With the broadcast networks' Upfront presentations only a couple weeks away, some of you might be biting your nails down to stubs while nervously awaiting the fate of some of your favorite TV shows. There will be pain involved; some of your most beloved series will be canceled. It's inevitable. But some of them will also narrowly escape death and come back for another season!
Yes, these are the broadcast programs known as Bubble Shows. They're currently floating somewhere between renewed and canceled, their fates still to-be-determined. Now that we've put together our list of show statuses in our 2013 mega-guide to what's been renewed and what's been canceled, we thought we'd take a closer look at the season's 11 most intriguing bubble shows and offer up our predictions on whether they'll be back or not.
Note: This list only includes series on the five major broadcast networks.
The Situation: Remember that great start Go On had? Its first "regular" episode (read: one that didn't follow the Olympics) drew more than 9 million viewers! That post-Olympics episode? A whopping 16 million viewers! And the Season 1 finale? *Price is Right losing sound* Just 2.67 million viewers. What the heck are you supposed to do with that kind of track record?
Surprisingly, keep it. With 30 Rock and The Office Audi-5000, NBC's once-great Thursday-night comedy block is thinner than a chocoholic at an Ex-Lax factory. The network can't gamble with a comedy block where three out of the four shows are new (assuming Parks and Recreation returns), so it needs reliable comedies. And since NBC doesn't have any reliable comedies AT ALL, it should rely on the next best thing: star power! Matthew Perry is still a star, right? Yeah, he'll do in a pinch, which is where NBC is. A vice, more like it.
Our Guess: Go On comes back for Season 2 but moves to Thursday nights because there's no other spot for it, and NBC has its worst Thursday-night comedy block ever.
UPDATE: Go On has been canceled.
The Situation: The situation is not good! Despite being one of the best comedies on broadcast TV, Happy Endings can't seem to catch a break. Scattered scheduling (it's currently airing on Fridays), confusing scheduling (several episodes have aired out of order), and stupid scheduling (in the fall, it aired on Tuesdays opposite two other sitcom blocks, when it should've been part of ABC's powerful Wednesday block) have done little to help the show's cause. ABC isn't even trying to hide fact that it's in danger. And its back-to-back episodes last Friday, which probably no one knew existed, drew 0.6 ratings in the 18-49 demo.
Despite that, there's reasonable optimism to be had! This is a reliable comedy that hits all right buttons that networks typically look for. It skews young, it's got that sought-after Friends thing going on, and its talented cast is primed for stardom. Happy Endings is a possible Cougar Town-to-TBS situation in the making, and but one that makes even more sense—especially since USA has already expressed interest.
Our Guess: It didn't work on ABC, but it USA will pick it up and give it the treatment it deserves.
UPDATE: Happy Endings has been canceled.
The Situation: This late entry to NBC's schedule came wrapped in critical praise and lots of positive buzz. After surprisingly retaining much of its premiere audience for Episode 2, the numbers for last week's fourth episode (which was technically Episode 5) dropped considerably, to just 2.4 million viewers. The show has also generated some controversy; creator Bryan Fuller pulled an episode, fearing its reception given "the current climate of the country" which was still reeling from the Boston Marathon bombings and Sandy Hook shootings, and a NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City has deemed it too violent and is refusing to air it.
But the show has vocal fans, a great name behind it in Fuller, and what looks like a ton of potential. With only five of NBC's dramas returning (so far), there's plenty of room on NBC's schedule for Hannibal. But all five of those shows are either generically appealing (Chicago Fire, Law & Order: SVU, Revolution) or have earned their way onto the schedule over multiple seasons (Grimm, Parenthood). Hannibal doesn't fit into either category, and a renewal—which the show has earned through quality—would be a big ask.
Our Guess: Hannibal should be back, but maybe not on NBC. If the Peacock passes on the drama, which is a distinct possibility, Hannibal and its affordable cast and sought-after creator would be a fantastic fit on Netflix, where it could fill the horror void Hemlock Grove failed to satisfy.
The Situation: This country-music drama didn't sizzle like ABC hoped it would, but it's done a remarkable job of holding onto a steady audience (after drawing just under 7 million viewers in its second episode, Nashville has reliably wavered between 5 million and 6.5 million viewers). The show has retained a lot of its quality, too, keeping its relationships complicated without resorting to anything too insane, like a hot-air balloon crash or a shooting at a Rayna James concert.
Normally a 1.8 rating wouldn't be something to party over, but 10pm series are taking a beating these days and the ratings bar has been lowered substantially. Add to that the opportunity to make some extra change off soundtrack sales, and I think Nashville is ready for an encore. Plus, who in their right mind would say no to Connie Britton?
Our Guess: It returns for a second season, and stays put on Wednesdays.
UPDATE: Nashville has been renewed.
The Situation: The CW has stuck with this action thriller maybe longer than it should have; Season 3 is averaging just over 1 million viewers per episode, down about a third from Season 2. But that's understandable since it airs on Fridays and lost Supernatural as its scheduling partner.
Saying goodbye to the show for good makes the most business sense, but The CW would be smarter to let it say goodbye on its own terms, just as it did with Gossip Girl this season. We're not asking for much, just half a season to say goodbye.
