UPDATED: Last season, 12 freshman scripted series made it to Season 2. That number will likely be matched and even surpassed this season, which has been pretty strong for newcomers. Nine freshman series already have been given early renewals, Fox’s Empire, Gotham and The Last Man On Earth, CBS’ Madam Secretary, Scorpion and NCIS: New Orleans, the CW’s The Flash and Jane The Virgin as well as ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, whose renewal ABC revealed in a promo following the season finale. Fellow ABC newcomers Black-ish and Fresh Off The Boat are considered a lock for a second season — Eddie Huang’s assault on Boat notwithstanding — with murder mystery Secrets & Lies also looking very good. Ditto for another midseason drama, the CW’s iZombie, whose renewal chances are considered excellent. And, unless the ratings unravel, we will likely see another installment of NBC’s A.D.
There also is a slew of freshmen that are not a shoo-in but have a real shot at a second season. That includes Mysteries Of Laura on NBC and CSI: Cyber and The Odd Couple on CBS. CSI: Cyber was pre-empted for basketball and returns to originals tonight, so the next few weeks will be key. CBS’ remaining freshmen, comedy The McCarthys and buddy dramedy Battle Creek, are facing long odds.
The “bubbliest” shows at CBS this year seem to be the mothership CSI and freshman drama Stalker. Both dramas had orders short of full-season 22 episodes and were benched to make room for new shows, Battle Creek and CSI: Cyber, respectively. Spinoff CSI: Cyber’s performance will likely factor into the network’s decision whether to end the long-running mothership series after 15 seasons. CBS is known for waiting until last minute to make renewal decisions, so it will likely take into account how the first of the remaining episodes of Stalker do when the show returns May 4.
None of CBS’ other returning series appear in serious danger, including dramas NCIS, NCIS: LA, Elementary, Hawaii and Blue Bloods, all owned by CBS and profitable for sibling CBS TV Studios with strong off-network and international sales. The Good Wife is CBS’ prestige series, and it is likely not going anywhere. (The network already has renewed all of its returning comedy series, with Criminal Minds and Person of Interest on track to join them.)
ABC’s Revenge finds itself once again on the bubble after a lackluster season, both creatively and ratings-wise. ABC topper Paul Lee has been a big supporter of the show, calling it “a critical brand” for the network. A show that has played such an important role for network and has been a big international seller for sibling ABC Studios is likely to be given a proper sendoff for the fans who have invested years in its mythology.
Revenge‘s fate may be tied to that for another ABC project about a young person taking on a new identity to avenge the death of a family member, ABC pilot Kingmakers. If the new project, which has been compared to Revenge, goes to series, maybe ABC could give Revenge one final chapter that could help launch the new series.
Last year, Nashville did not get renewed with the rest of ABC’s dramas, with producing studios Lionsgate TV and ABC Studios crunching the numbers as the tax incentives package from Tennessee, where the show is filmed, shrunk. The sides ultimately made it work, and Nashville clinched an 11th hour renewal. Budget issues are said to once again be the focus of the renewal conversations, indicating that there is a will to bring the country music drama back. Nashville has grown into more than TV show with music specials, soundtrack albums and musical downloads as well as tours. The Disney Co. puts major emphasis on brands, and Nashville is becoming one, giving it a good shot at another season.
Speaking of brands, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has played an important role in expanding the Marvel universe to TV, so it is expected to come back for a third season. The fate of the other ABC Marvel series, Agent Carter, is less certain in light of the potential S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff in the works at ABC. (The company also is pretty busy with its four Netflix superhero series). The network could conceivably keep the S.H.I.E.L.D./Agent Carter combo intact for a season-long offering of original Marvel-branded content though launching a spinoff series to bridge the fall and spring parts of S.H.I.E.L.D. seem logical.
Of the established ABC series, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Once Upon a Time, Modern Family and The Goldbergs are fully expected to come back. The Middle also is looking good, with the cast led by Patricia Heaton locked in with new deals (co-star Charlie McDermott is in first position on CBS pilot Super Clyde but is expected to be part of The Middle in some way), as is Tim Allen Friday comedy Last Man Standing.
Veteran ABC drama Castle has become an accidental bubble show with its fate in limbo not because the network is debating whether to bring it back or not but because stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have no deals beyond this season and are yet to commit to new contracts.
There are hopeful signs for musical fairytale comedy Galavant, which enjoys internal support at ABC, has been able to attract big-name guest stars and is expected to get awards recognition for its original songs.
Resurrection was a big breakout for ABC last midseason but its concept proved hard to sustain long-term, and the drama about deceased loved ones coming back to life has faded this season and is unlikely to come back.
True bubble shows at ABC are freshman drama Forever and comedy Cristela. Both had earned full-season pickups but have been shaky in the ratings. Forever had an uptick last week against lesser competition followed by a dip last night, while Cristela got a bump from a Last Man Standing crossover.
Midseason drama American Crime has garnered critical praise but has been a tough sell to wider audiences. A renewal based on the show’s status as a potential awards contender is a possibility though the series’ future is considered a tossup.
In addition to the three freshman series, Fox has renewed dramas Sleepy Hollow and comedies New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Its bubble show list includes drama The Following and comedy The Mindy Project. Both hail from outside studios, WBTV and Universal TV, respectively. Both are heavily on the bubble with current odds seeming against them but their fate will likely depend on the state of Fox’s development as pilots start to come in as both The Following and Mindy appeal to the kind of audiences advertisers like to reach. In case Fox cancels Mindy, Uni TV is likely going to pursue another outlet, possibly a streaming service, that courts similar demographics. Odds appear pretty small for Fox/20th TV midseason drama Backstrom, which has struggled to connect with viewers.
Like ABC’s Castle, Fox long-running crime drama Bones too is put on the bubble by its stars, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, whose contracts are up and who have not committed to return.
NBC already has renewed its strongest scripted performers, dramas The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Law & Order: SVU and Grimm. Outside of that, it’s slim pickings at the network this season, with A.D. and The Mysteries of Laura having a decent shot.
Last year, NBC only brought back two comedy series, veteran Parks & Recreation and freshman About a Boy. The comedy struggles at the network continue this season with no show making a strong case for renewal. Any pickups would likely be based on scheduling needs NBC may have. Multi-camera entries Undateable and One Big Happy are a possibility. Marry Me is unlikely, with About a Boy heavily on the bubble.
On the drama side, The Night Shift has not been able to take advantage of its high-profile post-Voice berth. Its prospects also have been hurt by the solid performance of another NBC medical drama hopeful, the Chicago Med episode of Chicago Fire, so The Night Shift is heading to the danger zone. Constantine and State of Affairs are unlikely to continue.
The CW’s iZombie pretty much sealed its renewal chances by holding up well with a Flash repeat lead-in last night. The series has been well received by critics, it is liked creatively by the network and gives the CW a chance to be in the Rob Thomas business and to break a new star in Rose McIver.
This leaves Hart of Dixie as the only bubble show at the CW, which already gave an early renewal to eight series. The odds are that we have seen the last of the small town medical drama though the network brass are keeping its options open in case a need arises during the scheduling meetings for next season. The CW also has a new midseason drama The Messengers that is yet to premiere.