'Big Sky' Snags Full-Season Order at ABC

ABC/Darko Sikman

ABC is extending the first season of Big Sky.

The network has ordered six more episodes of the David E. Kelley-created drama, bringing its total to 16 — about as close to a full-season order as network dramas are likely to get in 2020-21. Most network series, which started production and premiered later than usual thanks to the pandemic, are likely to fall short of their usual 22 to 24 episodes this season.

Based on a book series by C.J. Box, Big Sky centers on a private detective (Kylie Bunbury) and an ex-cop (Katheryn Winnick) who work together to solve a string of abductions in Montana. The cast also includes Brian Geraghty, Dedee Pfeiffer, Natalie Alyn Lind, Jade Pettyjohn, Jesse James Keitel, Valerie Mahaffey, John Carroll Lynch and Ryan Phillippe.

The show has faced criticism from Indigenous groups for a lack of Native American and Indigenous characters onscreen, particularly since "the disproportionate majority of missing and murdered women in Montana are Indigenous," per a letter from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and Global Indigenous Council sent to the show's producers in November.

Kelley and his fellow executive producers said in a statement last week that "our eyes have been opened to the outsized number of Native American and Indigenous women who go missing and are murdered each year, a sad and shocking fact," and that they would work to "bring attention" to the issue.

Global Indigenous Council president Tom Rodgers replied that no one from the show, ABC or parent company Disney had reached out to the council, but he "would be very interested" to hear any ideas.

Big Sky has put up decent but not great ratings for its initial airings, averaging about 4.25 million viewers the night it airs. It has taken off in delayed and multiplatform viewing, with the Nov. 17 series premiere growing 10.8 million viewers and a 2.5 rating in the key ad demographic of adults 18-49 across all platforms after a week.

Disney's 20th Television and A+E Studios produce the series. Kelley, Ross Fineman, Matthew Gross, Paul McGuigan, C.J. Box and Gwyneth Horder-Payton are the executive producers.