In May, ABC‘s last-minute third-season renewal of Suburgatory as midseason replacement came at a price: lower license fee and the exit of Alan Tudyk and Rex Lee as series regulars. Lee played the high school’s guidance counselor and Tudyk was Jeremy Sisto’s country-clubbing dentist pal. Suburgatory launched well in the fall of 2011 but lost steam in its second season (It’s third-season return, on Wednesday, clocked 5.3 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating, off The Middle’s 7.5 million viewers and 1.8 rating). Not surpringly, a Q&A session at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour began with a series of “bummer questions.”
“What happened to Alan Tudyk?” asked a TV critic adding, “sorry to start off with a bummer question.” “He’ll be back. We have him for three episodes this season,” exec producer Emily Kapnek said brightly. “Obviously we’ve scaled back a little, the show’s a bit leaner up here,” she said noting the panel onstage. “How did you re-evaluate the show” after unexpectedly landing on the bubble at the end of last season, asked another critic, followed by another question along those lines from yet another critic. Kapnek took issue with the “re-evaluation” thing. “We do get to focus more on our main characters because we scaled back a little,” she said, accentuating the positive. This season is a reboot of sorts in which Sisto’s George and Jane Levy’s Tessa re-establish their fish-out-of-water-ness after last year’s assimiliation, Kapnek explained.