ABC at TCA: Hope for 'S.H.I.E.L.D,' Anthony Edwards' Return and 'Happy Endings' Future
"We were disappointed there weren't any big breakout hits on broadcast, including ABC," ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee tells reporters.
ABC took the spotlight Thursday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, with entertainment president Paul Lee noting the network has a lot to "shout about" and a lot to do. Featuring panels that included two from sibling network ABC Family, here's a look at the day's highlights.
Bunheads: Executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino addressed the ABC Family ballet drama's slower pacing. "If you burn through plot in an episode, how do you [last]?" Sherman-Palladino asked. "Longevity is important for someone with my Neiman's bills."
Pretty Little Liars: "Part of the fun of the show is trying to figure out who 'A' is, and I think they like not knowing," executive producer Marlene King said of viewers' expectations. Troian Bellisario reassured that should the "A" and Alison mysteries be fully solved, "these girls' stories will not be over."
Executive session: ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee noted the Disney-owned network has a lot to "shout about" and a lot to do. "We were disappointed there weren't any big breakout hits on broadcast, including ABC," he told reporters before touting his faith in rookie country music drama Nashville. Addressing the future of ratings-challenged comedies Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, he said a decision has yet to be made on the future of the comedies.
Red Widow: Executive producer Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight) said she's making key changes to the ABC version Penoza, on which it is based. After backing itself into a corner during its freshman run, the international incarnation had to retool at the eleventh hour after earning a second season. "We don't kill everyone," she told the TCA audience. "Some people die, but not all of them. For me, it's all about building characters and relationships you can cling to for five or seven years."
Zero Hour: The complex Anthony Edwards drama isn't a broadcast TV attempt at Tom Hanks' The Da Vinci Code, producers said. The conspiracy drama asks a lot of viewers, they acknowledged, but they said it will deliver results, with the show's central mystery explained by the end of its 13-episode run.
Shark Tank: CEOs featured on the ABC Friday night unscripted hit debated foreign manufacturing and making a show that appeals to viewers of all ages. "Shark Tank is making being an entrepreneur sexy -- and it's sexy to kids," Lori Greiner said. Added EP Clay Newbill: "This is reality TV at its best; it lets real people catapult their dreams into real reality…and teaches young people you can do something if you really apply yourself."
Mistresses: Producers behind the soapy summer series addressed changes to the British format and defended the Alyssa Milano starrer, saying it wasn't just about a group of women whoring around. "We deviate pretty early on," executive producer Rina Mimoun said. "We took a lot of what they had and front-loaded it" for familiarity.
Body of Proof: Following a reboot that saw four series regulars exit and Mark Valley join the Dana Delaney drama, producers said the changes for season three were an attempt to bring Megan's personal life into the office and make each episode an event. "The stories are bigger, the stakes higher, it's more thrilling, it's more adventuresome," EP Christopher Murphy said.
The Middle: The cast and creators of the fourth-season series don't mind being called "under-appreciated" or "underrated" in the crowded family comedy landscape. "Slow and steady wins the race," co-star Neil Flynn said. "Before you know it, we’ll have done 120 episodes. I’d much rather be perceived as underrated instead of overrated."
For more from TCA, stay tuned to THR.com, including a Party Diary going inside ABC's Thursday festivities with the casts of Nashville, Revenge, Scandal, Happy Endings and more.