ABC 2016-17 schedule: The Middle moves, Scandal goes midseason, Kiefer Sutherland gets presidential and more! (VIDEO)

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR - ABC's "Designated Survivor" stars Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

Channing Dungey, Paul Lee’s successor as president of ABC Entertainment, unveiled the network’s 2016-2017 programming slate and lineup today at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall, in New York City.

ABC Upfronts
ABC UPFRONT – May 17, 2016 – The ABC Television Network presents its new lineup for the 2016-2017 season to the advertising and media communities at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in New York City. (ABC/Heidi Gutman)

Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra and Jake McLaughlin led an opening montage that featured the pair grilling the network’s current stars about where “it” begins. It being great entertainment. Which, of course, is ABC. Chopra then appeared in a live song-and-dance number, followed by the requisite network cheerleading from Geri Wang, President of ABC ad sales, and Ben Sherwood, president of ABC/Disney Television Group.

Then Dungey took over, telling the assembly that she has loved television for as long as she remember, and, as a child, would sit in front of the TV and tape-record her favorite shows to tide her over to the next week’s episode.

Dungey called strengthening the network’s 10pm slate a top priority and noted that new shows would be nestled amid tried-and-true favorites to help them find an audience.

The biggest makeover happens on Tuesday nights. Long-time Wednesday night opener The Middle backs up a day, followed by the new comedy American Housewife and fresh timeslots for Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O’Neals and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Here is ABC’s Fall 2016 schedule (Note: all times are ET/PT). New show titles are in bold and descriptions follow.

8pm — “Dancing With the Stars”
10pm — “Conviction”

8pm — “The Middle” (new day)
8:30 pm — “American Housewife”
9pm — “Fresh Off the Boat” (new time)
9:30pm — “The Real O’Neals” (new time)
10pm — “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (new time)

8pm — “The Goldbergs” (new time)
8:30pm — “Speechless”
9pm — “Modern Family”
9:30pm — “black-ish”
10pm — “Designated Survivor”

8pm — “Grey’s Anatomy”
9pm — “Notorious
10pm — “How to Get Away with Murder”  

8pm — “Last Man Standing”
8:30pm — “Dr. Ken”
9pm — “Shark Tank”
10pm — “20/20”

8pm — “Saturday Night Football”

7pm — “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8pm — “Once Upon a Time”
9pm — “Secrets and Lies”
10pm — “Quantico”

Here’s what you can expect from the newbies.

American Housewife
Katie Otto (Mike & Molly’s Katy Mixon, who brings to mind McCarthy more than a little) is the zaftig, snarky wife of Jeff (played by Veep’s Dietrich Bader) and mother to their three quirky kids. The Ottos live in the hoity-toity town of Westport, Connecticut, surrounded by green-juice guzzling, Fit-Bit wearing, flat-bellied mommies and their pampered offspring. As she navigates her way through this perfectly polished landscape, voiceovers reveal Katie’s thoughts about living life as the second fattest housewife in Westport. Johnny Sequoyah, Daniel DiMaggio, Carly Hughes and Ali Wong costar. American Housewife is written by Sarah Dunn (Spin City, Bunheads).

From the folks who brought you The Following, Elementary and Marvel’s Jessica Jones comes this drama about the travails of lawyer and former First Daughter Hayes Morrison (Marvel’s Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell). Smart-mouthed and tough talking, Morrison agrees to work for her suave nemesis, New York District Attorney Wayne Wallis (Eddie Cahill, Under the Dome, CSI: NY), to doing time for cocaine possession and hurting her mother’s Senate campaign in the process. But it’s not all about penance — with just five days to crack each case, Morrison uses her brilliant mind to help Wallis’ team at the new Conviction Integrity Unit right wrongful convictions, while she makes amends with her high-powered political family, too. The Walking Dead fans, take note — Emily Kinney’s in this one, too. Conviction also stars The Following’s Shawn Ashmore, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Merrin Dungey, Manny Montana and Daniel DiTomasso.

Designated Survivor
ABC’s putting a lot of stock in this conspiracy thriller that stars Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Kiefer Sutherland (24) as Tom Kirkman, a lower cabinet member — and the country’s “Designated Survivor” (yes, it’s a thing) — who suddenly becomes president after someone nukes the Capital. Thrust into the challenge of a lifetime, Kirkman struggles to prevent the country — and his own family — from falling into chaos. “I realized I was possibly holding the next decade of my life in my hands,” said the initially skeptical Sutherland, who introduced an extended clip. Californication’s Natascha McElhone, Maggie Q (Nikita), Kal Penn (House, How I Met Your Mother) and Adan Canto (The Following, Blood & Oil) costar. Designated Survivor is created and co-executive produced by David Guggenheim (Safe House).

