ABC Boss Talks Split Seasons for More Shows, Scandal Vs. Blacklist, Revenge 'Reset' and More

MING-NA WENABC will apply its split-season scheduling plan to more shows in 2014-15, building on the success enjoyed this past spring by shows such as Once Upon a Time, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

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Once Upon a Time, to cite a most recent example, scored a 2.3 demo rating with its Season 3 finale this past Sunday — matching its year-ago closer, thus indicating a decrease in erosion when a show can better maintain momentum.

“We dipped a little bit in January and February,” when the split-season shows were on hiatus, ABC president Paul Lee noted to TVLine during a Tuesday conference call, “but then in March we came roaring back.” As such, “We’re going to be doing split seasons on most of our shows this year,” — Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. included. (The new Marvel-verse origin series, Agent Carter, will claim S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s time slot during the winter break.)

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Other topics covered during the press conference, which comes on the day of ABC’s annual Upfront presentation:

* Observing that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “popped” during a recent 9 o’clock showing, Lee said its new time slot for fall — Tuesdays at 9, leading into the new drama Forever — makes for a more natural fit. As for the Marvel series leading out of two new comedies, Lee claimed, “S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a self starter.” He also touted it as “the most male show on the network,” and since Forever also boasts male appeal, he said, “We feel good about [the move].”

* Scandal, which cut Season 3 short (18 total episodes) due to Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, will be back with a full season. Resurrection Season 2 meanwhile will have “15 or 16″ episodes, Lee said.

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* Noting how Revenge’s Victoria ended up in a “really strange place” at the end of Sunday’s Season 3 finale, Lee said the sudser’s showrunners have a “great idea” for a Season 4 “reset”/”really creative” run of episodes.

* Lee said that he had decided to move Scandal to Thursdays at 9 before NBC announced that The Blacklist was heading there at midseason –and he is content to leave it there opposite this season’s No. 1 new drama. “Were very confident with Scandal. It’s a truly great show.”

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* When one reporter likened the new, half-hour musical comedy Galavant to “Glee meets Once Upon a Time,” Lee countered with his own comparison: “Spamalot meets The Princess Bride,” with music from Alan Menken and Dan Fogelman thrown in for good measure. The freshman series will air back-to-back episodes at midseason, bridging Once Upon a Time’s winter hiatus.

* On Trophy Wife’s too-sad one-and-done cancellation, Lee said, “I was sad to see it go,” as he claimed the freshman comedy was given “a lot of promotion, in a whole load of different ways.”

* Asked to explain ABC’s decision to pass on a new comedy co-starring hot comic Kevin Hart, Lee stressed, “We’d love to be in business with Kevin, we’d love to do a Kevin comedy, and I would welcome having him on my network.” But “in the end, you have decisions to make and you pick up the [pilots] that you think are right.”

 

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85 Comments
  1. alexjones says:

    like the split season idea, it beats having shows taking breaks every other week.

    • Ari says:

      I love the split season idea. It gives a nice platform for midseason shows to come in and air an uninterrupted short season and gives established shows the chance to air most of their episode without repeats as well.

    • iMember says:

      I love the split season schedule as well. It worked well this year.

      On another note, BRING ON REVENGE SEASON 4!! That finale was GLORIOUS and it sounds like they have great plans for next season.

    • Mikael says:

      I think they’ve learned from what happened to Once: Wonderland which should have been original Once’s hiatus show. SHIELD was a repeat every other week, but I think they had to stall until Captain America came out. I’m glad they’re splitting it and putting Agent Carter in between.

  2. Sarah says:

    Too many episodes for Resurrection! Should have followed the way Fox did it with The Following

    • Alex says:

      16 or 18 episodes is still an awfully puny season!

      • Ray says:

        It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. I rather have 8-10 fantastic episodes a la Game of Thrones or Penny Dreadful than 22 crappy ones.

    • Ray says:

      Agreed. Sleepy Hollow also got too many episodes on FOX this upcoming season. Broadcast network execs need to learn to keep it right and tight like cable.

      • johnhelvete says:

        Sleepy Hollow is doing 18 for season 2, did 13 for season 1, Fox probably should have gone with 15 for season 2.

        The writers of Resurrection were quoted at TCA in January that they felt the show was a 13 episode a season or less show, 16 seems like a mistake to me.

        • Carla Krae says:

          Sleepy Hollow got a minimum of 15. They’re allowed to go up to 18 if the story requires.

