There was a time when a network generally didn’t announce its returning television shows until May. In those days, television shows aired with a certain degree of regularity. You always knew that a series would be leaving in the summer and would be returning some time near fall. There was also only one way to watch your favorite shows. You had to turn on the television, you had to use cable or standard airwaves, and you only had a limited number of channels to choose from. As time went on, the library of channels branched out and became very specific in the type of programming they air. Cable and Dish now offer hundreds upon hundreds of channels. It’s amazing that so many people still watch so much of the same stuff when there is just so much out there. What constitutes a good number of viewers is far different than it used to be since there are so many other things that people can choose to watch.
In addition to more variety, there are now other ways to consume you favorite shows and movies. Web-based services like Netflix and Hulu have started to make their own material, making the idea of “cutting the cord” much more appealing to those who have yet to make the jump to web only television services. It helps that a lot of this material is top-notch.
You also never know when a show might be airing. It’s now normal to start shows months after most other shows came back for fall, and it’s becoming increasingly more common to split a season into two halves that air months apart from each other.
All of this has led to new shows being green-lit the very minute a network feels the program is performing well. This has led to a new show being announced for a second season only a couple episodes into its run. Sometimes a show is green-lit for a second season before it even airs. Let’s take a look at some new series that made an early cut for a second season.
12. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was so good that it was ordered for two seasons before even hitting the air.
This hilarious new comedy from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock features Ellie Kemper (of the U.S. The Office) in the titular roll of Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy grew up within a doomsday cult and has spent most of her life living in an underground bomb shelter with her sisters. The group of women is eventually found and Kimmy starts life anew in New York City.
The show was originally to air on NBC with a first season of thirteen episodes. However, before Kimmy Schmidt hit the airwaves the show was purchased by Netflix and immediately renewed for a second season.
Extant is an incredible science-fiction television series executive produced by science-fiction film giant Steven Spielberg. The CBS series centers around Molly Woods, an astronaut with the International Space Exploration Agency (played by Halle Berry) who has just returned to her family (a husband and an android child) after a thirteen-month solo mission aboard the space station Seraphim. Somehow, Molly has returned from her mission pregnant. The show follows Molly as she searches for the answers surrounding her impossible situation.
Extant kicked its run off with a thirteen episode first season. It was picked up for a second season pretty early in the run.
The show was also nominated for a “Most Exciting New Series” Critic’s Choice Television Award.
10. The Flash
Grant Gustin puts in an almost perfect performance as the highly likable Barry Allen in The CW’s new hit superhero series that spun off from the rather popular Arrow series. Arrow stars Stephen Amell as the vigilante archer Oliver Queen known as The Green Arrow. Like a lot of shows that are runaway hits, The Flash was picked up for a second season before it even aired ten episodes.
One of the things that has made The Flash such a breath of fresh air is the fact that it doesn’t follow the same tropes as a lot of shows based on comic books. Barry is a likable guy that was helping people before he received his powers. He’s had a traumatic past, but he doesn’t let that constantly bog him down. There is no “gritty realism” here. The Flash is just a fun show with a heavy focus on super-heroics.
9. Madam Secretary
If you’re a fan of political drama like The Newsroom or The West Wing, you’re probably already watching Madam Secretary. If you aren’t, you definitely should be.
Madam Secretary stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst that finds herself appointed to the position of Secretary of the State. The series has taken off rather quickly. Just a month into its first run, CBS ordered a full twenty-two-episode first season. Shortly after that, the series was picked up for a second season.
At this point, Madam Secretary has already been nominated for a People’s Choice Award for Best New TV Drama, and a TV Guide Award for Best New Show.
8. How To Get Away With Murder
How To Get Away With Murder is a highly-acclaimed crime-drama/mystery praised by both general viewers and critics alike. The series follows a group of students at a fictional university and their remarkable criminal defense professor Analise Keating. Professor Keating and her students find themselves embroiled in a deeply layered and twisted murder plot that will have you wishing the series was a Netflix original so you could just binge watch the whole thing without waiting for a whole week between episodes.
