Sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter that the Karey Burke-led network is eyeing a potential second season of the action drama from Warner Bros. TV and showrunner Bill Lawrence. A determination on whether ABC will reverse its cancellation decision is expected to come by the end of this week.
Shackled with a title Jimmy Kimmel mercilessly roasted at the 2018 upfronts, the action dramedy starring Scandal grad Scott Foley and The Walking Dead favorite Lauren Cohan more than doubled its 18-49 rating with a week of delayed viewing and has a similar profile to that of the renewed drama The Rookie. The series, from David Hemingson and Warner Bros. TV-based Lawrence, was among ABC’s top priorities as the network scheduled the rom-com-infused series in its prime post-Oscar slot as Burke looks to bring women back to the network.
Helping ABC’s case is the fact that Wednesday’s season finale ticked up to a 0.7 in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic and 3.8 million total viewers — thanks in part to the strength of its lead-in, the live re-creation of Norman Lear’s The Jeffersons and All in the Family.
Burke has said that the decision to cancel Whiskey Cavalier after one season was particularly “tough” — the series was ABC’s last bubble-show decision. “We thought we gave it a very strong launch [out of the Oscars] this spring, but we lost audience,” she told reporters on her upfronts press call. “We looked for other time slots, but did not see a real opportunity.”
Still, ABC picked up only six new series for the 2018-19 broadcast season — the fewest in years — and has room on its schedule for midseason, which could leave an opening for Whiskey Cavalier‘s return. For his part, Warner Bros. TV’s Peter Roth singled out the Whiskey Cavalier cancellation as his hardest call to make this season and has said his studio won’t give up the fight for a second season.
Cancellation reversals are not uncommon. NBC flipped the script on its Timeless cancellation and saw that show return for a subsequent season — and wrap-up movie — after producers Sony TV turned the series into a co-production. Last year, NBC revived Brooklyn Nine-Nine days after Fox’s decision to ax the Andy Samberg comedy. Helping matters on the Brooklyn Nine-Nine front was the fact that NBC’s studio sibling — Universal TV — owned the series. But a Whiskey Cavalier reversal would come as a big surprise, as it is rare to see the same network reverse its decision within a week. ABC has a couple of pilots still in contention for midseason — like NYPD Blue and Heart of Life — and should those not work out well, Whiskey Cavalier could be a good fit to ABC’s midseason roster.
Meanwhile, other studios are also taking a second look at canceled series (like Speechless) and passed-over pilots in an era where one network’s pass is another outlet’s prized possession. Last year, Designated Survivor moved to Netflix after ABC’s cancellation — the streamer already had SVOD rights to the Kiefer Sutherland drama, which remains a strong international performer.