          • David4 says:

            Exactly. They are giving the writers some freeway, but I thought they wanted 15 up to 18 not 13 up to 15 but it’s all good. :)

    • The Following has 15 episodes. Resurrection will have 15 episodes. How is that not the same? heh.

  3. Lena says:

    Obviously ABC is confident Scandal will kill Blacklist ratings. I hope the Blacklist holds up against the soap opera known as Scandal. I love a show that doesn’t rely on a sex scene every five minutes and actually has the capability to give the viewers good writing without trash.

    • Elyse says:

      IMO Scandal was a hot mess last season. I’ll keep watching but it’ll be a DVR and watch whenever I get time type of show for me. If I were a Nielson viewer Blacklist would be getting my Thursday at 9 live viewing!

      • Jake says:

        Scandal rocks. I find it well acted, yes at times it can be soapish, but still entertaining..I didn’t care for Blacklist, but then I am not a huge fan of James Spader.

      • B says:

        i had to give up on scandal halfway through the season, may catch up in the summer but I just couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of the storylines. Likewise I’m not sure if I will keep up with blacklist in the fall, I really like the show but can’t stand megan boone and her single facial expression

    • westwingwolf says:

      Having watched both, my problem with The Blacklist is I can’t sit there and watch the FBI agents do stupid things to put off getting the bad guy until the very end of the episode. Or like in the finale when I know they are talking to the guy they are looking for and they don’t even consider that he might be the guy.

      Just about every episode was the same: Bad guy does something. Red gives some information about the bad guy (sometimes prior to it happening). FBI wonders if they can trust it. Decide to not trust it completely. Bad guy does something worse. Liz goes to Red for help now ready to listen to what he has to say. Red agrees but wants involvement. FBI disagrees with that, but ultimately has to give in when things get worse. Red helps and usually gets something out of it for himself that the FBI doesn’t know about or has to ignore. If the FBI would just agree to what Red wants from the beginning, they’d have a lot less trouble. Red is the only character who makes that show interesting, and I’m not sure if I can stick around just for him. So The Blacklist has the first half of its 2nd season on Mondays to convince me to at least watch it after I’m done with watching Scandal when February rolls around.

      Yes, Scandal is soapy and crazy, but I’d rather laugh at or be shocked by the crazy than constantly roll my eyes at most of the main cast as I do with The Blacklist. I don’t think The Blacklist has better writing, I think its on par with Scandal if The Blacklist’s formulaic episode structure & characters of questionable intelligence negate Scandal’s too crazy to be realistic nature and vice versa.

      • LaLa says:

        Dear westwingwolf: I <3 U. You've summed up my disappointment with The Blacklist. And since I'll be forced to choose between Scandal and The Blacklist, it's Scandal all the way. The ONLY interesting part of The Blacklist is James Spader. Not enough to keep me interested.

      • mistermcgee says:

        Lol. I love The Blacklist, but we say every week: “Here comes the part where the FBI is not going to trust Red, then reluctantly follow his lead…”.

        Both that and Scandal (and Arrow) are our main weekly shows!

    • Bailey says:

      Ah but sex is so much better than big guys with guns using violence and kaboom to achieve anything on screen…Not sure what is trashier.

    • Ana says:

      Do you even watch the show or are you just a bitter TBL fan?

    • Rich Abey says:

      Well Scandal should be able to hold it’s own against The Blacklist, what with all the “buzz” around it & the relative freshness (just starting it’s 4th season). Afterall ‘Castle’, a show much more closer in concept to Blacklist being a case-of-the-week police procedural, which in it’s 6th season managed to hold it’s own against the freshman show, even besting Blacklist in viewer numbers for the first half of the season.

  4. Lord_Nikon says:

    Thank you for the news, but still i can’t understand why the would cut short the new season of Scandal, from what i know she already gave birth and by the time it needs to shoot she should be ready and able. As for Shield getting split season i don’t get it, but i can stand behind it because of the time slot claim by Agent Carter.
    So all in all good news, but with a little disappointments.

  5. Ray says:

    Agreed. Sleepy Hollow also got too many episodes on FOX this upcoming season. Broadcast network execs need to learn to keep it right and tight like cable.

  6. marcinho says:

    Back to back eps of Galavant feel like they’re burning them off.

  7. stefanjames says:

    Resurrection really can’t run for more than 13 episodes, if it follows the trajectory of Revenge this past season – 10 episodes in Fall, three in January. They can’t possibly be thinking about airing Resurrection against all of the winter events on Sunday nights – the Grammys, the Golden Globes, the various football championships… I don’t watch Resurrection so I don’t have a vested interest but ABC better keep it at 13 episodes a season.

