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ABC future looks bright [ - ]
by jasonc_wtbr
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Author: Craig Reiss
Source: Advertising Age
Date | Issue: 01/27/1986 | NA
Topic: Who's the Boss?
Submitted by: mich_l81

ABC future looks bright

By Craig Reiss

Predictions are good fodder only when they are outrageous, farfetched, probably off the mark, but just plausible enough not to be ignored. Here's one for you.

ABC-TV will be back in the ratings battle next season, and could become a ratings contender as early as the 1987-88 season.
There are three primary reasons for this fearless prediction. The first two are the Tartikoff Factor and the Age of the New Viewer.
Brandon Tartikoff, the programing wunderkind of NBC, suffered through the lean years, standing behind a crop of well written shows that slowly built audiences over several rotten seasons. That process, which led to NBC's ultimate victory this year, did two things. It brought traditionally light tv viewers (read: Most desirable demographic category) into network tv to such a degree that the constituency became a ratings force. And it returned quality writing rather than a successful formula to its status as the cornerstone for ratings dominance.

The second factor stems from the first, and that is that with Tartikoff's success at attracting the New Viewer, ABC will not have to go through the long, painstaking task of pulling them into network tv. They are already there. And like all other tv viewers, their loyalty to last year's shows is unproven. There is even the good chance that the New Viewers, who were attracted to NBC shows by their sophistication and made them cult programs, are now disenchanted because the writing, direction and tone of those cult classics are tampered with in order to give them more mass appeal.

The final card in ABC's favor is comedy. Some of the best writing on tv today is in sitcoms and lighthearted mystery/detective genres. ABC has several shows that are already strong enough to turn around a night, or are close.

"Who's the Boss" is one of the best-written sitcoms on the air, and it is even a better vehicle for Tony Danza than was "Taxi." "Growing Pains" almost worked in its original form, and it can be fixed easily. They have to teach the kids better comedy timing and make up their minds to be funny rather than relevant. Those are not insurmountable problems, and ABC has already set about to correct them. The show is a potential winner.
And "Moonlighting," which I earlier predicted would be too complicated for a tv audience and would suffer from Cybill Shepherd's lack of sex appeal (she has those very long, narrow feet that the camera seems determined to show off), has emerged as another cult show. Its audience is ever-loyal and growing.

ABC has other carryovers, such as "Webster," and some struggling but still-promising newcomers such as "Spenser: For Hire" that, while not turning the tables, can keep ABC from sliding backward. These are all legitimate blocks on which to build. Here's one seer who thinks maybe ABC Entertainment president Lew Erlicht was shunted aside too soon.