Killed ABC Serials Get One More Breath

As much as any network, ABC bore the brunt of the Great Serialized Show Turn-off of fall 2006.

Three of its new shows -- "Day Break," "The Nine" and "Six Degrees" -- were pulled after a few weeks on the air, leaving what fans there were of each series on a limb. It looks, though, that ABC will offer some form of closure for all three shows.

"Day Break," which was to have plugged the "Lost" hiatus hole between November and February, got the hook after five weeks on the air. It will, however, make its way to ABC.com by the end of February, ABC Entertainment chief Stephen McPherson said Sunday during ABC's time at the Television Critics Association press tour. (It was to have been up by now, but he says some music-clearance issues have held things up.)

As for "The Nine" and "Six Degrees," "those two actually may get back on the air in [primetime]," he says. Neither show has a specific return date, but McPherson says it's likely they'll be back on before the season closes in May. "Six Degrees," in fact, remains in production after going dark for a while to retool.

Now, the bad news: Neither show is being extended beyond its initial 13-episode order this season. That means, in the case of "The Nine," that viewers won't get to see a complete resolution of the bank-robbery story that fuels the show.

"It wasn't designed to end at the end of the 13, so it doesn't answer that specific question," McPherson says. It's possible, though, that ABC would work with creators Hank and K.J. Steinberg to offer fans some way (short of shooting more episodes) of finding out how the story ends.

As for why the shows didn't click with audiences, McPherson can't point to any one reason. He does believe, though, that there wasn't anything wrong with the series creatively.

"The shows were incredibly well-produced. We loved the shows creatively," he says. "I don't look back in kind of hindsight and say, 'Boy, we should have done this differently, that differently,' about those shows. [It] may have just been timing."

Going forward, ABC is looking for a better balance between serialized shows and those that don't necessarily demand an every-week commitment from viewers.

"There's so much good drama on right now that you're asking a lot of the audience," McPherson says. "On every night there's two or three shows, not just on our network, but across the board. I think in the mix as we go into development this year, we have more stuff that is procedural or close-ended."