ABC‘s successful fairytale drama Once Upon A Time is all about the juxtaposition of good and bad and so were the opening remarks of the network’s topper Paul Lee at TCA today. “We have a lot to shout about and a lot to do,” Lee started off with. On the bright side, Lee touted ABC’s success with sophomore shows, including Scandal, which Lee said “is rocking and rolling,” and Once Upon A Time, as well as making “a great first step with family comedies on Friday.”
On the disappointment side: the soft ratings for the all-star edition of Dancing With The Stars (“We found out people like to see bad dancing as much as they like to see good dancing,” Lee said), and freshman drama Nashville‘s inability to connect with wider audiences off the bat despite very strong 18-34 ratings. Add to that the disappointing ratings performance of ABC’s other freshman dramas, Last Resort and 666 Park Ave, both of which have been cancelled. “I was disappointed that there have been no big breakout hits on any networks this fall, not just ABC,” Lee said, discounting NBC’s drama Revolution and the CW’s hot rookie Arrow.
Lee was asked to comment on the network’s decision to double pump underperforming Tuesday comedies Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B— with several airings in the Sunday 10 PM slot. ABC added the extra airings after it opted to phase out its Tuesday comedy block in spring. “We love those two shows, which are incredibly distinctive, water cooler shows,” Lee said. “We just didn’t have much place to put them.” (Because of their edgy content, the comedies were not considered for 8 PM.) “It’s slightly a cable play to get people to sample the shows. As for Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—‘s chances for next season,” we haven’t made decisions but these are shows we love,” Lee said.
Lee praised the choice of Seth MacFarlane as Oscar host, said he feels “very bullish” about it and made a ratings prediction that “we think Oscars will go up.”
After the session, Lee complaints that soap Revenge may have lost its way in Season 2. “The great thing about Revenge is that it grew in ratings, and it’s a broader show,” Lee said.