All the broadcast networks have released their fall schedules and completed their upfront presentations. With network television ratings continuing to dwindle, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and The CW are doing their best to hang on to their audiences before they’re rendered completely irrelevant by HBO, Netflix, and Hulu. How’d they do? Well, there were some winners, and there were so losers.
Here’s how it looks after the dust has settled:
The best network on broadcast television at the moment had the freedom given the success of their current season to plug in their holes with a lot of new series, but chose — for the most part — to try and continue to develop their great but underperforming series, like Fresh Off the Boat, Galavant, and American Crime. In a rare move, ABC decided to let an audience find their best shows instead of scrapping them and starting all over from scratch.
Loser: John Cho and Karen Gillan
Unfortunately, it’s best freshman series of last fall, Selfie, was given an early hook and not allowed to find its audience.
Not only did Fresh Off the Boat come off the bubble and get renewed, but ABC also picked up Dr. Ken, Ken Jeong’s semi-autobiographical medical sitcom, which brings the total number of Asian-led series on network television to two. Even better for Fresh off the Boat is that it will get a lead-in from The Muppets, which has a very good chance of being next year’s best and highest-rated freshman comedy. It also extends ABC’s dominant family-comedy brand. ABC also picked up Uncle Buck for midseason, which will feature a black-led cast. This is why ABC is winning: Great shows with that appeal to broad demographics without resorting to overly broad comedy.
Loser: Sunday nights on ABC
The network has had a lot of difficulties competing with cable dramas on Sunday nights after Once Upon a Time, and this year doesn’t look much different. Oil and Of Kings and Prophets don’t look like the kind of shows that have a shot in hell at competing with HBO and Showtime. Expect two more freshman series in those same slots next season.
Winner: Shonda Rhimes
Not only did Rhimes keep her blockbuster Thursday night drama block intact, she added a fourth show, The Catch, with Mireille Enos, and it looks like exactly the kind of show that will continue to appeal to Rhimes’ demographic.
The ratings for The Blacklist are faltering on Thursdays, The Voice is losing momentum, and NBC only returned one freshman series from last year, the bubble show, Mysteries of Laura. Worse, with the exception of the Heroes reboot, their new fall schedule has nothing that looks particularly compelling. NBC, once the home of Jerry Seinfeld and Tina Fey, is now the home of Wesley Snipes. They’re trying to be the new CBS, but they’re not doing a very good job of it. As Flavorwire wrote, it almost looks like NBC is trying to tank itself.
Winner: Bill Lawrence
The Bill Lawrence produced Undateable is the first sitcom greenlit under the Robert Greenblatt “broader is better” era to actually get a third season. Of course, it’s low-rated, and it’s moving to Fridays, but hey! It’s something, right? Undateable will also move to all live shows next season, and based on their live show last week, that’s actually a great idea … if anyone would actually watch Undateable on Fridays.
Fox was in the tank this season, but unlike NBC, at least they’re trying to shake things up by building on Empire. They’re bringing in the intriguing Minority Report series from Steven Spielberg, Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens will try and bolster their struggling Tuesday nights, along with two new sitcoms from Rob Lowe and John Stamos, and they actually look… watchable. They’ve buried Sleepy Hollow on Thursdays with Bones, but at least they have consistent — if not low — ratings. Most importantly, they’re finally letting go of American Idol after one more season and trying to rebuild in earnest.
Loser: American Idol
It’s about time.
CBS also seems to be in the midst of a rebuild, but they have enough stable, high-rated series to do so without completely overhauling their schedule. However, they are aiming younger, with two single-camera sitcoms with great casts (although, the shows themselves only look only “OK”), and while there are still too many procedurals, at least they’re trying some new things with a Limitless TV series (with a recurring role from Bradly Cooper himself) and Supergirl.
On the other hand, while it is nice to have a female-led superhero series on broadcast television, it looks a little too much like that Scarlett Johansson Black Widow parody on SNL. Do we really need to get into Supergirl’s awkward dating issues?
Winner: The CW
CW wins “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” award at the Upfronts this year. They’re returning almost everything, and their fall schedule looks pretty much like its existing schedule. Arrow, Supernatural, The Flash, iZombie, etc., are doing well within their target demo, so they see no real need to shake things up too much, save for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Loser (Kind of): DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
The Arrow spin-off has been picked up, but it’s being held until midseason. One also has to be concerned that there may be too many Arrow spin-offs. Poor Felicity is going to be busy next year bouncing between the shows and renewing and breaking off her relationships with the various DC characters.