Frosh make grade

Alphabet extends orders for 'Hope,' 'Relative,' 'Kellys'

This article was updated at 6:04 p.m.

ABC has given a big thumbs-up to its frosh class, ordering full 22-episode seasons for all four of its new laffers and two new dramas.

Sitcoms “Hope & Faith,” “It’s All Relative,” “Married to the Kellys” and “I’m With Her” have snagged back-nine orders, while dramas “10-8” and “Threat Matrix” also will stay in production for the full season.

The critically hailed “Karen Sisco,” which turned in another disappointing ratings perf Wednesday, hasn’t been picked up — but the net isn’t giving up, ordering four additional scripts. ABC and U are said to be haggling over an order for additional episodes, with the Alphabet unwilling at this point to offer a full nine-episode order, insiders said.

Meanwhile, in other fall season news, Fox has decided to make “The Next Joe Millionaire” a once-a-week affair, keeping it on Monday but dropping the scheduled Tuesday run of the skein. It’ll be replaced by a “24” encore next week and a mix of comedy repeats and specials for the rest of the month.

It’s unclear if “Joe” will still wrap its season in sweeps as had been planned. Skein has been a Nielsen disappointment for Fox.

As for ABC, the pickups mark the second consecutive year ABC has greenlit full seasons for its frosh comedies.

Staying course

While none of ABC’s new shows is a breakout hit — “Hope & Faith,” one of the fall’s few success stories, comes close — the net has seen its patience pay off in recent years. Its Tuesday and Wednesday comedy blocks are all solid, and “10-8” has managed to finish second in its 8 p.m. Sunday slot (though that could change with the arrival of Fox’s Sunday comedies this weekend).

ABC Entertainment prexy Susan Lyne said the renewals are “a big morale boost internally for the network” and praised her development teams for their work.

“This is the second year in a row we’ve been able to launch four new comedies,” she said. “And both (dramas) are in great shape creatively and performing at least as well as we expected (in ratings). We said we were going to be patient with shows, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Somewhat surprising was the renewal of “Threat Matrix,” which — like previous ABC Thursday shows — has struggled to find an audience. Alphabet is actually down a tad in the 8 p.m. slot vs. a year ago but cited a 6% boost in men 18-49.

“We went into that time period saying we weren’t going to be looking at hard ratings as the indicator of success,” Lyne said. “It would be unfair not to give the show a back order because we scheduled it in the toughest timeslot on our schedule.”

All in the family

Renewals were good news for Disney-owned Touchstone Television, which garnered pickups for all four of its frosh: “Hope & Faith,” “It’s All Relative,” “Threat Matrix” (with Industry Entertainment) and “10-8” (with Spelling Television).

While critics (and even some ABC execs) have complained the web has been too dependent on its sister studio for programming, Touchstone has provided the net with its biggest glimmers of hope over the past few seasons, including “According to Jim,” “Alias,” “8 Simple Rules” and “My Wife and Kids,” as well as newcomers “Hope” and “It’s All Relative.”

Touchstone topper Steve McPherson said he was gratified by the vote of confidence ABC has given his frosh four.

“We’re not in the numbers game, but we are trying to be in the success game,” he said. “When you can get four out of four new show picked up, that feels pretty good.”

Warner Bros. TV and Tollin/Robbins Prods. are behind “I’m With Her,” while 20th Century Fox and Brad Grey TV produce “Married to the Kellys.”

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