Entertainment Weekly today released an updated list of confirmed show renewals and their expert predictions. My thoughts on a few of their reports… (the block quoted text is direct from EW. The text that follows are my thoughts)
Alcatraz: 3.4 rating. Status: Not hopeful: Monday’s finale was the lowest-rated episode for the season.
Fringe: 1.7 rating. Status: We’ve been hearing Fringe was doomed — until this week. There’s renewed hope for a 13-episode “final season” pickup thanks to the modest performance of Alcatraz.
This one is interesting and I pair them together for a couple of reasons. First, they are similar shows from JJ Abrams that blend serial, sci-fi mythology with episodic, procedural elements. Second, because they are similar, but not the massive hits Fox would like its shows to be, I find it unlikely that Fox will renew both of them. My guess is that because Alcatraz is still largely untested having had a very short first season, because it is a new show and therefore automatically cheaper to produce than older shows and because it has a higher rating overall than does Fringe, I think Alcatraz would get the renewal. However, I am not in the know and EW is. Alcatraz has had a luke warm critical reception but Fringe has mostly been critically respected and is a cult show. Simply for reputation sake, Fox would be more motivated to give Fringe a proper final season and to seek out new pilots that might fare better with both viewers and critics than Alcatraz did. Personally, I want to see Alcatraz renewed as I think it has a great premise and is just getting warmed up. But all the prognosticators are saying we have sadly seen the last of it.
Glee: 3.8 rating. Status: Of course! We gotta see what happens next at McKinley High after some of its talented seniors graduate.
My friends and I predicted early in Glee’s run that it would be similar to The OC: both shows were giants out of the gate but overhype and dropping quality would cause Glee, like The OC, to only run for four seasons. Yes, Glee is no longer the juggernaut it once was and it has largely fallen from the cultural chatter. No one seems to respect it anymore. Even with the cast getting the summer off from touring and therefore buzz over the summer not being maintained (possibly a good thing) I think Glee will get more than a fourth season. Possibly a fifth and beyond. It’s an interesting case to watch.
Modern Family: 6.1 rating. Status: Grabs ratings AND all the awards.
Grey’s Anatomy: 4.4 rating. Status: Certain contracts are up this season (here’s looking at you, Meredith and McDreamy) but we have no doubt Seattle Grace will be open for another season.
I put these two together because these are ABC’s two highest rated shows and they’re both my favourite shows on that network and two of my favourite shows overall. Modern Family is the highest rated scripted show on the Broadcast Networks AND is probably the most universally respected and beloved. It’s nice to see a Broadcast Network show attract such popularity and acclaim. As for Grey’s Anatomy, rumours flew at the beginning of this season that this would be its last. In fact, false reports were going out that this was the last season for the entire show. But if you listened to Showrunner Shonda Rhimes and the ABC network execs who make renewal decisions, Grey’s Anatomy was always coming back for a season nine. There’s no way that ABC was going to cancel it’s second highest rated show. Yes, some of the original cast members could be leaving and yes this includes the show’s “leads”—Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey—but the show will go on with or without them. (My feelings on who is likely to leave change a lot but I simply don’t know enough facts to post my predictions and feelings on this blog. Michael Ausiello has stated that he predicts everyone will return with Patrick Dempsey returning for a lower number of episodes much as Noah Wyle did with ER). ABC said in January that it wants Grey’s to continue for a long time to come. We could have another ER on our hands in terms of longevity. Rhimes has said that she will continue running the show until she gets bored of writing for these characters. I don’t think she will be getting bored any time soon. In fact, I think that if any of the originals leave, the challenge of writing the show after their departure could be the opposite of boring for the Showrunner who has said she loves a challenge. The show’s quality of writing usually increases when it has been put in a challenging situation (the few episodes at the beginning of season six that had to deal with both Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl being on leave were some of the strongest of the season). So I think there’s a possibility that the show’s quality could increase if some of the key originals leave and the show could undergo a creative renewal. What will be interesting is whether the ratings drop significantly if Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey leave as there seems to be a large portion of fans who aren’t aware that there are 12 other actors in the main cast. But it is precisely those 12 other actors/characters that are the reason the show should and will go on. Creatively, the show is still very very strong so it has more years of potential goodness in it. Whereas House and 30 Rock will and should come to an end, Grey’s is still full of creative possibility with its evolving tone, themes and characters, 14 regular cast members and constant cast additions. To sum up, the show has always been safe for a season nine but beyond that will depend on many factors. Note: the renewal for both of these shows, while a lock, are not official.
