'Cougar Town': ABC promises a 'very good launchpad,' premiere tentatively set in March

cougar-town-cast-posed.jpg "Cougar Town" still doesn't have a place on ABC's schedule for midseason, but the network at least has a little better sense of where and when it might go.

"It's tentatively in there for March," ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee said Tuesday (Jan. 10) at the TV critics' winter press tour. "And it's there for a very good reason. We're going to give it a very good launchpad." A premiere-date announcement should come in a couple of weeks.

What Lee means by "launchpad" is open to interpretation. There has been chatter that "Cougar Town" would plug into the 8:30 p.m. Tuesday spot whenever "Work It" finishes its run, either in the normal course of its run or if its ratings take a dive. The cross-dressing comedy debuted last week to a mediocre 6 million viewers and 2.0 rating among adults 18-49.

Reading between the lines of Lee's comments, though, we kind of wonder if ABC isn't also thinking about pairing "Cougar Town" with "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday nights in the spring. Even "Dancing" was down a good amount in the fall, it still qualifies as about as good a launching pad as ABC has. If "Work It" manages to hold up, we wouldn't be surprised to see "Cougar Town" end up as the "DWTS" lead-out.

The show's cast and writers, meanwhile, are continuing their viewing-party tour over the next few weeks. They're doing it without any help (or money) from the network, and co-creator Bill Lawrence figures that at the very least, it won't hurt.

"If you think a network doesn't like it when a showrunner takes it into his own hands and spends money on his own show, you're crazy. Of course they like it," Lawrence said Monday night at an event he, co-creator Kevin Biegel and the cast held for TV critics.

Lee does, in fact, seem to be OK with what Lawrence and Biegel are doing: "Bill does such a great, pirate job of getting his audience excited, and that helps us too," he says. "I always say to my showrunners, take a leaf out of Bill Lawrence's book, because he does such a great job of getting a passionate audience around a show."

Ratings will ultimately determine "Cougar Town's" fate, but Lee says he can see a future for the show.

"This may be a little bit of a dream ... but if you look at 'Happy Endings,' 'Cougar Town' [and new comedy] 'Apartment 23,' it would be great to have a group of young, irreverent comedies together. That's a little bit of a dream for the future but I'd love to have 'Cougar Town' as part of that."

Photo/Video credit: ABC