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ABC’s 2014-15 season is finally starting to fall into place. After months of customary radio silence on the renewal front, the first scripted series to get season orders for the coming year are Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge, Castle, Once Upon a Time and midseason freshman Resurrection. (As for new series, ABC has thus far committed to Black-ish, American Crime and Shonda Rhimes‘ How to Get Away With Murder.)
Resurrection, starring Omar Epps, had the right concept at the right time, as the show about dead people returning to life in the small town of Arcadia debuted to a network Sunday best with a 3.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 13.3 million total viewers. Adding DVR, the drama from exec producers Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas is averaging an impressive 4.0 in the demo — up 48 percent from its same-day delivery. Based on the book by Jason Mott, the series set up a second season during its May 4 season finale, with a major reveal and cliffhanger that changes the game for its second run. The series is one of only two freshman dramas to earn a second season at the network.
Meanwhile, writing duo Butters and Fazekas will likely have two series on the air in 2014-15, with the pair serving as showrunners on Marvel’s Captain America spinoff Agent Carter, which, like Resurrection, is expected to have a short order.
Scandal, the fast-paced Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn starrer from Shonda Rhimes, achieved mega-hit status in its third season, regularly topping lead-in Grey’s Anatomy and averaging a 3.0 among adults 18-49 and growing to a 4.6 when adding seven days of DVR viewing. Among total viewers, Scandal‘s 9 million weekly average grows to nearly 13 million when adding seven days of DVR for its third season, which was trimmed to 18 episodes to accommodate Emmy nominee Washington’s pregnancy. Likely helping the show’s breakout ratings performance was the show’s early syndication deal with BET, with episodes airing shortly after they bow on ABC.
This season, the political thriller catapulted to must-see status, earning its first Peabody Award to go alongside its Emmy win for guest star Dan Bucatinsky (whose character was killed off this season). Supporting players Bellamy Young and Guillermo Diaz are also generating Emmy buzz again this season. The show, which thanks to the cast’s weekly live tweets has become a must-watch-live, two-screen experience, also proved it was not immune to behind-the-scenes drama when the option on co-star Columbus Short‘s contract was not picked up for season four following charges of domestic violence.
As for Grey’s Anatomy, the veteran Shonda Rhimes drama will be back for its 11th season — without original star Sandra Oh. The actress announced in August that season 10 would be her last, and the show will wrap up her story line during the May 15 season finale. The renewal comes as no surprise, as the medical drama still remains one of ABC’s top franchises, with a massive global audience. While Oh has departed, original stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey both inked new two-year deals to remain on the ABC Studios medical drama. They’ll be joined by original stars Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr. and Justin Chambers — as well as Sara Ramirez — who also signed new two-year deals to return.
Out the door this season are regulars Tessa Ferrer and Gaius Charles, whose options were not picked up for season 11. Rhimes will continue on as showrunner, with Stacy McKee and Bill Harper taking over as co-head writers in place of co-showrunners Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, who exited for a development deal at CBS Television Studios. In its 10th season, Grey’s ranks as ABC’s top DVR performer, adding nearly 2 million viewers among adults 18-49 to average a 4.6 in the demo and 12.5 million total viewers including seven days of delayed viewing, all with practically no lead-ins, as ABC continues to struggle on Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Fantasy drama Once Upon a Time, a prime example of the Disney-owned network’s corporate synergy, softened a bit in its third season, averaging a 2.2 among adults 18-49 — off five-tenths of a point year-over-year. With DVR, the fairy-tale drama jumps 55 percent to a 3.4 and 9.6 million total viewers on Sundays.
The ABC Studios series starring Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin in a dual-universe Snow White story also spawned an Alice in Wonderland-themed spinoff, though after originally being envisioned as a short-order series to air during the flagship’s midseason hiatus, it was moved to the historically problematic Thursdays at 8 p.m. slot. While the offshoot won’t see a second season, co-star Michael Socha will head to the mothership series as a regular for its fourth season.
The ABC Studios procedural Castle, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, is a sturdy performer for the network on Monday nights opposite increased competition this season from NBC’s breakout drama The Blacklist and CBS’ non-starters Hostages and Intelligence. The drama, which will return for a seventh season, is averaging nearly 2 million viewers among adults 18-49 and 10 million total viewers, rising to 3.2 million and 14.4 million with DVR, respectively, good enough for fourth among ABC’s dramas in the demo.
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