By Rick Bentley
LOS ANGELES - ABC has tried since 2009 to find the fourth piece of its comedy block puzzle on Wednesday nights. The Middle and Modern Family give the network two strong anchors and Happy Endings has been a solid draw with young viewers.
Finding the fourth show has been the test.
The solution came this year with Suburgatory. The comical and catty look at life in the suburbs has become the perfect hammock between the family comedies of The Middle and Modern Family. ABC Entertainment boss Paul Lee says Wednesday nights have become a destination for viewers and advertisers because of the strength of the four comedies.
What Suburgatory has that was missing is the smart - and offbeat - writing about family life featuring a strong ensemble cast, the same formula that make The Middle and Modern Familyhits.
Casting Jeremy Sisto as the star was a surprise, considering he came to the comedy after a long run on Law & Order.
Sisto wanted to switch to comedy for years, but he kept getting the same cautious reaction: Casting directors and producers didn't know if he could be funny. He also became his own worst enemy, getting so nervous when trying out that his auditions didn't go well.
He jokes, during an interview on the Warner Bros. lot, that he probably wouldn't have landed the role as the caring and confused father on Suburgatoryif he had auditioned.
Executive producer and creator Emily Kapnek gave Sisto a chance because she was a huge fan of his work. Plus, she was looking for an actor not firmly planted in the half-hour comedy format. She says the comedy that comes out of the relationship between father and daughter is influenced by the dramatic weight Sisto brings to the role and the fresh approach of Jane Levy.
A GUIDE TO THE NEW TV TIMES
Your TV Times offers 24 hours of daily local TV listings on 68 stations - 13 broadcast and 55 cable, including seven premium cable networks.
Cable providers. The Tampa Bay cable systems are listed across the top of each page, and are assigned a letter that corresponds to their local channels.
Your local channels. The corresponding letter for your cable provider appears on the top left of each page, and your channels are vertically below. For example, if your cable provider is Bright House letter A, then your channels are the numbers listed below the A to the right of the broadcast and cable stations.
SUNDAY (Pages 3-5). Sunday Morning listings begin at 5 a.m., followed by Sunday Afternoon/Evening at 1 p.m., followed by Sunday Late Night at 9 p.m. through shows that start at 4:30 a.m.
WEEKDAY MORNING (Pages 6-7). Weekday Morning programming is listed over two pages, beginning with shows at 5 a.m. and running through those starting at 10:30 a.m. For cable stations that consistently change their Monday-Friday morning programming, show listings are broken down by day of the week using M-T-W-Th-F next to the channels. For example, Bravo may offer Fashion Hunters one day and Top Chef another. "Paid Program" listings include infomercials.
WEEKDAY AFTERNOON (Pages 8-9). Weekday Afternoon programming is listed over two pages, beginning with shows at 11 a.m. and running through those starting at 4:30 p.m. For cable stations that consistently change their Monday-Friday afternoon programming, show listings are broken down by day of the week using M-T-W-Th-F next to the channels. For example, AMC changes its afternoon movie lineup each weekday. "Varied Programs" means shows may vary by day in the time slot, and can include movies, TV series and news.
WEEKDAY LATE NIGHT (Pages 10-11). Weekday Late Night programming is listed over two pages, beginning with shows at 11 p.m. and running through those starting at 4:30 a.m. For cable stations that consistently change their Monday-Friday late night programming, show listings are broken down by day of the week using M-T-W-Th-F next to the channels.
WEEKDAY EVENINGS (Pages 12-16). Monday through Friday Evening programming changes each day, and is listed on separate pages by day of the week. Show listings begin each day at 5 p.m. and run through those starting at 10:30 p.m.
SATURDAY (Pages 17-19). Saturday Morning listings begin at 5 a.m., followed by Saturday Afternoon/Evening at 1 p.m., followed by Saturday Late Night at 9 p.m. through shows that start at 4:30 a.m.