  8. Metoo says:

    Re Trophy Wife…I call bullsh*t!

    • Et al. says:

      Terrible title. Wrong timeslot. Classic Paul Lee.

    • Ron says:

      I do too! Did it really receive all that much promotion? Because honestly, I feel like the show got much less promotion than a lot of their other shows — both new and old. I think the execs decided to rely to heavily on the big names of the show (i.e., Malin Ackerman, Bradley Whitford, and Marcia Gay Harden). Just because you have an Oscar winner in your cast doesn’t mean you get to skimp on promotion. I think they just don’t want to admit they made a HORRIBLE decision to not put it on after Modern Family. I honestly can’t think of a more natural pairing. Sometimes writing or directing or acting kills a show; ABC killed this show, plain and simple.

      • ChrisGa says:

        Yeah, placing it in the post-Modern Family timeslot would’ve been a no-brainer rather than waste that spot on the very not-fun Super Fun Night. I definitely don’t think they did all they could to salvage that series.

      • jenna says:

        agreed! Modern family paired with trophy wife and the middle paired with the goldbergs seems like a perfect match up!

    • Cideric Rhyes says:

      I never understood the appeal of Trophy Wife. Whitfield was much funnier in that Fox buddy cop comedy show with Colin Hanks. I found the Asian kid Burt annoying. The Goldbergs was a much better show. I wonder it would have done after Modern Family.

      • Et al. says:

        I dislike precocious kids as much as the next person, but Bert was GOLD. That kid was the star of the television season.

    • Molly says:

      Totally agree! The cast of Trophy Wife was robbed! Not that many really funny sitcoms on TV anymore…

  9. Lysh says:

    I need to learn more about Galavant because those comparisons sound really great plus Alan Menken music! Sounds perfect for the OUAT time slot.

  10. Saskatoon says:

    They could try split season with Castle aswell. Those 2-3 week breaks during spring are quite annoying and ratings are usually quite low during january/february anyways because Castle doesn’t really work that well with the Bachelor.

  11. Ash says:

    I heard American Crime is suppose to take Resurrections place at midseason and it will have 15-16 episodes. So maybe that will allow a smaller season of Resurrection.

  12. david says:

    I do like the split seasons but hopefully they will program the breaks a little better. Not saying The Taste was horrible but it kind of loses it’s momentum throughout it’s run. It’s risky running these breaks if the other networks run continuous first run content during them. But creatively I think it worked and gives the show runners something to build to.

    I’ll be curious to see if someone blinks on Thursdays at 9. Who knows if either show will end up staying in that slot anyway? It’s a long way off! I don’t watch Scandal. I’m sure it’s a great show I just haven’t had time to get caught up so maybe this summer.

    Trophy Wife would have had a better shot on Wednesdays but I think the bigger issue is that shows like Super Fun Night and Mixology really didn’t belong on TV anyway. I think they need to be more selective. Some really good shows (Suburgatory, Trophy Wife, Back in the Game) end up losing out to other shows that aren’t as good and still don’t perform. If I can look at some of the descriptions with some of the actors and tell it’s a disaster why can’t the network? I see that with shows like Selfie.

    I think going to a more year round model of programming is what needs to happen. But the networks have to get more interesting and better overall content to do that. Sticking reality shows and burn offs in the summer just don’t work anymore. There are plenty of normal season shows that would do just as well if not better during summer. It’s like with TNT moving Dallas to January. While I love the show and am of course happy to get it sooner, it would be much better to get a full run during the summer when networks don’t program solid original shows.

  13. Whatevah says:

    Man I really, really HATE the split season!

  14. Isaac says:

    I actually liked the split season experience. Gave me a break from my regular programming to then look and fill my schedule with other shows. I also hate making sure I tune in the exact 2 times a month new episodes air where I can know for sure that there will be 12 consecutive weeks of my favourite shows.
    Wonder if they’ll do this with How to Get Away with Murder as well, assuming it gets the full 22/24-episode season treatment. To my knowledge ABC didn’t do the split season to its first season shows last year.

  15. Brandy says:

    I’m glad they’re doing the split season.Wish they’d do it for Nashville

  16. Brandy says:

    I might check out Gallavant

  17. J says:

    I’d rather have seasons split then to air series throughout the year with breaks every other week. Clearly this style of scheduling worked for ABC. I also think moving Greys Anatomy to Thursday at 8 pm was a great idea. Nothing has worked in the timeslot for the past couple seasons. Atleast now there’s a seasoned series ready to lead off the night.

