This is by no means a Timeless uncancelling situation yet but ABC has been in conversations with producer Warner Bros. Television about a second season of recently canceled freshman drama Whiskey Cavalier.
Sources caution that the talks have been exploratory and it is unclear whether they would lead to an agreement. But I hear that a decision by ABC one way or another is expected shortly — as early as today — because the show’s stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohan are being courted for other projects and it is costly for WBTV to continue to hold onto the the drama’s expansive sets.
UPDATE 1:50 PM: An ABC source has confirmed that the network is taking another quick look at the feasibility of renewing Whiskey Cavalier, and conversations are ongoing. A decision will likely come by the end of this week.
I hear Whiskey Cavalier executive producer Bill Lawrence, who has been encouraging fans on Twitter to reach out to ABC and speak out against the cancellation, is behind the effort to get the spy series back on the network. I hear he reached out to ABC executives with some encouraging recent ratings data, leading to the network’s current review. Still, sources stress that a reversal in the network’s cancellation decision is unlikely.
In one of the most dramatic developments this upfront season, ABC at the 11th hour axed Whiskey Cavalier starring Foley and Cohan, after one season.
The cancellation triggered a strong reaction from fans who launched a Save the Show campaign on social media. A similar grassroots effort two years ago led to NBC reversing its decision to cancel another co-production freshman drama from an outside studio, Sony TV’s Timeless, with a second-season renewal.
“It was a tough decision, it was the last decision we made,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said of Whiskey Cavalier‘s cancellation last week. “We thought we gave it very strong launch in spring. But we lost audience. We felt the biggest opportunity was to try something new. We looked for other time slots but did not see a real opportunity to grow.”
While not entirely unexpected given the show’s overall ratings performance, this was still a stunning development as Whiskey Cavalier had been touted as one of ABC’s biggest new series for this season and became the network’s first scripted show to launch after the Oscars. That is the big launch Burke was referring to.
Since then, Whiskey Cavalier saw its ratings decline until settling into subpar 0.4 adults 18-49 rating (Live+Same Day), airing in the Wednesday 10 PM slot picked so the comedic drama cold take advantage of ABC’s comedy block as a lead-in.
But following the cancellation news, last night’s finale, boosted by a strong lead-in from the live staging of All In the Family and The Jeffersons, Whiskey Cavalier drew its best Live+same day numbers since the show’s Wednesday debut, posting a 0.7 rating in adults 18-49, almost doubling its recent results, and 3.8 million viewers. The drama also is a major DVR gainer, more than doubling its Live+same delivery.
I hear the big ratings jump last night paired with strong delayed viewing numbers for last week’s episode have been a major factor in ABC brass’ decision to reconsider the show’s cancellation. Additionally, it has big stars in Scandal’s Foley and The Walking Dead’s Cohan and a seasoned team behind it in creator/exec producer David Hemingson and exec producer Bill Lawrence.
After the finale ended with some cliffhangers last night, Lawrence assured fans on Twitter that their questions would be answered if there is a second season.
Factoring in ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier cancelation decision was the fact that the network, also at the last minute, moved in to pick up to series NBC drama pilot Emergence, which is produced by ABC Studios. I hear it came down to one spot, and it went to Emergence as ABC brass thought they needed to try something new in the time slot. The Emergence trailer has been doing very well, topping the ranking for views among new fall broadcast series.
WBTV jumped into action immediately after ABC canceled Whiskey Cavalier the weekend before the upfronts, pitching the show to various platforms. It is a sleek, big-budget, globe-trotting actioner, which is important to the studio for its international sale appeal and because of the big investment the studio already has made in it.
But ABC is considered the most realistic option. While other canceled broadcast drama series, like Lucifer and Designated Survivor, wound up on Netflix, the streaming platform already had full or partial international distribution rights to those shows, which is not the case with Whiskey Cavalier. For WBTV, which relies on strong international sales for the series, having it on a broadcast network in the US is considered the most advantageous scenario. The studio’s talks with ABC were first reported by TVLine.
Whiskey Cavalier follows the globe trotting adventures of two very different secret agents Will Chase (Foley) and Frankie Trowbridge (Cohan). That cast also includes Ana Ortiz, Tyler James Williams and Vir Das.
Hemingson created and writes the series and serves as executive producer alongside Lawrence, Jeff Ingold and pilot director Peter Atencio. Foley is also a producer.
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