Will Castle live on without Castle?
Though ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee said Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter previews that he hopes the procedural to continue, he is already exploring spin-off and other opportunities should Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic not return after the current eighth season.
"We'd love for Castle to keep going for many years to come," Lee said. "There are a lot of conversations going on about how we can do that. I don't want to give glimpses to where they go, but there are lots of good ideas in there. I'm feeling optimistic that we've got some good ideas."
Castle is not the only property for which Lee expects a long run. "We don't have any plans to finish Nashville," he said of the perennial bubble show, currently in its fourth season. "We have an incredibly passionate audience." Lee also believes the network's breakout hit of the fall, Quantico, has "lots of legs in it," thanks to creator Josh Safran's twist-heavy plotting.
Here are other highlights from the panel:
Wicked City's swing and a miss: ABC held back the serial killer drama until October. Three lowly rated episodes later, it became the first new show of the season to be canceled. (The show's five unaired episodes are online.) "I love taking big swings and it was a big swing," Lee said. "It didn't find an audience. We didn't have any belief it would in the long term. But I like taking the big swings. If they won't work, they don't work. ... I was proud to have done it."
Scandal's abortion: While Lee wouldn't spill on the aftermath of Olivia's controversial abortion on Scandal's fall finale, he said he fully supported the story line." It was an idea that came from Shonda [Rhimes]. I loved the way this was a big surprise. I backed her to the hilt," he said. "It provided ... a tremendous amount of conversation. She's the master at creating buzz for her shows."
Retooling The Muppets: The biggest drama on The Muppets so far doesn't involve Miss Piggy. After struggling in the fall, the comedy is undergoing some major retooling after Galavant's Kristen Newman replaced Bob Kushell as showrunner in November. "We didn't quite feel it had the joy, the laughter and the heart we were looking for," Lee admitted. "We thought Kristen Newman would be a great person to bring that in. She's done it. ... We haven't seen her last six episodes, but we have many high hopes for them."
Marvel's Most Wanted: After scrapping a Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off last year, Lee announced that the network is picking up Marvel's Most Wanted to pilot. The project follows Adrianne Palicki's character Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, and her ex-husband Lance Hunter (Nick Blood). "We are absolutely doing that one," Lee said. "We love the script. We think it's great. ... We feel really good about our Marvel franchise."
The Catch: "If you like TGIT, you're going to love The Catch," Lee said. We can confirm that, based on a very Shondaland-y clip of the latest Shondaland offering — complete with splashy split-screens, sleek editing, pulsating music and an OMG twist — if you didn't know the premise of the fraud thriller.
After a showrunner change and a recast that brought Peter Krause into the fold opposite Mireille Enos, the optics don't look good, but Lee, who hasn't seen the new pilot yet, is confident that all the changes will work. "There are some shows that come out fully formed. I think How to Get Away with Murder is a good example of that. ... Those are the exception," Lee said. "My job is to figure out how we can get the best team, the best cast, how to get the best arc for the full series. [New showunner and Scandal alum Allan Heinberg] brought for us a longer and much better arc. When we recast Peter Krause, that gave us the opportunity to really recast overall the whole pilot. What we have is a really interesting arc as we go through."