I’ve focused a lot on the pilots lately, so I thought I’d give myself a break and talk about the current series that have come or will be coming back. Most returning scripted shows will return next year for new seasons. However, a few will get cancelled. Last year, only 3 of ABC’s 14 freshmen scripted series returned for their sophomore seasons (The Goldbergs, Resurrection, SHIELD), while saying goodbye to Suburgatory. CBS only returned 2 of the 10 newbies last year (Mom, The Millers), and ended How I Met Your Mother. FOX renewed 2 of the 9 scripted newbies (Brooklyn 9-9, Sleepy Hollow), while ending Raising Hope, X Factor, Kitchen Nightmares, and moving American Dad to TBS. Lastly, NBC brought in 6 of 17 first-years (Blacklist, About A Boy, Chicago PD, Night Shift, Undateable, Welcome to Sweden), while cancelling Revolution and Yahoo-bound Community. So per network, roughly 1 or 2 non-rookie shows get canned. But which returning shows will be asked to close production this year? I excluded shows announced beforehand to be ending this TV season: Parks and Rec (NBC), Two and a Half Men (CBS), Parenthood (NBC), Glee (FOX), and The Mentalist (CBS). I hope you weren’t too surprised by the aforementioned shows. So here are my selections on who I think will join them:
1. Bones (FOX)
For pete’s sake, it’s touching on its 10th season now as Booth and Dr. Brennan haven’t really done anything different since Emily Dechenal got pregnant. This last season ended with a highly unexpected turn of events, and this season premiere was even crazier with a death in the Bones community. But at this point, the characters (for me) have expanded past their interest. Even Angela & Hodgins (who were the 2nd most interesting thing on this show) have been the same since forever. The quints have either been promoted, gotten sick, been killed off, or fallen in love with Cam. And do we really want to get to know more squints? Cam’s & Sweet’s love lives are pretty much the only thing that hasn’t been fully developed yet, and I think most people don’t care much about Cam’s at this point. I will say that the current mystery between the finale and premiere is completely interesting and they should try to find the guy who framed Booth and killed…that important Bones character. But they have to figure it out by season’s end, and end it with the biggest bang they can come up with. And they deserve that. But don’t become House, where its last season was just…meh, undeserving so.
But saying all that, with Glee ending, FOX’s two most prestigious scripted shows would end. Then their most tenured show at FOX, excluding reality shows, would be 4-season old New Girl. And the most tenured drama? 3-season old The Following. I don’t know how I feel about that, and I’m sure FOX doesn’t feel so great about it either. So it’s a rough call. They may bring it for a 11th just out of not having anything else. But the ratings haven’t been strong enough to support another show either.
2. The Mindy Project (FOX)
I predict this last year and didn’t get it right. Yes, Mindy Project brings in affluent, high-income viewers. But really, this rating is so small, it makes good-ol’ Chuck (NBC) look like it was a ratings hit. And they had Subway sandwiches in practically every episode (how’s that for quality?). It’s not that Mindy is getting worse [although in my opinion, the show is less wonderful without Betsy (Zoe Jarman) and Gwen (Anna Camp)…but that’s just me]. It’s the characters: they’ve become less likable. Dr. Castellano was cool and pushed privacy beyond measure, and now…he’s just an old man with more bad habits that I’d like to know. Dr. Reed was this cool cat in the office until he was put in charge of it, and now he’s really useless. Dr. Prentice is kind of….meh, and the office which was once funny is now tiresome. Mindy is Mindy. She’s fun, hasn’t changed, and is the only thing keeping the show remotely alive. With Tuesdays 8p scheduling disaster with Utopia and its recent move hurting New Girl ratings, which is hurting Mindy Project ratings, I’m sure FOX will beg for a syndication deal at some point (and it’d do well on Lifetime, Hallmark, OWN, whatever women networks there are out there). But man, FOX is taking some serious hits for it. And I don’t know how long they can do it while they sked towards last place overall with ABC stepping up their game.
3. Welcome to Sweden (NBC)
I don’t need a long paragraph for this. I understand it’s a co-production, so it’s cheap to make. But with the ratings it had over the summer (and the quality just…being bad), there is NO WAY this show comes back. It just can’t. The TV powers that be would throw a hissy fit. I would would throw a hissy fit. The world would throw a hissy fit. But, to the show’s defense, I have to give it another season because a particular executive producer (Greg Poehler) has a sister (Amy) who had a show (Parks and Rec) that had a similar horrible first season, and they would know the correct adjustments to make the 2nd season better. Exhibit A: Parks and Rec.
4. Nashville (ABC)
I can be persuaded away from this, but this is ABC’s least performing drama returning, and it’s decision time: do you keep going with the falling ratings and try to make it to syndication hoping CMT pays a crapshoot for it, or count your losses and move on? I’m going to be persecuted for this, but Nashville is quite expensive to make for the ratings that aren’t worth it.
Now, granted, I have to give the show credit when credit is due: Nashville‘s lead-ins were terrible, Wednesdays were a double whammy of FOX music shows (X Factor and American Idol), and even though both those shows decreased in key demos over the years, those were the exact key demos Nashville needs. But my rebuttals: Nashville was on a different timeslot than those FOX singing shows. While one could argue that a two-hour singing show may decrease one’s desire to watch a third, you can’t make up ratings. Nashville, on the night of its season finale, was 3rd in its timeslot behind then-newbie Chicago PD (NBC) and a repeat of CSI (CBS). And that was an INCREASE from its series low the previous week. Also, with Black-ish bringing in top ratings among new comedies, it hasn’t translated well for Nashville, tip-toeing around a 1.5 rating right now, when last year at this point, it was around 1.8 with a lackluster lead-in. So ratings are not in their favor. With the industry shifting towards Live+3 (# of people who watched a show live up to 3 days after), Nashville might have a slight chance since it skews younger (and young viewers tends to raise Live+3 better than other demos). But even the Live+3 numbers aren’t that great. With no X Factor this year and with its best lead-in since its inception (Black-ish), Nashville is in a sink-or-swim moment here. But I think it’ll sink.
5. About A Boy (NBC)
I mean, we were even surprised the show got renewed in the first place. Now, in my honest opinion, I thought About A Boy was not as good as Growing Up Fisher. Also, I thought About A Boy had a very finite ending for its season finale. So how will they conduct the show? Would Will move back to San Fran or does Fiano and Marcus move to New York? NBC probably feels bad that they cancel Jason Katmis (series creator) shows with short lifespans (Friday Night Lights: 5 seasons; Parenthood: 5 seasons). So let him have this one, I guess? But whatever the reason, the show wasn’t even that great of a lead-out for Tuesday’s The Voice last year, compared to the previous timeslot owner Go On which had the same ratings practically. So I’d be shocked if it came back next year, especially if Marry Me doesn’t match last year’s About A Boy performance to help lead-in.
Honorable Mentions: The Following (FOX), Undateable (NBC), Night Shift (NBC), Resurrection (ABC), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS),