It's hard to imagine a world where Dancing With the Stars is on only one night a week, but in the fall, we'll be living in it.
ABC boss Paul Lee told reporters today that the move makes room for one of the most highly anticipated new series of the season: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which air on Tuesday nights. And it will give the show a chance to grab a younger audience.
"We want to focus it in. We're planning to do two seasons and we think that by taking the results show and building it in the two-hour block from 8 to 10 on Monday night, we can really build a sense of occasion to that and drive viewership to Monday night," Lee said. "And we have very, very strong development this year, so this allows us to put S.H.I.E.L.D. in at 8 on Tuesdays, which we think is the perfect place for that show. So it's a one-two punch for us."
The other move ABC is making to hopefully bring back more viewers to DWTS is skewering it more toward a younger audience.
"One of the critical things each cycle is to make sure we nail the casting," he said. "You saw us aging down Bachelor this year with some spectacular casting. So certainly we're going to make sure as we focus on Monday, we focus as well on casting that will help us age it down."
By the way, Lee thought there was "absolutely" a "possibility" to bring in viewership interaction with the one night of DWTS, meaning fans will still get a chance to vote for their favorites in some capacity.
The other big questions asked during the call was why, oh why, did Lee get rid of critically loved but ratings-challenged Happy Endings? He insists it wasn't an easy decision, and that the rumors that the network canned it for not being "on brand" are not true.
"I do think Happy Endings is absolutely on brand. What we found was it was just too narrow," Lee said. "It was a very hard decision, because as you know, I love that show. Not happy at all to see it go. But we absolutely feel that it was on brand."
Other highlights from Paul Lee's conference call:
Joss Whedon Power: S.H.I.E.L.D. is going up against a true TV powerhouse on Tuesday nights: NCIS. So is ABC worried?
"First of all, every single hour of the schedule is up against competition, but we believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. is particularly good because we think it's going to recruit a whole new audience going in," Lee said. "We're obviously going to market it strongly. We think it has a built in audience obviously with it being associated with the amazing Avengers franchise. And we don't necessarily think that audience is the same as NCIS, so we have high hopes for it."
Revenge Going Back to Basics: ABC's once proud series struggled this year with ratings, storylines and of course the departure of original creator and showrunner Mike Kelley. But next year, Lee promises a back-to-basics model for the series.
"It's a wonderful brand for us and it still has an incredibly passionate audience and a spectacular cast. And we sat down with the [writers] and they had such great, focused ideas about going back to the heart of Emily's journey," he revealed. "We love the idea of it. We think it's a very strong show, and we really think it can grow next year."
Body of Proof Resurrected? Lee said the "strong" development slate was the reason Body of Proof was killed off, but there's hope for it popping up on cable. "I would love to see Body of Proof find a good home for itself. I'm a huge fan of Dana Delaney," he said.