By Alan Pergament
Olivia Pope or Raymond "Red" Reddington?
That will be your choice in February of 2015 when ABC's "Scandal" with Kerry Washington as Pope and James Spader as Reddington in NBC's "The Blacklist" are scheduled to compete head-to-head at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Two days after NBC announced that it would be moving "The Blacklist" to 9 p.m. Thursdays in February, ABC announced that it is moving "Scandal" to the same time period this fall to give a new series produced by Shonda Rhimes, "How to Get Away with Murder," the 10 p.m. slot that "Scandal" has occupied. "Murder" stars Academy Award nominee Viola Davis as a law professor in a series that features another strong female character, who from clips shown to advertisers, appears to be as confident as Olivia Pope.
There aren't many very popular TV dramas these days, so it's a shame that apparently two will be competing against each other unless one of the networks blinks.
However, the moves take into account the new reality of TV these days -- that about half of the prime time viewership of series is watched by people who watch later via On Demand, DVR or some other secondary device.
In other words, whichever show loses the head-to-head battle is bound to get a high secondary viewership anyway.
That reasoning also might be behind ABC's decision to move the still very popular Rhimes series, "Grey's Anatomy," to 8 p.m. Thursday to lead into "Scandal." It can be difficult to get big audiences for 8 p.m. series, which actually play at 7 p.m. in certain areas of the country.
ABC probably believes any "Anatomy" viewing losses will be made up on secondary viewing.
ABC isn't only moving "Scandal" next season. It also is moving this year's comedy success, "The Goldbergs," to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, where it is sandwiched between the popular "The Middle" at 8 p.m. and "Modern Family" at 9 p.m.
And this year's rookie drama success, "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," is moving to 9 p.m. Tuesday, the night where ABC is premiering three of its six new fall shows.
The network is opening Tuesday night with two new comedies aimed at young adults, "Selfie," and "Manhattan Love Story." From the brief clips shown to advertisers, "Selfie," a modern-take on "My Fair Lady," looks to be the more promising one. At 10 p.m., ABC is premiering a new drama, "Forever," about a medical examiner who can't die starring Ioan Gruffudd of the "Fantastic Four." Alana DeLa Garza of "Law & Order") co-stars as a detective trying to help the medical examiner learn why he can't die.
ABC's other new fall shows are two family comedies that illustrate its commitment to diversity. "Black-ish," which stars Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne, airs at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after "Modern Family." As described in Bill Carter's story about new Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore carried in Tuesday's Buffalo News, "Black-ish" is "about a successful African-American dad worried about his kids losing touch with their culture." Wilmore is the showrunner until he leaves to host "The Minority Report" next year when it replaces "The Colbert Report" after "The Daily Show." The other new comedy, "Cristela," stars Cristela Alonzo as a high-energy sixth-year law student and unpaid legal intern from a Mexican-American family. It airs at 8:30 p.m. Friday after Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing."
While Allen's series survived,the freshman comedy "Trophy Wife" was among ABC's cancellations. "Resurrection," which has become a Sunday hit, joins "S.H.I.E.L.D" as a drama from the current season getting a second season.
From the clips shown to advertisers, ABC' has several interesting series that will arrive in midseason. Among them is a series from Buffalo-born screenwriter Christopher Markus and Steve McFeely, "Marvel's Agent Carter," that is set in 1946.