11:52am PT by Lesley Goldberg, Kate Stanhope
ABC Renews 'Grey's,' 'Scandal,' 'Middle,' 'SHIELD,' 'Modern Family,' 10 More
Two weeks after being tapped as ABC entertainment president, Channing Dungey is doing something her predecessor, Paul Lee, never did: hand out early renewals. The former head of drama at ABC Studios on Thursday renewed several series — including multiple shows from outside studios.
Returning for additional seasons are America's Funniest Home Videos, The Bachelor, Black-ish, Dancing With the Stars, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, Agents of SHIELD, The Middle, Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Shark Tank and Quantico.
The renewals mark Dungey's first official duties as head of the network and come after Lee historically waited until the Friday before upfronts in May to announce both returning shows as well as his new series pickups. Perhaps what's more interesting is that amid a landscape of more vertically aligned networks and studios, Dungey's early renewals include multiple series from outside studios including Sony Pictures Television (The Goldbergs), 20th Century Fox Television (Modern Family, Fresh Off the Boat) and Warner Bros. Television (The Middle).
“We’re very proud of our strong roster of performers, and we’re excited about what they will bring us creatively next season,” Dungey said in making the announcement.
Here's a look at what has officially been renewed for the 2016-17 broadcast season:
Grey's Anatomy, in its first full season without male lead Patrick Dempsey, has reinvented itself. In its 12th season, the Shonda Rhimes/Betsy Beers ABC Studios drama has become TGIT's best performing series — frequently topping Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. The renewal brings the medical drama starring Ellen Pompeo closer to ER's impressive 15-season run, which sources say is a goal for the Shondaland drama. Rhimes, for her part, continues to be ABC's most valued showrunner. In addition to Grey's, Scandal and Murder, Rhimes also produces midseason drama The Catch and has two pilots in the works — drama Still Star-Crossed and Scott Foley comedy Toast, the latter serving as the production company's first half-hour. Grey's will return for its 13th season.
Rhimes' Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn starrer will return for its sixth season. The drama, from ABC Studios, has continued to be a solid performer in its second season on Thursdays at 9 p.m. Factoring in DVR, Scandal has begun to show its age and no longer ranks as TGIT's top performer though it is still a top 10 series. This season, Olivia (Washington) finally went public with her relationship with the president (Goldwyn), helping to reinvigorate the series creatively, though the romantic pairing didn't last. Never shy to touch on major issues, the series featured a Christmas abortion and is currently taking on the presidential election with its first lady (Bellamy Young) running for office in a storyline that mirrors Hillary Clinton. As for the show's future beyond season six, Rhimes said at the top of season four that her fast-paced game-changing series isn't a "10-season or eight-season show. ... I've already decided when Scandal is ending," she told THR. "I think there's only so much Scandal you can tell satisfactorily. The Fitz-Liv thing can only be told so long and in such a way. … I've already decided how long that is and what that's going to be."
How to Get Away With Murder
The Viola Davis starrer from showrunner Pete Nowalk and exec produced by Rhimes will return for a third season. Produced by ABC Studios, Murder has begun to show viewer fatigue this season as the series — which relies heavily on flashbacks, and flash-forwards — has hit a string of series lows. The sophomore slump comes as little surprise after Murder ranked as one of the highest-rated freshman series last year. The series will likely feature another short-order of 15 episodes to accommodate both star Davis' feature work as well as its roller-coaster plot. The drama, which is approaching its March 17 season two finale, will give way to Rhimes-produced midseason entry The Catch in its Thursday at 10 p.m. slot, keeping ABC's TGIT block in tact.
In its third season, the "1980-something" family comedy inspired by the life of showrunner Adam F. Goldberg has continued to find its groove. The Sony Pictures Television-produced comedy will return for its fourth season after it has helped solidify ABC's Wednesday night comedy block. This week, the network tested the comedy starring Wendi McLendon-Covey and Jeff Garlin in the 8 p.m. slot, where its Dirty Dancing-themed tribute episode tipped up week-over-week and bested The Middle in the time slot with an impressive 2.0 among the adults 18-49 demo.
Once Upon a Time
The season-six pickup comes just days ahead of the fantasy series' 100th episode — an important mark for syndication. The ABC Studios drama continues to draw stable ratings on Sundays, averaging 8 million viewers. The Disney-owned network continues to use Once as a way to feature strong brand integration, with many of its popular Disney characters coming to life on the multiple-universe drama. When speaking about the milestone episode with The Hollywood Reporter, creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis sound open to a long run for the synergistic series, possibly with different characters taking the lead at some point down the road.
