ABC aims its fall series at the young

May 12, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

"Homefront," "Civil Wars" and George Lucas' "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" made it. '"Baby Talk," "Pros and Cons," "Anything But Love" and "Capitol Critters" got axed. And Delta Burke is coming back to prime time.

ABC announced its fall schedule late yesterday, adding seven new series and canceling eight. And the network that finished last in ratings but first in earnings is sticking with niche programming targeted at young viewers -- the group advertisers most want to reach. Demographics remains the name of the game at ABC.

"Young adults have traditionally comprised the core of the ABC viewing audience," Robert Iger, the president of ABC Entertainment, said. "With this schedule, we have reaffirmed our intention of aggressively targeting this important audience segment."

Typical of the new series aimed at young adults is "Going to Extremes," a comedy-drama about a group of students attending a medical university on a Caribbean island. It is from Joshua Brand and John Falsey, the producers of "Northern Exposure."

Also scheduled to debut next fall is "Laurie Hill," a comedy about a young woman trying to balance her roles as doctor, mother and wife. It's produced by Maryland natives Neal Marlens and Carol Black, the Emmy Award-winning creators of "The Wonder Years," and it's targeted at the most desired of all viewer groups, young women.

ABC is going for more youth appeal in "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," a '90s "Welcome Back Kotter," about a college basketball star who comes back to his old neighborhood as a substitute teacher after washing out in the NBA.

"Delta" stars Delta Burke as a "feisty, determined young women leaving her ne'er-do-well husband to seek fame and fortune as a country-western singer in Nashville," in the words of ABC.

ABC described its three other new series as:

* "Camp Bicknell": a sitcom about a "young divorcee," her two daughters and her teen brother in a "nurturing household that attracts every teen-ager in the neighborhood."

* "Crossroads": Robert Urich stars as a father who puts his career on hold and takes his 16-year-old son on a cross-country odyssey on a vintage motorcycle.

* "Covington Cross": set in medieval England, it features a knight, "his three high-sprited teen-age sons and beautiful, strong-willed daughter."

While it looks on the surface as if ABC made a fairly straightforward swap of eight cancellations and seven additions, the schedule involved a lot of juggling and half-way moves that left ABC some wiggle-room for midseason.

For example, "Perfect Strangers" and two reality shows, "FBI: The Untold Stories" and "American Detective," were pulled from the regular schedule, but kept in production so that they could be used as backup series."Matlock," which draws a very old audience by ABC standards, will be used in pinch-hitting roles when the network is going for bulk numbers.

Also on stand-by is "The Jackie Thomas Show," starring Tom Arnold. The series did not make the fall schedule, but out of deference to Mr. Arnold's wife, Roseanne Arnold, the network kept it in production and promised that when it does join the regular lineup it will have a guaranteed spot of 9:30 Tuesday nights following "Roseanne." The translation of all this: Ms. Arnold has incredible clout.

Other rookie shows that got the good news of renewals and regular lineup spots yesterday are "The Commish," "Step by Step," "Home Improvement" and "Room for Two." The others that got canceled were "Good & Evil," "Sibs" and "Billy."

ABC's schedule

The 1992-93 ABC Television Network prime time schedule is:

Sundays 7 p.m. "Life Goes On."

8 p.m. "America's Funniest Home Videos."

8:30 p.m. "America's Funniest People."

9 p.m. "The ABC Sunday Night Movie."

Mondays 8 p.m. "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" (new time period).

9 p.m. ABC's NFL "Monday Night Football."

Tuesdays 8 p.m. "Full House."

8:30 p.m. "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" (new program).

9 p.m. "Roseanne."

9:30 p.m. "Coach."

10 p.m. "Going to Extremes (new program).

Wednesdays 8 p.m. "The Wonder Years."

8:30 p.m. "Doogie Howser, M.D."

9 p.m. "Home Improvement" (new time period).

9:30 p.m. "Laurie Hill" (new program).

10 p.m. "Civil Wars" (new time period).

Thursdays 8 p.m. "Delta" (new program).

8:30 p.m. "Room for Two" (new time period).

9 p.m. "Homefront" (new time period).

10 p.m. "PrimeTime Live."

Fridays 8 p.m. "Family Matters."

8:30 p.m. "Step By Step."

9 p.m. "Dinosaurs."

9:30 p.m. "Camp Bicknell" (new program).

10 p.m. "20/20."

Saturdays 8 p.m. "Covington Cross" (new program).

9 p.m. "Crossroads" (new program).

10 p.m. "The Commish."

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