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SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST 2010-2011: UPDATE IV, PRE-UPFRONTS

A year ago, I decided it would be an interesting experiment to gauge how far off we can see which shows will fail in the coming season. Based purely off of buzz, the spare info and trailers from the upfront presentations and – mostly – my own gut instincts, I tried to predict the success and failure of each freshman show from the season that, as of now, is coming to a close. So, going into the upfronts… lets see how I’m doing so far!


(Please note: Some late pickups, like Breaking In and Chaos, weren’t in by the time of the original post and weren’t included in this series.)

ABC (American Broadcast Corporation)

Better With You (fka Better Together)

What I Said: 7 and out, though I’ll likely be sad to see it go.

What Actually Happened: If we’re looking at the specific accuracy of what I said, I was verifiably wrong. Not only did Better With You survive to the end of its initial order, it got the back nine. However, if we’re looking at my prediction of the shows’ ultimate success… then, we’re waiting on the final call on May 17th. The show is riding the bubble, but its looking like I’ll be right, and the show won’t see a second season.

Body of Proof

What I Said: I see two futures for the show: 2-3 seasons anchoring ABC’s Fridays, low-rated and old-skewing but not enough to see the show leave the air for a while, or a surprisingly successful season that sees it move onto another night for an additional 2-3 years, doing middling-but-acceptable ratings on an average night of the week. […] Survival for 2-3 years.

What Actually Happened: It’s looking like my prediction is right in line with what happened. Seeing potential, the network never ended up running the show on Fridays, instead giving it the rough Tuesday at 10pm slot. The show has indeed done “middling-but-acceptable ratings on an average night of the week” and is looking strong for a second season.

Detroit 1-8-7

What I Said: Cancelled in front 13.

What Actually Happened: The show got an unlikely ‘back five’ order, but spent the entire season half dead. I’m calling this one a win, even if they managed a half-order beyond 13.

Happy Endings

What I Said: Order will get cut to 6 episodes before it airs and it will be burned off in the Wednesday block. No season 2.

What Actually Happened: No order cut, so the details of my prediction were off (though it’s looking like those 13 episodes will only be aired over 7 nights anyway). However, the show is on the ‘good’ side of the bubble, so we’ll see where I stand in terms of raw ‘cancelled to renewed’ numbers.

Mr. Sunshine

What I Said: My main worry is that this, one of their pilots with the biggest buzz, has been the equivalent of buried in the back yard. This, plus the fact that the sample scene wasn’t exactly hilarious, has me wondering whether the show is as good as I expect. Will get a season 2, even if just barely.

What Actually Happened: While my qualms about the quality were on point (as you might see in my less-than-enthusiastic review of the pilot), it seems I may have called this one badly, as Mr. Sunshine is looking more dead than alive. That said, it’s on the bubble, so there’s a chance my ‘just a little bit off’ prediction will go my way. As a fan of good comedy… I’m rooting against myself.

My Generation

What I Said: Thirteen and out.

What Actually Happened: Right on the money, so to speak, though thirteen was wildly optimistic: it lasted two.

No Ordinary Family

What I Said: All I can think of is Heroes, which opened big, and only leaked viewers over the course of four seasons due to low-quality product. I’m excited by the possibilities. […] 3-5 seasons.

What Actually Happened: My Heroes comparison was apt, moreso than I thought, as the show indeed opened big – and then proceeded to flatline within a season. It seems the Heroes audience, ready-made for Family, were shy about getting burned again. I was dead wrong here.

Off the Map

What I Said: I expect the show to see a second season; where it goes beyond that depends on whether the show can create compelling stories, as Rhimes’ first show did early on.

What Actually Happened: The show is looking weak for a second season, which means I probably lost out on this one. I had a feeling – in the original ‘conclusion’ for ABC, which looked a bit optimistic, I called Off the Map as one of the borderliners that might not make it. That said, I’ll take the hit on this one.

The Whole Truth

What I Said: This show bombed back when it was called Justice. […] Six episodes is being generous.

What Actually Happened: Exactly six aired. Heh.

How I Did (Renew vs. Cancelled): Alright. 3/9 are confirmed right, and 1/9 confirmed wrong, so there’s 5 left to be determined. I’m looking good to get more right than wrong here, I think.

