ABC Family President Michael Riley took the Television Critics Association press tour stage on Monday (January 8) morning to talk about a fantastic summer for for his network, a summer that saw the launch of one major dramatic hit (“Switched at Birth”) and at least one other dramatic success (“The Lying Game”).
Naturally, I started the Q&A portion of the panel by asking about the summer’s lone clear failure, “The Nine Lives of Chloe King.”
I found “Chloe King” to be a properly frothy piece of summer counter-programming and many viewers agreed, but compared to “Switched at Birth” and “The Lying Game,” the ratings weren’t there and after only 10 episodes, “Chloe King” was cancelled. The pill was especially difficult to swallow, because the 10th episode of “Chloe King,” what ended up being the series finale, contained at least a half-dozen cliffhangers and concluded with a daunting percentage of the main cast either seemingly dead, possibly dead or in some form of indeterminate limbo.
Regarding the cancelation, Riley said, “We never talk about canceling shows at ABC Family. We always make sure we air all of our productions, because for us, it’s very much a long-term view. Obviously, we love all of our shows and ‘Chloe King’ is such a great example of just an amazing show. We loved the cast. We loved the writing in that show. For us, it was about making some decisions and we had to choose between what we thought was resonating stronger with the audience.”
But wait! There’s hope!
Riley added, “One of the things about ‘Chloe King’ is we loved and are on the verge of putting a movie into development, so us, we always look at the intellectual property that we’re capitalizing on and making sure there’s opportunities for even more storytelling.”
Would that possible TV movie pick up immediately after the infuriatingly open-ended finale?
Riley said, “We are just looking at it in development now, so the hope is that it will obviously, we’re just putting it into development, so the idea is very much to capitalize on the storytelling that’s already been in place.”
So that’s “on the verge of in-development,” y’all. That’s not the same as “in development” and it’s also not the same as the formal ordering of a telefilm, so don’t necessarily get too, too excited. But at least it’s cause for guarded optimism.
Meanwhile, on an unrelated side note, a reader asked me last week why “Switched at Birth” received an unweildy back-22 order, bringing its first season to 32 episodes spread into three segments. What was the reason for the larger-than-normal order?
Riley explained, “For us, as we greenlight shows, traditionally we’ll open up the first season with 10 episodes and from there, in the event it’s a success, we’ll look to continue to increase those episodes. For us, e absolutely loved ‘Switched at Birth’ and wanted to get as many episodes as possible on air as quickly as possible, so really it’s much more about loving a show and getting as much content as we can before everybody goes on hiatus.”
So there you go.