Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best and worst moments for sci fi / fantasy TV in the 2013-14 Season (based primarily on the ratings and renewals/cancellations which is what we track here). Of course I’m sure that fans of particular shows will have their own thoughts on the best and worst moments, so feel free to share those in the comments
Ratings Juggernaut: The Walking Dead
This show averaged a 6.8 rating in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights across its fourth season and hit 8.0 or higher for its season premiere and finale. Those are mind-boggling numbers in this day of fractured audiences and a clear sign that the old school broadcast nets no longer dominate television.
Runner Up: Game of Thrones. Its numbers weren’t quite at TWD levels, but then it has beat most of the broadcast networks shows each week during its fourth season run. And FX’s American Horror Story is not too far behind either.
Ratings Slacker: All of the broadcast network shows
A few entries like Sleepy Hollow, Agents of SHIELD, and Resurrection impressed early, but all slacked off along with many of the non-genre broadcast net shows. Could a major shakeup be in the near future?
Worst Cancellation: Almost Human
C’mon FOX, did you just want to kill this show? It had a late start, you aired the episodes out of order, preempted it, and scheduled it directly against the Olympics. Yet still it pulled relatively decent numbers and fared better than The Following which you renewed. You have some ‘splaining to do.
Runner Up: Dracula. Can you really ask much better than a 1.1 rating average in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights for the Friday 10 PM EST timeslot (which is better than Hannibal’s 0.9 and that one got renewed)? And the show picked up a pretty devoted following as well. Now NBC is throwing Constantine into the hour in Fall and hoping it will do better?
Worst Renewal: Beauty and the Beast
When the final rankings come out for this season’s shows, B&B will certainly be in the bottom 10 if not the bottom 5. Don’t talk to me about international audience or brand recognition or balance of WB/CBS shows, this is one of the biggest WTF moments for the nets from last few years. Fans of The CW’s other cancelled shows, especially The Tomorrow People, Star-Crossed, and The Secret Circle, are lining up to have words with that network’s execs.
Most Surprising Cancellation: Being Human
This show averaged better than either Haven or Helix did on Syfy, but it got the ax. Sure, series star Sam Witwer says they planned to end the show and it was done for artistic reasons. But it wasn’t until after the cancellation that I heard anybody making those claims. Being Human doesn’t really fit well with Syfy’s move toward a heavier science fiction focus, so maybe it’s not as surprising if you factor that in.
Runner Up: Almost Human. Well, really it’s only surprising if you aren’t expecting FOX to be FOX, which I wasn’t. My mistake.
Biggest Ratings Disappointment: Agents of SHIELD
This one exploded out of the gates but then went on a downward slide that threatened at points to turn into a death-spiral. It avoided that, and cancellation as well, but I’m sure ABC expected it to be a much bigger hit (I know I did). If it slips any further in its second year, it will need Fitz-Simmons (or somebody) to come up with some sort of miracle save to keep it going.
Runner Up: Helix
This Syfy entry had a lot of early buzz, but it bowed to mediocre numbers and only went down from there. It still earned a second season renewal, but I’m thinking it is going to have to improve when it returns if it wants to make it to a third year.
Biggest Ratings Surprise: Sleepy Hollow
That one seemed like a dark-horse candidate entering the season, but it debuted to impressive numbers and held onto to them for multiple weeks. The show did slack off toward the end of its season, but then so did everything on FOX.
Runner Up: Resurrection. Another one that seemed like a stretch, but it bowed with good numbers and regularly outperformed the other Sunday scripted shows.
Worst Scheduling: Almost Human
This is not because it aired in the 8 PM EST Monday timeslot (which wasn’t necessarily the greatest hour for it), but because FOX gave it a late start then aired its episodes out of order then preempted it and ran it against the Olympics. The network certainly did all they could to kill this show.
Runners Up: Intelligence, Believe, Star-Crossed. Both Intelligence and Believe bowed to decent numbers when given better timeslots then dropped off quickly when moved to their regular hours. The networks should have given each a few more weeks in the better slots to build their audiences and maybe more people would have followed them when they moved. And commenter Tammy reminded me about Star-Crossed which arrived practically DOA getting cast to Mondays which have been a disaster for The CW of late. Here are her comments: “It premiered against the Olympics, and had episodes up against the series finales of How I Met Your Mother, The Blacklist, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, no promotion, did not air with any heavy hitters, aired with two of the worst rated CW shows, actually performed pretty well considering those who tuned in for the first show mostly stayed and then it got cancelled before it had even aired in other places in the world or finished airing in the US. WORST SCHEDULING EVER!”
Best Trend: Limited Run/”Event” Series
Maybe we will call this the best potential trend. I like the idea of a close-ended series (though they always leave the door open for continuation) because sometimes that’s the better way to tell a story and it’s also a good way to try out an idea to see if audiences have an interest. Plus, it’s a way to plug a hole in the schedule without running endless repeats (see the next point) and a good way to let us visit briefly with characters from a past series no longer on the air (Heroes Reborn). That said, I haven’t seen it successfully executed with a genre entry yet seeing as Once Upon A Time in Wonderland flopped and Dracula was really built to continue into multiple seasons. But next season’s Agent Carter and Heroes Reborn look promising and could help kick this trend into high gear.
Worst Trend: Spring Repeats
C’mon networks, you have to figure this out. Viewership typically slacks off in Spring anyway and the incessant repeats makes it that much worse. The last few months, the ratings have been in the toilet for the broadcast nets across all of their shows, and I’m sure the repeats contributed to this. Fortunately we are already seeing some attempts to address this with the “bridge” series idea (Agent Carter will run between the first and second half of Agent of SHIELD’s season and Galavant will do the same for Once Upon A Time) and more judicial scheduling of the “event” series (looks like Heroes Reborn will plug up some dead space on NBC’s schedule). The cable channels are definitely gaining significant ground on the old school nets (see the very first entry above) and the broadcast channels seriously need to rethink their scheduling strategy.