Our Guess: The CW does the right thing and gives Nikita a 13-episode final season in the fall.
UPDATE: Nikita has been renewed.
The Situation: With a cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Carrie Anne Moss, and Jason O'Mara, this drama from Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pileggi seemed like the next long-running CBS series. But a sluggish start forced CBS to move it over to Fridays, where a recent episode grabbed a CW-esque 0.8 rating among adults, despite drawing an audience north of 7 million. That is not good, people.
CBS's main concern should be getting younger, and the adventures of Old Cowboy Bob in the 1960s aren't going to cut it. The series that took Vegas's original Tuesday spot, Golden Boy, has been performing slightly better (though most of that is by virtue of airing on Tuesdays instead of Fridays) and ultimately, if either series returns, it'll probably be Golden Boy.
Our Guess: Vegas gets buried in a shallow grave in the desert. Related: Golden Boy has a 50/50 shot of coming back, but CBS would be better off giving a new series a shot.
UPDATE: Vegas has been canceled.
The Situation: Welcome back to the bubble, Community! However, as similar as this situation may seem on the outside, things are so much different now than they were in 2012. Dan Harmon is gone. Several writers are gone. A new regime has taken over, and the results are... well, different. The love from critics has faded, the once-loyal fan base is fractured, and "series low" is becoming way too commonplace in ratings summaries for the show.
Community earned both a third and fourth season based
on cachet, and the unfortunate fact of the matter is that its reputation is
now irreparably tarnished. NBC is in a world of hurt and can't afford
to carry a show that doesn't produce viewers, no matter how many
crocheted doilies that depict 16-bit Community characters its fan base stitches. Those doilies, by the way? Coolcoolcool! Just not cool enough for NBC.
Our Guess: We were optimistic last year, but as painful as it is to hear, it just doesn't make sense for NBC to give Community another season. The network has already given the show multiple chances (albeit with annoying scheduling), and it hasn't come through. Don't worry about the Community cast members, though—they're all poised to become mega-stars. They're just being held back by NBC. Ask Ken Jeong, who's already booked another pilot.
UPDATE: Community has been renewed.
The Situation: Who would have thought that out of all ABC's new shows for 2012-2013, The Neighbors would turn in what was arguably the best season, performance-wise? (Certainly not me.) The show was outright panned when it debuted, it dominated our Dead Pool as one of the most popular picks for cancellation, it features aliens named after professional athletes, and there isn't really one funny person on it (no offense guys, but Jamie Gertz is no Casey Wilson). But it survived to the end of the season, while 666 Park Avenue and Last Resort got canceled. What's more, ABC's three other new comedies (How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, Family Tools, and Malibu Country) barely exist.
However, the show is the beneficiary of good scheduling (it was attached to Modern Family all season long) and despite not being as bad as we thought it would be, was it really that good? With only The Middle, Modern Family, and Suburgatory looking like safe bets for ABC's comedy slate, there's plenty of real estate available. However, ABC would be better off launching a new comedy on Wednesdays, and The Neighbors probably won't cut it elsewhere. Is that enough to keep it off the schedule? Probably not.
Our Guess: It's close, but we're leaning toward ABC beaming down a renewal. And we at least want to see more aliens show up to check in on Larry Bird.
UPDATE: The Neighbors has been renewed.
The Carrie Diaries
The Situation: Given its familiarity as the prequel to Sex and the City, The Carrie Diaries has to be a big disappointment after drawing less than a million viewers per episode late in its run. I think The Carrie Diaries went wrong when it assumed its young audience wanted to a show set in a decade when they weren't even zygotes. It was an all-or-nothing move on The CW's part to bank on The Carrie Diaries' relation to SatC to generate buzz, and it just didn't work.
As The CW finds success in more genre fare (Arrow is the network's gold standard now), there just isn't room on the network for another show about teens, even if those teens have crimped hair and pastel-colored pants and Josh Schwartz is involved.
Our Guess: Goodbye, Carrie Bradshaw. Maybe Lifetime can show us how your college years went.
UPDATE: The Carrie Diaries has been renewed.
The Situation: Yeah, the show is RIDICULOUS now. Sure, creator and showrunner Mike Kelly is leaving. Okay, ratings are down. But it's going to take a lot more than that to keep this show from going away.
What we'd like to see ABC do is move Revenge back to a mid-week slot. Sandwiching it between Once Upon a Time and 666 Park Avenue and creating a female-targeted Sunday-night programming block may've initially seemed like a good idea, but Revenge can stand on its own elsewhere.
Our Guess: Nothing to worry about here. It's almost certainly returning.
UPDATE: Revenge has been renewed.
Parks and Recreation
The Situation: If NBC cancels Parks and Rec, it'll be the stupidest thing the network has done in a long time. Yes, stupider than its normally stupid decisions. The Amy Poehler sitcom is the network's veteran comedy now (think about that for a second), it does okay in the ratings, it's good by NBC standards, and it's internet-meme friendly.
Our Guess: It's back. It has to be back.
Check the Status of Your Favorite Shows:
What's Renewed, What's Canceled, and What's Still In Between?