Dear Mr. Nielsen Box: Bailey’s 2012 Renewal Wishlist

As we roll into sweeps and renewal season, I start to get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that lasts until everything is tied up for next year. Michael Ausiello of TVLine has had his annual Renewal Scorecard going since January, but it’s only now starting to get updated with regular frequency, and you know I have it bookmarked. So I figured I would put together my renewal hopes and dreams, wish it away to the all-powerful Nielsen Box with fingers crossed, and hope that my wishes come true. Just FYI – I’m dealing with network shows in general here, since cable shows work on both a different timeline and aren’t as much of a machine. Plus, most of them have either already been renewed or haven’t started their seasons yet.

Some freshmen were already deservedly put on the chopping block, like Work It and Playboy Club, and things are starting to look murky for some mainstays after the once-mighty House was called to its swan song for this spring. We saw the last seasons of the underdog Chuck and the somehow-still-on-the-air Despearate Housewives this year, and once-promising dinosaur drama Terra Nova was given the axe yesterday, though they’re hoping to shop it around.

Pilot season hasn’t been too harrowing so far, since most actors in my favorites aren’t picking up shows in second position (except Cougar Town). Paul Blackthorne of The River has been cast in CW’s Arrow, but I haven’t heard any news about The River, which makes me think either it won’t make the cut, or his character won’t make it and they don’t want to spoil that (though I can’t imagine them getting rid of the in-show producer). Though we’re seeing lots of small screen veterans returning to pilots, most of them aren’t being plucked from other shows, which makes me breathe a little bit easier. However, we still have a long way to go.

Before we get in, you should know that I’m not going to list every show that’s on air. If I don’t mention it here, it’s because it’s either already canceled or I’m not worried about it. There are some shows that are consistently good, get good ratings, and just aren’t going to be canceled or “*given an end date.” Reality shows generally won’t be going anywhere, and your scripted winners are safe, like Modern Family, Castle, The Mentalist, How I Met Your Mother, NCIS and its arms, The Simpsons, Bones – I could go on, but you get the picture.

2012 was the start of a fresh change in television, and I think we saw some shows that will become the new longrunning programs. We’ve had some really quality new shows in all genres, and I look forward to seeing some of them sticking around for good. The freshman shows that I want to get renewed are:

  • New Girl
  • The River
  • Alcatraz
  • Grimm
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Smash
  • Awake
The major thing that worries me about some of these is that it seems like they were sold on a rock solid premise, but that fascinating premise didn’t carry them through a whole season. Although Alcatraz teeters here, Grimm is probably the prime example of this – I was so looking forward to a fresh take on monster-of-the-week, but somewhere along the way they forgot to develop actual character arcs. However, I think they could overcome this with a renewal, since each of the characters is ripe for drama. And then you have shows like The River and Awake, both of which jumped off at break-neck speed, so I worry about their capacity to keep up that pace. However, my tips for next season are another post for after we get renewed.

The next category I want to talk about are fan favorites that just don’t seem to do very well in the ratings. Though American Idol has approximately six times more viewers than any of these much better shows, these are the lower-rated cult favorites that I’m worried about. Though Ausiello has rated some of them as safe bets for renewal, it’s not set in stone until it’s set in contract.

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Community
  • Fringe
  • Cougar Town
  • Happy Endings
  • Nikita
  • Pan Am
It’s interesting to note that several of these are NBC’s comedies, while the others seem to be pretty evenly split. I suspect this may be the last year for Cougar Town, but I think Parks, Community and Fringe can each eek out an extra closing season – it’s not what I’d want for any of them, but I think it’s as good as we can expect for now. Remember to keep putting the word out about these shows if you want them to survive – every voice does count.

And because this wouldn’t be an accurate list without the shows I wish would get sliced from the big cheese, the ones I wish would pack it in and just go home are:

  • Whitney
  • Are You There, Chelsea?
  • 2 Broke Girls
  • Raising Hope
  • Private Practice

Believe me, I’m not hating on the ladies. I’m hating on bad television. I can’t believe any of these shows have stuck it out that long, and that something like Whitney is getting better ratings than my favorite Parks and Rec. And I know that for whatever reason, people seem to like Raising Hope, but I just can’t see it, and I’d much rather see something I enjoy in that timeslot. And yes, I put Private Practice on this list. I’m a huge Addison fan, but this show just doesn’t have what it takes to be compelling anymore. I can’t tell if it’s weak because Shonda’s time is being spent creating more dramas for ABC – both Scandal and Gilded Lilys premier in the calendar year, even after the flop Off The Map – but this show has suffered, making its characters unlikable and its storylines uninteresting.

I don’t think my opinions are too far-fetched, and I’ll be interested to see where the networks take these shows. I think we might get some upsets and dramatic cancellations this year, and you know you’ll be hearing about them from your ABPW writers as soon as they’re announced. Then again, we might get some surprising renewals, and you definitely know we’ll be rejoicing about that.

So with that said, what about you? What are you wishing for this renewal season? Are you keeping up with Ausiello’s Renewal Scorecard? Let’s hear your predictions in the comments!

*I’m pretty sure that Lost was the only show for which “given an end date” didn’t mean early notice of cancellation, since it generally comes down like a hammer upon renewal for a show’s last season.

Featured photo credit to Flickr user heanster.

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About Bailey

I'm a writer and a feminist. I read a lot of books and I watch a lot of television.

4 Responses to “Dear Mr. Nielsen Box: Bailey’s 2012 Renewal Wishlist”

  1. Great article. I’m really hoping Awake makes the cut as well. Oddly enough though, I’m hoping The River won’t make it. Not that it’s a bad show, but despite the fact that Paul Blackthorne has an arguably more important role in The River, than he’ll likely have in Arrow, I’d rather see him in that. I kind of feel like his talents are about half-wasted in his current show. I actually just finished re-watching The Dresden Files and was reminded of how well he brought Harry Dresden to the screen. I wish that show had made it into second and third season territory, but watching it again made me thankful to have dishonline(dot)com. It’s this free streaming website run by my employer, DISH, and not only does it have a ton of shows and movies, but a lot of them are available to non-DISH subscribers too.

    • Yeah, I’d like to see Blackthorne’s role bumped up if the show gets renewed, but we’ll see how renewal season goes, I guess – I think The River could be so great if it’s given an order beyond eight episodes. We’ll see!

  2. I really hope Alcatraz is renewed. I’ll be thoroughly disappointed if I never learn what happened.

    • Me too! It’s one of my favorite shows of the new season, and I think it has some of the most to gain from renewal. I hope these next few episodes pack some punches and give Rebecca Madsen an actual plot, because that’s what I think it’s most lacking. LOVE Alcatraz, though! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one watching it, so I’m glad to hear that’s not the case.

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