ABC has canceled freshman drama Emergence and sophomore comedies Bless This Mess, Single Parents and Schooled as well as the new Kids Say The Darndest Things revival with Tiffany Haddish.
This cancelations are part of a big round of renewal decisions at the Disney-owned network today, which included the pickup of 13 current series for its 2020-21 slate.
While the cancellation of Emergence was considered likely, bubble comedies Single Parents, Bless This Mess and The Goldbergs’ spinoff Schooled all getting the axe was surprising, especially given the auspices involved. Two other ABC bubble shows, freshmen For Life and The Baker and the Beauty, remain in limbo.
The coronavirus pandemic grounding production and throwing the 2020 pilot season into chaos was expected to benefit bubble series. While ABC has only ordered two new shows straight-to-series, Big Sky, from David E. Kelley and Call Your Mother, from Kari Lizer, the network, possibly encouraged by the strong end to the 2019-20 season, went a little deeper with its cancellations, pulling the plug on three sophomore shows. (ABC is coming off the longest winning streak of the season, ranking or tying for No. 1 in adults 18-49 on 10 consecutive weeks and becoming the No.1 broadcast network among adults 18-49 in entertainment, excluding sports programming, for the 2019-20 season.)
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While there was a real chance that Bless This Mess and Single Parents — both from leading studio 20th Century Fox TV and both co-created and executive produced by one of the studio’s top showrunners, New Girl creator Liz Meriwether — won’t make it, few expected that neither would be back next season. Of the two, Bless This Mess, which delivered respectable ratings behind ABC flagship comedy The Conners, had a slight edge. It was co-created and starred Lake Bell, while Single Parents was co-created by another big name, J.J. Philbin.
Single Parents followed a group of single parents as they lean on each other to help raise their 7-year-old kids and maintain some kind of personal lives outside of parenthood with stars Leighton Meester, Taran Killam, Kimrie Lewis, Jake Choi and Brad Garrett. However, numbers tumbled in its second season.
Bless This Mess, which starred Lake Bell and Dax Shepard as a newlywed couple whose plan to ditch big-city living for a simpler life in Nebraska, also starred Ed Begley Jr., Pam Grier, JT Neal and Christina Offley, it was co-created by Lake Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether, who exec produced with Shepard, Jake Kasdan, Melvin Mar, Erin O’Malley, Katherine Pope and Barbie Adler.
Schooled, from Sony TV and ABC Studios, had a rocky time as a result of showrunner changes, which likely factored into the cancelation decision. The Goldbergs’ spinoff, set in the 1990s with Lainey Lewis, played by AK Michalka returning to Jenkintown after her rock n roll dreams fizzled out, was created by Marc Firek and The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg. Firek was the original showrunner during Schooled’s freshman season. He was replaced by Tim Doyle at the start of season two, but Doyle himself left over creative differences after 13 episodes and was replaced by Tom Hertz and Vanessa McCarthy who ran the show for the Back 9 Season 2 episodes.
ABC’s signature Wednesday comedy block will be a focus for ABC next season as Schooled, which aired in an 8:30pm slot, and Single Parents, which aired at 9:30pm, have been cancelled, along with the end of Modern Family which anchored the night at 9pm.
Emergence didn’t connect with viewers during its fall run, despite extensive pre-launch promotion. The 13-episode supernatural drama came to ABC in slightly unusual circumstances, moving from NBC to ABC last May. Starring Allison Tollman as a police chief who takes in a young child that she finds near the site of a mysterious accident who has no memory of what has happened, the genre thriller comes from Kevin (Probably) Saves the World creators/executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, director Paul McGuigan and ABC Studios. Owain Yeoman, Ashley Aufderheide, Robert Bailey Jr, Zabryna Guevara also starred, along with Donald Faison and Clancy Brown.
Finally, Kids Say Darndest Thing, which saw Haddish replace Bill Cosby in a reboot of the series that ran on CBS between 1998 and 200, got off to a respectable start, becoming ABC’s most-watched fall premiere in the Sunday night slot in four years. However, it couldn’t keep its numbers up and lost buzz after its October bow.
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