Viewers shouldn’t expect much new fare during the 2020-2021 broadcast season.
Last year, the broadcast networks collectively ordered 36 new series out of pilot season, on par with the historic lows of years past. This year, the number of series ordered is on track to be a fraction of that, likely somewhere between 10 and 20.
With networks and studios still largely unable to produce any shows under the coronavirus production shutdown — including their pilots ordered this pilot season — broadcasters are largely going to be renewing vast swaths of their existing schedules rather than ordering new shows, sources say.
CBS and Fox have already given a glimpse of what next season will look like. Last week, CBS announced series pick ups for the “Equalizer” reboot starring Queen Latifah, a drama about “The Silence of the Lambs” character Clarice Starling, and the multi-cam comedy “B Positive” from Chuck Lorre. The network also announced it had renewed 23 shows for next season.
Fox, in unveiling its fall schedule on Monday, announced a series pick up for the Mayim Bialik-led multi-cam “Call Me Kat.” That show joins the previously announced series order for the animated comedy “Housebroken.” Both series will be held until midseason along with fellow animated comedy “The Great North,” which was originally ordered in May 2019. Fox had already renewed the hit dramas “9-1-1” and “9-1-1: Lone Star,” as well as perennial network favorites like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” ahead of the schedule announcement. “Bob’s Burgers” was also picked up for another season.
Both networks indicated that additional pick ups from their pilot slates may be forthcoming, but exactly how many more shows will get ordered, if any, remains to be seen.
Sources say that the remaining broadcasters are not expected to make many pick ups beyond the shows that have already gotten straight-to-series orders or been given sizable commitments, as was the case with “Call Me Kat,” “Equalizer,” and “Clarice.” “B Positve” was one of the few pilots to finish filming before production shut down.
ABC’s one straight-to-series order thus far is for the drama “Big Sky,” which hails from David E. Kelley. Sources say that the network is also high on their unfinished drama pilots “The Brides” and “Harlem’s Kitchen,” but it remains unclear how they will fare in the current landscape.
NBC previously gave series orders to the comedies “Young Rock” from Nahnatchka Khan about the formative years of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as well as “Mr. Mayor,” the Tina Fey-Robert Carlock comedy starring Ted Danson as a Los Angeles politician. The latter show was picked up in July 2019, while the former was ordered in January. NBC had also previously announced that the Kenan Thompson-led “Kenan Show” would move to the 2020-2021 season after it was originally scheduled to debut this season.
On the drama side, NBC recently announced a pick up for a “Law & Order: SVU” spinoff in which Christopher Meloni will return as Elliot Stabler. Sources say that NBC could also be eyeing pick ups for pilots like “Echo” and “Langdon,” but again, whether or not they proceed is unclear.
The CW renewed most of its lineup back in January, while longtime network favorites “Arrow” and “Supernatural” ended this season. Beyond that, CW gave early series orders to a “Walker, Texas Ranger” reboot starring Jared Padalecki as well as “Superman & Lois” starring Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch.