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Dancing with the Upfronts: ABC Orders Eight More New Series, Renews "Better Off Ted," "Castle," and "Scrubs"

A few days ahead of its upfront presentation to advertisers on Tuesday, ABC indicated several early pickups and renewals, creating a diverse slate of programming that includes six new dramas and two new comedies (in addition to several already previously announced) and a slew of surprising renewals.

ABC has gone ahead and reportedly handed out series orders to dramas The Forgotten, Happy Town, The Associates (which is also being referring to by some outlets as The Deep End), and Eastwick and comedies Cougar Town, Hank (a.k.a. Awesome Hank), and The Middle.

An updated version of sci-fi cult hit V, from The 4400 creator Scott Peters, is said to be on tap for midseason, though as of press time discussions are still ongoing between the network and studio Warner Bros. Television about the episodic order, with ABC said to have offered six episodes in a limited series format and the studio pushing for a larger episodic count.

The series pickups come on the heels of ABC's announcement last week that it had ordered ensemble sci-fi drama Flash Forward and comedy Modern Family to series.

Additionally, the Alphabet has announced renewals for freshman drama series Castle, starring Nathan Fillion, and comedies Scrubs and Better Off Ted, the latter of which made me jump with joy. (I had seriously considered a Ted a goner.)

Not such good news, however, for fans of ABC's freshman drama The Unusuals, which is not expected to return next season. (As I consider myself one of the series' few devoted viewers, it is bad news indeed.)

Scrubs is returning next season with Donald Faison, John C. McGinley, and Neil Flynn set to reprise their roles on the long-running comedy series. Zach Braff has signed on to appear in six episodes in order to help the series transition into a new storylines. However, one fly in the ointment: E! Online's Watch with Kristin is reporting that Sarah Chalke has yet to sign a similar deal and Judy Reyes is not yet under contract to return and "would more than likely be billed as a guest star." Additionally, series creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence is reportedly looking into altering the series' single-camera format as well, likely in order to reduce costs.

Castle and Better Off Ted, meanwhile, are both expected to return next season with thirteen episodes a piece. Given the number of comedies which were either ordered to series or renewed, it seems extremely likely that ABC will look to expand its comedy offerings to more than one evening next season. (Just don't expect any pickups for comedy pilots Canned, No Heroics, and Best Thing Ever, all of which are said to be out of the running completely.)

Looking for some more info on ABC's new series, expected to be announced on Tuesday? Look no further.

Flash Forward, from ABC Studios and creators Brannon Braga (24) and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight), follows a group of diverse strangers across the planet after a strange incident renders the entire planet's population unconscious for two minutes and seventeen seconds, during which they all glimpse into a period six months into their own future. A group of FBI agents attempts to construct a pattern of this occurence--codenamed The Mosaic--and find out its origins and just what these fragments are trying to tell them. Series stars Joseph Fiennes (Pretty/Handsome), John Cho (Star Trek), Jack Davenport (Swingtown), Sonya Walger (Lost), Zachary Knighton (Life on a Stick), Peyton List (Mad Men), Courtney B. Vance (ER), and Christine Woods (Welcome to the Captain). (For more on Flash Forward, you can read my advance review of the pilot script from December here.)

The Forgotten, from Warner Bros. Television and Jerry Bruckheimer Films & Television, stars Reiko Aylesworth (24), Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks), Rochelle Aytes (Drive), Michelle Borth (Tell Me You Love Me), Anthony Carrigan (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), and Bob Stephenson (Jericho) and revolves around a group of amateur crimefighters who belong to a group called the Identity Network that seeks to solve John Doe murder cases and bring their killers to justice.

Happy Town, from ABC Studios and executive producers Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Scott Rosenberg (all of whom worked on ABC's Life on Mars this season), focuses on a seemingly idyllic small town in Minnesota (nicknamed "Happy Town"), only just recoved after a slew of child abductions seven years earlier, is once again shaken to its core when another crime occurs. The series' ensemble cast includes Geoff Stults (October Road), Amy Acker (Dollhouse), John Patrick Amedori (Gossip Girl), Lauren German (Hostel: Part II), Sarah Gadon (Being Erica), Sam Neill (The Tudors), Dean Winters (Rescue Me), Robert Wisdom (The Wire), and Jay Paulson (October Road).

The Associates (a.k.a. The Deep End), from 20th Century Fox Television, was originally developed for this season and then retooled. Written and executive produced by David Hemingson (Kitchen Confidential), it follows a group of young associates and the well-dressed partners at a high-profile and cutthroat Los Angeles law firm both in and out of the office. It stars Tina Majorino (Big Love), Billy Zane (Samantha Who?), Ben Lawson (Neighbours), Matthew Long (Jack & Bobby), Clancy Brown (Carnivale), Norbert Leo Butz (Dan in Real Life), Leah Pipes (Life is Wild), and Sherri Saum (In Treatment).

