many weeks ABC would leave the show in such a good slot before admitting defeat.
Instead, it appears ABC has accepted the inevitable and is going to put a different, better show after Phil, Claire and the gang. As first reported by Deadline, and confirmed to me by a source close to the show, ABC has decided to put “Suburgatory” on at 9:30 and try “The Neighbors” in the old “Suburgatory” slot at 8:30.
“Suburgatory” had a very strong debut season, and while it seemed a good match in the 8 o’clock hour with “The Middle,” it feels like the best possible match with “Modern Family” of all the other comedies ABC currently has in its inventory. And if there’s going to be an audience that likes “The Neighbors,” it’ll likely be little kids who think people who turn into squishy green aliens are cool – and those kids won’t be watching at 9:30 p.m.