Private Practice: 3.3 rating. Status: On the bubble for the first time, but our gut says it will stick around.
I’m glad EW feels Private Practice will stick around. The show continues to get stronger in terms of its quality. I have a feeling Rhimes’ Scandal isn’t going to do that well in the ratings and that would help Private Practice get a renewal. But people need to remember that all three Shondaland shows are independent entities that are judged as individual shows against all the other shows on the network and the success of one (eg. Scandal) hurts the renewal chances of another (eg. Private Practice) as much as it hurts the renewal chances of other shows on the network. So it’s not an either/or situation.
Cougar Town: 1.8 rating, 4.9 million. Status: Those awesome winos tried hard, but we don’t expect the Alphabet bosses to show mercy after this season.
Community: 1.9 rating. Status: Critics and die-hard fans love it, but delivers a cable-sized audience. We expect a renewal anyway.
Both shows have strong cult followings, critical acclaim and very low ratings. Both shows went on hiatus for extended periods of time and had cast and crew members and fans fighting the good fight to keep their shows in the zeitgeist. I am very glad to hear that it looks good for Community to get a renewal. NBC is in a unique position of being able to keep critically acclaimed shows around because overall, the network gets lower ratings. 30 Rock and Parks and Rec would not have survived on any other network. This is good for Community but bad for Cougar Town because the ratings expectations are much higher at ABC. And I was just starting to like Cougar Town…
Once Upon a Time: 4.2 rating. Status: Since its the highest-rated new drama of the season, we expect ABC to say yes to more fantasy.
I find the popularity of this show fascinating when so many other shows—with better, more even writing—that have such a heavy mythology and complicated dual narrative have failed. I think it’s the familiar and family-friendly fairy tale stories that have resulted in its popularity. But I fear for the show: the writing is extremely frustratingly uneven and they have dozens of balls in the air. There seem to be way more unanswered questions so far in its first season than there were in the first season of Lost. It keeps introducing new characters with their own set of mysteries. Will they maintain popularity if some of the balls start getting dropped or the amount of balls in the air just gets too overwhelming? It’s a beast but not so much a beauty.
30 Rock: 2.2 rating. Status: We’re hearing a seventh and final season is likely for the critical darling.
I’m glad to hear that 30 Rock is heading into its possible last season. I’m a firm believer in the merits of going out while you’re still good if the show has not evolved over the course of its run. 30 Rock hasn’t. A show that continues past its creative strengths often loses its good reputation for its better earlier years. This is why I’m glad House is ending. It’s time for 30 Rock to go out strong and for us to see what Tina Fey does next.
Are You There, Chelsea? 1.9 rating. Status: We suspect nobody at NBC is drunk enough to renew this show.
Whitney: 2.2 rating. Status: Nosedived after being moved to Wednesdays. Girl, you’re done.
Muahahahaha so much for the Whitney executive producer’s assertion last fall that her show would be funnier and more successful than NBC’s smart single camera fare. NBC’s experiment with live studio audience “traditional” sitcoms has failed.
Awake: 2.1 rating. Status: Stronger than The Firm and Prime Suspect, but that’s not saying much. Jury’s still out.
I haven’t started watching this one yet but very much plan to. Critically it seems respected and has an exciting premise. A renewal would do it a lot of good. Come on NBC, give this one a chance to build an audience.
Grimm: 2.2 rating. Status: RENEWED.
This renewal pleased friends of mine and means I have some catching up to do.
