ABC Cancels 'Wicked City'

Wicked City - H 2015
ABC/Eric McCandless

Wicked City - H 2015

After nearly two months since the start of the 2015-16 broadcast season, the first official cancellation has come in.

Following three low-rated episodes, ABC has opted to pull anthology drama Wicked City from its schedule, effective immediately, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Starting Nov. 17, repeats of Shark Tank will take over the drama's Tuesday at 10 p.m. slot. Production on Wicked City will conclude after episode eight, which is currently filming. It's unclear when (or if) the five unaired episodes will be broadcast. 

The 1980s-set true-crime procedural starring Ed Westwick and Erika Christensen opened to dismal reviews and an equally disappointing 0.9 in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic and 3.3 million total viewers against the World Series in its Tuesday at 10 p.m. slot. Week 2 dropped 22 percent in the demo to a 0.7 before reaching a 0.4 in the adults under 50 set — the lowest number for a Big Four original telecast this fall.

Produced in-house by ABC Studios and Mandeville Television, the drama from Steven Baigelman and showrunner Amy Harris (The Carrie Diaries) becomes the first official series to be canceled and outright removed from the schedule. (The plan for Wicked City — which also underwent two title changes since pilot season — was to reboot itself with a new case every season, a la American Crime and American Horror Story with much of the same cast returning for new roles. Both Christensen and co-star Taissa Farmiga inked one-year deals.)

This season, the broadcast networks have been playing a long game and waiting for three-, seven- and, perhaps optimistically, 30-day DVR returns before making any official judgments, as live viewership continues to become less of a factor in determining success and "trimming" episode orders has effectively become the new canceled.

Also a factor in DOA shows continuing to remain on the schedule is both the lack of a bench for replacement series and broadcasters' unwillingness to quickly slot replacement shows in place of struggling rookies. The latter would essentially set up the replacement series for failure as it takes time (and money) to market a series and build an awareness/audience amid a crowded landscape.

News of Wicked City's demise comes after NBC renewed freshman Blindspot for a second season — making the 2015-16 season a rare instance when a first-year show was renewed before one was canceled.

Among ABC's other freshman class, the network has handed out additional episode orders to comedies The Muppets (three), Dr. Ken (nine) and drama Quantico (six). On the flipside, the network trimmed the order for struggling Sunday drama Blood and Oil (by three).

Wicked City's demise comes as ABC continues to struggle on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Originally, the network scheduled Quantico for the slot, but moved it to Sundays after biblical saga Of Kings and Prophets was being retooled and was pushed from fall.

ABC opened the season with Shark Tank spinoff Beyond the Tank as Wicked City, like others this fall, underwent numerous recastings and needed to reshoot the pilot before bowing in late October.

Last season, the network found moderate success with procedural Forever, but opted to cancel the Warner Bros. Television-produced series after one season as part of its effort to take more of an ownership stake in its programming. Two years ago, ABC saw three series fail in the same slot: Killer Women, Mind Games and Lucky 7.

ABC's bench, meanwhile, consists of first-year dramas The Family as well as Kings and Prophets in addition to comedies Uncle Buck and The Real O'Neals.