May 10, 2013 5:35pm PT by Lesley Goldberg , Michael O'Connell
ABC Cancels 'Happy Endings,' 'Body of Proof,' 'Malibu Country,' 'Red Widow'
ABC has canceled Happy Endings after three seasons, in addition to axing Body of Proof, Red Widow and Malibu Country. Despite a loyal and vocal following, the Sony Pictures Television comedy will not continue on at the network.
ABC moved the ensemble comedy in its third season to be part of their Tuesday comedy block. However, the lineup was the first to crumble against similar efforts on Fox and NBC. ABC shifted to reality programming on Tuesdays and moved Happy Endings to Fridays, where it most recently finished its run with a back-to-back episode burn-off.
Its May 3 season finale scored a 0.8 and 0.7 rating among adults 18 to 49, a modest uptick. Season-to-date it's averaged a 1.5 rating among adults 18 to 49 in Live+Seven Day returns, posting more DVR growth after moving to the little-watched Friday hour.
Sony TV has committed to shopping the critical darling to cable, with USA Network among those expressing an interest in continuing on with the series, which ABC recently marketed with a "Save Happy Endings" tag line.
"We love those two shows. They're incredibly distinctive, and they're water cooler shows," ABC boss Paul Lee said in January, also referring to the now-defunct Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23.
Still in Happy Endings' corner is a particularly aggressive studio: Sony TV. The producers previously facilitated the move of struggling Cougar Town from ABC to TBS and have been instrumental in keeping perpetually on-the-bubble Community on NBC.
A midseason entry in 2011, Happy Endings finishes its ABC run having produced 57 episodes. It was created by David Caspe, who serves as co-showrunner with fellow EPS Jonathan Groff and, until recently, Josh Bycel. The latter inked an overall deal at NBC/Universal TV in March.
Meanwhile, Malibu Country, starring Reba McEntire, finished its freshman run with a respectable average of 7 million total viewers and a 1.7 rating among adults under 50 but will not continue on. The series earned an abbreviated full season with an additional order for five episodes along with Friday companion Last Man Standing as part of ABC's TGIF lineup. During its run, the series burned through two showrunners, including Nastaran Dibai, who stepped down after replacing creator Kevin Abbott, who exited when he entered rehab. While not a break-out hit for ABC, the series has a built-in base of dedicated McEntire fans and is among the network's less expensive fare.
Also gone is Body of Proof. Even following a creative reboot in its third season, the Dana Delany starrer will not be back for a fourth round. The ABC Studios' Tuesday drama has averaged 7.8 million total viewers and a 1.9 in the adult demo, on par with its second season after getting off to a slow start this year. The series, which featured a handful of cast departures, tweaked its medical procedural format to focus more on law enforcement, adding co-stars Mark Valley and Elyes Gabel this year. It was one of several creative reboots that included Fox's Touch and Glee as well as NBC's Smash. The series ranked as ABC's third-most-watched series behind Grey's Anatomy and Dancing With the Stars.
For its part, Red Widow, starring Radha Mitchell and based on the Dutch format, completed its eight-episode run Sunday, averaging 1.1 in the demo and 5 million viewers -- continuing ABC's string of lackluster midseason entries, such as the ill-fated Anthony Edwards entry Zero Hour, axed after two episodes.
Family Tools, b ased on the British format, starring Kyle Bornheimer, premiered late and low. It was ABC's lowest-rated comedy debut ever, down 12 percent from the critically panned rookie The Neighbors in the Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. slot.
How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, a semi-autobiographical entry from Claudia Lonow starring Sarah Chalke, had a solid debut in late April, notching a 2.9 in the demo after taking over the time slot previously occupied by Suburgatory. Without the benefit of original episodes of lead-in Modern Family, the freshman comedy from 20th Television posted double-digit declines. In its young run, the series averaged 2.4 in the demo and 7 million viewers.