Fall TV Preview

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.”