What I Learned from ABC:  Go with my gut rather than hype. I overestimated No Ordinary Family and Mr. Sunshine‘s chances because I ignored my gut worries about their quality and let myself be swayed by how the hype perceived them. I also let producer pedigree convince me that Off the Map could weather bad ratings to see a second season. While two of these three are technically on the bubble, I see these as my big missteps here.

CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System)

Bleep My Dad Says

What I Said: Unless they completely fumble this opportunity, at least 3 seasons.

What Actually Happened: Based on reviews of the show, it might have been weak enough to count as a ‘fumble’; the show is sitting on the bubble with ratings that would save it almost anywhere but the network it’s on, CBS. Technically I predicted a second season, so I’m looking like a loser on this one.

Blue Bloods

What I Said: Will get a back nine, but not reach season 2.

What Actually Happened: While the show performed stronger than expected on Fridays, it’s deflated pretty significantly over the course of the season, and is one contender to get the axe. I’m looking good to get this one right on the money.

The Defenders

What I Said: Though part of me wants to say this show is doomed, I really think it will see a season 2. Two seasons.

What Actually Happened: The show got the middling ratings I predicted, but thanks to a midseason move to Fridays, it lost ratings momentum and slipped into the cancel zone. I called it as a borderliner. Technically this loses me a point… but when Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi are no longer headlining a network show, doesn’t everybody win? (Note: I wish those gentlemen all the success in the world… in movies, where I can safely ignore them.)

Hawaii Five-O

What I Said: 2-3 seasons.

What Actually Happened: Pretty much exactly that. The show’s a lock for a second season, but the ratings have wavered enough that it might not break out past what I predicted.

Mike & Molly

What I Said: I’m betting 3-6 seasons, right now; this is the beginning of a new How I Met Your MotherThe Big Bang Theory situation, I think.

What Actually Happened: Pretty much that. The collapse of Two and a Half Men threw the show’s ability to survive without a strong lead-in into doubt, but it’s a lock for next season.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour

What I Said: It’s a matter of pride for CBS’ spinoffs to survive. I can’t see CBS cancelling it unless it completely bombs. It’ll make three seasons, almost definitely.

What Actually Happened: The show sits on the bubble, but I feel confident the show will get a reprieve. CBS wants to build franchises like CSI and NCIS; cancelling a modest-performing Criminal Minds spinoff in its first year would almost definitely kill Minds as a franchise. I feel strongly that their ego and the show’s not-terrible ratings will keep it alive… for now.

How I Did (Renew vs. Cancelled): I know very little because, as always, CBS isn’t making many moves before upfronts. I’d say 1/6 is definitely off, that being The Defenders, but my predictions are largely in line with what’s being said now – twelve months after I made these predictions.

The CW

Hellcats

What I Said: Dawn Ostroff‘s pride will require they order a back nine, but this will not see a second season.

What Actually Happened: Ostroff did indeed order a back nine, and her pride is no longer an issue now that someone else has stepped up to take the reins. Hellcats has fallen deeply since its premiere, and is looking like a goner. There’s no confirmation, but I’m expecting I got this one right.

Nikita

What I Said: Season 2. Beyond that, I don’t know.

What Actually Happened: Nikita sits on the bubble, but between fairly strong ratings and a limited budget for new shows, I’m pretty sure it will get a second season.

How I Did (Renew vs. Cancelled): Since there were only two shows at The CW, there’s not much grey area. I could see a situation where 100% of my calls here were right, fairly easily in fact.

What I Learned From The CW: Their audience is fairly predictable.

FOX

Bob’s Burgers

What I Said: 6 eps and out.

What Actually Happened: I was wrong; the show aired all of its 11 episodes and got an early second season renewal, if by the skin of its teeth ratings-wise.

Lonestar (fka Midland)

What I Said: Though the odds are against this show, as it’s apparently smart and controversial, I’m getting this feeling it will be a quiet hit after House. […] 3 seasons and out.

What Actually Happened: I was way off here, and completely misread the zeitgeist. Didn’t make it 3 episodes. Sad, as I rather liked the two episodes that did air.

Traffic Light (fka Mixed Signals)

What I Said: Order cut to 7 or 8 and no season 2.

What Actually Happened: Though the order wasn’t cut, I got this one right.

Raising Hope

What I Said: 2-4 seasons.