Fresh Off the Boat
Produced from outside studio 20th Century Fox Television, the third-season renewal for the 1990s Asian-American family comedy should be seen as a vote of confidence from Dungey. The executive has made diversity a top priority, and the renewal for the bubble comedy produced by an outside studio is a key sign that she's open to allowing time for series to find their creative legs. The critical darling is currently part of ABC's Tuesday night comedy block and has had an uphill battle with the low-rated Muppets revival as a lead-in. The series, picked up for a 13-episode sophomore season, received a back-nine order after the Nahnatchka Khan-produced comedy built on its freshman ratings.
One of ABC's few freshman drama hits, the series has also proven to be one of the biggest network breakouts of the season. In addition to ranking as Sunday's top scripted series among adults 18-49, the FBI thriller enjoys impressive double-digit gains when DVR is factored in. (The show's winter finale jumped 100 percent in live-plus-seven numbers.) Produced in-house and by Grey's Anatomy executive producer Mark Gordon, Quantico has also been a point of pride for ABC in its continued to efforts to diversify with Bollywood veteran turned small-star screen Priyanka Chopra.
Now entering its eighth, season, Modern Family has seen better days. (Ratings are down 15 percent year over year.) However, the five-time Emmy winner still continues to be one of the network's biggest draws — and one of the most successful comedies on network television, only second to The Big Bang Theory. Produced by outside studio 20th Century Fox Television, the ensemble comedy is one of ABC's more costly entries and many within the industry see the series nearing its endpoint. Subsequently, family comedies have been hot this pilot season as the Big 4 look to find the heir to the Modern Family throne.
Black-ish's renewal comes as the family comedy continues to gain steam with both viewers and critics. The Anthony Anderson-led comedy has generated headlines this season with episodes tackling hot-button issues like the N-word and police brutality. After years of searching for a proper companion to hit Modern Family, Black-ish has filled that space nicely thanks to impressive retention of the veteran comedy's audience. The half-hour single-cam hails from ABC Studios, where creator and showrunner Kenya Barris has a lucrative multiyear deal.
Dancing With the Stars
Just as the cast for its 22nd cycle is poised to be announced, ABC has given an early sign of confidence to the reality competition series with a renewal for a 23rd season. The reality staple saw its season 21 finale draw its highest demo rating in a year with a 2.4 rating — though that was down year-over-year. The series remains a valuable piece of the network's portfolio as the celebrity-starved competition continues to take up a valuable amount of real estate on Mondays.
America's Funniest Home Videos
The little engine that could will return for a 27th season with new host Alfonso Ribeiro. The network was able to bank the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star's win on Dancing With the Stars to help reinvigorate the clip show. The series remains a stable piece of ABC's Sunday night lineup at 7 p.m.
Left on the Bubble
As for the bubble shows, that list is topped by Castle, which again hinges on whether or not stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic will sign new deals to return for a ninth season of the veteran procedural. Produced in-house, Lee told reporters in January that conversations were underway to keep the series going in the event that neither of its two leads returned. Insiders say ABC TV Group president Ben Sherwood wanted Lee to focus on more procedural fare — which would make returning Castle a priority given that most of the network's drama pilots (picked up under Lee) are soaps.
Also on the bubble is country music soap Nashville, which has seen its viewership erode in its fourth season. The Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere drama is a co-production between ABC Studios and Lionsgate TV and does offer a second revenue stream from its music and album downloads featuring original music produced and performed on the country soap as well as from its annual tours.
Considered unlikely to return is Dan Fogelman's Galavant, a pricey musical comedy that had support largely from Lee and a handful of critics — but was rumored to be the opposite of the kind of show Sherwood was looking for from the network.
John Ridley's critical and awards season darling American Crime, an anthology that reboots its story and some cast every season, is also left on the bubble. Despite rave reviews and Emmy wins, the series has failed to catch on with viewers. Ridley, for his part, also has a drama pilot in the works at the network that leans more into the procedural format that top brass are said to be leaning toward.
Still to be determined is Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing — which this season hit the key 100-episode milestone. Already sold in syndication, the series — which hails from 20th Century Fox Television — has continued to defy the odds on Fridays and attract a small but loyal following as part of the network's multicamera block with freshman Dr. Ken.
Meanwhile, the fate of rest of the network's freshman class has yet to be determined. That includes The Muppets — which quietly wrapped its troubled freshman run; The Family — which debuts Thursday; comedy Real O'Neals — which opened well Wednesday; as well as yet to debut The Catch, Of Kings and Prophets and Uncle Buck. The verdict is still out on Dr. Ken, with Blood and Oil and Wicked City already canceled.