Parenthood: 2.6 rating. Status: The congenial underdog. Feels likely to return, but really depends on how many new dramas NBC orders.
I’m glad to hear EW feels this one’s coming back as I have just recently become a full convert after years of trying to like it. NBC seems to be the place for solidly crafted shows to survive where other networks would cancel them. *cough cough* Awake *cough*
Parks & Recreation: 2.2 rating. Status: Such a phenomenally funny show. It deserves another season and will probably get it.
Again, thanks to NBC, this show has now produced four very good seasons. The show is constantly evolving (something very necessary for longevity) and I hope it has many years more to come.
The Office: 3.5 rating. Status: It’s NBC’s highest-rated scripted show. So, yes — even with actors exiting and the showrunner stepping down.
This is interesting. Carell’s gone, other cast members are moving on to other projects, and the showrunner has left. It feels like a dying show. But it has felt like a dying show for years. I’ve stopped watching it but many viewers still are. I have no idea when The Office will die but it likely won’t be until NBC gains scripted shows that can get higher ratings than it gets.
Smash: 3.4 rating. Status: RENEWED
There’s so much I love about Smash: it has a very good cast, good songs and the Broadway insider stories are playing right to my heart. But the writing has been at times horrendous. NBC renewed it but without its current Showrunner. You would think this would mean they can bring in a better creative team that could strengthen the show’s writing. But rumour has it NBC wants more of the (god awful) juicy personal drama plots that are ruining the show and less of the Broadway insider plots that are setting the show apart. If this is the case, I will probably stop watching. Also, who at NBC hates Debra Messing so much? Her story lines are constantly the worst I have seen…ever…
The Voice: 7.4 rating. Status: Though nothing is official, negotiations are well underway over a third season and deciding which judges will make a triumphant return.
This is NBC’s great hope for the future and I hope it’s the sign of a new resurgence for the network that has always produced high quality programming. I don’t watch this one much but I have a lot of respect for its more positive, less exploitative tone.
A Gifted Man: 1.4 rating. Status: So long, Patrick Wilson: We only hope there’s time for you to book another show for fall.
I loved this show in the beginning. It has one of the best casts of all the new shows and a lot of potential for theme and mythology (there’s a ghost remember). But the writing has been tedious. It’s sad to see it go because of all that potential, but I’m not super heartbroken about it.
How I Met Your Mother: 4.4 rating. Status: RENEWED.
One of the highest rated and oldest shows on the Broadcast networks. This is another show that will likely go on for as long as the Showrunners want it to.
Person of Interest: 3.3 rating. Status: RENEWED.
I was very disappointed in this one because it fell too much on the side of boring procedural with too little mythology development. Coincidentally, that’s precisely why it’s been a hit. I love serialized story-telling and mythology but the mainstream audience doesn’t. However, if a second season brings more mythology, I may return.
I’d also like to point out that according to the ratings EW has included, the top scripted shows go as follows*:
Modern Family: 6.1 rating.
The Big Bang Theory: 5.7 rating.
Two and A Half Men: 5.6 rating.
2 Broke Girls: 4.7 rating.
How I Met Your Mother: 4.4 rating.
Grey’s Anatomy: 4.4 rating.
NCIS: 4.2 rating.
New Girl: 4.2 rating.
Once Upon a Time: 4.2 rating.
Mike & Molly: 4.0 rating.
*Total viewers in millions is the most commonly sited metric of a show’s popularity. But ratings matter for bringing in advertiser dollars and advertisers want the shows that reach young audiences (18-49) who are more likely to spend money on their products. So the rating grade you see above is a formula-created metric that represents how many viewers from the coveted 18-49 demographic are watching the show. This number is actually the most important number for a show’s renewal. The higher the better. However, each network has different standards. CW and NBC accept much lower ratings than do the other networks simply because their networks overall are less watched. So a show can survive on CW with a rating that would have had it cancelled immediately on other networks. ABC and CBS are generally very highly rated so a show has to have a higher rating to be able to stay afloat.
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