The show has already been nominated for eight awards with a total of five wins. Series’ star Viola Davis has been nominated for/won a number of Best Actress awards for her role as Professor Keating.
7. NCIS: New Orleans
The original NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigation spun off from another CBS series known as JAG. JAG was rather popular in its own right, but NCIS seems to be a television franchise that won’t be quitting any time soon. The original NCIS series is already looking at a thirteenth season, with its first spin-off series, NCIS: Los Angeles is looking to head into a seventh season. You would think that two series would be enough for fans, but the formula seems to really work and a third series set in New Orleans was added to the line-up. NCIS: New Orleans took off right away. A full order was put in for the first season. An announcement for a second season came shortly after.
When you first watch Scorpion, an incredible action-drama from the hit-makers at CBS, you would almost think the idea came from the pages of a comic book. The story centers around a team of misfit specialists put together by Cabe Gallo, a federal agent with The Department of Homeland Security. The team is formed as a means to stop the highly specialized technological threats that face the world today. Essentially, it sounds like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD without the superpowers.
The series is actually based on the real life claims of team member Walter O’Brien, the founder and CEO of Scorpion Computer Services.
FOX’s Empire is quite possibly the most well crafted television series on the list. The series follows Lucious Lyon, a former drug dealer that turned his life around and became a hip hop mogul after he founded Empire Entertainment. After Lucious is diagnosed with ALS, the members of his family, including his ex-wife, all plot to take control of the empire that Lucious created.
The series is superbly cast, up to and including the smaller bit parts. The series doubles as a musical. Unlike FOX’s last musical series, Glee, the music in Empire is more organic and the performances are part of the story. Show creator Lee Daniels made sure the music would be something to behold by enlisting Timbaland to take care of the show’s music.
Considering this is a series surrounding Batman, one of the most iconic characters in the world of pop culture, it was sort of a given that Gotham would be back for at least one more season, even if it wasn’t very good. Fortunately, the show is very good.
At face value, it would seem the show is all about a young Jim Gordon as he climbs the ranks to Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department. The series actually follows three different stories in equal measure that occasionally intersect. The first follows Jim Gordon as he tries to clean up the corruption in Gotham City, as well as the GCPD. The second generally follows a young Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Selina Kyle (Cat Woman) as they begin to grow into the identities they adopt in the future. The third follows the Gotham criminal underworld and what appears to be Oswald Cobblepot’s (The Penguin) rise to power as a ruthless kingpin of organized crime.
Who would have thought that The Penguin, of all characters, would be such a great villain?
3. BoJack Horseman
Like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, BoJack Horseman is a new Netflix series that earned itself a second season. It’s always a little hard to figure out how well (or even what the standard for “well” is) a Netflix series is doing since the concept is still rather new. This animated series focuses on a washed up actor, a horse that starred in a fictional 90’s sitcom called Horsin’ Around, as he tries to make his way through life as a bitter has-been. The series actually has a great voice cast that includes Alison Brie of Community, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad, and Will Arnett of Arrested Development as BoJack Horseman himself.
2. Star Wars: Rebels
It was hard to tell if Rebels would be sticking around when it first hit the airwaves. A lot of Star Wars fans had fallen in love with the popular and strong Clone Wars series that had been airing on cartoon network before Disney bought the rights to the seemingly timeless franchise. The cancellation of Clone Wars had a lot of fans claiming they wouldn’t be watching Rebels. Fans were also a little angered when they found out that all the previous comic books and literature that had been released over decades were no longer canon, and this brand new children’s show would be.
Fortunately, the show proved itself to be pretty fantastic and a second season was confirmed by Disney XD.
1. Better Call Saul
AMC had a lot of faith in the quality of Better Call Saul. This spin-off series to the mega-popular Breaking Bad follows the life of lawyer Saul Goodman in the days before he opens up his law office in a New Mexico strip mall. Everyone knew the series would probably perform pretty well since Breaking Bad has a committed and enthusiastic fan base, but very rarely is a show green-lit for a second season before the first episode has even gone on the air. That’s right. When AMC announced that they would be pushing back the series for an early 2015 release as opposed to a late 2014 release, they also announced that a 13-episode second season was already approved.
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