October Road appears to be headed for a second season on ABC, but that may not be the best thing for Executive Producer Josh Appelbaum’s health.
The rookie drama, about a young writer who returns to his hometown after trashing it in his novel, debuted March 15. That night, Appelbaum and two others stayed up until the first ratings came in the next morning at 8. When the numbers were good, superstition kicked in: They’ve pulled all-nighters after all six episodes.
“If we get picked up for 22 episodes,” he says, “I don’t know how we are going to last.”Indeed, the show has endured some challenges of its own. It was made only after ABC brought in media-
investment giant Group M to co-finance it. The network didn’t give it a six-episode order until October, when most of ABC’s other rookies had already debuted. And marketing a character-driven drama as the similarly character-driven Six Degrees was bombing proved especially tricky.Things began looking up when ABC gave it the plush post-Grey’s Anatomy slot. Then the critics savaged it.
“That was brutal,” Appelbaum recalls. “To write the show off is one thing, but there seemed to be an active hatred towards us by critics.”But, after October averaged a solid 4.4 rating in the 18-49 demo over its first five airings, two recurring cast members signed on to be regulars—a good sign for a second season.As for those all-nighters, Appelbaum has the answer: “a lot of Red Bull.”