ABC will introduce only two new series in the fall, one of them scripted, in a schedule the network admits was severely affected by the 100-day TV writers strike.
The new David E. Kelley-produced drama, “Life on Mars,” is about a police detective transported back to 1973. ABC gave it a plum Thursday time slot following “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The second new series, “Opportunity Knocks,” is a game where producers show up at a home with a truckload of prizes and quiz family members on what they know about each other.
ABC is also picking up the NBC comedy “Scrubs” for midseason. ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson, who has feuded with his NBC counterpart Ben Silverman, noted Tuesday that the comedy had 17 different time slots at NBC and received little promotion.
McPherson has been bold in the past in bringing forward new shows: ABC had eight last fall. But the strike impaired development. ABC has 17 series in development for midseason or beyond, but McPherson said he wasn’t comfortable committing to new series unless pilots had been filmed.
“If you needed a ton of development for the fall schedule, the strike would have been a really bad bet,” he said. “You’d have to rush it or put stuff on before you knew what it was.”
The result is another chance for series that in normal years may not have gotten one, such as “Eli Stone,” “Pushing Daisies” or “Dirty Sexy Money.” Some longer-running shows considered on the bubble, “Boston Legal” and “According to Jim,” were kept in production.
“Lost” will be back in midseason next year.
It was a good day for Ashton Kutcher, too. His production company is behind “Opportunity Knocks” and an untitled beauty pageant picked up for midseason. ABC also gave a midseason go-ahead to a Mike Judge animated series, “The Goode Family,” about people obsessed with doing the right thing.
“Notes From the Underbelly,” “Men in Trees,” “October Road” and “Women’s Murder Club” were left off ABC’s schedule.
Broadcast networks will need to make a special effort this fall to counter lingering effects of the strike, he said. ABC plans to devote more promotional time than it normally does to returning shows instead of new series, he said.
“We certainly saw the affect of the strike,” McPherson said. “People found other things to do.”