“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”
That legendary line spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi is basically the slogan of television upfronts. It’s the annual time of year when major networks decide which shows they want to keep around for another year and which they want to blow up with a giant green laser. It’s an equally joyous and terrible time for people. On one hand, certain favorite shows get the greenlight for another season leading to cries of jubilation by avid fans. It’s basically Christmas without any presents or religion for these people. On the other hand, favorites are shut down completely, much to the immense displeasure of those hardcore viewers. Now that the major networks have made most of their final decisions concerning what to save/destroy, I’m here to round-up all the good and bad in one handy post.
Disclaimer: The below networks are currently announcing their fall schedules. There’s absolutely no room to include all of that here, so I’m only touching upon the renewals/cancellations.
Let’s keep things nice and light to start off. CBS, in a surprising move, practically renewed their entire catalogue early. Before upfronts even began we knew that all longstanding CBS shows were coming back (except for the finished How I Met Your Mother) along with The Millers and Mom. Giving The Millers a second season came as a shock to me as it was resoundingly lambasted by critics. Yet clearly viewer numbers were high enough to keep it going. In contrast, Mom has done generally well with both critics and fans so its early renewal was hardly a surprise. I can’t really imagine anyone thinking The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, CSI, and NCIS, to name a few, were really going anywhere too. Even The Mentalist, whose fate was questionable until the very end, is coming back.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses though. The Crazy Ones, Bad Teacher, Friends With Better Lives, Hostages, Intelligence, and We Are Men are all going away. That’s pretty much the entire list of new shows CBS premiered last fall. Yet when you compare the lost of six (seven counting HIMYM) to keeping over 20 shows, it’s hard not to consider this a clean victory. CBS has enough highly successful programs to keep it going for at least a few more years. Losing a handful of newbies won’t cause any significant damage.
Fox made it through upfronts with good positioning as well. New shows Brooklyn Nine-Nine, MasterChef Junior, and Sleepy Hollow did very well in their first seasons so those renewals were guaranteed. Even the “bubble” shows like The Mindy Project and New Girl are coming back which were met with jubilation. Sunday nights have been nothing short of a success for the network as well. While American Dad was shuffled off to TBS, Family Guy, The Simpsons, and Bob’s Burgers are returning to Sundays and for good reasons.
Some quality programs had to get left in the dust though. Despite how much people enjoyed them, both Enlisted and Almost Human got the ax. Neither blew up ratings but they did have growing fan bases. Enlisted especially had a rabid following that fought tooth and nail to keep the show going. Alas, it was not to be. The upside is that Dads was cancelled too and everyone hated that program. We also lost X-Factor and Raising Hope, though no one, including Simon Cowell’s deep pockets, is mourning the former. Strangely removed from cancellations was The Following, Fox’s Kevin Bacon lead thriller that completely imploded in Season 2. Clearly someone up there believes it has potential, but a lot of people disagree.
Easily with the most shows overall, ABC had both a lot to gain and lose with upfronts. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Disney owned network made it through relatively clean while receiving some bruises. Shows like Modern Family and Scandal received their obligatory renewals, along with Grey’s Anatomy and Castle. Revenge was picked up for another season too which was a surprise when you consider its lagging ratings. The Goldbergs is currently the only fall premiered comedy to get a second season as well. Most exciting for comic books fans is that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was given a second season on top of picking up Marvel’s Agent Carter. Clearly the synergy between Disney and Marvel is thriving unabated.
ABC lost nearly all of its new shows however. Lucky 7 was the first cancellation of the 2013/2014 season, and no one was particularly shocked when The Assets, Back in the Game, Killer Women, Betrayal, Mixology, and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland were all thrown into the funeral pyre. Despite her obvious comedic talents, Rebel Wilson’s Super Fun Night was widely labeled as super freaking stupid, and also got the ax. Unfortunately not all cancelled ABC shows were considered generally terrible. Fan favorites Trophy Wife and Suburgatory are both ending. If you listen really closely, you can hear Pop-Break’s Marla Pachter wailing from her apartment.
Out of all the networks, NBC drew the short straw. The already struggling network received quite a beating. Out of the many new shows the Peacock decided to greenlight, only The Blacklist, About a Boy, and Chicago PD are returning. The Blacklist has been nothing short of a success thanks to James Spader and About a Boy was a surprising comedic hit. It’s actually the ONLY new comedy coming back, as of right now. Chicago PD however wasn’t very well received, but it does have enough viewers to keep the Chicago Fire spin-off going. Hannibal also received its hotly requested third season despite its abysmal time slot and less than stellar viewership. Parenthood is coming back too which is bound to please its devout fanbase.
Speaking of comedies, NBC lost many. Perhaps the most painful was Community as the cult hit met an untimely end after five seasons. This show has struggled from Season 2 onward but enough people supported it to keep it going for several years. That alone is a success but NBC decided it had enough. Sony already announced plans to shop the show around so Greendale might live on somewhere else. Also removed were The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World, and Growing up Fisher, showing that absolute comedic talent cannot substitute for terrible humor. On the drama side, things weren’t better for Revolution or Believe as neither supernatural tinged program is coming back. Dracula was also removed, but who cares about that? Already the amount of new shows coming next year outnumber those returning so you can bet NBC will be in the same place come spring 2015.
The little network that could! The CW may have less shows to worry about than the bigger networks, but that means it has a greater chance of more hits. Only three shows were cancelled this year: The Carrie Diaries, Star-Crossed, and The Tomorrow People. The CW has its fair share of successes that are all coming back. Many people declare Arrow the best comic book show on television, and Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries have nearly rabid fanbases. It honestly looks like 2014-2015 will be business as normal.
Really, the most newsworthy stuff out of the CW is actually what’s coming this fall. While DC may not have the mass proliferation in film as Marvel, television has been very kind to this media titan. Both The Flash and iZombie were picked up to series starting at the next broadcast season. Arrow has a massive fanbase and you can guarantee that those very same viewers will watch these two new shows. The other new programs announced like Jane the Virgin and The Messengers are a little too unknown to make any bold claims, but clout alone will carry the two DC properties.
There are very few shows that have yet to be claimed. Most networks are waiting on programs premiering later this May before any final words are stated. Could The Night Shift be a new hit for NBC? Will Fox have any luck with Gang Related? Can Reckless find a spot in CBS’s packed schedule? Those are really the big questions going into the networks announcing their upcoming schedules. As of this writing, both Fox and NBC have revealed some major changes to their lineups for good and bad. While upfronts time is still winding down, at least we have an excellent understanding of what the 2014-2015 season has in store for us.