  18. Eric7740 says:

    I know the split seasons were spread apart due to the Olympics. Does this mean that the 2nd halves will be starting sooner, this the shows ending sooner???

  19. abz says:

    The split season thing was great. The only downside was the extremely long wait. I think part of what made the second half of Once Upon A Time so amazing this season (aside from that waste of a Rapunzel episode) was that we got to look forward to it each week. No interruptions or hiatuses. Storylines still fresh in my mind. It was great. I think they should do it with Nashville as well.

    • Butters says:

      It was a longer wait because of the Olympics last year.

    • Mikael says:

      It still bothers me that they wasted Rapunzel like that. That could have made for a much better story. It seems like they only care about Snow White and to a lesser extent, Belle. Cinderella and Aurora didn’t get very good stories. And they absolutely wasted Maleficent who should have been just as bada$$ as Regina.

      • Lily says:

        At least, Cinderella’s story ended with a happily ever after. Aurora just exists for no reason, and is a glorified extra.

  20. Dear Mr Lee, it Agents of Shield is a male show for you guys would you like my girlfriends and I to stop watching? I’d hate to skew your numbers with women

    • Danyelle says:

      I believe I read that ABC programs are more women-skewed than any other network, he probably was just noting the one show that isn’t . Let’s not burn our bras just yet.

    • Britt says:

      He was just saying that more males watch Shield than all of their other shows. I think you are taking it personally, when it wasn’t what he was saying.

    • Alice says:

      Don’t let him know you watch! They have literally cancelled super-hero types shows BECAUSE they did too well with women. See: Tower Prep (RIP)
      Judging from his comment (Our show rocks because GUYS watch, not those girly girls) this attitude is alive and well on ABC. Douche.

      • Britt says:

        Yeah forget the fact that hardly anyone has heard of that show, it was on Cartoon Network, and it never got over 1.5 million viewers in a single episode.

  21. Tran says:

    Scandal vs. Blacklist on Thursdays at 9 p.m. is something I’m looking forward to. Olivia Pope going up against Raymond “Red” Reddington.

    • Nick says:

      I’ve been watching both but not sure if I’ll be back for Scandal next year. Moreover, I think that while they share part of the audience, there’s also some group of people that is only into the soap-opera side of Scandal (and don’t watch the Blacklist) and a quite as consistent group which is only into the thriller-crime drama side of the Blacklist, and don’t like Scandal.

  22. Fred says:

    No announcement that season 4 of Revenge will be the last? Seriously, it needs to be the last. I want a satisfying ending to the story and that ending should be season 4. Otherwise we’ll only get more fillers, I’m tired of them dragging out the story while there’s actually not much more to tell if they want to keep it fresh. I loved the season finale, it would have been the perfect set-up for one last season.
    And I really doubt this show is going to survive any longer. Are they blind? Both the showrunner and the ABC-president have to see it coming that the ratings most likely won’t get a boost next season (they’ll probably drop even more), so the chance that there will be actually a season 5 is very little I think. So please let season 4 be the last!

    • Jimmy says:

      I agree. If by “reset” they mean let’s figure out a way to drag it out even longer, then they’re doomed to fail. A smarter move would have been to renew it for 2 seasons and end it. Also consider a short season to keep the plotting tight.

  23. Fred says:

    Oh, and also: I’m not really attracted to those new shows. I don’t think I’ll tune in, also because most of the first-season shows will get cancelled anyway. Maybe I’ll give Agent Carter a shot, I liked her in Captain America. But the only pilot I really wanted to be picked up was Sea of Fire, but sadly that didn’t happen :(

  24. JC1 says:

    I think the split season was very good for OUAT this last year, and I’m glad they’re extending it to more of their shows. Do we know whether Castle will be going to a split season, or is it staying the same?

  25. tv2day says:

    Sometimes less is more. USA n fx have the 13 episode season down to a science. Justified n sons of anarchy, etc don’t have to worry about filler episodes. BTW, just watched pilot of penny dreadfully. Pretty boring. More talking than anything. I’ll pass.

  26. Drew says:

    It might be time for me to drop Revenge from my watch list. Season 1 was a great, almost literary series with strong characters and a clear goal. Now it is just another silly soap. The second to last episode was okay, with Conrad getting what he had coming. But the finale was horrible. It robbed the show of its entire driving force by bringing David back. It made Emily a chump instead of bad@$$ character, and it turned David Clarke from a devoted father and good guy into a deadbeat and a needless killer just for soapy shock value. TV producers always think that this twist of the dead man returning is surprising but it is a joke at this point.
    I loved season 1, but the show is a joke now.

