ABC announced today that its fading The Bachelor reality franchise will not be part of its Fall 2005 primetime schedule, but in a somewhat surprising move, the series will return in January 2006 after Monday Night Football wraps up its thirty-fifth and final year on the network.

ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson made The Bachelor announcement as part of his unveiling of the network's 2005-2006 primetime schedule, which in addition to The Bachelor's return, will feature a surprising number of scheduling changes for a network that just completed one of the biggest single season turnarounds in television history.

Hoping that a few months off will rejuvenate the sagging ratings of the long-running reality dating series, ABC will take advantage of the fact that Monday Night Football will occupy The Bachelor's recent Mondays at 9PM ET/PT time period to give the series a few months off. Largely devoid of hit series prior to this season's surprising Desperate Housewives/Lost/Extreme Makeover: Home Edition-fueled resurgence, ABC took ratings where it could get them, with the then struggling network airing three The Bachelor and The Bachelorette editions (back then, one of its few hits) during each of the last three primetime television seasons. Thinking that the show's ratings drop may have been a result of what it now suspects, in hindsight, might have been an overexposure of the series (are you listening NBC?), ABC is hoping that delaying the show's return until midseason will revive its ratings.

In sixteen episodes broadcast prior to Monday's The Bachelor 7 season finale, the show's two most recent editions have averaged 8.39 million viewers, placing the program 70th in the 2004-2005 primetime television viewership rankings -- a far cry from the all-time franchise high of 25.9 million viewers that the finale broadcast of Fall 2002's The Bachelor 2 edition averaged.

However, when The Bachelor returns, it won't be to either the Wednesdays at 9PM ET/PT time period that it aired in through last fall's The Bachelor 6 (the network's Survivor-inspired Lost hit will be moving into that slot, booting Alias to the Thursdays at 8PM death slot versus Survivor) or the Mondays at 9PM ET/PT time period in which the franchise's two most recent The Bachelorette 3 and the just-concluded The Bachelor 7 aired.

Instead, The Bachelor will air on Mondays at 8PM ET/PT, where, having replaced ABC's Wife Swap series that will air in the timeslot throughout the fall football season, it will launch a whole night of beautiful single people television. Following The Bachelor on ABC's new Monday night lineup (ending a thirty-five year run, MNF will move over to ABC sibling ESPN in 2006, giving the network its first chance since the Eisenhower administration to build a year round Monday night lineup) will be Heather Graham's new Emily's Reasons Why Not sitcom, John Stamos' returning Jake In Charge sitcom (another surprising ABC renewal), and What About Brian, a new drama from Lost and Alias producer J.J. Abrams that will star Barry Watson.

The Bachelor won't be the only ABC reality show moving around the network's schedule. Having become a ratings hit in its second season, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition won't be moving out of its Sundays at 8PM ET/PT time period, however in addition to Wife Swap's move, the network's Supernanny series will also be moving to the Fridays at 8PM ET/PT time period beginning this fall.

ABC has also cancelled its two other Extreme Makeover shows, Home Edition spinoff Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - How'd They Do That? and Extreme Makeover, the original plastic surgery makeover show that spawned Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

In addition to The Bachelor, Emily, Jake, and Brian, ABC already has Life Than Perfect and five other new series scheduled for broadcast as part of its midseason schedule. Among them will be Miracle Workers, a previously announced "feel good" reality series that will feature an elite "dream team" of physicians who embrace revolutionary medical treatments to help patients with serious medical conditions.