ABC Bisects “Lost,” Mends “Housewives”
What to do when Lost goes missing for 13 weeks next season?
The light you see at the end of that dark hatch is Day Break, the new detective drama ABC will air in Lost’s place until the island mystery returns sometime in February for an uninterrupted run of fresh spring episodes.
Inquiring critics wanted to know why ABC decided to bring Lost back in the fall for six weeks (starting Oct. 4) and then erase it from the winter schedule, rather than air reruns (like chewing gum–you’re still hungry but it provides a quick fix), and then dump the new 2007 installments right into American Idols’ lap.
ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said that his networks’ first priority is taking care of the viewers.
“We’ve just reallyÖlistened to the audience about the repeats, and it felt like this was really the best way to run the show,” McPherson said Tuesday during ABC’s presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. “It’s a very, very difficult show to produce. You know, if we could run 22 straight in the fall, we probably would. But we just can’t get the shows done in that amount of time.
“We’ve seen the shows survive against Idol and do well. We feel like when there are two good shows in a time period, they can both do business.”
One is bound to do better business than the other, though. ABC has already taken a whopper of a calculated risk, moving Grey’s Anatomy from its cushy post-Desperate Housewives spot on Sundays to Thursdays opposite the king of all crime procedurals, CSI. And although Lost has some of the most devoted fans out there, American Idol sucked in twice as many people on Wednesdays this year–an average of 30 million people tuned in for Idol’s weekly elimination shows, while about 15.4 million kept up with Lost.
McPherson blamed the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ new voting system as the reason why Lost–last year’s Outstanding Drama Series–was shut out of the major Emmy categories this year.
“Who wins the Emmys is one thing, but to have that kind of oversight to me is remarkable and it’s sad for a show like that,” McPherson said. “I hope the Academy will look at it and realize that maybe the changes they made aren’t all good and they need to go back to the old system.”
(Grey’s Anatomy, however, pulled in 11 nominations, including top drama, so the new rules can’t be all bad, right?)
But it’s McPherson’s job to appear nonplussed, and he stuck to his guns regarding Lost–“It’s one of the best shows on the air, maybe one of the best shows of all time”–and Grey’s Anatomy, calling it a definite “self-starter” that doesn’t need Desperate Housewives’ lead-in numbers (especially considering the McDreamy medical drama was starting to surpass Housewives both in viewership and in the eyes of critics–hence Grey’s Emmy triumph and Housewives’ disappearing act).
Speaking of Wisteria Lane, the notorious address is hopefully going to return to its darkly comedic roots in the fall now that executive producer Tom Spezialy has flown the coop, leaving creator Marc Cherry 100 percent in charge of running the show.
“The early scripts and the storylines and the arcs and the mystery, I think, are a lot stronger from the get-go” next season, McPherson said, rejecting one critic’s notion that Housewives was suffering from “creative collapse.” The episodes will all be “going through Marc’s typewriterÖI think it’s going to get back a little bit more to the heart of it, which I think tonally was kind of a wicked comedy.”
Despite the increasingly infuriating love triangles, convoluted plotlines, dialogue–well, everything, actually–that tended to characterize Desperate Housewives’ second season, the dramedy finished fourth overall in the Nielsens this year, averaging more than 22 million viewers a week. So, at least from a business standpoint, season three will hit the ground running.
McPherson also remained optimistic about fellow Disney entity Touchstone Television losing J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot TV, to Warner Bros. Although the Lost, Alias and What About Brian? creator is changing studio lots, he will remain devoted to his existing projects.
“He’s going to be fulltime this year on the shows,” including the upcoming Six Degrees, “so that will be a terrific asset for us,” McPherson said. “It’s a shame to lose him from the studio because obviously we have a special connection with in-house, but we have a lot of shows with Warner BrosÖWe look forward to the shows that we have on the air this year.”
Well done ABC!! A 13 week layoff is better than wondering if there will be a new episode every week!
ABC Bisects “Lost,” Mends “Housewives”