Cancellation Watch: A Look at Prospects of Helix, Intelligence, The 100 and the Other New Mid-Season Genre Entries

By | January 6, 2014

helix-cancelledThis past Fall had a record number of sci fi and fantasy shows airing on the broadcast and cable networks and mid-season will be bringing even more into the fold with several new entries premiering over the coming weeks and months. When looking at these shows before they have debuted, it’s always hard to give a reasonable prediction on whether or not they will meet with ratings success because there are too many factors that can’t be fully assessed until you have some numbers to look at. For that reason, I rarely give a new series the highest or lowest Cancellation Alert status before they have had their premieres. That said, I have made a few exceptions over the past few years, previously giving Arrow and Agents of SHIELD a Low Cancellation alert (which worked well for the former but the jury is still out on the latter). I also gave The Neighbors a High Cancellation Alert before it debuted and that one proved me wrong (though many will argue vehemently that it should have been cancelled and it is surely head there this season). And I was tempted below to give both CBS’ Intelligence and Syfy’s Helix a Low Cancellation Alert prior to their debuts, but I decided to keep them at a more conservative Moderate.

There are several factors that can drive up the Cancellation Alert of a series prior to its debut such as scheduling (which crippled Once Upon A Time in Wonderland coming into this season) or behind the scenes turmoil (Believe is currently experiencing some of that) or just flat out blundering a promising concept (2011’s Terra Nova among many others) which can hamstring a show before it ever hits the airwaves. And that definitely impacts some of my predictions below, though none of these shows gets higher than a Medium Cancellation Alert to welcome them into the Prime Time schedule. We will see how things look when the dust settles at the end of the season, but these are my predictions for the new shows as things stand now. The shows that I have listed below are the ones that currently have firm debut dates with the exception of Believe, though that one is currently receiving heavy promotion so it should make it to the schedule at some point. There are a few other entries out there like Crisis and Crossbones (both of which may or may not have genre elements) which are supposed to hit the schedule but have received no firm commitment at this point and I have left them off for now. To see my predictions for the returning genre shows, go to my first Power Rankings column at this link.  And keep an eye on this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for the ratings results which will be hitting as early as Wednesday for the new shows with the Intelligence premiere Tuesday night.  (Links below are to each show’s web page.)

Cancellation Alert statuses from least likely to be cancelled to most likely: Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, High

The 100 (CW, Premieres Mar 19th) – This Hunger Games-like series will land in a decent timeslot in the post-Arrow hour and I’m sure that The CW is hoping it will bring back the one-two punch that Arrow and Supernatural had on Wednesday nights last year. The show does look promising, but then so did The Tomorrow People which will get shuffled off to Mondays in what looks like a burn-off run for that lagging series.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Believe (NBC, Premiere TBD) – This one is not on the schedule yet, but NBC has been advertising it and teasing a post-Olympics debut. Its concept about a girl with strange powers who helps others sounds dangerously close to FOX’s failed Touch, which is not necessarily a good thing. But then it has Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams attached to it which gives it some pedigree. On the other hand, it has already had some behind the scenes shake-ups which means it will come in on shaky footing. It has some hurdles to overcome, but it could turn into a sleeper.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Bitten (Syfy, Premieres Jan 13th) – We get werewolf against werewolf with this new Syfy entry that will go up against MTV’s hit series Teen Wolf which will also be airing on Mondays beginning in January (as an extension of its Summer run). Looks like Bitten fits in with the “sci fi lite” brand that Syfy has gone with the last few years and it is probably a relatively low cost entry so ratings expectations will not be too high.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Helix (Syfy, Premieres Jan 10th) – This Ronald Moore series about a virus that threatens all of humanity is probably one of the most anticipated upcoming new entries among science fiction fans. Moore’s name is attached to it which gives it some pedigree and it looks like it may deliver some good hard sci fi (as hard as TV, especially Syfy, will go). But then Fridays have not been great for Syfy’s original programming of late, so that could work against it. I think it can overcome that, though, if it’s halfway decent.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

cbs-intelligenceIntelligence (CBS, Premieres Jan 7th) – Lost alum Josh Holloway returns as an amped up intelligence agent—he has a super-computer microchip implanted in his noggin—and this one could be the hit series of mid-season. It will get some competition from Fall hit The Blacklist over on NBC in the Monday 10 PM EST timeslot, but it has the star-power of Holloway driving it. If they can deliver some halfway decent episodes with the concept, then it has a chance. But then it resides on CBS which has been the most sci fi-averse network of late. Maybe they should try pairing it up with Person of Interest which has managed to do well on that network for three seasons now.  (Note that this series premieres on Tuesday Jan 7th but then moves to its regular Monday timeslot on Jan 13th.)
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Resurrection (ABC, Premiered Mar 9th) – This series—based on the Jason Mott novel The Returned—about people mysteriously returning from the dead gets some pretty iffy scheduling in the Sunday 9 PM EST time slot. That has not been a particularly good hour for ABC in a while and its lead-in from the waning Once Upon A Time will not be too strong either. Nor is this a particularly well-known property. But maybe it turns into one of those surprise hits like Fall’s Sleepy Hollow and rejuvenates the night for ABC. I’m not counting on that, though.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Star-Crossed (CW, Premieres Feb 17th) – This sci fi/romance has several hurdles to overcome right off the bat. First of all, it’s a sci fi/romance and that’s a tricky genre crossing that rarely works out well for larger audiences (fantasy and romance tend to compliment one another a bit better). Second, it debuts in the Monday 8 PM EST timeslot on The CW which has been a disaster for that network of late. I’m already wondering at this point if the network scheduled it there because they have already given up on the show. In its favor, Star-Crossed airs on the fifth place network and if it pulls even mediocre ratings on its night (somewhere around a 0.7 score in the overnights for the 18-49 demo) they may consider it a success. At least enough to get a second season.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

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Useless but essential pop culture tidbits and trivia from the worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Did you know that Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski wrote a proposal for a Star Trek reboot years before the J.J. Abrams movies came out? Did you know that Han Solo was originally supposed to be a green-skinned alien and some of the early actors considered for the role included Billy Dee Williams, Al Pacino, and Chevy Chase? How about that FOX originally wanted someone more like Pamela Anderson to play the roll of Scully on The X-Files? Or that in 1974, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke predicted the Internet? Ever hear of Varney the Vampire?

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