As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for ABC, Network President Paul Lee took some time to talk about the network’s current and upcoming line-up, as well as some possibilities for the future. During the interview, he talked about how he feels about where things are at creatively with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., why it took them some time to find their sea legs, the chances of an Agent Carter TV series, the status of Dan Fogelman’s musical comedy pilot Galavant, his regrets about Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, and how much longer he thinks Revenge can run. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
PAUL LEE: It was obviously disappointing that we started with a very high number and it came down. It took a little bit of time to find our sea legs, but now the show is really doing well. Creatively, we are loving what we’re seeing for the back nine. We’re doing a lot of work, and I’m really enjoying doing this with Marvel. We can announce that Lady Sif is coming in, in Episode 15. We’re shooting it now, and that’s going to be absolutely integral to that hour of television. And then, there’s going to be this really cool arc to the end of the season. You’re going to find out who the Clairvoyant is, and it’s going to be very, very cool.
Why do you think S.H.I.E.L.D. had so many issues, early on?
LEE: It did take us a little bit of time to find our sea legs. I think the key to us was really starting to work closely with the studios, and really figure out with our showrunners and all the creative brains, how we could have a show that didn’t have Iron Man in it, but did have an incredible amount of the Marvel universe and an incredible amount of the mythology that went through there. We also took a little bit of time to get the balance between a procedural and an arc. I’m so proud of how they’ve now arced out the last nine episodes. But, that’s something that many shows do, as they go through that.
What can you tell us about the possible Peggy Carter series?
LEE: In terms of Agent Carter, the script has come in. It’s a really good script, written by [Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely, who are great. Also, Tara [Butters] and Michele [Fazekas] are on that one. That certainly has a chance to be on the network. We’re looking for big, broad plays that we can plan on ABC, and really make great Marvel super-fan shows for Netflix. We think it’s a great balance, and the ABC Studios side of it are really enjoying it, as are Marvel.
LEE: I don’t want to jump the gun on the Marvel universe and the Marvel characters because I speak for ABC on this, but they’re certainly ambitious to enjoy both platforms. We’re thrilled to have Lady Sif coming on into S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve read the script on that and I think it’s going to be great. I haven’t seen it because they’re shooting it now.
What’s the status of Dan Fogelman’s musical comedy pilot, and is there any hope for The Neighbors?
LEE: First of all, I love The Neighbors. Because it’s such a good show and we’re a little disappointed that it’s not holding the numbers, we’re doing a lot to make sure that people can watch that show, over the next six months. That’s how we’ve built shows in the past. We’ve absolutely made the show available, not only on our digital assets, but a number of other digital assets. Dan’s got some amazing things planned for the end, so he’s plotting away.
And Galavant is up and running. It’s one of the pilots we did early, and we did it early because we wanted to get it right. We’re doing it in England. He’s found the most spectacular Monty Python castles in Wales that he’s going to have a great time with. I don’t want to give too much away about it other than, when we listened to the Alan Menken songs, we were cackling with laughter. It’s in such early days. It’s still the invitation to a party, but it looks like it’s going to be a good party. The script is great. It’s not shooting right now, but it’s in prep for shooting. We’re not fully cast yet.
Once Upon a Time In Wonderland was originally envisioned as a mini-series that would bridge between the Once Upon a Time seasons over the winter hiatus. Do you regret the decision to not air it as originally planned?
LEE: No. I originally planned it to go into the gap period, and I should have done that because I think that would have been a natural audience to go through there. That Thursday slot is difficult. We loved the idea. We knew the creative was great, and so we loved the idea of having a run of empowered women going all the way through Thursday night. What we didn’t want to do is play defense on Thursday when we wanted to play offense. But in retrospect, I think it would have done better there, and I should have stuck to the earlier idea. I think Adam [Horowitz] and Eddy [Kitsis] don’t quite get enough credit for being the incredibly creative forces that they are. We’re looking at the Wicked Witch of the West, which is going to be a part of the back nine on Once Upon A Time. We’re loving that. We think they did a great job on Wonderland.
Is Wonderland no longer going to be on the schedule, after this year?
LEE: We haven’t made a decision on it. We’re going to have to make it fairly soon, but I don’t have a date. Knowing Adam and Eddy, they’ll always take storylines and weave them between their various assets.
How much farther can you go with Revenge?
LEE: There’s a long way to go with Revenge. They’re having a great time, this year. They’re enjoying themselves. They’ve reconnected that amazing conflict between Victoria and Emily. They pitched us the back nine, which we loved. And we had a long conversation about what next season would be. The other interesting thing about Revenge is that it’s a self-starter. Whether it’s got an original before it or after it, that audience turns up and loves it. So, I think there’s a passionate audience for that show.