As movie sequels dominate the box office with more than 30 slated this year alone, including Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2 and Hangover 3, television too is increasingly relying on expanding TV franchises. In a symbolic move, as the last CSI spinoff, CSI: NY, bowed out this season, a record three new spinoff series are joining the broadcast schedule for next season: The Once Upon A Time spinoff Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, The Vampire Diaries offshoot The Originals on the CW, and Chicago Fire‘s Chicago PD on NBC. They will join returning spinoffs NCIS: LA and Law & Order: SVU. Of the four spinoff projects that were in consideration for next season, only one, CBS’ NCIS: Red, didn’t get a series pickup. “Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t,” CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said last week about the decision. “Protecting (the NCIS franchise) was really important.” She indicated that the network is open to trying the spinoff again. Indeed, I hear there is talk about revisiting NCIS: Red with a new cast.
Once a staple in comedy with All In The Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Cosby Show, Cheers and Family Guy among the slew of hit series to launch spinoffs, offshoots are primarily limited to drama these days. NBC tried to break the trend with The Office this season, but the proposed spinoff didn’t take off. And, eager to capitalize on their successful series, the networks tend to spin them off earlier then ever. Chicago Fire had been on the air less than a season when NBC plotted the Chicago PD spinoff. Once Upon A Time is launching a spinoff only two seasons into its run. In the past, the networks normally waited at least four seasons for a series to establish itself before launching an offshoot. The major exception was the CSI franchise whose expansion was done methodically, adding a new series every two years.
Spinoffs are not as prevalent on cable where they’re mostly used as an attempt to extend the life of a hit series after it ends, like Battlestar Galactica‘s offshoot Caprica on Syfy, The Closer‘s Major Crimes on TNT and the Breaking Bad spinoff in the works at AMC.
ABC is changing things up in scheduling some of its serialized dramas. Taking a page from the cable model, the network will air what ABC president Paul Lee called “a selected group” of dramas in two uninterrupted runs, one in the fall and one in the spring, bridged by limited series. The series that will follow the new scheduling pattern include Once Upon A Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and likely Revenge, with others TBD. So far, the network only has set up a bridge series for Once, new adventure reality series The Quest. Lee said such bridge series won’t necessarily be all unscripted. Two cycles of 12 episodes would bring the total orders for the shows to 24, which is hard on a complex, serialized drama, but Lee indicated that number has not been set in stone. He said that the network is looking to further shake up the traditional broadcast scheduling model with “quality launches” throughout the season. Lee also said that new fall drama Betrayal is designed as a limited series, airing 12-13 episodes a season. The same applies to midseason drama Resurrection, which will replace it in the Sunday 10 PM slot in midseason.
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Days after last year’s upfront in New York, History‘s Hatfields & McCoys burst onto the scene, shattering ratings records and reviving the limited-event series form. Over the last 12 months, event series have continued to gain momentum, with History launching another blockbuster in The Bible, and Fox, FX and Spike announcing big pushes in the arena. The genre also has been factoring into the network’s ongoing pilot discussions and may have presence at the upfronts next week. “It seems to be the du jour concept these days,” one industry insider said. “If you call a drama a limited event series, you maintain series options on the actors while at the same time maintain the project’s international value. And if you market them well, they bring in audience.”
One of the highest-profile drama prospects for next season, ABC’s Once Upon A Time spinoff, has been developed as a limited series to air 13-episode arcs every season in the vein of FX’s American Horror Story. Such a potential scenario also has been mentioned for a number of other serialized/high-concept drama pilots should they get a series order: ABC’s Gothica and Big Thunder, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow and CBS’ Hostages. CBS already is branching into the genre this coming summer with Under The Dome, originally developed as a regular series. The CW, whose president Mark Pedowitz last season was among the first to embrace the concept, did midseason entry Cult as a limited-type series and is looking to do more next season, with The Selection among those considered for a limited run. Fox’s The Following and ABC’s Red Widow too had been conceived with cable-style shorter seasons in mind. Read More »
English-born Australian actress Sophie Lowe has landed the lead in ABC‘s Once Upon A Time spinoff project, which now has a title, Once: Wonderland. Also cast in the presentation, from Once Upon A Time creators … Read More »
British actor Michael Socha has landed one of the three leads in ABC‘s Once Upon A Time spinoff presentation. The project, from Once Upon A Time creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, takes place in pre-curse Wonderland. The story is told through the point of view of Alice, who is surrounded by two major characters, The Knave of Hearts (Socha), a sardonic adventurer, a man of action, a loner and a heart-breaker; and Amahl, described as exotic, soulful and optimistic. Kitsis and Horowitz are writing the 15-20-page, four-scene presentation with input from Zack Estrin and Jane Espenson. Production is slated to begin April 7 in Vancouver, immediately following the season wrap of Once there. Read More »
ABC‘s Red Widow arguably had the biggest marketing campaign of any midseason series, including plum spots during the network’s Oscar broadcast last Sunday. For all that promotional blitz, the two-hour premiere of the mob drama fell short, extending the underwhelming track record of this year’s crop of broadcast midseason replacements. Red Widow drew a 1.4/4 among adults 18-49 from 9-11 PM and 6.9 million viewers. That was down 36% from last midseason’s debut of GCB and this fall’s opener for 666 Park Avenue. Both Sunday 10 PM ABC dramas had hourlong premieres and both have been cancelled. On the bright side, Red Widow saw very little audience erosion throughout its two-hour debut, indicating a possible future cult following. Leading into Red Widow was Once Upon a Time (2.1/6), which didn’t benefit from the Oscar exposure either, down 13% from its last original two weeks ago to a series low. Read More »
Once Upon A Time may be wrapping up its sophomore season in Neverland. Ahead of tonight’s new episode, the cast and showrunners of ABC‘s fairy tale drama revealed that the first episode in their season-ending two-parter will be titled “Second Star To The Right” followed by the finale “And Straight On Til Morning”. A new character will be teased but not revealed until the third season, which show creators Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz also promised would include the backstory of fan favorite Captain Hook (Season 2 regular Colin O’Donoghue).
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EXCLUSIVE UPDATED: The Mad Hatter may get his own series. I’ve learned that ABC brass are mulling spinning the character from fairytale drama Once Upon A Time into his own series. I hear ABC’s original plan was … Read More »
When volunteers dressed as Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers helped build a house on an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition special a month after Disney‘s acquisition of Lucasfilm was announced, the Mouse House dismissed the corporate synergy as a coincidence as the ABC special had been filmed a year prior. But that cannot be said about tonight’s episode of ABC’s fairytale drama Once Upon A Time, which featured the Star Wars music theme. Incorporating Star Wars into the show is tricky as it takes place almost exlusively in fairytale world — past and present. But the first chance the producers had to introduce Star Wars since the Lucasfilm acquisition — when a guy from Pennsylvania drives into fairytale Storybrooke — they took it: When the stranger’s cell phone rang, its ringtone was the Star Wars theme. The homage shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Once Upon A Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are self-professed “massive Star Wars fans.” Read More »
HBO’s The Newsroom, NBC’s Revolution and ABC’s Once Upon A Time are the first announced participants for the 30th edition of The Paley Center For Media’s TV confab, which will run March 1-15, 2013 at the Saban … Read More »