Bubble Show Report: The Calm Before the Storm

Figuring out what network TV shows will be back next year and which shows won’t is kind of like figuring out what teams will be in the NCAA Tournament and what ones won’t.

You’ve got your top tier of shows that you know are safe whether or not they win their conference tournaments. They’ve got the audience, they’ve got the quality, they’re coming back unless the team bus crashes or something. Those top lines are where you put Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol, NCIS — the biggest shows on TV. They’re safe whether anyone likes it or not.

no worries, vampire diaries will be back

no worries, vampire diaries will be back

There are the shows that have won their conference tournaments and are getting an automatic bid — the network has already announced they’ll be back for next season and probably weren’t bubble shows in the first place. Shows like Brothers and Sisters, Castle, Vampire Diaries — they’ll all be back next year.

There’s the middle tier of shows that aren’t completely safe — but you’ll be amazed if they don’t come back. It will take some kind of natural disaster to keep them off next year’s schedule. But for some reason, their networks haven’t made any kind of announcement

There are even two categories that make it easy for everyone — bubble shows we already know aren’t coming back next year (like 24 and Ugly Betty, whose series finale is tonight) and shows we’d consider bubble shows but we already know they’re coming back (Smallville).

There are also shows like The Forgotten, which haven’t been officially canceled, but have been pulled from the schedule and are all but DOA. You can throw the Fox midseason replacement Past Life in here too.

Then there’s that tricky last category — the true bubble show.

We’re only looking at network TV, so please don’t e-mail in about Damages not on this list, even though Patty Hewes has as much chance at seeing the light of day past next week’s season finale as much as Tom Shayes does.

this show deserves another season

this show deserves another season

Human Target, Fox. When it comes to network executives saying they like a show, that means about as much as Gloria on Modern Family saying she’s having her breasts reduced. We know they’ll still be huge, so why should we even listen? Same goes for network suits saying they love a show — it means bubkus. Networks aren’t in the loving business, they’re in the making money business. So if they can’t sell a show, it could be the best, funniest show ever — but it will be off the schedule faster than a 40-yard TD run from Smash Williams. Actually, the second season of Friday Night Lights is the only time I can remember a network basically saying, “We can’t sell this show for s—, but it’s too good. We can’t take it off the air.” So hearing about how much Fox executives love this show  doesn’t mean jack to me. The plain fact is it must cost a ton of dough, its numbers aren’t very good despite being on an American Idol night and hasn’t generated a ton of buzz, even though it’s the type of show that should. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: Heh heh. Excuse the pun. 60 percent. For the first time since 2001 when 24 premiered, Fox doesn’t have a good action show. If Human Target gets renewed, it’s because the network didn’t want to abandon the genre it revolutionized. Christopher Chance will never be Jack Bauer — but he might be a good sub while we wait for the 24 movie.

V, ABC: It’s true — you can’t believe what you hear about network suits loving a show. But what about when no one at the network comes to its defense at all? That’s the problem with V. It’s the type of slow-moving, developing show you’d think the network brass would keep saying, “Give it time, give it time …” but that never happens. ABC didn’t do that for FlashForward either — and look where that is. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 50 percent. ABC needs either V or FlashForward to come back next year to try and keep that Lost audience. And since …

FlashForward, ABC. Let’s see if we can put this pretty simply: If you’re not out by now, GET OUT NOW!!! Or just get prepared for whatever questions you might have about The Blackout to go unanswered forever. Or during the next Batman press tour, maybe David Goyer will give some hints at what he envisioned or something. But this one is deader than Laura Palmer. The ratings have consistently dropped every week since it came back from its winter break and the show is just as bad as it was when it left. It’s gone through three bosses and still doesn’t make any sense. See where we’re going with this? CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: Zero. OK, maybe 5 percent. But that’s it.

