Heading into 2013, certain television shows are underperforming for their networks, delivering weak ratings from Nielsen, putting their futures in jeopardy. Last time we looked at the shows on the cusp of the cancellation question for both NBC and CBS.
NBC's Should-They-Stay-Or-Should-They-Go list is comprised entirely of sitcoms, with 'Whitney,' 'Up All Night' and 'Guys with Kids' all coming in with low numbers. All three series are relatively new (with 'Guys' being brand-spankin' new) and 'Up All Night' is facing the very unique challenge of switching camera formats mid-stream. Time will tell which (if any) of the three shows survive 2013.
On the CBS side of things, there are a couple of dramas that are failing to deliver stellar ratings and, as such, have been put in jeopardy. 'CSI: NY,' presently in its ninth season with a loyal fan following, isn't putting up the numbers that it used to; 2013 may be the end of its very successful run. And the brand new 'Vegas' has yet to find a larger audience, meaning one season may be all we are allotted of the Dennis Quaid cop drama.
Enough about old news--onward to the next network!
Not unlike NBC's cancellation-questions, FOX's underperforming line-up is made up entirely of comedy series.
The brand new 'Ben & Kate,' now in its first season, hasn't been hitting the strongest of ratings marks. The series has received middling-to-positive reviews from critics (including a couple of B-grades from yours truly) but it isn't exactly setting the world on fire.
'Ben & Kate' is about an eponymous sibling duo: Kate is a single mother and her odd-ball brother Ben (played by Nat Faxon) moves back to town to assist her while she raises her daughter. This premise is a very weak tether and most episodes of 'Ben & Kate' have been more about the siblings' romantic interests in other people than in the hook the show promised from the onset.
'Ben & Kate' has been delivering middling laughs and middling network numbers. What do you say, Ragers? Let it have a season two or let it go?
Another new series whose future is in doubt is 'The Mindy Project.' Created by Mindy Kaling, the series received a very warm critical reception however lay viewers haven't been as pleased with the production. Kaling is an actor, writer, producer, and best-selling author. 'Project' follows Mindy, an Indian-American woman with a terrific career, who is desperately trying to break some bad habits in her personal life.
Initially, there was speculation that 'Project' wouldn't even last long enough to see its first season come to a close, but since then the network has re-tooled the production, eliminating some characters and promoting others. The overhaul includes the elimination of recurring characters played by Amanda Setton and Stephen Tobolowsky. The downgrade of Anna Camp's character from regular to recurring completes the overhaul.
Combine the above with an upcoming guest appearance arc by B.J. Novak ('The Office') and it seems like 'The Mindy Project' is fighting very hard for its young life. What do you think? Let it find its sea-legs or cast it overboard?
Finishing off the FOX chopping block is an animated comedy, 'The Cleveland Show.' This 'Family Guy' spinoff never found the same audience as its progenitor. The series centers around the Browns and the Tubbs, two dysfunctional families who make various jokes about American culture. Given the animated nature of the series, it is far more mad-cap than the other two shows on FOX's list, acting more like an extra-helping of 'Family Guy' than a new series all its own.
The series has received poor reviews from the very beginning. Now amidst its fourth season, it has already out-performed expectations. It's possible that FOX will keep 'Cleveland' on the air in order to keep series creator Seth MacFarlane ('Ted') happy, as he's also producing much bigger ratings hits for the network.
What do you think? Are MacFarlane's other properties enough to keep 'The Cleveland Show' in life-support, or should FOX pull the plug?
The chopping block for the CW network is much smaller than the others, because the CW itself is much smaller than the others. Shows whose ratings would be considered weak on the Big Four (such as 'Arrow,' 'Supernatural' and 'The Vampire Diaries') are doing well on the CW because the market share is expectedly much smaller. So which show on the CW docket is underperforming, even by their standards?
'90210,' the fourth series in the 'Beverly Hills' franchise created by Darren Star, is now in its fifth season. That makes the series a success for CW, no matter how you slice it. Much like its predecessor, '90210' focuses on a group of wealthy students at the fictional West Beverly high school. The show has received average critical reviews and never managed to climb to the heights of its preceeding namesake.
However, there is loyalty and brand recognition tied in to '90210.' Some fans of the original series are now finding its spin-off on DVD or BluRay. There is certainly potential for the show to continue.
Yet on the other hand, the series is putting up very small ratings. In a year when the CW has seen smash success with the breakout hit 'Arrow,' it's possible that five seasons will seem sufficient for the underperforming '90210.'
What say you? Keep it or drop it?
Our last network to look at is ABC, a network that has never been afraid to drop the guillotine on a failing project. Already this season, ABC has taken the axe to 'Private Practice,' 'Last Resort' and '666 Park Avenue.' Wow! So you'd think that the network has already taken out the trash and there would be no need to consider the livelihood of their remaining series, right?
Wrong. These two comedies are performing so poorly that they could very well end up in the basket alongside the three mentioned above.
'Don't Trust the B**** in Apt 23' has been a strange case from its debut in April of 2012. Critics and fans haven't exactly known what to make of the series, and it received less-than-stellar media support given that it was introduced as a mid-season replacement.
The series follows June, played by Dreama Walker, as she moves to New York to pursue her dream career. The job doesn't work out and June ends up moving in with Chloe (Krysten Ritter), the eponymous bitch in Apt 23.
I have a confession to make: I have never seen a single episode of 'Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23.' I don't know if it's bad or fantastic. This could very well be a situation wherein a good series failed to receive any promotional support from its network and is dying a slow death, cold and alone. All that I know is, according to Nielsen, the numbers for 'Don't Trust' are terrible and that means that it is unlikely to survive in 2013.
What do you think? Can we save the bitch in Apartment 23?
Finally, from one comedy to another: 'Happy Endings.'
Oft-hailed as the new 'Friends,' 'Happy Endings' has earned that comparison through a point-for-point aping of the 'Friends' formula rather than for putting up 'Friends'-like ratings figures. Now in its third season, 'Endings' earns positive reviews from critics and viewers alike, however it hasn't found a steady nor consistent audience in its timeslot.
'Happy Endings' follows the dysfunctional attempts at adulthood by six best friends living in Chicago. It is an ensemble comedy in the truest sense, playing off of the same camraderie as 'Friends' did in the 1990s. The show even has their own Ross & Rachel pairing of Dave & Alex.
A mere week ago, ABC made an announcement that does not bode well for the future of 'Happy Endings.' Beginning on January 6, 2013, 'Happy Endings' will begin airing twice a week, through to its season (maybe series?) finale, which will now air in mid-March. This sort of a move is usually the death knell for any series.
Has 'Happy Endings' run its course or is there room for season four?
So that's it! These shows survived 2012 to entertain us into the new year... but will the turn of the season be their last?
Which would you rescue from cancellation?