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January 26, 2009

ABC targets Thursday: Slots 'Motherhood' and 'Ted'

Motherhood ABC is making a bold scheduling play for midseason, targeting one of NBC's Thursday night comedy hours and temporarily removing veteran dramedy "Ugly Betty" from its lineup.

Starting March 26, the network will plant single-mom comedy "In the Motherhood" into Thursdays at 8 p.m., while moving "Samantha Who?" from Mondays to Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. Usual time-period-occupant "Betty" will take a rare hiatus, then will return to the slot later this season after "Motherhood" and "Who" finish their short-order runs. 

ABC has also scheduled office sitcom "Better Off Ted," airing Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. starting March 18, paired in the hour with "Scrubs."

The Thursday play is especially intriguing as not many broadcast comedies air head-to-head nowadays and NBC's "My Name Is Earl" and "Kath & Kim" have slipped in the ratings this season. ABC also is not the first competitor to see an opportunity in the hour. Just last week Fox moved medical drama "Bones" into the same slot and came in first place -- beating NBC's comedies and "Betty." 

The move also represents one of the first hints that ABC might be getting frustrated with the performance of "Betty," which has served as a dependable, yet relatively modest, lead-in for top-rated "Grey's Anatomy." ABC will forgo airing "Betty" repeats in order to squeeze in the two comedies.

Still not scheduled: Mike Judge's animated comedy "The Goode Family," which is considered a challenge because ABC does not have other animated shows to pair it with (plus the network has been waiting to see completed video of the series before announcing a spot).

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