Eastwick, from Warner Bros. Television, writer Maggie Friedman, and director David Nutter, is based on the 1987 film The Witches of Eastwick and follows a group of very different women in small town New England who are blessed (or is it cursed?) with supernatural powers and whose lives become intimately entangled with a devilishly seductive mystery man. The series stars Rebecca Romjin (Ugly Betty), Jaime Ray Newman (Veronica Mars), Lindsay Price (Lipstick Jungle), Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect), Ashley Benson (Days of Our Lives), Veronica Cartwright (The Nine), Paul Gross (Slings and Arrows) and Johann Urb (Dirt).

V, from writer/executive producer Scott Peters (The 4400), is expected to bow midseason as a limited "event" series and is based on the cult 1980s series about an alien invasion by manipulative reptilian aliens (albeit disguised behind human-like flesh) known as The Visitors. The series stars Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Morena Baccarin (Firefly), Joel Gretsch (The 4400), Morris Chestnut (The Perfect Holiday), Scott Wolf (The Nine), Alan Tudyk (Dollhouse), Lourdes Benedicto (Cashmere Mafia), and Logan Huffman (America).

Cougar Town, from Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, stars Courteney Cox (Dirt) as a newly divorced 40-year-old Florida realtor who faces reentry to the dating scene after raising a 17-year-old son (Dan Byrd). Series, from ABC Studios, also stars Christa Miller (Scrubs), Ian Gomez (Felicity), Josh Hopkins (Swingtown), Busy Phillipps (ER), and Brian Van Holt (John From Cincinnati).

Hank (a.k.a. Awesome Hank), from Warner Bros. Television and writer/executive producer Tucker Cawley (Everybody Loves Raymond), revolves around a laid-off Wall Street executive (Kelsey Grammer) who is forced on hard times and must return to his hometown with his wife and kids and reconnect with his family. Series also stars David Koechner (American Dad), Melinda McGraw (Mad Men), Macey Cruthird (Hope & Faith), and Ryan Wynott (Tell Me You Love Me).

The Middle, also from Warner Bros. Television and creators Eileen Heisler and Deanne Heline (Lipstick Jungle), was originally developed for ABC several years ago as a Ricki Lake vehicle. This time around it stars Patricia Heaton (Back to You), Neil Flynn (Scrubs), Charlie McDermott (Frozen River), Atticus Shafer (The Unborn), and Eden Sher (Sons & Daughters) as the members of a typical middle-class American family living in the Mid-west.

Modern Family, from 20th Century Fox Television and creators Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (Back to You), tracks the lives of three American families--one a traditional nuclear family, one a gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese baby, and the last an older man with a young Latina wife--as they are filmed by a Dutch documentary crew. Series stars Ed O'Neil (John from Cincinnati), Ty Burrell (Back to You), Sofia Vergara (Dirty Sexy Money), Julie Bowen (Boston Legal), Eric Stonestreet (This Might Hurt), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Do Not Disturb), Sarah Hyland (Lipstick Jungle), Nolan Gould (Eleventh Hour), and Ariel Winter (ER).

Earlier this year, ABC announced renewals for such series as Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Private Practice, America's Funniest Home Videos, Brothers & Sisters, Dancing with the Stars, Ugly Betty, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Supernanny, and Wife Swap.

ABC will unveil its full schedule to advertisers on Tuesday.


Anonymous said…
Seriously SCRUBS? Over THE UNUSUALS? Is ABC on crack???? SCRUBS should have been canned two seasons ago not renewed yet again. Some of the new shows sound cool and others sound awful. We'll see.
Tempest said…
I'm going to hold out hope for The Unusuals . . .

I am happy about Castle.
Heatherette said…
Yay Better Off Ted! Very good news! And I'm looking forward to (heh) Flash Forward and V too!
Savvy Veteran said…
What a great day! Chuck is renewed, and then my favorite new comedy (well, that and Party Down) Better Off Ted is renewed! I couldn't be more pleased.

On the other hand, I am not excited at the prospect of more Scrubs. It had a creative resurgence this year and was once again pretty terrific at times, and in my mind ended perfectly (the last episode was called "My Finale" for crying out loud). Why do they insist on continuing it? I don't think I've ever actually been disappointed that a show I really like has been renewed.
Anonymous said…
I love The Unusuals!!!!! I'm going to miss them.

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