  27. And no not Naomi says:

    The writing for Revenge made me sick this year. That finale reminded me of Desperate Housewives and that’s not a good thing. The new showrunner is crazy if he thinks this show will last with these ratings. 1.5 in the demo and less than 5 million people watching the finale…But considering Sundays at 10 pm is basically ABC’s death slot, I guess those numbers are good.

  28. DavidSask says:

    Scandal has become ridiculous and everyone knows it, so I am secretly hoping Blacklist will come in mid-season and kick some ass!

  29. Ram510 says:

    They’ve been trying to “reset” Revenge since the end of season 1. It’s time to call it “game over” at the end of the next coming season.

    • Drew says:

      It’s weird that they’re trying to give Emily a new reason to seek revenge. She spent a lifetime building up to revenge for her father. Now they render that entire story pointless with David’s return, and they throw in some last minute afterthought of a new revenge story that is based on the fact that Victoria mistakenly thinks that Emily killed her man. It’s like a Three’s Company plot about a wacky misunderstanding, only we’re supposed to take it seriously. Sad to see the series go so far down hill. Emily VanCamp proved to be a great actress in season 1. Now I think that she can do so much better than this.

  30. Jack says:

    Revenge is about the best abc or any network has. Equal to Blacklist. Season 2 was spinning it’s wheels but season 3 was back on track. So what if David Clarke is back- Emily didn’t know. He seemingly killed Conrad the same way he was supposedly killed. Poetic. The show will still be about revenge and have some ass kicking and of course twists and turns that make revenge unique. No one saw David returning or even alive. You all are just haters bc you have no imagination or creativity for what could be done now. Wait and see before you decide. I think it has a couple seasons to go before Emily furthers her movie career. She was in winter soldier and you will see her in more action stuff. You are watching the next female action star rising.

  31. Rick Katze says:

    I must admit that the split-season is better then an episode every few weeks during Jan.-April but I remember when TV ran for 39 weeks averaging about 50 minutes/show. Won’t happen again but the trend to having fresh shows in the summer and the split-season is better than nothing.

    And thank you ABC for moving SHIELD. Too bad it couldn’t have moved away from NCIS:LA and onto a different night. Will be curious to see if the tone of the show changes with the later broadcast hour.

  32. Jake says:

    I agree it is sad what has happened to Revenge. Jack giving Emily an ultimatum at the beginning of the season started things off wrong for me. And then Emily’s wedding plan to frame Victoria (for her murder) was full of holes and very un-Emily like and of course didn’t work out correctly. Then the writers bring Lydia back to life just to have her framed for shooting Emily, just so Daniel can get away with it. And what was the point of Patrick? His weird relationship with his mother was just filler. And Emily actually believed Victoria when she told her she could never have children. Yeah right. And the amnesia and blackouts…just wow at the writing. List of characters that were introduced only to be written out: Sara, Patrick, Niko, Stevie, Pascal, Lydia…and I’ve probably forgotten someone. Thank god they didn’t bring Amanda back to life too (or will she come stomping back out of the ocean next season?). David Clarke being alive is a fitting ending to a ridiculous season. I really don’t like Sunil Nayar’s vision for this show, but I look forward to seeing if this next season will be a train wreck.

  33. Kim (@AD76) says:

    In this day and age of the Internet and no repeats, why do they split seasons? Why can’t seasons just be aired at once? Why have them spread out from September to May? Why not September through January or something? They have a summer season now, why not break it up even more? Fall, Winter, and Summer.

  34. Renee says:

    Somebody should slap Paul Lee. I LOATHE the split seasons. I always lose interest when they do this. Even with shows I love–out of sight out of mind. And I don’t come back later. It completely ruins shows for me.

  35. Lily says:

    So happy, that OUaT is doing the split season again. After the disastrous mess that was Season 2, it really helped that the writers had two separate story arcs. Sure, Neverland had to play damage control, but Oz was fantastic and well-written.

  36. Lori says:

    I saw the trailer for Barry Sloane’s new show. I give it a month maybe. Any chance Aiden’s death could’ve been faked? Please?

  37. Richard says:

    cant wait for the new season of revenge, love what teen wolf is doing also

  38. Mariloli says:

    Bad and boring series, once upon a time, marvel,s scandal, the good, very good ones: revenge, the blacklist, elementary, 24 hrs,

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