Chuck, NBC. You can pretty much guarantee that you’ll see Chuck in this spot every year it’s on the air from now on. No one new is going to be watching Chuck — if you’re in its target demographic, you’ve already either tried it or decided not to try it. So the decision by NBC to renew or cancel this show is going to depend on one thing — is it happy with Chuck’s numbers? They weren’t last year, and Chuck was pretty much canceled until an online/Subway campaign to save it worked for this year. But it’s not going to keep happening every year. One of these years, if Chuck keeps coming in fourth place in its time period, it’s going to be canceled. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 50/50. but we certainly don’t want to lose this:

Heroes, NBC: The network should pull in everyone involved with the production of this show from its start to finish and find out what the eff went wrong. Then it should print out some kind of 10-page overall report on how things got so screwed up on what briefly was one of the biggest, most profitable shows in the history of the network. Then it should give that report to every employee at the network to make sure it never happens again. Never, ever, ever, ever. The network pages should get one. Kenneth on 30 Rock should get one. NBC should send one to Conan just to cover all their bases, since it’ll be paying him for a while. Someday, one of the most revealing, terrifying insider books is going to be written about the demise of Heroes, and it won’t be pretty. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 10 percent. They should really just let it die.

Mercy and Trauma, NBC: How do you even start to differentiate between these two shows? First-year medical dramas that have both gotten “meh” reception from critics and double “meh” reception from audiences. Neither has a breakout star and has made anyone stand up and scream, “Don’t take my favorite show away!” So why would NBC save them? CHANCES THEY WILL BE BACK: About 30 for both. Trauma is probably a lot more expensive, so that’s the better candidate for a one-and-done season.

Numbers, CBS. It’s never a good sign when your stars start taking other jobs. Like Heroes, it already ended its season run of original episodes, so it’s done all it can. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 20 percent.

Medium, CBS: Looks like a good bet to stick around because every year it’s on, CBS makes extra money selling it in syndication. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 80 percent.

Cold Case, CBS: I couldn’t tell you what day Cold Case is on, let alone what time. As much as I’ve avoided CBS in the last couple years — not by choice, that’s just how it worked out from a quality standpoint — it’s really too bad nothing on CBS appeals to me since it does the best job of getting its shows OnDemand. I tried to watch Three Rivers OnDemand, but it stunk. I tried to catch up on some Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, but found them both to be one-note jokes that I just really didn’t enjoy. Same for Old Christine and Gary Unmarried, despite the presence of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jay Mohr, two of my favorites. I just don’t find anything CBS puts on TV very interesting. CHANCES COLD CASE WILL BE BACK: It’s soooo tough to cancel a top 20 show, but when the only companies that want to advertise on it are Polident and whatever company Arnold Palmer is endorsing this week, it might be time to at least attempt to skew a bit younger.

feeling absolutely nothing.

feeling absolutely nothing.

Life, Unexpected, CW: Predicting the fate of CW shows is a crapshoot. The network is still trying to establish a brand of its own and you don’t know what it’s really looking for. By all accounts, Gossip Girl should be canned because it gets hammered — HAMMERED — in the ratings every Monday. But it’s got buzz and eager, youthful sponsors to defray the cost, so the network keeps it around. But at any time, CW can just pull the plug based on its ratings and no one could argue. But Life, Unexpected hasn’t caught on as much as the network would have hoped, and it hasn’t lived up to its advanced hype. It’s just not that good a show, which I wrote about at length after its premiere and won’t bother going into it again. So this has to be the one show on the network’s schedule really feeling like it could be headed to the NIT TV graveyard. Then again, with other networks really amping up their development slate, that could dilute the talent pool and the CW may not have anything they feel is better. If the network had its choice between a second season of Life or a pilot for something as silly as The Beautiful Life, you would hope Life, Unexpected gets the call. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 60 percent.

One Tree Hill, CW: It’s survived for years because the network just didn’t have anything it thought was better. Don’t see why that would change. CHANCES IT WILL BE BACK: 75 percent. And let it be noted that this is the only part of One Tree Hill I’ve ever seen, and I saw it searching for “Teen Wolf” on YouTube. Still, this is probably the only homage to Teen Wolf that’s ever been filled, which immediately makes it cool and really funny that there were probably about 10 viewers who actually knew what was going on:

But still not as good as the original.

This entry was posted in Pop Culture, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.