Fall Preview: Will the New Fall Sci Fi / Fantasy Shows Like Gotham, The Flash, and Constantine Sink or Swim in the Ratings?

By | September 8, 2014

Gotham-FOX-CancelledThis week marks the early kick-off for the Fall season as Syfy’s returning Haven and new series Z Nation have their bows.  So that means that it is time for predictions on how the current crop of shows will do in the ratings and which ones can expect a date with the Network Executioner in their future.  I have already covered the returning shows with my pre-season Power Rankings, but the new shows don’t make it to that list because I have to have at least two episodes worth of ratings data before I will rank a show.  So for the freshman series predictions, I mostly have to go with what my gut tells me based on things like scheduling or the network they appear on or early buzz around the show.  I assign each of these shows a Cancellation Alert status which indicates how likely I believe they are to get axed during the season and there are five levels from least to most likely to get cancelled: Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, High.  For the new shows, I rarely assign them the lowest or highest Cancellation Alert statuses because it is just too hard to say for sure with no hard data to look at yet.  Just look at some of the surprise hits from last season like Sleepy Hollow and Resurrection that I didn’t have a lot of confidence in before they aired.  And I did break my rule last year by giving Agents of SHIELD a Low Cancellation Alert going into last year, and that almost came back to bite me.  That said, I am making one exception for this season and that is with Disney XD’s Star Wars: Rebels.  But then that’s about as close to a sure thing as you can get.  I was also tempted to do the same with The CW’s The Flash because that one looks like a good bet to coast into a second season.  But I am going to resist and keep it at a more conservative alert for now.  And I don’t see any shows that I think are in big trouble going into the season like last year’s Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (which had a Thursday night scheduling that was guaranteed to sink it).  Though I can say that NBC’s Constantine looks iffy and I debated putting it at an Elevated Cancellation Alert.

All of these statuses will get adjusted quickly, though, once the shows bow and I have some numbers to look at.  But until then, following is my look at the prospects for the freshman class of the 2014-15 season (and you can see the full schedule of Fall shows at this link):

Star Wars: Rebels (Disney XD, Mondays 9 PM EST, Premieres Oct 3rd, Timeslot Premiere Oct 13th):  This series is a strong contender going in and will likely go as long as Disney wants to air it. The only reason that Star Wars: The Clone Wars was truncated (though it made it well past the hundred episodes Lucas originally envisioned) was because Disney was cleaning house of the old in preparation for the new. Expect Rebels to pull decent ratings for its network and stick around for several years.  And sell a ton of toys and other merchandising in the process . . .
Cancellation Alert: Low

flash-cw-cancelledThe Flash (CW, Tuesdays 8 PM EST, Debuts Oct 7th):  This spin-off from Arrow which brings DC’s scarlet speedster to the small screen (for the second time, as a matter of fact) is probably one of the closest things to a sure bet among this season’s new genre entries. Its parent series Arrow continues to draw praise from fans. It gets paired up with consistent performer Supernatural on Tuesday nights.  It airs on the fifth place network which has lower ratings expectations and more patience with its shows. And it has picked up some good early buzz. It would basically have to be trying to fail to not do well. But then we’ve seen that before on TV, so I won’t rubberstamp it for a renewal just yet.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Gotham (FOX, Mondays 8 PM EST, Debuts Sept 22nd):  This series gives us the early years of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordan before Wayne became the Caped Crusader and it has generated a lot of early buzz.  That said, I don’t particularly care for its Monday 8 PM EST timeslot where last season Almost Human failed to build much of an audience. But then that one was done in more by poor scheduling on the part of FOX (a late premiere, frequent preemptions, airing episodes our of order) and I’m sure they are looking at Gotham as a premiere Prime Time entry. Name recognition will draw a lot of curious onlookers early, but if they lose interest quickly, FOX may let this “Almost Batman” show go the same way as Almost Human. But I am thinking that more likely than not it will manage to hold on.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Ascension (Syfy, Mini-Series Debuts Nov 24th): This series is one of the most heavily anticipated genre entries of the upcoming season because sci fi fans have been jonesing for a space-based series for several years. It may be just a mini-series and it is unclear if Syfy has long-term plans for it at this point. But the hope is that it will act as a launching point to an ongoing show just like the 2003 Battlestar: Galactica mini-series did. If it does score well with its initial broadcast, expect Syfy to fast-track a continuation into production.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Z Nation (Syfy, Fridays 10 PM EST, Debuts Sept 12th):  This entry gives us another zombie-pocalypse series to join up with The Walking Dead, and I’m sure Syfy is hoping that this will pull in some of the sane zombie crowd that regularly makes that AMC series the top rated show on television.  I think it can if it doesn’t sink to the level of the typical production put out by its studio The Asylum (known for “mockbusters” like Transmorphers, The Day the Earth Stopped, The Almighty Thor, and then there were those Sharknado films). But then the one advantage of its association with that studio is that they know how to produce something on a dime (maybe nickle? penny?), so the same 0.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights that won renewals for Haven and Helix just might suffice with this show as well.  And hey, the Sharknado movies may have been pretty bad, but they pulled in a decent audience.  (More on this one at this link.)
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Forever (ABC, Tuesdays 10 PM EST, Debuts Sept 23rd):  This series about a man cursed with immortality looks like a toss up going into the season.  It has Agents of SHIELD as its lead-in, but that series was fading as last season was winding down. If that show continues its decline into the current year, it will offer no help to Forever. But then this new entry could become a surprise hit like 2013’s Sleepy Hollow (FOX) or 2014’s Resurrection (ABC). I give it about a 50/50 chance of surviving at this point, which are decent odds these days for a new series.  (More on this one at this link.)
Cancellation Alert: Medium

constantine-nbc-cancelledConstantine (NBC, Fridays 10 PM EST, Debuts Oct 24th): Yet another DC comic book character gets adapted to the small screen, this time it is the demon hunter Constantine.  But I have to say that the Friday 10 PM EST timeslot that NBC has this one scheduled in looks treacherous. Dracula did not do well enough in that hour last year to get a renewal (even though the show pulled relatively decent numbers for that low viewership slot). And I don’t know that Constantine will have as much draw from the comic book audience as FOX’s Gotham will. That angel visiting Constantine in the show may need to pull some strings from above to get this one a second season.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Agent Carter and Galavant (both from ABC):  I have these on my Fall schedule because the network originally indicated they would bow before December.  But it is looking like they will not get on the schedule until January, so I will hold off on predictions for them right now.

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