Good news, TV fans! ABC has handed out early renewals to Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle, The Middle, Modern Family and Cougar Town, with all six returning for the 2011-12 season.
Praising the strength of ABC's Wednesday comedy lineup when he announced the renewals, network entertainment boss Paul Lee also saluted Nathan Fillion's Monday-night comedic cop show, stating, "Castle hits the target of our brand...we have a powerful procedural there."
Other news from the ABC executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour includes:
• Regarding the absence of a Desperate Housewives pickup in today's announcements, Lee said: "Desperate Housewives is doing a great job...we have ambitions to pick it up, [but] we're not quite ready to do so." He expressed approximately the same sentiments regarding Brothers & Sisters, about which he seemed surprisingly chipper.
• Lee teased that "a redemption story" can be a powerful thing in regard to The Bachelor, aka the most important TV series on American broadcast (Y/N?). He also noted, "I would give a huge amount of credit to our executives and Mike Fliess. [The Bachelor series] is a brand that has been reinvigorated not once but twice and three times. This particular season is going to be delicious...I would personally hold up The Bachelor as how you can take a really good idea and own it, and still fits into the deeply romantic brand of ABC. They're still finding twists and turns that are unexpected."
• Don't expect the network to sour on DWTS anytime soon. "I love Dancing With the Stars," gushed Lee. In regard to the talent of the professional dancers on that show: "Those talent are like Olympians. It's like going to the circus, it's like going to the Olympics. It's an extraordinary piece of physical skill that goes on there."
• Michael Imperioli's Detroit 1-8-7 remains on the bubble. Lee says, "I would like it to stay, with higher numbers, because it's an extremely high-quality show. For me it's great to see...many people in Detroit didn't love it [at first but now] are such champions of that show. We do hope it comes back. We're not going to make those decisions for another two to three months."
• "We've tried to amp up the level of adrenaline in that show," says Lee of V's apparent creative resurgence.
• Lee says of the network's balance between drama and comedy on the schedule, "I'd love to see another night of comedy. It's a good time for comedy in America. If we could have three nights of comedy...that would be a huge upside."
• "We're very pleased with the ratings at 8:30 and 9:30, but they're also opportunities for us," said Lee about Wednesday's "hammock shows," including Cougar Town, which shows a ratings dropoff after Modern Family.
Intriguing that the ABC boss characterizes the Bachelor brand as "deeply romantic"—does that seem correct to you? How would you shorthand the other network's brands? Post your pitches in the comments.