ABC’s last-minute pickup of Roseanne last spring shook up the network’s comedy pilot field, leading to fewer new series orders than initially projected — The Mayor, which landed on the fall schedule, and Splitting Up Together and Alex, Inc., which were held for midseason.
This time around, the surprise cancellation of Roseanne a couple of weeks after ABC unveiled its 2018-2018 schedule could have the opposite effect, possibly giving a comedy pilot that did not make the cut to series a second chance.
ABC executives reportedly spent the day today in scheduling meetings discussing various scenarios for its Tuesday fall lineup without the 8 PM anchor (and the network’s highest-rated series), Roseanne.
I hear among the possibilities in consideration for filling in the hole is bringing in The Goldbergs spinoff series, Schooled, the only comedy series ABC has on the bench for midseason, for a fall launch. Additionally, I hear ABC is considering picking up one of the comedy pilots that came close to a series order. Getting strong buzz is Steps, starring Ginnifer Goodwin. Revolving around four adults in three houses raising three kids after two divorces — together — Steps is said to be similar to the ordered-to-series Single Parents, which had been among the reasons for it not getting a series order despite being an internal favorite alongside frontrunners Single Parents and The Kids Are Alright. I hear Steps could be tweaked if its scores a series pickup. Another ABC comedy pilot in consideration is Untitled Justin Noble, starring Kat Dennings. It is a workplace comedy as is Schooled. (All other ABC half-hours are family comedies.) Additionally, ABC is in negotiations for The Middle spinoff starring the series’ standout Eden Sher, which could be a potential player for midseason.
But replacing Roseanne is a lot more than plugging a hole on the schedule. It was ABC’s most prized asset as evidenced by the network’s upfront presentation, which was dominated by numerous mentions of the show whose star Roseanne Barr opened the event. ABC will need to come up with a new fall schedule — and it needs to do it fast — without its biggest series to sell to advertisers at the upfront market, which is about to start. I hear a decision is expected by Friday.
Roseanne had revitalized ABC’s previously sluggish Tuesday night and had been tapped to launch a new comedy series, the 1970s-set The Kids Are Alright, with black-ish in its new-ish Tuesday 9 PM tentpole position, leading to sophomore Splitting up Together and freshman comedic drama The Rookie starring Nathan Fillion. Besides possibly adding a new half-hour series, the network will likely reshuffle the schedule as it needs a strong new Tuesday 8 PM anchor. (The easiest solution if Schooled is moved to fall would be for The Goldbergs spinoff to follow the mothership series in the Wednesday 8:30 PM, with American Housewife, which is slated for that time slot, moving to Tuesdays 8 PM.)
There is no expectation to move ABC’s signature comedy, Modern Family, from its long-time Wednesday 9 PM perch where it is being used as a launch pad for another new series, Single Parents. I also hear there has been no talk about relocating one or both of former Tuesday-Wednesday comedy series, Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless, which have been tasked with reopening a third ABC comedy block on Friday.
Since ABC already had way more comedies on the fall schedule than any other network — eight including Roseanne — it is possible that the network could drop an hour of comedies — Roseanne and another half-hour series — in favor for a drama or an unscripted series. That would mean holding a series currently on the schedule for midseason. A newcomer or Splitting Up Together would be easiest options as they have 13-episode orders.
ABC has three new drama series on the bench for midseason it could try to summon for fall, The Fix, Whiskey Cavalier and Grand Hotel. Additionally, hourlong pilot False Profits got an order for additional scripts and extended the options of its cast for midseason consideration. Its chances may have been boosted today by Roseanne‘s cancellation.
If nothing else, ABC could always take up Bryan Fuller on his offer to fill Roseanne‘s time slot with a Pushing Daisies revival.