The 2013-14 season is barely in the rearview mirror and yet there are already new sci fi / fantasy shows at the launch and ready to start their seasons over the Summer months. Once there was a time when a new Summer sci fi series was practically unheard of unless it was a cast-off from the regular season schedule or an entry from one of the upstart cable channels trying to take advantage of the lack of new programming available during the hot months. But this Summer currently has fourteen (!) genre shows (not counting the BBC America entries) set to air between now and August and possibly a few stragglers that could pop up along the way. At one time, fourteen would have been an amazing number for the regular season, but nowadays that would count as a low tally. So for those complaining there are no sci fi / fantasy shows on television to watch, think again. Now how many good ones there are is still a subject for debate . . .
You can see the full schedule for the Summer shows at this link (and get a preview of the coming Fall entries at this link) and below I look at each of the upcoming offerings and consider their chances of getting renewed or cancelled gauged by my five Cancellation Alert statuses (Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, High). Note that for new series, I rarely start it with a status on either end of the that meter because it is too hard to make predictions with any level of certainty prior to having numbers to look at. And while I do make exceptions to that rule in some cases, I’m sticking with it for this round of predictions. Also note that since most of the Summer entries are on the cable channels, their chances are a little bit better because those networks are not as reactionary to the overnight numbers as the old-school broadcast nets.
One disturbing trend for the Summer shows (apart from the predominant post-apocalyptic trend): is it really necessary to cram so many shows into Sunday nights? Seven of the fourteen Summer shows will air on that night with six of them running concurrently. I know that The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have met with great success on that night, but you can only split the genre audience so far. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out so keep an eye on this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for the ratings results and my updated predictions. Note that I do not include the BBC America shows (Doctor Who and Intruders) in my predictions because they are impacted in a large part by their ratings in their home country.
(Links are to the show’s website)
Beauty and the Beast (CW, Wraps Up Season 2 Beginning June 2nd) – You might have thought this was a burn-off run, but it is just finishing up it sophomore year episodes as it gears up for its third
AND fourth (my mistake on the 4th) season. Can it sink to new ratings lows in the Summer? Does anybody really care? Status: Renewed through it fourth season (for reasons well beyond normal rational thinking).
Defiance (Syfy, Season 2 Premieres Jun 19th) – This sci fi epic pulled decent but not spectacular numbers in its debut season last year. But it looks like an expensive entry, so I’m thinking Syfy will want it ratings to improve during its second go around, yet the trend typically goes the other way. And I don’t know that the move to Thursdays (not a night Syfy has typically scheduled scripted programming) does it any favors. Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Dominion (Syfy, Premieres Jun 19th) – This series is a spin-off of the feature film Legion, but then that one was not considered a huge Box Office hit and it was mostly panned by the critics. That has it facing several hurdles going in and how many people will be interested in tuning in to see if it overcomes those? Cancellation Alert: Medium
Extant (CBS, Premieres Jul 9th) – Can CBS catch lightning in a bottle a second time after last year’s surprise hit Under the Dome with another Summer sci fi entry? It stars Halle Barry as a female astronaut who returns to Earth possibly pregnant with an alien child and Steven Spielberg is onboard as one of the executive producers (he is also attached to Under the Dome). It has name recognition, but perhaps they should have paired it up with UtD on Mondays to improve its chances. And CBS is known for having a particular distaste for genre entries. Cancellation Alert: Medium
Falling Skies (TNT, Season 4 Premieres Jun 22nd) – This post-alien invasion series keeps plugging along for TNT and looks to continue performing well in its fourth season (unless it succumbs to the genre competition on Sundays). I’m betting it cruises into a fifth year. Cancellation Alert: Low
The Last Ship (TNT, Premieres Jun 22nd) – Michael Bay does the post-apocalypse, and with plenty of explosions as you would expect. Looks like a pretty expensive entry, so I’m guessing the ratings expectations will be higher than the typical TNT entry. But then television audiences like explosions, right? Cancellation Alert: Moderate
The Leftovers (HBO, Premieres Jun 29th) – Will this show deliver Lost meets the Left Behind novels as Carlton Cuse gives us a tale of what happens to those still on Earth after what appears to be the Biblical-philosophized Rapture? It’s an interesting concept and it will air on HBO free from the network censors. But it could be treading a fine line between sci fi and religious audiences (while hopefully skewering both). It’s a risky one, but it’s on a network that does take chances. Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Legends (TNT, Premieres Aug 20th) – This conspiracy-themed series starting Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) and Ali Larter (Heroes) sounds like it could be an interesting entry, but why the late Summer start? Will it get lost in the shuffle? Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Penny Dreadful (Showtime, Premieres May 11th) – This new horror all-star series (Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and more to appear) has already had its debut, though its numbers thus far have not been that great. Still, the premium channels don’t rely as heavily on the ratings because they are selling subscriptions, not advertising. But I’m betting they would like this one to be pulling better numbers or at least generating some decent buzz which it hasn’t yet. Cancellation Alert: Moderate
True Blood (HBO, Season 7 Premieres Jun 22nd) – This vampire soap opera from HBO has definitely grown long in the tooth and apparently decided to acknowledge that fact by wrapping up after its seventh season. How long, though, before we get the limited run “event” series True Blood Reborn? Status: Final Season
The Strain (FX, Premieres Jul 13th) – ANOTHER vampire series, but it comes to us from Guillermo del Toro and he does put an interesting twist on the sub-genre (even if I didn’t much care for the book this series is based on). It has John Hurt attached and more likely than not this will give FX another genre win (to go with American Horror Story), unless viewers decide that vampire tales have been bled dry. Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Teen Wolf (MTV, Season 4 Premieres Jun 23rd) – This werewolf series improved its numbers to new highs when it aired the second half of its third season starting at the beginning of January and should ride that momentum into its fourth year Summer run. Cancellation Alert: Low
Under the Dome (CBS, Season 2 Premieres Jun 30th) – This sci fi entry based on the Stephen King book of the same name was an unlikely hit last Summer (it actually outperformed many of the 2013-14 regular season entries), and there’s no reason to believe it will tank in its second year. The numbers might drop some, but chances are it will do well enough to earn a third season. Cancellation Alert: Low
Witches of East End (LIFE, Season 2 Premieres Jul 6th) – This supernatural series returns for its second season (which will find Asgard spilling out into our world) after having done well enough for its network during its inaugural year. If it can hold onto the same numbers it previously had then it should make it to a third season. Cancellation Alert: Low