In the fall ABC is counting on a TV spinoff from last summer's hit movie "The Avengers" to help launch a new Tuesday night lineup and "Dancing With the Stars" will drop to one night a week, incorporating its results show into a two-hour Monday telecast.
"We want to focus it in and we think by taking the results show and building it into a two-hour block it will create a sense of occasion," said ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "Dancing" also suffered from an aging audience profile this past season and Mr. Lee said "Dancing" producers will "focus on casting that can help us age it down."
Mr. Lee describes the network's new Tuesday lineup, beginning with "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." leading into two comedies, as a "power pack of four-quadrant crowd pleasers." Translation: A four-quadrant show has a broad reach that encompasses viewers of all stripes: young, old, male, female.
On other nights, ABC will remain focused on its female viewers, including Thursday where a "Once Upon a Time" spinoff will kick off what Mr. Lee described as "a night of women's empowerment."
"The Neighbors" moves from Wednesday night to Friday. Sitcom "Suburgatory" and reality competitions "The Bachelor" and "The Taste" will return at midseason.
NBC gets bashed the most among commercial broadcasters for its terrible ratings but ABC is actually worse off in the advertiser-friendly ages 18-49 demographic this season, ranking fourth behind CBS, Fox and NBC. But with ABC there's a sense that the network knows what its audience is. NBC seems to be throwing a variety of shows against the wall in hopes that something sticks; ABC stays on brand. Mr. Lee touted the network's demographic strength in upscale households and among women 18-49.
"We really believe we're building this smart, strong, sophisticated, emotional brand and this year we're starting to add some other pieces that can help us on Thursday and on Tuesday with 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' and 'Once,' " Mr. Lee said. "You build these networks step by step and we really feel we're building it in absolutely the right direction."
Mr. Lee talked of grouping some new and returning shows in 12-episode batches in an attempt to eliminate reruns. ABC also announced a new "Toy Story" special, "Toy Story of Terror," featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and more of the film cast. It's expected to air in October.
ABC canceled "Body of Proof," "Happy Endings," "How to Live With Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life)," "Malibu Country" and "Red Widow," which join the previously departed "666 Park Avenue," "Don't Trust the B----- in Apartment 23," "Last Resort," "Private Practice" and "Zero Hour." "Body of Proof" may have some life left in it. Deadline.com reports ABC Studios is shopping the series to cable outlets, including TNT, USA and even WGN America, which reportedly is interested in offering original programming along with its current diet of off-network reruns.
Here's ABC's fall schedule, with new series in bold:
8 p.m.: "Dancing With the Stars."
10 p.m.: "Castle."
8 p.m.: "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.": "Avengers" director Joss Whedon executive produces this action-adventure drama with Jeffrey Bell ("Angel") and Jeph Loeb ("Smallville"). Clark Gregg reprises his role as Agent Phil Coulson from the Marvel feature films as Coulson, who appeared to die in "The Avengers," assembles agents from assorted law enforcement agencies to investigate the new, the strange and the unknown. Former Pittsburgher Ming-Na Wen ("ER") also stars.
9 p.m.: "The Goldbergs": A "Wonder Years"-type family story set in the 1980s as chronicled by a geeky 11-year-old (Sean Giambrone) armed with a video camera. Wendi McClendon-Covey ("Bridesmaids"), Jeff Garlin ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and George Segal ("Just Shoot Me") star.
9:30 p.m.: "Trophy Wife": A reformed party girl (Malin Akerman) becomes the third wife of Pete (Bradley Whitford) and must deal with her three new stepchildren and his two ex-wives.
10 p.m.: "Lucky 7": Seven gas station co-workers chip in to buy lottery tickets that could change their lives. Matt Long ("Private Practice") stars.
8 p.m.: "The Middle."
8:30 p.m.: "Back in the Game": An all-star softball player who's now a single mom (Maggie Lawson) moves in with her estranged father (James Caan) and then starts coaching a team of misfit players that includes her son.
9 p.m.: "Modern Family."
9:30 p.m.: "Super Fun Night": Rebel Wilson ("Pitch Perfect") stars as a junior lawyer whose career success is getting in the way of her weekly night out with friends. Ms. Wilson wrote the pilot and executive produces the series with Conan O'Brien.
10 p.m.: "Nashville."
8 p.m.: "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland": The producers of "Once Upon a Time" explore the "Alice in Wonderland" story through Alice (Sophie Lowe), who lives in Victorian England when she's not exploring a strange new land on the other side of a rabbit hole. John Lithgow stars as the White Rabbit.
9 p.m.: "Grey's Anatomy."
10 p.m.: "Scandal."
8 p.m.: "Last Man Standing."
8:30 p.m.: "The Neighbors."
9 p.m.: "Shark Tank."
10 p.m.: "20/20."
8 p.m.: "Saturday Night College Football."
7 p.m.: "America's Funniest Home Videos."
8 p.m.: "Once Upon a Time."
9 p.m.: "Revenge."
10 p.m.: "Betrayal": A soap about a twisted family made more twisted by a murder. Stuart Townsend, Wendy Moniz ("The Guardian"), James Cromwell ("Babe") and Henry Thomas ("E.T.") star.
"Killer Women": Tricia Helfer ("Battlestar Galactica") stars as the first woman to join the Texas Rangers. She's also in the midst of a divorce from her smarmy husband (Jeffrey Nordling) and getting steamy with a DEA agent (Marc Blucas).
"Mind Games": Brothers Clark (Steve Zahn) and Ross (Christian Slater) are partners in an agency that solves clients' problems using psychological manipulation. Former professor Clark is bipolar; Ross is a con man. The drama series is written and executive produced by Kyle Killen, the writer behind "Lone Star" and "Awake."
"Resurrection": The dead rise in Arcadia, Mo., including an 8-year-old boy who wakes up in rural China only to return home to discover 30 years have passed since his "death." Omar Epps ("House"), Kurtwood Smith ("That '70s Show") and Frances Fisher ("Titanic") star in this drama from writer Aaron Zelman ("Damages," "The Killing").
"Mixology": Ten singles gather at a trendy Manhattan bar hoping to find love and friendship in this comedy that stars Sarah Bolger ("The Tudors," "Locke & Key"), Vanessa Lengies ("Glee") and Blake Lee ("Parks and Recreation").
"The Quest": Reality competition from producers of "The Amazing Race" that sends 12 contestants into the fantasy world Everealm.
PBS slots 'Downton'
"Downton Abbey" fans take note: The show's fourth season will premiere on PBS's "Masterpiece Classic" Jan. 5 and will run for eight weeks.
The third season of "Call the Midwife" will air on PBS sometime in 2014.
A new PBS drama, "Last Tango in Halifax," will debut Sept. 8. It stars Derek Jacobi ("The King's Speech") and Anne Reid ("Upstairs, Downstairs") as childhood sweethearts who fall in love again after their respective spouses die.
TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.