Fall 2011 Death Watch: Which New Shows Will Fail?
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The fall season is a time to see what new shows will be your latest
obsessions, but for TV critics, it's a fun time to try and predict which
show will be the first to get canceled. In the past three years, that
honor has gone to FOX's Lone Star, The CW's The Beautiful Life and FOX's Do Not Disturb, all of which were axed in September and combined for a total of just seven episodes.
Will another show meet a similar fate this year? Here are my predictions for which new fall shows will meet an early demise.
First to Die: NBC's Free Agents
One of the earliest premieres and least exciting new shows, the Hank Azaria sitcom Free Agents seems like a perfect recipe for an early exit, just like NBC's The Paul Reiser Show. The comedy will premiere September 14 at 10:30pm following the series premiere of Up All Night, both airing after the finale of America's Got Talent.
You might think it's good to get that time slot, but the problem is, if the ratings get a huge drop-off (which I suspect they will), it's a very loud warning sign that the show is doomed to fail. The following week, when it moves to 8:30pm, I expect the ratings will be even lower, at which point it should be canceled. Up All Night might be in trouble too, but at least that show has Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, three very compelling actors. Azaria might be good in quirky and dark cable dramas (Huff) or as a slightly amusing supporting player in crappy Ben Stiller comedies, but he's not a primetime sitcom leading man. If you doubt me, tell me if you remember If Not for You or Imagine That, his two failed primetime sitcoms from the past 15 years.
Other Early Cancellation Predictions
While Free Agents is my pick to die first, I also think there will be a lot of new fall shows that don't make it to the new year. This is partly due to the lack of quality, but also to the fact that many networks have a ton of shows lined up for mid-season and will need to make room for them. Here are my picks for the shows that will be canceled before January 1, 2012.
Whitney: The network has a bunch of comedies on tap for mid-season, and Whitney's multi-camera laugh track just doesn't mesh well with Community, Parks and Recreation and The Office. NBC hasn't had a successful laugh track sitcom since Will and Grace left the air five years ago, and Whitney is no Will and Grace.
The Playboy Club: It's not that the show is bad, but the problem is that its lead-in is The Sing-Off (which will most likely get decimated in the ratings by Dancing with the Stars) and it's on against two great, highly-rated dramas (Castle and Hawaii Five-0). That's a bad enough start, but you also need to look at NBC's track record with launching new shows Mondays at 10pm in the fall over the past five years: Chase, The Jay Leno Show, My Own Worst Enemy, Journeyman and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The time slot is cursed.
Man Up: Last Man Standing has Tim Allen, but this show has no one and, in every conceivable way, it resembles FOX's now-canceled Traffic Light, so I doubt it will succeed where that show failed.
Pan Am: ABC has a lot of big mid-season dramas, including the brilliant G.C.B. (formerly Good Christian Belles, more formerly Good Christian Bitches) and the Shonda Rhimes-led Scandal. The network needs to clear a lot of room, and this painfully dull '60s stewardess drama should put viewers to sleep fast enough to get cut quickly.
Revenge: A slightly complicated tale of vengeance might draw some viewers in, but it's not the best fit on Wednesdays at 10pm after two hours of comedies, it has stiff competition with CSI and Law and Order: SVU, and it feels a lot like a mix between Lone Star and My Generation, the first two shows to be canceled last year.
What new fall show do you think will be the first to get canceled?
(Image courtesy of NBC)