It’s bubble-popping time at the networks, as webheads decide which freshman shows will get a shot at year two. Here’s a safe bet: If a show hasn’t been on since the February sweeps and isn’t scheduled for May, it’s not coming back.
While it’s pretty easy to figure out what won’t be back, there are several shows whose numbers guarantee neither cancellation nor renewal. The dilemma for networks is whether to bring back a show that has yet to distinguish itself or to risk trying something new. Last year, the webs launched more than 40 new shows, which, as the lack of hits this season shows, is far too many for viewers to sort through.
The sure things include CBS’ comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which last week got a 22-episode order and seems likely to have a Monday night spot next season after performing well there this spring. NBC gave a year-two nod to “Suddenly Susan” and its Saturday night drama “Profiler.”
Fox has said yes to another year of “Millennium,” which says more about how important the show’s producer, Chris Carter (“The X-Files”), is to the web than it does about the drama’s struggling performances this year. Fox will also bring back the animated “King of the Hill,” which quickly became the web’s best lead-out to “The Simpsons” and the only true midseason success story.
ABC is also likely to renew “Spin City,” the DreamWorks comedy starring Michael J. Fox. While the show has not turned out to be the breakout hit the Alphabet web needed, it has been a steady performer. With “Roseanne” exiting and “Family Matters” jumping to CBS, “Spin City” will likely move to a more prominent timeslot next season.
The Alphabet web will also probably bring back its Friday night freshman “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” which has turned into a surprise success. The other Friday freshman — “Clueless” — is still a question mark.
Among the two netlets, WB has had success with drama “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the comedy “Smart Guy,” both of which will find a permanent home next year.
Several shows at the networks remain on the proverbial bubble.
At CBS, the network has to decide the fates of comedies “Ink” and “Temporarily Yours,” as well as dramas “Moloney” and “Early Edition,” the latter of which started out strong, but has fizzled of late. “Ink’s” future will probably be determined by its performance in the upcoming May sweeps.
CBS has invested a lot both financially and creatively in the DreamWorks comedy. Despite scrapping the first several episodes and bringing in veteran producer Diane English, the show has yet to really prove itself in the ratings. On the plus side, “Ink’s” move from 8:30 p.m. Monday to 9:30 p.m. boosted its performance.
“Temporarily Yours” started out hot following “The Nanny” on Wednesdays, but has cooled in recent weeks, and its long-term viability remains in doubt.
On the drama front, “Promised Land” seems likely to come back since it has proved to be decent counterprogramming to ABC’s and NBC’s Tuesday comedies. The future is unsure for “Moloney.”
Most likely gone from the network is freshman comedy “Pearl,” which hasn’t aired since February sweeps and won’t be back this year. “Feds” is also sliding in the ratings and will probably not return. Last week, the web pulled the plug on “EZ Streets.”
The No. 1-rated Peacock web has several shows whose fate needs to be decided. “Chicago Sons” and “Mr. Rhodes” are most likely history, as will be the Saturday night drama “Dark Skies” and midseason effort “Crisis Center.”
Freshman “Something So Right” seems a good bet to get a second shot, as does midseason comedy “Just Shoot Me,” although the latter may find itself being a midseason show again. “Men Behaving Badly” performed well last week and could be invited to the dance next year, although cast changes are anticipated.
It will be interesting to see what NBC does with freshman comedy “The Naked Truth” and freshman acquisition “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.” Both were picked up from ABC last year, and NBC execs made it clear they thought they could find success where the Alphabet web couldn’t. As is the case with CBS’ “Ink,” pride is on the line, making the crystal ball on those shows hard to read.
Premiering last week was “Fired Up,” which posted an 18.8/29 in the Thursday 9:30-10 p.m. slot.
ABC’s big dilemma will be what to do with “The Practice.” The show got critical raves, but mediocre numbers in “NYPD Blue’s” Tuesday slot during its six-week run. ABC says it is committed to the show, but the question remains, committed where?
ABC has few slots for dramas, especially since newscaster Diane Sawyer reupped with the web, meaning that “PrimeTime Live” will again occupy the Wednesday 10-11 p.m. slot. ABC may have to look at a 9-10 p.m. slot for “The Practice,” and so far, only Fox has had success scheduling dramas in that hour. Otherwise, the show may find itself either on a weekend or as a midseason visitor yet again.
The oddsmakers say freshman Alphabet web shows “Life’s Work,” “Dangerous Minds” and “Relativity” will all be put out to pasture next month. Unclear is whether ABC and DreamWorks will retool “Arsenio” enough to for a second chance next season.
Fox has it easy. “King of the Hill” will definitely return. Besides “Pacific Palisades,” which premiered last week, it is the only new or midseason show that the web hasn’t canceled within the first month.