Do you smell that? It's the smell of death! And it's coming from your TV set. No, it's not the possum that crawled up in your flatscreen and died, it's the abundance of new, not-so-good-looking television shows that will soon debut on the major networks and then find themselves pushing up headstones as they fail spectacularly. MUAHAHAHAHA!
Which is to say, welcome to the 2nd Annual TV.com Dead Pool, where we all come together to revel in the misery of others. This is an interactive game where you predict which new shows will be canceled first. Are you ready? Let's begin.
– This year, we've made it much easier for you to pick your shows and, more importantly, for me to keep score. Gone are the hand-drawn spreadsheets and abacuses; instead we've built some sweet web-based tools and an automated leaderboard. If you've ever dabbled in creating your own TV.com viewing lineup, you'll be familiar with the layout. And if you have at least two brain cells, you'll probably understand it, too. In the widget below, drag and drop the five shows you think will be canceled first into the blank spots, and then pick a tiebreaker—the show you think will be first to earn a full-season pickup. (For lots more detail on how the game works, see the "Rules" section, below.) The shows are tabbed out by network, so don't forget to click over to see what NBC has to offer because the network is a goldmine for points.
– Once you make your picks, they're automatically saved in the system and good to go. (They're also shareable; we won't be sad if you post them to MySpace and Friendster... or Facebook and Twitter, your call.) If you decide you want to change your picks, simply drag a new show over the one you want to replace and let the magic of the internet handle the rest.
– The shows eligible for the Dead Pool are those that premiere during the major networks' fall premiere season (September through the end of November). No midseason shows are eligible, and no cable shows are eligible.
– Entries will lock after September 30, meaning you can enter (and edit) your lineup up until that date. Because ABC and The CW have several premieres after that date, you'll just have to guess at their chances without seeing a full episode.
– The competition is open to all registered TV.com users. IMPORTANT: Please make sure the email address affiliated with your TV.com account is up to date so that we may contact you in the event that 1) you win, 2) there's a problem with your entry, or 3) we want to make fun of you for picking The Mindy Project as one of the shows that will be canceled first.
– The concept is simple: Pick five new shows you think will be canceled first, talk some trash to your friends, and get to some hate-watching! We're not as interested in exactly when shows get canceled as we are in how soon they're canceled. Because all the new shows premiere at different times, scoring is based on how many episodes of a series have aired before its demise. The fewer episodes that make it to air, the more points the show is worth. Points for all your shows will be tallied, and the user with the most points wins.
– New shows typically begin with a 13-episode order, so we calculate each show's score by counting backward from 13 according to how many episodes have aired once a show's cancellation is announced. Wait, don't freak out, it's not THAT confusing! Let me give you an example. Let's say NBC's new comedy Six Hot Friends Having Sex in New York gets canceled after airing four episodes. We take 13 (the number of episodes in the initial order) and subtract four for the number of episodes that did air. That means Six Hot Friends Having Sex in New York is worth nine (13 – 4 = 9) points. Another example: If CBS's Doctor Cop Lawyer is canceled after 10 episodes, it's worth three points (13 – 10 = 3). Get it? Of course you do. Points are only awarded once a cancellation is announced.
– Cancellations aren't always made official by networks that are trying to save face, but it's quite obvious when a show is technically canceled, even if a network says it isn't. If a show gets moved to Saturdays at 11pm or is "temporarily removed from the schedule," it's is as good as canceled, and the TV.com edit team will have the final say on what is and what isn't canceled and how many episodes aired. We'll also make final determinations on any other wacky network decisions, such as a show being canceled and then uncanceled. Our decisions are final, because we rule.
– If you choose a show that gets picked up for a full season, that's bad. You'll lose two points for that. For example, let's say Fox's Quirky Girl Is Unlucky in Love becomes a big hit and gets a full-season order at any time during its run. Those who selected it as one of their five shows headed for cancellation will get two points deducted from their score, because this is a Dead Pool, not a Success Pool. With such a large field of participants, entries that choose a show that gets picked up have almost zero chance of winning.
– Because lots of people can tell when a show stinks, there are bound to be ties. We have a tiebreaker for that! After you pick the five shows you think will be canceled, you'll select a sixth show that you think will be the first to earn a full-season pickup (the opposite of what you were predicting with the other five shows). Do not forget to do this! Multiple entrants lost out last year because they didn't pick a tiebreaker or they didn't pay attention to the rules. This pick does not count toward your overall score, it's only used as a tiebreaker.
– There will be prizes! Assorted schwag from the TV.com offices will find its way to the lucky winners. (Note: Unfortunately, authorities with legal power only allow prizes to go to American residents, so foreigners should work on getting that green card now in order to have a chance at winning a Breaking In notebook that TV.com Managing Editor Jen Trolio has half scribbled in. [Ed. note: It's a Game of Thrones "The North Remembers" notebook, thankyouverymuch. But it is half scribbled in.]
This page right here is officially Dead Pool HQ. You'll see the Dead Pool picks widget at the top. It's where we'll eventually post a leaderboard, as well as news and updates.
– While the general rule of thumb should be "bad shows will get canceled first," that's not always the case. Americans don't always have the best taste. Have you seen the two guys running for president? I mean, come on! Consider a show's potential for mass appeal when picking.
– Don't forget to consider the individual networks! CBS will make its decisions a lot differently than The CW because CBS is loaded with successful shows. CBS will keep a short leash, whereas a CW show can go eight seasons before the network realizes it stinks.
– Don't forget to take note of where new shows fit on the schedule (check out our fall schedule analysis to see what shows will be up against what other shows). Choosing a new series that's up against NCIS is a lot smarter than choosing one that's up against Whitney.
– Don't forget to encourage your friends to play, and once your picks are made click on the Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus icons to share them with the world. There's also an old-school URL to send to your friends that will show them your picks and take them directly to the Dead Pool homepage. The wonders of technology!
– Good luck, and it is MANDATORY that you have fun. If you do not have fun, you will be removed from the contest and shot into space. With Mario Lopez.
– Finally, for inspiration, watch this clip. If you want to play the game, you better know the rules.