Well, the fall television season is once
again in full swing. FOX is just now unveiling its fall schedule,
and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the many hours of new
programming from the four major networks. In recent years, ABC has
been the last to make its mark on a fall season, or for that
matter, even make one at all. This year, however, is a new season,
a new set of shows and a new ABC — one that has once again
found its place in the television world.

Angela Cesere

The last couple years have been rough for the alphabet. The
other networks all found their identities. You had FOX (the young
and trashy network), NBC (the network with the established sitcoms
and dramas) and CBS (the network with the shows a lot of old people
watch and “CSI”). What was ABC? The network that had
Drew Carey as its biggest star? The network with no good shows
except on Sunday nights? Something needed to be done.

That’s not to say ABC hasn’t tried to fix its woes
in the past. It tried a variety of different strategies (remember
Dennis Miller on “Monday Night Football?”), even
bringing back the TGIF Friday lineup last year. This idea was a
prime example of what was wrong with the network. The original
TGIF, which started in the early ’90s and continued
throughout the decade, was solid and dependable. Anchored by such
family-oriented fare as “Family Matters,” “Boy
Meets World” and later “Sabrina the Teenage
Witch,” viewers could count on two solid hours of harmless
entertaining sitcoms each week. Sure it was a little too
goodie-goodie, but it was fun nonetheless. The 2003 reincarnation,
with programs such as “The George Lopez Show” and
“Hope and Faith,” was geared more for the adult
audience and, even now, still has trouble finding the balance
between pushing the envelope and still being funny.

Even when ABC had a monstrous hit, they didn’t know what
to do with it. Case in point: “Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire?” At first, ABC played it right, only bringing
out the wildly popular game show when the timing was perfect. But
then the network dropped the ball by getting greedy and
overexposing the show (obviously never realizing that nobody could
stand Regis Philbin four nights a week), proving that too much of a
good thing can be bad, even in television.

Needless to say, when this current fall season first began, I
was a bit skeptical. “The Practice” had ended and
“NYPD Blue” was going into its last season. What did
ABC have left? Fortunately, they decided to try something
different, and so far, it has paid off wonderfully. This time, when
bringing back an old idea, they did it right. “Boston
Legal,” a relative of “The Practice” has done
quite well in its Sunday night time slot, as ABC is proudly
proclaiming it the No. 1-rated new law drama of the season. Of
course, it’s probably the only new law drama of the season,
but all kidding aside, the show is definitely worthwhile.

ABC’s true return to respectability can be found in their
two new hit series “Lost” and “Desperate
Housewives.” Each has excellent qualities. “Desperate
Housewives” delivers laughs and a dark comedic intrigue,
while “Lost” grabs the viewer by the throat and keeps
him totally captivated. The dynamic duo has been given a full
season order and, when joined by the surprisingly touching
“Wife Swap,” gives ABC the arsenal of shows needed to
be competitive among the other major networks once again.

Sure, ABC still has its share of bad programs. But what network
doesn’t? All that really matters is that it now has an
identity as the network that’s on the upswing. People are
watching ABC’s shows again. “Desperate
Housewives” even beat “C.S.I.” one week in the
ratings as the most watched show in America. That’s all the
network needed. We viewers are getting programs we like.
That’s all we needed. So good job, ABC. You’ve got us
interested again.

Just please, no more Regis.

 

— Doug is planning on rejuvinating the TGIF line-up by
infusing it with more Urkel and Tanners than ever before. E-mail to
help him at
“mailto:dwernert@umich.edu”>dwernert@umich.edu.

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