While AMC’s The Walking Dead wrapped its fourth season last night, there were no premieres or finales on primetime broadcast TV on Sunday, but there sure was a lot of action. For one thing, CBS‘ primetime was pushed back more than 20 minutes on the East Coast and the Central time zone due to overruns from the NCAA Tournament. That slide means the networks’ ratings are all over the court and likely to see greater-than-usual adjustments when final numbers comes in later today. As it stands right now, 60 Minutes (2.5) started off the night at 7:30 PM, with The Amazing Race (2.0) at 8:30 PM and The Mentalist (1.6) at 10:30 PM. A week after the sudden and shocking death of male lead Josh Charles’ Will Gardner, The Good Wife (1.7) faced the fallout. As Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick struggled with the loss of her former lover, the show was up from last week’s 1.5 to match its second-best result among adults 18-49 of the season so far and, with 10.39 million watching, hit its second-best total viewership of the cycle. Of course, expect that to change in final numbers. Preliminary ratings have CBS winning the night with a 2.3/6 rating and 11.729 million watching.
NBC’s ads for midseason drama series Believe feature front and center its mastermind, newly minted Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón, touting his best director statuette for Gravity. Meanwhile, the promos for another heavily marketed midseason drama that premieres within a day of Believe, ABC’s Resurrection, don’t even mention the fact that it comes from the producers of best picture Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave. Brad Pitt’s Plan B is behind Resurrection, with the company’s two other principals, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, who shared in the best picture Oscar with him, executive producing the series. Just like Plan B’s 12 Years A Slave managed to top Gravity and seven other movies to land the biggest prize, ABC probably hopes its show would spark some ratings magic. And boy, does the network need some of that.
ABC is on an unenviable streak of three consecutive new drama entries hitting a 0.6 rating in adults 18-49 — an all-time low on a Big 4 network: The Assets (which was billed as a limited series), Killer Women and Mind Games. That, coupled with the 0.7 low marks for the long-forgotten Lucky 7 and Betrayal and the 0.8 for Once Upon A Time In Wonderland makes for a very dismal freshman drama record this season.
ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee was guilty of some wishful thinking this morning when he told TV critics he’s so proud of his network’s upcoming limited-series Resurrection because, among other things, it’s something he’s “not seeing on television at the moment.” Resurrection, premiering Sunday, March 9, is about a small town in Missouri in which people who have been dead for years have turned up alive again and not a day older than the day they died – starting with 8-year-old Jacob who died more than three decades earlier and suddenly turns up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province.
Days earlier, Sundance Channel announced it had renewed for a second season The Returned, about a small French town in which some of the residents one day get on with their lives, not realizing they’ve been dead for years. The French series is based on the 2004 French film called Les Revenants. The second season is about to go into production and will debut on Sundance in late 2014. And, if that’s not enough, A&E is developing an English-language adaptation of Les Revenants. ABC’s limited series is based on Jason Mott’s novel The Returned.
EXCLUSIVE: Omar Epps will star in One Small Mistake, a neo-noir thriller about a man searching for truth and justice in a bigoted small town. British Emmy-nominated Alexander Harvey is directing a script adapted by Guy Bennett from French …
ABC has firmed up its midseason scheduling plans. With Super Fun Night only getting a Back 4 order, the network will try out another new comedy series, Mixology, in the Wednesday 9:30 PM slot behind Modern Family. The high-concept series, which takes place at a bar over the course of one night and features a 10-member core cast, will premiere on February 26. ABC previously used flagship Modern Family to launch another single-camera young ensemble comedy, Happy Endings, which recently ended its run. Meanwhile, Suburgatory will return to its original Tuesday 8:30 PM slot where it was so successful in its first season, launching Season 3 on January 15 to succeed departing Back In The Game.
ABC is making changes to some previously announced midseason moves. Once Upon A Time and Revenge are still slated to return from their winter hiatuses on March 9, joined by new drama Resurrection. But Revenge will move to 10 PM, with Resurrection taking over its 9 PM slot. With its supernatural theme (Resurrection is about deceased loved ones returning to a small town), it is considered a better fit for dark-ish fairytale drama Once than the glitzy soap Revenge. On Thursday, ABC was to launch adventure reality series The Quest, from The Amazing Race creators, on January 2. The competition has now been pushed to summer, with cooking reality series The Taste and CIA drama The Assets taking over Thursday night while Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are on hiatus, returning on February 27. In another tweak, Nashville — originally slated to go on hiatus like Once, Grey’s and Scandal under ABC’s newly adopted split-season model before returning on February 26 — will now stay on, airing a total of four originals in January and February. I hear ABC brass felt that maybe they were taking too many dramas off, and Nashville‘s strong DVR following could help it through repeats. Of the freshman dramas, Betrayal will have aired its entire limited-run first season before it goes off the air, while Once Upon A Time In Wonderland will air its fall finale on Dec. 12 and will return with a few more originals in the spring. New procedurals Killer Women and Mind Games will split the Tuesday 10 PM slot previously occupied by cancelled drama Lucky 7. Here are ABC’s new mideason premiere dates, followed by descriptions of the new series:
LD Entertainment has committed to produce/finance Resurrection, with Kevin Reynolds directing a film about the first 40 days after the death of Jesus Christ. Patrick Aiello is producing with LD Entertainment CEO Mickey Liddell, and the film is eyeing an Easter Weekend 2015 berth. This joins the growing volume of films derived from the New and Old Testaments. Scripted by Paul Aiello, The Resurrection is told through the eyes of an agnostic Roman Centurion charged by Pontius Pilate to investigate rumors of a risen Jewish Messiah and to locate Christ’s missing body in order to subdue an imminent uprising in Jerusalem. Along Centurion’s mission, his doubts of such a supernatural occurrence peel away as he encounters the Apostles and other historic Biblical characters and reviews the events following the Resurrection. Liddell described the film as Gladiator in tone.
UPDATED: ABC today revealed its midseason scheduling plans that support the strategy for limited runs of its serialized dramas laid out by topper Paul Lee at the upfronts. New drama Resurrection will debut March 9, taking over the Sunday 10 PM slot from another serialized rookie which will have a limited-run first season, Betrayal. Similarly, new reality series The Quest will premiere Jan. 2, following the the first 8 episodes of the Once Upon A Time spinoff, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, which will air in the fall through mid-December. The remaining four originals will get on the air once The Quest ends its run, and Lee indicated today that additional episodes could be added to the spring cycle. ABC also has set midseason return dates for its older serialized dramas, Grey’s Anatomy, Nashville, Once Upon a Time, Revenge and Scandal, whose seasons will be split in two stretches of largely all-original episodes, one in the fall and one in the spring. Here are ABC’s midseason premiere dates: