Cancellation Watch: Which Sci Fi Shows Benefit the Most from the Fall Scheduling and Which Ones Got the Shaft

By | May 29, 2013

With the Fall schedule set (pretty much at least, things can always change) we know where the broadcast network sci fi/fantasy shows will land once the new season kicks off this coming September.  However, the Prime Time landscape can be a tricky thing with some timeslots offering a cushy resting place for a series while others can prove quite treacherous.  And don’t think that the hour a show airs does not have much impact on its ratings numbers.  Just this past season, we saw NBC’s Revolution benefit quite nicely from its post-Voice berth on Monday nights at 10 PM EST (though it didn’t help the show too much during the latter half of the season).  We also saw the Thursday 8 PM EST slot destroy two consecutive genre shows as both Last Resort and Zero Hour failed to woo too many Nielsen households to ABC during that hour.  Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers as far as scheduling is concerned for this upcoming Fall season (and you can see the full schedule of genre shows at this link and my early predictions for the new shows at this link).

Winners:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, Airs Tuesdays at 8 PM EST) This is not a particularly coveted timeslot, but then it’s not that heavily competitive either.  CBS has aging NCIS in that hour and NBC has The Biggest Loser which both have their established audiences.  But FOX has two new comedies and The CW has freshman entry The Originals, and S.H.I.E.L.D. has some major buzz propelling it into the season in a timeslot that won’t work against it.  I expect this show to be Fall’s biggest hit and will give ABC the chance to lay claim to Tuesday nights.

The Tomorrow People (CW, Airs Wednesdays at 9 PM EST)  This reboot of the British 70’s show should have some buzz pushing it into the season and it lands in the best hour that the fifth place network has to offer: the lead-out slot for Arrow.  This past season Wednesdays were the only nights that The CW maintained a 1.0 or higher rating for two solid hour for pretty much the entire season.  I expect The Tomorrow People to take the reigns from Supernatural (which moves to Tuesdays at 9 PM EST) and to help this continue to be the network’s strongest night.

Dracula (NBC, Airs Fridays at 10 PM EST)  Finally, NBC is doing something that makes sense on Fridays.  Grimm has proven a hit on that night, so they needed to take the ball and run with it and find a good pairing for that show.  They missed the opportunity with Hannibal this season, but in Fall Dracula will take the 10 PM EST lead-out slot.  It’s a perfect match with Grimm and the show will not have to pull huge numbers to be considered a decent performer in that hour.  It’s only scheduled for a ten episode run (with a possible extension if it does well), so perhaps NBC will do the smart thing and slot Hannibal (which is still awaiting word on its fate) in that hour at mid-season.

The Neighbors (ABC, Airs Fridays at 8:30 PM EST)  This much-maligned aliens-among-us sitcom defied the critics (and my predictions) to survive its entire first season and get renewed for a second year.  And while some might think that casting it to Fridays is a strike against the show, it actually will likely work in its favor.  It follows the modestly successful Tim Allen show Last Man Standing and it doesn’t have to pull huge numbers to be considered a success in its timeslot.  If it scores in the 1.0 to 1.5 range throughout the season, then consider it a good candidate for renewal.  And the show did improve somewhat quality-wise by the end of its first season, so maybe it could turn into a bit of a sleeper.

Losers:

Revolution (NBC, Airs Wednesdays at 8 PM EST)  NBC gave this show the primo, post-Voice timeslot in its inaugural season and now they are kicking it out of the nest and telling it to fly on its own.  Problem is that since returning from its (extended) hiatus this past season, it has continued to slip in the ratings despite its strong lead-in and has fallen below a 1.9 rating just recently.  Now they want it to lead Wednesday nights?  And against some pretty stiff competition from Survivor on CBS and The X-Factor on FOX? That seems like a major stretch and this one looks like it could tread the same path as other two-season-and-out genre entries that started strong and then faded like V and Touch.

The Originals (CW, Airs Tuesdays at 8 PM EST)  I realize that The CW is banking off the popularity of their biggest hit Vampire Diaries with this spin-off to establish a beachhead on a night they have had little success with of late.  But then they are pitting The Originals against some well-established shows on CBS and NBC and what will likely be the biggest hit of the season, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  You’d think they would give this one the post-Vampire Diaries slot on Thursdays, but then that hour hasn’t produced many ratings victories of late.  And it also seems like it would have made more sense to lead off the night with Supernatural (which will air at 9 PM on Tuesdays) because that one seems to pull an audience no matter where it lands.  It’s going to be a tough battle for The Originals, though fortunately it does not have to pull huge numbers to be considered a success on the fifth place network.

Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (ABC, Airs Thursdays at 8 PM EST)  Why not give this one the post-Once Upon A Time hour on Sundays?  Seems like the perfect pairing for a two hour fantasy block on Sundays.  But instead, ABC is throwing it into the black hole timeslot on Thursdays that has devoured multiple shows over the last couple of seasons.  True, this one plays better to that hour than either this season’s Last Resort of Zero Hour, both of which would have probably done better in a later hour.  But then parent series Once Upon A Time has slipped notably in the ratings the second half of this last season, so are there enough people out there interested in tuning in for a spin-off?  This one looks like it could be the first genre casualty of the season.

Beauty and the Beast (CW, Airs Mondays 9 PM EST)  By all rights, this show (which only averaged a 0.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights) should have been cancelled this season.  But it appears that The CW has that planned for its second season.  It gets moved to the night that has been a disaster for the fifth place network of late and its lead-in (non-genre entry Hart of Dixie) is another show that barely registers in the Nielsens.  But then this network seems to have given up competing with the Big Four (and several of the cable channels as well), so maybe they will let this one coast another year.


Why Were They Cancelled? 
The Plight of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television in the Face of the Unforgiving Nielsens and Networks

Ever wondered why your favorite science fiction and/or fantasy show disappeared from the television schedule, never to deliver anymore new episodes? The reason why, most likely, is that it was cancelled because its ratings were low. And this book looks at those many cancelled sci fi/fantasy shows as well as the Neilsen ratings and television networks that dictate their fates. Available now for only $2.99 on Kindle from Amazon.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *