‘Castle’ fortifies ABC’s schedule

Third-season pickup comes on heels of record ratings

ABC can now check a few more items off its wish list, thanks to Monday night drama “Castle.”

The ABC Studios drama, which was just renewed for a third season, has given the Alphabet a new 10 p.m. player — a crucial time slot for affils, and one where the net hadn’t launched a successful new show in awhile.

“Castle” also reps the first procedural drama to click for ABC in recent memory. That’s a genre that the Alphabet, with its heavy emphasis on serialized hourlongs like “Grey’s Anatomy,” has long been eager to crack.

Whereas most of ABC’s sudsy skeins don’t repeat well, a close-ended show like “Castle” should help bolster ABC’s perf when its scripted fare isn’t in originals, such as summer. (The net’s recent growth in the comedy arena will also help that cause.)

“Castle” also reps one of the Alphabet’s biggest scripted successes following the consolidation of ABC Studios with ABC Entertainment under group prexy Steve McPherson last year.

“This show hits a number of boxes in terms of wins,” McPherson said. “We were patient with it, and believed it was a great close-ended procedural with great characters, and perfect for our brand.”

“Castle” launched last spring to tepid ratings, and narrowly avoided the ax to earn a second season. Now in year two, the show has shown growth, particularly over the past two weeks behind the return of “Dancing with the Stars.”

McPherson emphasized that the net and studio had faith in “Castle” exec producer Andrew Marlowe. “We were having other successes, allowing us to be patient and not expect it to be big right away,” he said.

Pickup came after Monday night’s episode — the second half of a two-parter — landed the No. 1 slot at 10 p.m., and also posted its best ratings ever among adults 18-49 (3.7 rating/10 share) and total viewers (14.5 million).

According to ABC, “Castle” even gave ABC its largest Monday 10 p.m. audience for a regular scripted series since 1996 and its best adults 18-49 mark there since 2001.

Pickup is for a full 22-episode third season. McPherson said the return of “Castle” and the bulk of ABC’s Wednesday night comedies “will allow us to be more focused in terms of what we pick up. Strategically, this gives us another asset.”

“Castle,” also exec produced by Rob Bowman, René Echevarria, Laurie Zaks and Armyan Bernstein, stars Nathan Fillion as a novelist who winds up helping an NYPD detective (Stana Katic) solve crimes. Susan Sullivan, Molly Quinn, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tamala Jones, Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever also star.

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