Will ABC's "Private Practice" Succeed or Fail?
SEPTEMBER 12, 2007: Following a hideous review of ABC's upcoming high-profile spin-off series "Private Practice" in today's edition of Michael Ausiello's column on TVGuide.com, here are some thoughts of what may happen to ABC Wednesdays.
Ausiello wrote earlier today: "It's actually worse than last May's grating backdoor pilot. The only good things I can say about it is that Audra McDonald is a much better fit in the role of Naomi than Merrin Dungey was, and Paul Adelstein solidified his status as TV's next great leading man. The rest of it is painful beyond belief — and I take no pleasure in saying that."
If this is any indication of what "Private Practice" is going to be like, than ABC Wednesdays may be in trouble all over again.
TV history has taught us spin-off are rarely successful ("Knots Landing," "Frasier" and "Melrose Place" being a few notable exceptions).
It is no secret "Private Practice" is the spin-off no one really wanted. In fact many of the "Grey's Anatomy" fans reacted with sheer disdain upon hearing the news.
Unlike franchises like CSI or Law & Order that take the original theme and create a new show with new characters usually in a new setting, spin-offs take beloved characters off of the original and create a new world around them.
This may happen either while the original hit series is still peaking in the Nielsens ("The Colbys" out of "Dynasty") or after the mothership series has concluded, in order to retain the original audience ("Joey" out of "Friends").
These shows are however very often both critical and ratings disasters. Even worse, if spun-off during the original series' run, they may suck out all creative energy out of the creator who put them together as they suddenly need new writers and executive producers to help them run both shows.
I guess many of us can agree that "Grey's Anatomy's" three-part sweeps stunt with Meredith's life-and-death experience didn't exactly turn out as impressive as last year's post-Super Bowl bomb two-parter.
And that was the point when Shonda Rhimes was asked to do all that extra work by generating a new set of characters, coming up with initial storylines and writing the script for "Private Practice," which may or may not have affected the slight drop in quality in the final episodes of the 3rd season of "Grey's Anatomy."
But what happens now when instead of 25, Ms. Rhimes may have to come up with as many as 50 hours of compelling television? Yes there are new people on the team to help her out, but is that really sufficient?
If "Private Practice" fails it may also drag its lead-out "Dirty Sexy Money" (that the "Dynasty" fan in me has been looking forward to for months) down with it.
Because of all the buzz (and the "Dancing with the Stars" results show), the audience will be there to see the premiere. But unless the quality is there as well, "Private Practice" may kill the whole night of all-new programming (including the brilliant show "Pushing Daisies" that anchors the night.)
I do hope, in that case, people will recognize what a gem "Pushing Daisies" is, and that drama will be successful in its 8pm slot.
And maybe, just maybe, "Private Practice" will be canceled after 13 episodes and Addison will go back to Seattle Grace just in time for February sweeps at which point a new season of "LOST" could launch in the 9pm timeslot (where it belongs).
And if I'm really lucky, "Big Shots" will be a major failure on Thursday nights and "Dirty Sexy Money" will be given another chance to succeed in the post-"Grey's" slot it certainly deserves more than Michael Vartan's tedious new show.
But that's only my wishful thinking. In grim reality, I suppose ABC will force us to watch "Private Practice" for the remainder of the season, "Dirty Sexy Money" will be one of the casualties of the new season, "LOST" will stay put in that inappropriate 10pm timeslot and "Big Shots" will, for some inexplicable reason, become a hit.