What Actually Happened: My gut was dead right on this one. I saw talented creators and a charming cast and felt like the show would work really well, and Raising Hope was the first back nine pickup and the first freshman to get a second season order. This is the opposite of my Lone Star call; I nailed it.

The Chicago Code (fka Ridealong)

What I Said: I’m of two minds about this show. I feel strongly about it, but I’m really worried about Southland-style performance. I get the sense that though the show will be excellent, it won’t perform that well. 2 seasons.

What Actually Happened: I was just off the mark, as FOX cancelled the show. In the marginal drama race, Fringe was the only FOX winner this year.

Running Wilde

What I Said: Back nine, no season 2.

What Actually Happened: No back nine, but I was right. No season 2.

[Terra Nova was pushed to the following season. What I Said: I have this horrible feeling this will be an expensive, expensive flop. No season 2. We’ll see next year…]

How I Did (Renew vs. Cancelled): Half and half, right down the middle. 3/6 confirmed wrong, 3/6 confirmed right.

What I Learned from Fox: If a show feels ‘smart’ or ‘complex’ or ‘intriguing’, call it dead right then and there. Don’t give it a three season prediction. Please. You’ll look like a fool.

NBC (National Broadcasting Company)

The Cape

What I Said: Probably one season and out.

What Actually Happened: Exactly that.

Chase

What I Said: Back nine, yes; second season, no.

What Actually Happened: Almost exactly that: it got a back six. Otherwise, nailed it, as it’s looking dead in the water.

The Event

What I Said: The next Flashforward. Big opening, but weak writing letting it down and leading to bleeding ratings.

What Actually Happened: Exactly that. To a T.

Friends With Benefits

What I Said: If it makes it to air, 5 episodes.

What Actually Happened: Well… Pretty much exactly that. No news of an order cut, but it was held out of the regular season, and I have no idea when (or whether) it will actually air.

Harry’s Law

What I Said: 3-4 seasons.

What Actually Happened: As expected, looking good for season 2.

Law and Order: Los Angeles

What I Said: The show will, at worst, limp through 2-3 seasons, unless its ratings are a complete trainwreck.

What Actually Happened: I’m looking to lose this one. The ratings are pretty bad, and with Law and Order gone and Law and Order: Criminal Intent ending on USA (plus the one-and-out Trial By Jury spinoff a while back) means I overestimated NBC’s hunger to keep the franchise going. Might make it to season 2, probably not.

Love Bites

What I Said: No season 2, sadly.

What Actually Happened: After production issues, the show will be premiering outside of the fall lineup entirely. I’m calling this one in my favour, because this is a functional cancellation; even if by some miracle it succeeds in the summer, we all know what they meant by dumping it in the summer season.

Outlaw

What I Said: You think this has a chance?

What Actually Happened: It didn’t.

Outsourced

What I Said: Will see season 2. After that, I have no idea.

What Actually Happened: I was looking good for this one until a midseason move sent the show flaming out. It might see season 2, but I’m not confident I’ll get this one.

The Paul Reiser Show

What I Said: 1 season, if it surfaces at all.

What Actually Happened: Indeed, it was used as filler, and couldn’t even keep it up there; died after 2 episodes, as expected.

Perfect Couples

What I Said: I doubt this will air. 4 episodes max.

What Actually Happened: It aired its whole 13 episode order, but it’s dead.

Undercovers

What I Said: Very hopeful for this. Multiple seasons.

What Actually Happened: Not so much. Faltered immediately.

How I Did (Renew vs. Cancelled): Fairly well, I’d say. 9/12 confirmed right, 1/12 confirmed wrong, with the remaining 2 (Law and Order LA and Outsourced) still able to go my way. There’s only so much they can cancel.

What I Learned From NBC: Don’t be afraid to call them all as cancelled. After all, it’s looking likely that 11/12 of NBC’s new shows from the original predictions won’t see a second season.

How I’m Doing, Big Picture Style (Renew vs. Cancelled): 15 confirmed right, 6 confirmed wrong, and we’re waiting on the final call for 14. That said… I am looking pretty good. If you guess ‘all get canceled’, by the numbers you’d get more right than wrong most years, but I still fee like I’ve done well.

What do you think? How’d I do? Let’s see the final numbers come end of next week…

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