Soph laffers keep ‘Hope’ alive

ABC, Fox have tough calls on fate of half-hour shows

ABC’s “Happy Endings” and Fox’s “Raising Hope,” two sophomore sitcoms that are well-liked by their respective networks, would appear to be no better than 50/50 propositions to return for a third season.

Neither has distinguished itself despite the advantages of airing behind the top-rated half-hour on each network.

“Happy Endings” has averaged a 3.0 same-night Nielsen rating among adults 18-49, but this represents just a 56% hold of its “Modern Family” lead-in on Wednesday (5.4). The retention has been steadily in the 50%-60% range throughout the season, which has to be disappointing to ABC — even if “Modern Family” is the kind of show that has become appointment television for many who watch little else on broadcast primetime.

As a young-singles, big-city comedy, “Happy Endings” isn’t a great fit with the three suburban family ABC comedies on Wednesday; and the Alphabet may feel that the show’s best shot at thriving in a third season would be to pair it with a more compatible skedmate.

When “Happy” ends its season in a few weeks, it will be replaced by another young-singles comedy, “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.” If “Trust” performs well in its short run, it would likely return in the fall — while also perhaps improving the chances for “Happy,” which would have a more suitable skedmate.

At Fox, “Raising Hope” originals have averaged a 2.4 same-night rating in adults 18-49 this season, retaining on average 65% of its lead-in from rookie success “New Girl” (3.7). “Hope” is down about 15% from its year-ago average when it followed the stronger “Glee,” and has often placed fourth in its 9:30 p.m. half-hour.

And like “Happy Endings,” the family comedy “Raising Hope” is something of an odd fit behind singles laffer “New Girl.”

Fox will take some pressure off the show, and get a better indicator of its strength, by moving “Hope” to 8 o’clock for five weeks as part of a four-comedy lineup while “Glee” rests. It will lead into the family-ish “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” and could be something of a Tuesday template the net has in mind for next fall.

Certainly, the networks are cheering for these shows, as they are a favorite of execs and are also produced inhouse. “Hope” comes from Twentieth TV, while “Happy” hails from ABC Studios in conjunction with Sony.

But after two seasons of unexceptional ratings, the nets will have to weigh if they have seen enough to suggest there might be an upside to a third season.

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