This one remains a bit of a puzzler, even after the glossy trailer, but what we got from it is that Notorious stars Covert Affairs alum Piper Perabo as Julia and Daniel Sunjata (Grey’s Anatomy, The Dark Knight Rises) as Jake, a go-getter news net producer (her) and a showy lawyer (him) working together to ace cases and ratings. Also they’re flirty best friends, who don’t play by the rules, because that just makes good TV, people.

This one seems chancy at best, and may hit a little too close to home for real life families like the DiMeos (say, mine for example) worried about trivialization. Minnie Driver (About A Boy, Good Will Hunting) stars as Maya DiMeo, a driven — sometimes overdriven (that happens) — mother who will do anything for her husband Jimmy, her kids Ray, Dylan, and eldest son JJ (newcomer Micah Fowler), who uses a wheelchair and assistive speech technology. As Maya fights injustices both real and imagined (that happens, too), the family tries to find the right home and school for everyone, and the right person to give JJ his “voice.” John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory), Mason Cook, Kyla Kennedy and Cedric Yarbrough costar. Scott Silveri (Friends) writes and executive produces, along with Fresh Off the Boat’s Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar.

Dungey also previewed a few of the network’s midseason offerings.

Downward Dog
Based on the web series of the same name, Downward Dog focuses on struggling millennial Nan (Fargo Emmy nominee Allison Tolman) and is told, in part, from the point of view of her neurotic, lonesome dog, Martin. No Wilfred this, Downward Dog’s Martin is a real dog only talks in voiceover to the camera. The clip brought to mind a non-animated The Secret Life of Pets, as the adoring Martin catalogs his busy days spent sleeping, looking out the window and goofing around with his water dish while, he imagines, Nan drives around all day with her head out the window and her hair blowing in the breeze. Lucas Neff, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Barry Rothbart and Mo Collins costar.

Imaginary Mary
It will take much more than a clip to convince me that this comedy could charm without the oddball white, furry, polka-dotted square that is the title character. Jenna Elfman returns to TV as a “hard-charging career woman” who never made time for marriage and a family. When she meets the man of her dreams — who just so happens to be a package deal with his three kids — her imaginary pal suddenly reappears to complicate things.

Still Star-Crossed
ShondaLand goes Shakespearean! Based on the book by Melinda Taud, Still Star-Crossed “picks up where Romeo and Juliet’s tale ends, charting the treachery, palace intrigue and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers’ tragic fate.” On first glance, the show is refreshingly colorblind and there appears to be a serviceable respect for the original material. Heather Mitchell (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) writes and co-executive produces, along with executive producers Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Michael Goldstein. Wade Briggs, Anthony Head, Zuleikha Robinson, Lashana Lynch, Ebonee Noel, Sterling Sulieman, Medalion Rahimi, Grant Bowler, Susan Wooldridge, Torrance Coombs and Dan Hildebrand make up the ensemble cast.

Also in the hopper is Time After Time, written and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek, the Scream franchise) and based on the Karl Alexander novel and movie of the same name. Time After Time is a fantastical cat-and-mouse adventure through time that sees famed science fiction writer H.G. Wells (UnREAL’s Freddie Stroma) transported to modern-day Manhattan in pursuit of Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman, Revenge). In New York City, Wells discovers a world he never thought possible — and a young woman who captivates him. Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6) and Regina Taylor (Dig) costar.

Dungey made it official that a new season of Scandal would move to the midseason (to accommodate star Kerry Washington’s just-announced pregnancy) and the critic-loved American Crime would return after the New Year, too.

ABC is also at work on a pair of ambitious event shows — the previously announced Dirty Dancing musical reboot (which will feature three new songs, for better or worse) and Dustin Lance Black’s eight-hour civil rights miniseries When We Rise. The latter, a star-packed study about early champions of LGBT rights, is co-executive produced by Gus Van Sant and stars Rachel Griffiths, Mary-Louise Parker, Guy Pearce, Michael Kay Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg.

Jimmy Kimmel — recipient of a brand-new three-year deal — appeared mid presentation to crack wise about the rival networks, with zingers like “all your favorite VHS tapes are now becoming shows” (FOX’s announced Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist series), “did they mention they have the Olympics?” (that would be NBC) and “The average CBS viewer looks like the Red Woman on Game of Thrones without her necklace on.”

ABC UPFRONT – May 17, 2016 – The ABC Television Network presents its new lineup for the 2016-2017 season to the advertising and media communities at Lincoln Center in New York City. (ABC/ Ida Mae Astute)

What do you think of new slots for old favorites? Which new offering are you looking forward to most? Which sounds the most half-baked? Let us know in the comments section below. 

About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.