Monday, May 8, 2017

ABC's "Once Upon a Time" - time to let it go?

For the past six years, ABC's "Once Upon a Time" has largely been my favorite network TV show. If I really had to choose, I think I would rank it ahead of "Hawaii 5-0," "Survivor," and "Scandal." As for "24," it's only had two short seasons ("Legacy" this year and "Live Another Day" in 2014), so it would be hard to count it as a full competitor.

At one time, "OUaT" was one of ABC's stronger shows, regularly winning its timeslot, but it's tumbled badly in the last couple of years. Last night's episode finished last in its time slot, something that's happened a lot this year. As a result, "OUaT" has been a bubble show all year - not doing so poorly as to be an obvious cancellation, but not doing well enough to be an obvious renewal either.

Still, the prediction sites that I check have consistently put "OUaT" in the "likely renewal" category. It's a veteran show, so there may be a desire to give it a final season to tie up all the loose ends. Plus, Disney owns ABC, and it's able to use "OUaT" to promote all kinds of Disney characters (such as part 1 of Season 4, which brought Frozen into Storybrooke).

Today's news is that star Jennifer Morrison declined an invitation to return as a regular if there is a season 7. On top of that is the news that if there is a Season 7, it will be something of a reboot with only part of the cast. The last time I remember something like this happening was the last season of "The Practice," in which half of the cast was fired, and James Spader and Rhona Mitra were brought in. I guess you might call that a success, since it led to the spin-off series "Boston Legal," but it certainly didn't do much for "The Practice."

"OUaT" is an ensemble show, but Morrison's character (Emma Swan) has been the central one. The series started with Swan in the real world, being brought into Storybrooke by the 10 year old boy who turns out to be the son whom she gave up for adoption, and the whole first season arc revolved around her gradually coming to believe that there is magic, that her parents are Snow White and Prince Charming, and that her son Henry's stepmother is the Evil Queen. I can certainly see the show without her, but I'm reluctantly coming to the view that if the Season 6 finale really is going to finish the main storyline, it's probably best to end the show. For example, I miss "Justified" and believe it could have gone on for another season or two, but better that it ended a season too early than one too late. (I watched "The X-Files" to the end of its original run, but man, those last two or three seasons were not good....)

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