The fall TV season can be a hectic time. In between everyone’s favorite shows making a return after a summer break, networks throw all their new gambles at us. These include the good, the bad and the ugly. With the number of original content out there growing and growing, the number of new shows making their way to the fall season has grown as well.
Most of these shows don’t survive. Whether it’s a critical darling that doesn’t quite get an audience fast enough or just a dud, new shows are a large gamble studios take every single year and the consequences can sometimes be felt hard and fast.
We’ve already seen the premiere of original dramas and sitcoms as well as adaptations nobody seemed to be asking for. The one thing many of these shows have, or will have, in common will be the likely coming axe from studios cutting their losses and moving on to whatever they think the next big thing will be.
With this year being a seemingly uneventful premiere season for shows, we look at some of the bad and the ugly that probably won’t get that magic green light for season 2.
10. Blood & Oil – Primetime Disappointment
Blood & Oil can at least make the case that it’s different. The show is a primetime soap opera set against the backdrop of the oil business. It even stars Don Johnson.
Being different, however, is not the only criteria for success. This ABC drama has a tough road ahead of it. Being an openly melodramatic series competing in prime time against serialized and darker programs is hard.
The show’s ratings and reviews haven’t inspired much confidence so far either. Blood & Oil has gotten mostly mixed reviews from critics resulting in a barely “fresh” rating of 62 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Over 6 million viewers tuned into the premiere episode, but that number dropped off by over a million once the second episode aired. It’ll be difficult for an overly sappy program like this to convince viewers to make space in their nights and on their DVRs when there are just so many other more modern and entertaining programs. Sorry, Don.
9. Scream Queens – Glee Meets American Horror Story
As some television commentators have observed, Scream Queens‘ main audience, and general saving grace, is in its non-live viewing numbers. That means most of the audience is probably generally young and catches up with the show after it airs on digital platforms like Hulu.
The FOX comedy-horror’s live numbers are not so hot, and they are flat-lining fast. Ryan Murphy, one of the more recognized and praised show runners of today, took a risk with the offbeat show. It’s a strange mix of the topical comedy of Glee and the straight forward and throwback horror of American Horror Story.
The meta series has certainly found an audience, but it’s not the smash hit FOX needs. The network generally supports much higher rated programs like Empire and Gotham.
The online presence of Murphy’s Queens suggests it would have been a success had it found a home on an online platform like Netflix. Having to compete in the old school realm of network television, expect Scream Queens to join many coming lists of beloved one season wonders.
8. Minority Report – Popularity In The Minority
In today’s entertainment world where the title is everything, we get reboots, re-imaginings, sequels, etc. in the hopes that a familiar title will be enough to divert our attention from YouTube and the latest silly apps on our iPhones.
Minority Report was heavily advertised going into the fall season. It was a high concept with a recognizable brand name. It also had a story line that made it easy to stand out from the crowd. The series follows a detective in the future who uses a pseudo psychic who can see glimpses of the future. We know from the movie that using these powers has been deemed illegal.
Unfortunately, the potential seems to have been wasted. Critics have rejected the show. It only scored 29 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences have mostly snubbed the series as well. The third episode to air nabbed just over two million viewers. The kiss of death may have also been the recent bad news that FOX had cut their order on the series from 13 episodes to just 10. While not a cancellation, that is a pretty sure sign of what is to come.
Sci-Fi is always a hard sell on regular network television. Just ask cancelled shows like Almost Human. However, it also doesn’t help that Minority Report just isn’t that good.
Being an action-based show with more special effects than the average series, Minority Report’s ratings and reception won’t be enough to keep this clunker around for long. Fortunately for television producers everywhere, there’s still a lot of Spielberg material yet to be morphed into police procedurals. E.T. fighting crime, anyone?
7. Rosewood – Rose Dud
In a television field being dominated more and more by serialized and darker programming, Rosewood seemed like a relic of the past from the get go. It’s a procedural about a Dr. Rosewood (played by Morris Chestnut) who helps the Miami Police Department solve murders. The “hook” of the show is that he is a man trying to live life to the fullest because he suffers from a condition where his heart could give out at any moment.
It’s a concept that might have gone in a more realistic direction on a cable channel, HBO, Showtime or the like, but on FOX, Rosewood is trying to be little more than just another procedural. With those shows slowly dying out (most of the Law and Orders and CSIs have said goodbye or will be soon), Rosewood is a show probably destined to fail. With terrible marks from critics (7 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes) and an audience that dropped over a million viewers from episode 1 to 2, expect this show to burn out fast.
6. Grandfathered – Nostalgically Bad
Grandfathered has gotten mixed to above average reviews from critics (68 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes) and premiered decent enough (5.34 million viewers), but John Stamos hasn’t had a successful sitcom since Full House, and the show seems to be banking solely on nostalgia for the man.
