The Time Warner basic cable network announced Thursday it has ordered the fourth season of the ABC sitcom, which ABC has been airing, someone reluctantly, for the past three seasons. In the first quarter of this year, all the while insisting he loved the show, ABC’s programming chief Paul Lee kep it off the air all fall, then pulled a death-by-timeslot stunt and shoved the single-camera chick-com that once followed “Modern Family” into the Tuesday timeslot immediately following Tim Allen’s uber-retro man-com “Last Man Standing” -- where, duh, it did not do well in the ratings. This season’s 10 episodes averaged 5.3 million viewers; last season, “Cougar Town” averaged nearly 8 million viewers.
The Bill Lawrence comedy will begin airing on TBS in early 2013. As part of the deal, TBS gets rerun rights to “Cougar Town’s” first three seasons of 61 episodes that originally aired on ABC. And, which hardly anyone saw! Which means they’re probably New to You -- as NBC used to say whenever it would repeat its Thursday comedies, back when they were Must See TV.
Ironically, Lawrence went through something similar on a previous comedy series “Scrubs” only it was ABC that came to its rescue. Lawrence had similarly groused about the treatment that single-camera comedy had received at the hands of NBC — for seven seasons — and when NBC decided to pull the plug, ABC picked it up and aired it another two seasons. Not coincidentally, “Scrubs” was produced by ABC’s studio.
The always outspoken Lawrence, who gave TV critics an earful and then some about “Cougar Town’s treatment at the hands of ABC during an open-bar news conference last January, was uncharacteristically quote-less in Thursday’s announcement.
At that January open-bar news conference — great practice by the way and one we hope more TV producers embrace — as TVcritics drank more, and grew hotter about the whole matter, they began to urge Lawrence to stick it to The Man — take “Cougar Town” to cable!
“They don’t pay s--- in cable,” responded Lawrence, who noted that broadcast pays “the premium dough.”
“There is no Shangri-La, man!” Lawrence added, calling ABC the best partner he’s ever had.
Well, then, critics said helpfully, Stick it to The Man and take “Cougar Town” straight to the Web!!
“You’re tapping into a conversation I have had with my wife,” he said, explaining that his wife, Christa Miller, who is one of the “Cougar Town” stars, likes to buy expensive clothes.