Stephen McPherson is effusive about the new series ABC will be unveiling later today at the annual upfront presentation. The key word for the ABC dramas this year is "procedural". Having been burned by several serialized shows last season (The Nine, Six Degrees, Daybreak) ABC needed to find shows with close ended stories in the vein of House M.D. or CSI. McPherson noted that the networks may have been asking viewers to commit to too many serialized shows last season, which resulted in many good quality shows to fall victim to low ratings. "It's a Golden Age of Drama," McPherson noted and went on to note that even good quality shows like The Nine had a tough time in such a content rich environment. Of course, ABC did try to develop some procedurals over the last two season, but with very little success.
Notes about the comedies:
Cavemen - if it was just about the Geico cavemen, it wouldn't work. Exec producer from 3rd Rock from the Sun has come on board.
Miss/Guided - From Ashton Kutcher. No matter where you are, you are still in high school. A woman goes back to high school as a guidance counselor.
Sam I Am - Christina Applegate stars. Single camera, fun romantic comedy.
Carpoolers - Bruce McCullough of The Kids in the Hall is behind this show about men who drive carpool and enjoy spending time together on their daily commute.
Other general notes from the Q & A:
- Tuesday and Wednesday are a big focus for ABC this year.
- Lost is a better 9 or 8 PM show. The numbers aren't down at all. Live plus seven ratings are the same, more people are using DVRs now. Lost will air 16 episodes uninterrupted in the spring.
- People didn't show up for the serialized dramas last year, but the shows that hit last year were escapist in some way or another. The Nine" was not escapism where Ugly Betty and Heroes were. There's a shift in the viewer right now as to what they "thirst for".
- How will ABC handle promotional efforts for so many new shows? Not all of these shows premiere in the fall at the same time. Certain shows will be priorities, but ABC feels they have the assets to launch new shows.
- Geico will discontinue cavemen ads once show airs to avoid rights issues of the characters.
- Pilot testing process needs to improve. McPherson is hoping to use the internet more in the future to tap into audiences and get immediate feedback on new shows.
- McPherson says he would have loved to have gotten Scrubs for ABC, but he's happy it is going on another year at NBC.