Following Stamos’ bachelor character as he finds out he’s both a father and grandfather all at once, it’s not exactly the freshest setup for a sitcom. Nor does it hold up well when compared to the more inspired sitcoms currently airing on television and winning praises from critics and audiences.
Those more critically acclaimed sitcoms, less fashioned on old school laughs (Brooklyn Nine Nine, Last Man on Earth), appear to be the network comedies that survive these days. Sitcoms using nostalgia and simple set ups seem to bore audience’s today (Dads). Grandfathered is going to need more than Stamos and its premise to convince audiences to give it their time and attention.
5. The Player – Betting Against Success
The Player has a big star in Wesley Snipes, an action-oriented premise (people betting on a man stopping or solving crimes in Vegas) and a big push from its network, NBC. Yet, the show hasn’t been the show stopper that similar past shows have been (like The Blacklist from the same producers).
Given Snipes’ presence and the extensive action scenes, The Player is presumably a show that comes with a larger-than-normal price tag and, for that, a studio probably wants The Blacklist season one numbers. That show was bringing in well over 10 million viewers its first season, and The Player maintained just under five for its first two episodes.
The show has also gotten much worse ratings. While The Blacklist’s first season scored over 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Player was rewarded with just 37 per cent. This serialized drama just doesn’t have the staying power or the simplistic and “hookish” appeal of other network dramas. Expect Snipes to be booking his next post-prison job fast.
4. The Grinder – Old School Sitcom Going Nowhere
The Grinder is a another show baking on nostalgia. It is headlined by not one, but two 80s icons. Former brat pack alum Rob Lowe and The Wonder Years child star Fred Savage star as brothers. One is a lawyer working for the family law firm (Savage) and the other is an actor who thinks his stint on television as a lawyer makes him qualified to help out at the firm (Lowe).
The meta premise has actually worked out for The Grinder with critics. With a score of 92 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, Grinder has found a warm place in critics’ hearts especially thanks to Lowe’s performance. However, its premiere episode garnered under 5 million viewers. The second episode only managed to retain just over 3 million of those viewers. Not a good sign.
The fact that it’s paired up with another nostalgia-based sitcom, Grandfathered, is not good either. The Grinder is probably a little too meta for mainstream audiences and a little too old school sitcom for younger audiences.
3. Life in Pieces -The CBS Curse
Life in Pieces has the unfortunate duty of being from CBS studios. The reason that can be unfortunate is CBS is known to cancel shows that would be renewed had they been on another network. Their standards for viewership are much higher than other networks. High rated programs have been cancelled before (CSI: Miami, Gary Unmarried, Shark, Ghost Whisperer).
Life in Pieces debuted well enough with over 11 million viewers, but lost a whole lot of that audience in its second episode (over 8 million viewers). It’s gotten mixed reviews from critics (63 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes) and doesn’t seem to have many people on social media talking.
Life in Pieces stars mid-level talent like Colin Hanks and James Brolin. Its premise is that each episode chronicles an event occurring to a family and it’s cut up into segments, each from a different family members’ perspective. It’s an interesting concept, but CBS has high rated and highly praised sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory and Mom, so the standards are probably going to be a little too cutthroat for this forgettable sitcom.
2. Code Black – Underwhelming Medical Drama
Code Black is a medical drama about an understaffed emergency room in Los Angeles, California. That’s it. There’s not much else to it. How this show expects to survive in a television arena dominated by high concept series like The Blacklist and Empire is anyone’s guess.
This has been one of the more uneventful series to premiere this fall. Talk has been non-existent around the series suggesting it hasn’t excited many people or enticed too many young viewers to tune in.
The premiere episode nabbed almost 9 million viewers, but the second dropped off by about 2 million. That’s a big decline and suggests more losses to come. The show has also inspired only mixed reviews from critics (54 per cent on RT). It’s on CBS as well which means that it needs higher ratings than if it were on other channels. This medical drama just doesn’t have enough to stand out. It’s only a matter of time.
1. Dr. Ken – Dr. Unemployed
Ken Jeong is a beloved comedic actor who has appeared in everything from Community to The Hangover trilogy. Now he’s finally gotten the chance to headline his own show. It’s a sitcom on ABC, and it’s partly inspired by his own experiences as a doctor.
Unfortunately, the show is a complete disappointment with only Dr. Jeong as its saving grace. The reviews prove it. They aren’t just bad; they’re abysmal. The show has scored 7 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. The show has managed to do what few new series do when they first premiere: inspire the majority of viewers to agree on how awful it is.
The series premiere made an alright impression though. It managed to nab 6.71 million viewers which is high, today, for any show on network TV. However, expect those ratings to drop like they do for most new shows, and expect them to just keep dropping until this show is cancelled because with reviews that bad, this show is bound to sink fast.