For the third time, Shonda Rhimes will have three shows airing on ABC, but for the first time ever, all three will air back-to-back-to-back. Yes, Thursdays become ShondaNight (trademark pending) as Grey's Anatomy shifts to 8 p.m., Scandal moves to 9 p.m., and How to Get Away with Murder bows at 10 p.m.
"[Rhimes] is one of the greatest voices on television and you've seen us stumble at that 8 p.m. hour," ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee said of the big Thursday night switch in a conference call with the press shortly after the 2014–2015 schedule was released. The plan is to use the monster success of Scandal to "drive into and lead out to How to Get Away with Murder," Rhimes' new series starring Viola Davis.
And Lee isn't worried about moving Grey's back to 8 p.m. for its 11th (yes, 11th) season either. "We really think Grey's is such a strong show. It has such a built-in audience. The audience loves it… We feel very confident in it," Lee added. There was concern from some journalists about the adult content Grey's offers airing at the earlier hour, where it once lived. "We have no doubts that Grey's is going to play great at 8 so that's really not an issue," Lee said. "We're going to make sure that what we air is appropriate."
As far as the network's new content goes, Lee said ABC took a new approach. "We actually went out and approached some of the strongest voices and best storytellers in the world," he noted. "And we said, 'Bring us your passion projects.' And I really don't think they disappointed," Lee continued, citing midseason drama American Crime from John Ridley as a prime example. Lee called the show, which will replace Resurrection after it finishes its 15 or 16-episode run, "a very big swing for ABC."
The network is also diversifying with three of its new comedies: Black-ish and Cristela, which will debut in the fall, and Fresh Off the Boat, which will hold until midseason. "We really wanted to reflect the changing face of America," Lee said. Of Fresh Off the Boat, specifically, he added: "It's really sizzling. It's a very, very, very distinctive voice. We really do think ABC reflects the new face of America."
Meanwhile, the network isn't doubling up on Marvel shows as Agent Carter, which Lee called a "S.H.I.E.L.D. origin story," will serve as bridge programming between the fall finale and winter premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which Lee referred to as a "self-starter." "It took a little bit of time to find our sea legs, but the back nine of shield are really excellent," he admitted. "We feel good about it."
Also bridging a gap is the medieval musical Galavant, which will air while Once Upon a Time is on hiatus. "We thought it'd be a really fun idea to do a half-hour musical," Lee said of Galavant, which he said is "totally adorable."
A few other notable details:
• Black-ish, starring Anthony Anderson scored the post-Modern Family time slot, which has been less of a blessing and more of a curse for the last few shows that resided there (Super Fun Night, Happy Endings, Don't Trust the B*tch in Apt 23).
• Given Shark Tank's killer ratings, many wondered if ABC would test the reality show in a new time slot, but it will stay on Fridays, where it routinely wins the night. Dancing with the Stars and Castle, a proven Monday night draw, are also staying put.
• Lee was also very confident in The Goldbergs' move from Tuesdays to Wednesdays. He said he believes it was "the best comedy of the year this year" and thinks it's "perfectly positioned to stay on the network for a really long time."
• Critics were devastated by the loss of freshman comedy Trophy Wife and Lee admitted he too "was sad to see it go." "It was a really great show and we certainly gave it a lot of promotion in a whole lot of different ways, but in the end, I'm sorry it didn't come back," he added.
• But! There is good news for Revenge fans: After finally finding its footing again in Season 3, the show will get a full fourth season. "The showrunners had a great idea of how we can just give it a little twist and reset the story," Lee noted.
The full schedule is at the bottom of the story, and the new shows are now arranged in night-of-the-week order.
Selfie (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)
Manhattan Love Story (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.)
Forever (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)
Black-ish (Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.)
How to Get Away with Murder (Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
Cristela (Fridays at 8:30 p.m.)
Fresh Off the Boat (Midseason, TBD)
Secrets & Lies (Midseason, TBD)
American Crime (Midseason, TBD)
The Whispers (Midseason, TBD)
Agent Carter (Midseason, TBD)
Galavant (Midseason, TBD)
The Astronaut Wives Club (Midseason, TBD)
Members Only (Midseason, TBD)
8-10 p.m. — Dancing with the Stars
10-11 p.m. — Castle
8-8:30 p.m. — Selfie (new)
8-8:30 p.m. — Manhattan Love Story (new)
9-10 p.m.— Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
10-11 p.m. — Forever (new)
8-8:30 p.m. — The Middle
8:30-9 p.m. — The Goldbergs
9:00-9:30 p.m.— Modern Family
9:30-10 p.m. — Black-ish (new)
10-11 p.m. — Nashville
8-9 p.m.— Grey's Anatomy
9-10 p.m. — Scandal
10-11 p.m. — How to Get Away with Murder (new)
8-8:30 p.m. — Last Man Standing
8:30-9 p.m. — Cristela (new)
9-10 p.m. — Shark Tank
10-11 p.m. — 20/20
8 p.m. — Saturday Night Football
7-8 p.m. — America's Funniest Home Videos
8-9 p.m. — Once Upon a Time
9-10 p.m. — Resurrection
10-11 p.m. — Revenge
This post has been updated to change language originally taken from a press release.